John Cerniglia shares stories and advice on getting the most out of prospect profiles

When I first started in prospect research, a profile was just a profile. There weren’t different kinds or different levels. I was the first person to hold the role of researcher in my organization and I learned as I went along.

Which is exactly why I wanted to ask John Cerniglia, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer at Operation Mobilization how he uses prospect profiles in his work.

Because John is one of those development officers – the kind that is so at ease, so authentic in his connections with others that the labels “discovery visit” or “cultivation step” sound like laboratory experiments instead of relationship building terms.

In research we are all about the data. We love terms like “discovery visit” and “cultivation step” because we can quantify and track those actions. But after we do our data thing, we need to step back and shift our perspective to the human beings involved if we want the relationship building process to be its most effective.

I like to think of this as similar to creating or appreciating a work of art. When you are up close and intimate with a painting, you can examine the brush strokes and the minute details. When you step back and view the painting from a little distance, you can experience the glory of how all those details come together and create an experience.

The consummate philanthropy professional, John isn’t solely focused on the human aspect. He gets the data, too, and how structured information – such as profiles – support building relationships.

When he evaluates a prospect, he uses the follow framework — in priority order:

  • Access
  • Alignment
  • Ability

Listen to the interview and hear how John applies these three criteria and to hear his stories about when profile research shifted the entire conversation about and with donors.

Connect with John Cerniglia on LinkedIn, too:

Resources Mentioned