Ropes-Research

The first step of the fund-raising process is Research. Although preliminary research is necessary, research should be an integral part of the entire process. Research includes identifying both threats and opportunities. Matilde Urrutia was very candid about the threats and opportunities the Puerto Rico community faces and how the Foundation tries to help the community deal with these threats and opportunities. In order to identify threats and opportunities the Foundation has to continuously scan the environment for changes that will affect Puerto Rico. They constantly monitor the social and economic situation in Puerto Rico and try to facilitate programs that will help the community deal with these changes. One of the threats Urrutia mentioned was the cut back in welfare and how that would affect many people in Puerto Rico. In order to help eliminate the dependency on welfare that exists on the island, the Foundation is designing programs to help individuals deal with economic changes such as the elimination of welfare. Another problem she mentioned is the deficiencies found in the public education system. The foundation addresses this problem with programs to help improve the level of education in public schools.

Identifying key stakeholders, such as donors, is an important part of the preliminary research that needs to be done. A lot of energy is put into the identification of potential donors. The process begins with lists of companies, with whom someone on the Foundation's board or any of the foundation's employees have a contact in. Urrutia mentioned at least 8 steps in a successful fund-raising process and mentioned the difficulty of getting the Foundation's mission across to potential donors. The new president is a key figure in the fund-raising process and the establishment of personal relationships. Colon's experience as Program Director, his formal education, and his background in anthropology help him understand the importance of his role in both grant seeking and grant making. Once dialogue with the potential donor has been established, the development director is, in many cases, accompanied by the president to proposal meetings. Having the Foundation's president in the meeting helps the donor feel like a highly valued partner in the entire development process. The president represents the foundation's mission and tries to find a common goal between the foundation and the potential donor's philanthropic needs.