Many grant professionals feel intimated by prospect research. It's a whole different world, isn't it? Data analytics, real estate records, prospect identification... many of us really don't know what to make of all of it, and whether it really is important for the average grant writer.
The reality is that prospect research is more often used in larger organizations such as universities and hospitals, where fundraising involves many teams and departments and major gifts are a large part of the fundraising plan. The field of prospect research is highly advanced, but many smaller nonprofits are now finding it useful to adapt some parts of it for foundation research. From the grant writer's perspective, prospect research can be useful for finding relationships between board members and foundation trustees, and investigating the worth and giving histories of family foundations. Corporate giving can also be assessed better using prospect research tools than without.
For those interested in learning more about prospect research, the following links can be invaluable:
Association of Prospect Researchers for Advancement (APRA)
David Lamb's Prospect Research Page
Michigan State University Libraries resource page
Also, I found a great document here with an overview of prospect research functions and benefits, sample prospect profile, methods of assessing public wealth and much much more. For those who want to improve their research skills and gain an edge over others in the quality of their grant seeking, these and other sources can be a big help. I invite others to send in their list of links and resources as well for the benefit of all. Happy hunting!