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Dartmouth College: Xapien success story

On demand, AI-powered prospect research at Dartmouth College

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From up to 250 manual checks each autumn to on demand, automated due diligence powered by Artificial Intelligence. 

Key results

  • 1,000+ working hours freed up: it would take analysts eight hours to create a report with the same detail that a Xapien report generates in eight minutes.

  • More time for proactive prospect discovery.

  • Background checks take place at the very beginning of the fundraising process, so fundraisers can proceed with relatonship-building confidently.

  • Background checks take place throughout the academic year, rather than snowballing in the autumn.

  • Fundraisers have a detailed understanding of donors’ pasts, affiliations and interests when they approach them for the first time.

  • Time saved is used to support DEI and BIPOC initiatives.

  • An upskilled team thinking more strategically about reputational risk.

  • A centralised approach to due diligence and reputational risk across departments.

  • Fundraisers can make quick, informed decisions and focus on building relationships with standout prospects.

  • The role of the prospect research team elevated across the university.


Donations from third parties are a vital funding source for Dartmouth College. These funds improve facilities, increase student access to college through scholarships and grants, and fund Dartmouth’s globally significant research.

The college’s donor prospect management team conducts research on more than 1,000 potential donors each year to learn about a prospect’s philanthropic interests, ambitions and objectives. The team also performs the crucial role of protecting academics leadership, board members, and the institution at large from accepting gifts from unknown or inappropriate sources, and the resulting reputational risks.

In this fundraising team, the word ‘strategic’ is mission-important. Analysts are not just analysts, but ‘strategic analysts’. They don’t just consider who to approach, but when, how and should they approach a prospect.

Xapien’s background research software equips them with all relevant publicly information available on any prospect in a few minutes. Time previously wasted on repetitive research is now spent strategically analysing, planning and cultivating successful relationships.

“With Xapien, you go into fundraising with your eyes open... Xapien presents the facts and lets the institution make its own decisions.”

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“It would take analysts eight hours to create a report with the same detail that a Xapien report generates in eight minutes.”
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The due diligence and research process before Xapien

“With Xapien we have more confidence in the work we are doing than ever before.”

During the solicitation cycle with a prospective donor, Dartmouth’s five strategic analysts would run background checks on every prospect in order to understand their profile. In an effort to get through the large volume of prospects, analysts would limit research to one hour per prospect meaning that reports often ‘just scratched the surface’ of an individual’s profile.

By the time a due diligence check was done this might be far along the solicitataion process, which could create awkward conversations should a report come back with any problematic information. It also led to time wasted by primary fundraising staff and donors in the rare case that the information uncovered meant that a donoation could not be accepted. 

Google was the primary tool used for background checks. The analysts would search for the prospect’s name and add keywords such as ‘investigation’ or ‘scam’. Database providers were used to check sanctions lists.

Without a systematic process in place, PDF reports on prospects that were up to 10 pages long were often sent out to committees before meetings.

The challenges:


  • Significant risk exposure to the organisation as time limitations and inadequate tooling may have led to missed reputational risks.

  • Fundraising had to be stalled while due diligence checks were undertaken – primary staff were often left waiting until background checks were carried out to pursue solicitation conversations.

  • The reports produced by the team were often lengthy and took significant time to review and digest, before any decision making could be done.

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The due diligence and research process with Xapien

Due diligence now takes place year-round, as soon as a prospect is identified, allowing fundraisers and prospects to proceed with confidence.

All the analysts need to do when conducting background research is enter a name, any relevant details and press go. Detailed, readable, easily shareable reports are ready in less than ten minutes.

Nuanced and hard to find information about prospects’ career, achievements and personal or philanthropic objectives is available as soon as the background research report is run. This extra information means prospects who would might previously have been overlooked are advanced more rapidly through the fundraising process. 

The level of detail packed into Xapien’s concise, summarised reports eliminates the element of surprise whereby someone else might uncover information about a prospect that puts the College at risk. If Xapien can’t find it, no one else will. It also enables the College’s wider stakeholders to prepare for any incoming donation such as by drafting talking points and bespoke press releases.

Reports are delivered in a useful, simple format that contains everything the analyst or decision makers need to know at a glance. 

The ‘direct/indirect’ risk section of the report allows the team to quickly discount irrelevant risks that they would previously have spent hours reading through.

Niche information on low-profile prospects is found quickly and Xapien’s Customer Success team responds within the hour to support analysts who need help to get the results they need.

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“Xapien reports are laid out very nicely. We can quickly understand the level of risk and do our own assessment.”
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The result

Time savings

Time savings of 1000+ hours annually are now being used for discovery work in the database of alumni friends and parents. There is now time for a greater focus on Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) alumni and funding for Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.


The team is more informed about reputational risk and quicker to spot issues that warrant a elevating to relevant stakeholders.

Researchers add strategic value

Dartmouth’s strategic analysts are now able to spend less time on repetitive research, and instead add strategic analysis and advice to primary staff. 


Transformed processes 

Xapien has become a fundamental part of Dartmouth’s reputational risk strategy. It was thought that it would take two to three years to build the process, but with Xapien it has been done within six months.

The significance of the prospect management team's work has been recognised across the university. The team now leads as experts on background checks across Dartmouth, raising standards in other departments for a more coordinated and centralised approach.

As well as prospective donors, board, institute and centre nominees are all now checked in real time by the prospect management team, who have increased ownership of the background check process.

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“With Xapien, you go into fundraising with your eyes open.”


“Xapien does in 8 minutes what would take a manual researcher 8 hours to produce. This enables us to be more comprehensive in our research.

With Xapien, we go into fundraising with our eyes open. It reduces the element of surprise as much as possible. The reports are laid out very nicely and present the facts, so we can quickly understand the level of risk and do our own assessment.

Xapien understands the reputational risk and adverse media marketplace well. There have been really nice enhancements to the product just in the short time we've been working together.”

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Michael Foote

Executive Director of Research and Prospect Management of Dartmouth College.

About Xapien

Xapien’s reputational risk technology delivers fully-automated background reports on any individual or company, anywhere in the world, in five to 10 minutes. 

Its AI scours the length and breadth of the internet, reading and analysing millions of results, from websites, the media, company information and more, to deliver a concise, meaningful report that highlights risks, wealth estimates, assets, and associates.

Information from multiple language sources is compiled and translated into English.

Fundraisers can review the intuitive reports in under 10 minutes and form tailored advice to their fundraising team on the basis of them. The reports, and accompanying advice can be shared with relevant stakeholders with no need to edit or amend them.

Key benefits

  • More time for proactive prospect discovery – over 100% increase in prospects reviewed

  • 1,000+ working hours freed up

  • More time for DEI and BIPOC initiatives

  • Fundraisers are provided with valuable donor information earlier in the process

  • Better relationship with donors

  • Donations can be received and put to good use, faster

Book a demo now to see how Xapien can provide you with the assurance you need in your research.

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