Field Scans: Explore Areas of Interest

Every donor wants to make a positive impact in the world, but navigating the philanthropic landscape of an issue or cause may seem overwhelming. For example:

  • A donor may have an interest in supporting the arts, but may be unsure of the angle they would like their support to take.
  • A donor may already be focused on a specific area of interest, but is unsure of how they can best leverage their funds to achieve their impact goals.

This is where a Field Scan can help. Our team of philanthropic experts consult with donors to identify their philanthropic interests and needs, and conduct research based on that consultation to provide donors with an overview of a cause or issue, helping donors take a confident first step in their philanthropic journey.


What is a Field Scan?

A Field Scan is a research tool that helps provide donors information about the context of a given issue area. Conducted through a combination of desk research and interviews with subject matter experts, Field Scans are designed to give donors a better understanding of what is already being done—effectively or not—so they have a better sense of where they might be able to effectively deploy their philanthropy.

The field scan may share relevant trends, similar funders to explore and potential funding gaps.

For example, if a donor was interested in directing their philanthropy toward improving healthcare, the Field Scan might provide information about:

  • Current trends in research and development for health facilities
  • Essential health services in specific geographies, ex. rural areas
  • Services addressing specific populations, ex. women, children, seniors
  • Nonprofits providing specialized care, ex. in-home care, after-school wellness programming

Why Are Field Scans Important?

Review Past Efforts

Review Past Efforts

Stay Current

Stay Current

Plan for the Future

Plan for the Future

Understand Past Efforts

The Field Scan can contextualize the history of nonprofit work related to the cause, and can highlight opportunities based on emerging needs, underserved populations and geographies.

Stay Current

Using up-to-date data about ongoing developments in the field of their interest, the donor can improve their charitable strategy based on what we know at present.

Plan for the Future

As the donor prepares to get philanthropically involved, they can review their budget and giving goals, and identify the niche in which their future giving may be most impactful.

Steps for Conducting a Field Scan

Our team of philanthropic experts have a deep bench of experience in charitable research. When conducting a Field Scan, they strive to mindfully approach each donor’s request, ensuring the final product is a clear reflection of a donor’s individual interests and needs.


The team has a Discovery call to understand a donor’s interests and develops a scope of work—such as a specific geography or population—that meets the donor’s needs.


The team conducts desk research and expert interviews to produce a customized briefing that summarizes research findings and highlights pathways for a donor’s giving considerations.


The team offers a follow-up call to talk through any questions that surface for the donor and outline next steps for taking action to give.

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Considerations and Additional Support

A Field Scan is a tool to offer context and insights into a donor’s philanthropic interest area. It is by no means an exhaustive compilation of every nonprofit currently operating in a given field—or even a means of ranking such organizations. The Field Scan will not, in other words, offer the donor answers or directives on where they should give; it will provide a better understanding of current needs so the donor can identify opportunities that may have the kind of impact they are looking to make.

For donors seeking a more in-depth look into a specific area of interest and examples of nonprofits that could best suit their philanthropic interests and goals, NPT offers Opportunity Outlines. Contact our Philanthropic Solutions team to learn more.

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