Who Gives What and Why: Noza Knows
Posted On July 31, 2006
Behind most of society's happier moments, you will find the contributions of the generous. Funds from donors provide the resources that empower more than a million nonprofit organizations. To help these organizations find their power connections, a new database and search engine from Noza, LLC (http://www.nozasearch.com) offers more than 12 million separate records of charitable contributions and donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Craig Harris, CEO and founder of Noza, expects heavy use from established prospect researchers serving the 500,000 heavy hitter nonprofits, but he mainly hopes to serve the million smaller nonprofits needing prospects. Charges for the database operate on a declining scale with partial records available for free. All of the data in the system comes from open Web sources, according to Harris. "As of now," Noza inputs no print data nor does it tap proprietary databases. However, the six resellers of Noza's files do carry access to a range of proprietary files.
Noza updates its file weekly, averaging 250,000 records an update or around a million records each month. (For a "snapshot" of the data coverage, go to http://www.nozasearch.com/aboutdatasnapshot.asp.) All the data comes from publicly available Internet sites and is accessible by free search engines. Noza even supplies links to the original site listings, though some of the links may have been removed or updated by the time the searcher reaches them.
Database records include:
- donor name
- dollar range of donation
- recipient organization's name, city, state, ZIP code, Web site URL
- recipient organization's geographic program scope
- year(s) of gift (back to 1993, though full coverage starts in 2000)
- scope (local, national, international)
- gift categories (annual gift; capital or campaign gift, cumulative giving, endowment, event attendee, event sponsorship, founding/charter donor, honorary gift, in-kind goods or services, matching/challenge gift, memorial gift, monthly gifts, named funds or areas of interest, program or restricted gift, scholarship, vehicle donations, yearly gifts for several year ranges)
- category of recipient organization activities (27 types including library/literacy programs, human services, higher education, animal rights, etc.)
Each full record also carries a link to the Internet location where the information was found, allowing users to do their own verification and perhaps exploration of the information. Harris said, "Prospect researchers love to verify data, especially when they're thinking of changing an ‘ask-amount.' That's when they need proof."
Boolean elements help filter searches, e.g., double quotes for exact string searching or a minus sign to remove a word or phrase. Partial record results from a "search by name" contain donor name, city and state of recipient organization, and year of gift; such partial records are free. Full record results can be read directly or exported to a spreadsheet format. No more than 2,000 records will be displayed from a single search.
The system will also create lists scanning entries based on multiple criteria (at least two fields) (http://www.nozasearch.com/searchlistinfo.asp). Again users can scan preliminary results and designate the records they wish to view, but the "create-a-list" option allows searchers to click on headers to select fields on which they want the list sorted.
Charges for Noza data start as low as $10 for setting up an account, and there are no monthly or annual subscription fees. Users purchase credits; each credit is the equivalent of viewing one complete record. The more prepurchased credits the user buys, the lower the unit cost. At a minimum, $10 buys 100 credits (unit cost 10 cents per record). Buying more credits lowers the unit cost: $25/275 credits; $50/650 credits; $100/1,450 credits; $250/4,175 credits; $500/10,000 credits; $1,200/40,000 credits.
Noza founder and CEO Craig Harris described the two-prong strategy behind the company's business. Noza will promote the use of its file directly on its own Web site and through resellers. "There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S.," said Harris. "The subset with the largest budgets would access us through resellers probably, e.g., higher education research departments. The mission that interests us the most is serving the other smaller nonprofits, the homeless shelters, community kitchens, local arts, grass roots and community-based ones with no fundraising arms, much less prospect research staff. Our mission is to keep developing and evolving our product till it becomes a critical mass."
