This on-demand course teaches you how to identify good prospects, perform profile research, and track prospects using prospect management techniques. It’s based on the techniques I have used providing prospect research to organizations for more than a decade. A lot has changed over the years and in this course, I share with you how I’ve given the fundraisers I work with an information edge.


On-Demand Course Registration

Gain access to this on-demand course for one year and work at your own pace.

Essentials for Successful Fundraising Research course is included in Research Fundraisers and Research Focused membership levels.

Upgrade to Membership for More

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You Will Learn

In this course you will...

  • Find information in five distinct areas that are relevant for fundraising.
  • Create your own prospect profile.
  • Practice key internet search engine techniques.
  • Discern between reliable and unreliable information sources.
  • Practice an analytical, methodical approach to prospect identification.
  • Use ratings and other criteria to identify the best prospects for your organization.
  • Apply fundamental prospect management techniques to your organization.

Should You Take This Course?

This course is designed for a fundraising generalist who performs many different fundraising tasks in addition to prospect research, especially a generalist in a fundraising office with a small staff.  You might have a title similar to “Development Coordinator” or “Donor Relations Coordinator” or “Database Manager+”

This course is NOT designed for researchers with years of experience.

You Will Also Receive

In addition to the course content, you will also receive these great resources:

After successfully completing the Capstone Assignments, you will earn a Certificate of Competency as well as a digital badge to showcase your new skills. You can use the digital badge on sites such as LinkedIn.

Length and Format

Course Content and Participation

While you can consume the course in any way you like…

  • Modules: There are 4 modules of content for this course.
  • Time: You might spend anywhere from 15 to 25 hours per module.
  • Format: Content includes reading, short videos, homework (with feedback)*, and quizzes.
  • Live Meetings: Your membership comes with two live, online video meetings per month; a Master Class and a Live Office Hour
  • Discussion: As a member, you can join the Slack discussion channels.


*As much as possible, homework provides you with the option to work on your own organization’s data and prospects. Your instructor will provide a signed Confidentiality and NonDisclosure Agreement to protect your organization’s data privacy.

Prerequisites for Success

To be successful in this course, you should…

  • Have access to and know how to navigate and edit your organization’s donor database.
  • Be able to navigate internet resources and demonstrate persistence in using new and changing websites.
  • Have proficiency in MS Word and MS Excel.
  • Possess very good reading, writing, and summarization skills.

Course curriculum

  • 1
    Welcome to the course!
    • VIDEO: Instructor Welcome
    • Syllabus
    • 3 Easy Steps to Earn Your Digital Badge
    • Zoom Online Meeting Login + Instructions
    • Get Started Using Slack to Send Messages
    • Data Protection and Privacy **must read**
  • 2
    Module 1 | Research in Fundraising
    • WATCH | Privacy and Ethics in Prospect Research
    • READ | Research In Fundraising
    • WATCH | The Gift Cycle and Major Gifts
    • HOMEWORK | Your Organization’s Gift Cycle
    • WATCH | Giving Motivations
    • READ | Giving Motivations in the News
    • HOMEWORK | Your Organization's Donor Motivations
    • WATCH | Introduction to the Analytical Approach
    • CAPSTONE #1 | Solve a Fundraising Scenario
  • 3
    Module 2 | Prospect Profiles
    • READ | Prospect Profiles
    • WATCH | Anatomy of a Profile
    • HOMEWORK | Create an event bio
    • WATCH | Evaluating Your Work
    • WATCH | Why you should start with a tool first
    • WATCH | Starting with DonorSearch.net
    • WATCH | Starting with iWave.com
    • READ | Internet Searching
    • WATCH | Using Search Engines Like Google
    • RESOURCE | Google Tip Sheet
    • CAPSTONE #2 | Create your own profile
    • HOMEWORK | Reflection on Profiles
    • HOMEWORK | Advanced search techniques
  • 4
    Module 3 | Research Tools and Info Accuracy
    • READ | Research Tools and Info Accuracy
    • READ | Three Strategies to Choose a Research Tool
    • RESOURCE: Vendor Comparison Chart
    • RESOURCE | Applying the CRAAP Test
    • WATCH | Information, Perception, and CRAAP
    • QUIZ | CRAAP Test in Action
    • RESOURCES | Clever Tips for Navigating the Internet
  • 5
    Module 4 | Prospect Identification
    • READ | Prospect Identification
    • WATCH | Beyond Prospect Identification
    • READ | Additional Resources
    • HOMEWORK | Avoiding Analysis Paralysis
    • WATCH | Simple RFM Scoring
    • HOMEWORK | Practice RFM
    • HOMEWORK | Export a database file
    • CAPSTONE #3 | Data mining for good prospects
  • 6
    Module 5 | Prospect Management
    • READ | Prospect Management
    • WATCH | Defining a major gift
    • HOMEWORK | Explore Major Gift Data
    • WATCH | Pieces of Prospect Management
    • HOMEWORK | Compare and Contrast Major Gifts
    • HOMEWORK | The Pieces of Prospect Management: Step 1
    • READ | Additional Resources
    • CAPSTONE #4 | Pieces of Prospect Management: Step 2
  • 7
    Module 6 | Careers
    • READ | Prospect Research Careers
    • [FUN] READ | Common Prospect Research Myths
    • WATCH | Prospect Research #ChatBytes #CareerCurious
    • READ | Browse and bookmark additional resources
  • 8
    Module 7 | It's a Wrap! Finishing the Course
    • HOMEWORK: Course Evaluation Survey
    • Course Wrap-up Instructions
    • REFLECTION | What will you do next?

About the Instructor

  • Jennifer Filla

    Jennifer Filla

    Founder, CEO, and Instructor

    I’m Jennifer Filla, a Prospect Researcher and Fundraiser at Aspire Research Group LLC and co-author of Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook, part of the AFP/Wiley Fund Development Series. As a consultant, I have worked with a lot of small and large organizations that needed to build internal fundraising capacity with prospect research. I have also been a member of AFP and Apra for more than ten years, speaking and presenting at AFP and Apra meetings and conferences. The demand for clear instruction that can be applied immediately at the fundraising office led me to launch the Prospect Research Institute. I’m excited to learn with you!

On-Demand Course Registration

Gain access to this on-demand course for one year and work at your own pace.

Essentials for Successful Fundraising Research course is included in Research Fundraisers and Research Focused membership levels.

Upgrade to Membership for More

  • $700.00 / year

    $700.00 / yearResearch Fundraisers

    A membership community for Fundraising professionals.
    Join Now
  • $65.00 / month

    $65.00 / monthResearch Fundraisers

    A monthly membership community for Fundraising professionals.
    Join Now
  • $1,500.00 / year

    $1,500.00 / yearResearch Focused

    A membership community for Research professionals.
    Join Now
  • $150.00 / month

    $150.00 / monthResearch Focused

    A monthly membership community for Research professionals.
    Join Now