Prospect Research Using Library Tools

While grants are an important piece of the fundraising mosaic, cultivating individual donors is an equally crucial task for nonprofits. According to, individuals account for more than 75 percent of annual charitable giving.

Before approaching an individual donor, though, it’s important to research their background to make a better connection with them in order to increase your chances of securing a donation. But how do you research individual donor prospects?

Whip out your library card, and get ready to use these free resources to get the dish on your next donor.

Newspaper Articles
For prominent donors, check local news publications to find articles on individuals who are active philanthropists. Search by an individual’s name to find information on a donor you've already targeted, or use keywords relevant to your field to find potential contacts.

To find articles, try using these library databases:

  • America’s Newspapers - Access to U.S. newspapers, including the Tulsa World and Daily Oklahoman, as well as regional and national newspapers.
  • Newspaper Source Plus - Provides selected full-text articles from 25 national and international newspapers, more than 200 regional U.S. newspapers, and television and radio news transcripts.

Biographical Sketches
Use biographical directories to find background information on your donor prospect:

  • Marquis Who’s Who - Access to all editions of Who’s Who.
  • Rich Register - According to its website, “the Rich Register is packed with hard-to-find net worth, address and biographical information about America's wealthiest people, each with an estimated net worth of $25 million or more.” The book is available for reference in the Nonprofit Resource Center.

Address Directories​
To identify households for your next mailing campaign, try these library resources.

  • Reference USA - Access to over 200 million consumer and household profiles, with contact information.
  • Tulsa County Property Search - Find homeowners in affluent neighborhoods with the "subdivision" search option.
  • For specialized, in-depth mailing lists, contact the Research Wizard for more information about the library’s fee-based research services.

For more information about prospect research and useful resources, check out this great help guide from, Cultivating Individual Donors (links are listed below the article).

Image courtesy of jannoon028 /

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