Harris expects its resellers to provide additional services, such as electronic screening, and/or supplementary content. "We're partnering with the top companies providing services to prospect researchers," said Harris. At present, Noza has five authorised resellers and strategic partners. Three of the resellers provide electronic screening services: Blackbaud Analytics (http://www.blackbaud.com), Kintera (http://www.kinterainc.com), and Target America (http://www.tgtam.com). The other two—iWave Information Systems (http://www.iwave.com) with its Pro Platinum service and LexisNexis (http://www.lexisnexis.com) with its LexisNexis for Development Professionals package—provide an array of data sources, including Noza's file, packaged for prospect researchers.
The resellers take the Noza data and load it into their own systems with their own interfaces. One user testing the Noza data mentioned that the interface seemed somewhat "clunky." Prospect researchers on a list (PRSPCT-L@charitychannel.com) complained about the service being slow. Apparently these experienced searchers accessed Noza data through the iWave reseller, which still has some glitches to iron out with the data and some system updating to do, according to Harris.
Cecilia Hogan, prospect researcher for the University of Puget Sound and author of Prospect Research: A Primer for Growing Nonprofits and a series of prospect research articles appearing in Searcher, saluted the Noza file. Hogan said it would be a vital resource, particularly in "the first stage of the prospect research project to help create a lead list to explore." From the lead list, Hogan predicted she would go to other sources, e.g., a Guidestar record. "This is a significant development," said Hogan, "Just look at all the buzz on the PRSPCT-L list. Not so many years ago, to get this kind of information, you needed to get the nonprofit reports directly and plow through them. Today most of the information—except for the smallest foundations or organizations—is on the Web, but going through a Google search is no good. The information is often buried. That's why Noza is really interesting."
Hogan indicated that Noza is not alone in the field of donor databases. Since 1995, Waltman Associates (http://www.waltmanassociates.com) has produced the Waltman Donor series. Inez Bergquist, president of Waltman Associates, also provides a biographical profile series as well as prospect research training. The donor information service initially appeared on floppy disc, then moved to CD-ROM, and now can be found on the Web. It provides some unique historical archiving as well as current information, totaling around 6 million records (half that of Noza). The data updates monthly with cumulative information from 1995, as well as some earlier information from the 1970s and 1980s, according to Bergquist. Harris checked Noza's listings and found only about 400,000 records dated before the year 2000.
Waltman's Biographical Profiles provide background information on family tree structure, work history, community activities, suggested personal contacts, and financial capability, as well as donation histories from their own service. Profiles cost around $200 per person, plus any additional costs such as D&B reports, online searches, etc. This kind of customized service is not provided by Noza. Harris said that there were a number of companies offering detailed profiles and that Noza had no interest in competing with them. Speaking of freebies, check out the list of sources provided by Waltman at its "Prospect Research Tips" page (http://www.waltmanassociates.com/rsrchtips.html), if you want to start your own list of favorites/bookmarks for donor hunting.Harris and Noza seem quite ambitious in their goals. Harris indicated that they have another 20-30 databases under discussion. At present, the backing for Noza itself comes mainly from interested individual investors and the private sector, according to Harris, as well as the Santa Barbara Technology Group, a local venture capital concern. But for now, Noza claims that it can save people time in getting to the money they need. As Harris stated: "You could probably use the top ten search engines and find live links to most of what we have, but it would take 10,000 keywords, a physical impossibility even if you had the patience. And then you'd still have to open thousands of Web pages and manually create spreadsheets. You can do it instantly on our site. We have done the heavy lifting of taking unstructured data and putting it into a searchable relational database. We can save you time."
Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.
Add A Comment
Posted By Thomas Matthews5/13/2009 3:27:58 PM
I just now noticed this posting and thought I would comment. I work at a small college with a limited budget but I was able to convince my Development Director to subscribe to www.iwave.com and their product called Prospect Research Online, I suspect largely because it bundles so many online research services for one low yearly price. Over the past few years, PRO has really come along way, and with alot of recent talk about NOZA being subtracted from Lexis Nexis I think it’s worth saying that the functionality (email alerts, exporting, etc) that is offered with the NOZA data in PRO, is definitely worth taking a look at.