Routine Screening & The Fiscal Year Merry-Go-Round

It’s that time of year—many nonprofits are riding the fiscal year merry-go-round and are preparing to buy their ticket for another ride. Whether your FY begins June 1st, July 1st—or some other month, one thing stands; your budget is your baby. WealthEngine sales staff routinely hear questions about the most efficient and cost effective ways to screen databases and keep data fresh. I usually recommend a one-two punch that helps you manage both workflow and budget.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve dug into your donor database then it’s likely time to screen and truly identify whom to target and the best approach. There are so many benefits to a full database screening—everyone gets ranked and scored and you can layer modeling and data analysis on to quickly segment and target your top donors and prospects. However, not everyone can afford (or manage from a results and staff perspective) a full screening—especially if you have tens to hundreds of thousands, even millions, of records.

That’s where options come into play:

  • Screen the entire database in smaller increments throughout the year. Submit smaller batches and create a routine schedule (quarterly, for instance) so you can better support the workflow and results
  • If cost and staffing are issues, set up a 2-5 year schedule for screening that allows for a total database refresh by the end of the schedule. You submit smaller batches each year, but still follow the suggested 3-5 year total refresh period

The golden ticket is being able to turn your results into action—dissecting the list for the appropriate fundraising activity. Your return on investment will be much higher if you can act on those low hanging prospects first and develop a stronger prospect pipeline year over year. Systematic screening does just that—and allows you to upgrade promising donors faster and eliminate those with little to no potential from all of your fundraising and marketing activities.

Let’s not forget the budget part. When you create a systematic screening schedule you are building in annual screening costs that often mirror what a big screening would cost, however, you’ve just spread it out over a few years. Often, leadership loves this type of approach because you can anticipate the cost in a way that makes screening affordable, routine and respects workflow. WealthEngine has many clients who opt for a full database screening in Year 1 and then commit to a standard refresh cycle in the following years so they have a solid plan in place from the very beginning.

As you hop on your merry-go-round and kick off a new fiscal year, remember this—screening is only smart when you put it to good use. A smooth ride takes planning and a focus on what you can handle to put the results into action. So grab the reigns and make it work for you!

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