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Research Specialist

Department: Offices of Development & Alumni Affairs, Research Unit Effective Date: September, 2009


35 hr/wk

Reports to: Manager-Prospect Research

General Accountability

The Research Specialist provides support for the Research Unit by assisting with maintenance of Research, Principal Gift, Major Gift and Leadership information in the Raiser’s Edge/ ODAA database through data entry, creating queries, developing exports, running reports, and enforcement of data entry business rules; by providing brief research profiles; by providing training on the Raiser’s Edge/ ODAA database to new ODAA staff; by assisting with updating and maintenance of content for the ODAA Research Team website; and by performing other duties aligned with information keeping, such as maintenance of files.

Nature and Scope

The Research Specialist, along with two full-time Research Officers, one contract Research Officer, and the occasional Co-op or Work Study student report to the Manager, Prospect Research. The Research Specialist is assigned work primarily by the Manager, but also receives work from the Research Officers and Development Officers. S/he must also interact with the University fundraisers to clarify requests.


The Research Unit provides all of the background research on donors and prospective donors to the University to enable the Office of Development to carry out its Major Prospect fundraising activities. A major prospect is capable of giving a gift of $25,000 or above. To a lesser degree, the Research Unit also supports Alumni Affairs by providing research useful to its ‘friend-raising’ function.


The total number of staff in the Offices of Development and Alumni Affairs is approximately 110. Most of the requests for research come from the Development Officers and Senior Officers of the University which number over thirty.


The Raiser’s Edge (RE), is the University’s electronic database and stores the majority of information required by ODAA and the Colleges for fundraising and friend-raising. It contains individual (all alumni, students, staff, faculty & many other ‘friends’ of the University), corporate and foundation records. RE provides a special module, the Prospect tab, for coding specific information about major prospects. It is this module along with other components – Actions, Notes, Media and Relationships - that record Major Prospect information such as: contact with a major prospect, strategies set out in volunteer meetings, stewardship plans, philanthropic interests, references to newspaper and journal articles, staff and volunteers assigned, friends & associates, evaluations, phase of approach, project assigned, and Campaign ask result. It is a key responsibility of the Research Specialist to assist with elements of these tasks such as adding constituent records, assigning solicitors, creating relationships, adding/ updating addresses, employment, spouse information, affiliations with UW, and corporate/foundation head office and branch information. Often, initial research using Web searching techniques is required before entering data to find proper spelling of corporate names, addresses, and executive officers of a company.


Changes to the solicitors assigned to prospects are numerous when new staff arrive and take over prospects from another staff member, or when someone leaves and other staff are assigned, or when new prospect requests are made. It the responsibility of the Research Specialist to enter these on to the Raiser’s Edge within 48 – 72 hours of receiving a list of assignments from the Manager, Prospect Research.


Development staff members are responsible for entering their own activities on to the Raiser’s Edge. In order to ensure data integrity, the Research Specialist is responsible for maintaining and running a series of queries/exports. The Research Specialist will review these reports for inconsistencies and send them to the Manager of Prospect Research for further investigation where warranted. Reports s/he may run include:  determining if Call Notes have been filed on completed Actions; spot checking Meeting Notes to ensure data has been entered correctly and is appropriate; running lists of high capacity prospects that are due for annual review; sending out the daily list of new Major Prospect activities to Development and related stakeholders; running a report of all Major Prospects within a specified geographic area; and more.


The Research Specialist serves as one of the Central Team’s trainers for the Raiser’s Edge. S/he will provide introductory training to new ODAA staff on how to use the Major Prospect components of RE. S/he will also be responsible for working with the Manager of Prospect Research to create and maintain accompanying training documentation and instructional manuals. The Research Specialist will seek feedback from ODAA staff on training and use the comments to refine and improve the process.


The Research Specialist supports the Research Officers and the Manager, Prospect Research by assisting with data entry and searching for information to fill requests by the University fundraisers. The latter includes preparing less complex profiles using templates as a guide to insert appropriate information. It also requires searching the Raiser’s Edge database for prospect/donor connections to the University of Waterloo, the Co-op Department databases, CERVIS and JobMine for Co-op hiring data by Major Prospect Corporations, the Office of Research Database, RAIS, for contract research carried out by faculty for corporations, and numerous web sites on the Internet. The Research Specialist is often required to phone corporations to ensure information is current and correct, particularly when corporate mergers have taken place.


As part of the daily Research News page created by the Research Team, the Research Specialist is assigned specific magazines and/or newspapers to read on a regular basis for articles of relevance to the Development Unit. This information is passed on to the individual maintaining the Research News website for updating.


The Research Specialist works with one of the Research Officers to update and maintain the Research News page on the ODAA Research Team website. The Research Specialist is also responsible for using Dreamweaver to assist with the maintenance and content of the entire website.


The Research Team is a key information source for the Development group. As part of their role, the Research Specialist will assist the Manager of Prospect Research in maintaining a list of all subscription resources and materials purchased for fundraising reference. This information will be posted and shared with the Development Team so they are aware of what tools are available to them, what only Research has access to and what reference materials are accessible in print (i.e.) books, magazines, etc.


The Research Unit is responsible for maintaining the thousands of paper files used by all of ODAA and the Faculty Development Officers. The Research Specialist is largely responsible for spreading the files out into additional file cabinets periodically, preparing new file folders and labels and weeding and sorting the files which have become overstuffed and disorganized. As the department moves towards maintaining more information electronically, the Junior Research Specialist will be involved in the indexing and electronic scanning of materials for access via a SharePoint site or other shared server.


The Research Specialist performs support functions for other office activities as the situation demands. This may include training new staff how to search the Raiser’s Edge database, providing back-up for the office reception desk and other miscellaneous duties.

Statistical Data

Specific Accountabilities

Working Conditions