In the fundraising world affinity scores are often discussed. And with good reason. We all know that a wealthy constituent is just that – a constituent. When you have a wealthy constituent who is also engaged with, or has an affinity for, your organization; then you have a prospect.

So what is an affinity, or engagement, score? And how do I get one?

Affinity can be measured.  Assuming you have a donor management system or database, and that you have, over the years and with some degree of consistency, collected data on your constituents and prospects, you can use the data points you’ve been tracking to quantify affinity.

Constituent behavior is the key to quantifying affinity.  Does your constituent attend events at your organization? Volunteer?  Contribute? Contribute with frequency?  If the answers are “yes,” you’ve got yourself a prospect!  But what if you have 10,000 or 100,000 constituents in your database? It’s not as easy to identify those who are true prospects from among all those who aren’t. That’s where a scoring model comes in handy. 

Score your constituents rather than evaluating them individually

Rather than looking at each of your constituents individually for their behaviors that provide clues to their affinity for your charity, wouldn’t it be nice to have a formula against which you could score your entire file?  That’s exactly what a scoring model does. 

There are a number of ways to develop a formula, or model, to score your constituents. One approach combines analytic and qualitative approaches and be done by any person or group within your organization. An Analytic and Collaborative Method for Developing Affinity Ratings provides steps and guidance for developing your affinity ratings.

Another approach is us to develop a unique and statistically rigorous scoring model through predictive modeling. If you have the resources on staff, this can be done in-house, but for many it is more cost-effective and efficient to work with a vendor or consulting partner to develop one.

Regardless of your approach for developing your scoring model you will find it an invaluable aid in prioritizing prospects and developing meaningful segmentations for personalized appeals and communications. Measure the effectiveness of applying different strategies to move prospects along the continuum of affinity for your organization.

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