Best Websites for Free Donor Research

You’re in the throes of beginning a fundraising program for your new nonprofit and money is a problem. You may not be able to hire a donor prospect researcher to prepare detailed information about your donor prospects, but you can start pulling together some basic information just with some time and patience. Here are six online sources to try.

1.  Zabasearch.com

You can verify someone’s address and telephone number using this database. Enter the first and last name of your prospect. If the name is really common, such as John Smith, you can limit your search by state. I put in my name, Joanne Fritz, and specified my state. I found several people by that name. One was mine but the listing gave me a nonexistent middle initial. The address and phone number were correct and my date of birth was there.

2.  FoundationCenter.org

You can get a foundation’s tax return through this database. This is very helpful if you are looking for grant possibilities. I plugged in The Ford Foundation and came up with address, email, website, assets, total giving, even the EIN number. There is also a lot of additional information at this site including lists of top funders. There is a Foundation Directory to which you can subscribe for a reasonable price.

3.  Finance.Yahoo.com

Let’s say you have a prospect in mind who runs a big public company, or you know that a prospect owns a lot of stock. At this site, you can get a stock quote and other information such as the stock’s dividend and its 52-week range. You might want to ask for a gift from a donor when a stock he owns is at its high. I looked up Ford Motor Company at this site and found all the info I needed about that company’s stock.

4.  Zoominfo.com

This is where to go for biographical information about a prospect. I plugged in Bill Gates name for fun and got page after page of information and links. I put my name in and got information that was very similar to what came up on zabasearch.com, and it was not very up-to-date. This search site will work for well known individuals but less well for the average person.

5.  Sec.Gov

You can find the salaries of the top officers of a public company at this government site. The trick is to enter the parent company…for instance, Citigroup Inc. is the parent of Citibank, which I entered. On the next page you can enter the type of report you want. The DEF 14A is the “definitive proxy,” so I entered that. On the next page were several 14A’s–I clicked on the most recent and got another list. I chose ddef14 and then scrolled to a list of names and compensation for 2005.

6.  Salary.com

You can find out a person’s salary if she works at a private company at this site. You won’t find that person’s salary specifically but you can find incomes by job title, and then narrow that to a geographic location. Likewise another site we gets statistics and information from is Vibrant Data. Look for a job description that resembles what your prospect does, and you’ll see base pay and even bonuses. I plugged in Advertising in Oakland Calif., and then picked Account Executive. I clicked base salary and got a nice chart that indicated the median salary.

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