Religious Advocacy Group Gains 30x Major Gift ROI Within 1 Year

An international religious advocacy group approached WealthEngine to identify major gift donors. They wanted to find donors with major gift potential from right within their database. WealthEngine’s modeling solution was able to help them fulfill their goal. Moreover, the group was able to gain 30X ROI within a single year. See how the advocacy group was able to accomplish this.

Who They Are

The organization is a renowned, global nonprofit that serves all denominations. It produces educational material and conducts workshops around the world.

The Challenge

The chief challenge was identifying major gift donors. In this instance, the advocacy group needed to nurture donors who were capable of giving at the $7K+ gift level. What’s more, the group was tasked to find these prospects from their existing donor pool of 500,000 people.

WealthEngine’s Solution


Firstly, the organization began with wealth screening. Screening data informed the creation of their major gift model.  In fact, WealthEngine built a custom model for the group. The model enabled them to cultivate and optimize their ask immediately. How did the model enable this? The custom algorithm was able to identify all prospects who were not only capable of giving at this level but also likely to give.


The Result

The organization immediately found 19 new and upgraded major gift donors to cultivate. This further led them to gain $531,960 in additional funds for their Major Gift Program. As a result, they achieved a 30x gain in ROI in 1 year. From now on, the group plans to leverage modeling and analytics in their fundraising.



Young Life


Young Life secures multiple large gifts by using WealthEngine’s estimated giving capacity to better define ask amounts.

The Client
Young Life, based in Colorado and established in 1941, works with youth to establish and grow their faith. The organization reaches around 2M adolescents each year, both in the United States and around the world.

One of Young Life’s crowning achievements is their camping program. Each year, nearly 300,000 kids have the opportunity to participate in various adventures, stay at resort-quality facilities, and engage with mentors who assist them with a feeling of belonging, direction and adventure.

The Challenge
With a database of 3M constituents, Young Life needed a better way to segment and identify individuals to target for major giving. Additionally, the organization struggled with determining the right ask amounts because they were missing key information like estimated giving capacity. Besides raising funds for their camps, Young Life continues to raise money for various projects and ministries across the country and around the world.

With so many projects, Young Life realized they needed to improve their targeting capabilities since their database consists of individuals who have given for many years, those who recently stopped giving, and those who have been involved in the organization, but have yet to make a gift.

The Solution
Young Life has had access to the WealthEngine Platform for several years but was not using it to its full potential. Knowing the platform would add great value in their fundraising effectiveness, they were able to secure additional user licenses. In 2016, Tommy Batts joined Young Life as a Development Associate with the responsibility of managing the WealthEngine Platform for his team and becoming the go-to expert. Previously, prospect research was a more time-consuming effort and the role was spread across more staff members within the organization.

Tommy uses WE Search to compile missing constituent information, specifically focusing on a prospect or donor’s giving capacity. Young Life also utilizes WE Screen. Because of the large number of constituent records, they conduct screenings weekly, and sometimes on a daily basis, of lists of several thousand names.

Young Life has greatly benefited from using WealthEngine. They have specifically found it invaluable in helping to identify individuals who have fallen through the cracks because they have stopped giving or have been giving but not at the capacity they could be. They have also greatly improved their ask amounts because they now have a better sense of an individual’s estimated giving capacity.

This has directly resulted in Young Life securing a significantly large gift. The organization already had a long-standing relationship with this individual, but because of WealthEngine, they knew the capacity was there and were able to ask for a much larger amount than originally intended.

“It means a lot to us to be able to provide this information,” says Tommy. “To see these names come back with these large gifts affirms the fact we are doing good work and supporting the field and helping them do their job well by raising money for the mission and impacting the lives of kids.”

Next Steps
Young Life is in the process of improving their CRM platform. They intend to utilize WealthEngine’s integration to seamlessly pull in the WE data to their constituent records. The organization is confident they will continue building their donor base through WE information and relationships.

“WealthEngine has been really helpful for us, and everyone in our department sees the benefit of it,” says Tommy. “As a large organization, being able to run thousands of names and pinpoint a financial analysis of each one of those individuals makes our jobs a lot easier. For us to do that work for them is a huge benefit for furthering our organization and our mission. It’s been a huge benefit for us and there are many opportunities to continue to grow and learn.”

Christian Brothers High School

CBHS logo.png

The Challenge
The school began their silent phase of a $25 million capital campaign in November of 2014. The goal was to raise the bulk of this money before moving into the public phase.

It became clear to the development team that there was a gap in insights about donor potential among their alumni base. They had a strong network of alumni that intentionally chose to keep in touch and be active supporters, but with over 10k living alumni, they knew there was untapped donor potential outside of this mostly local alumni group. The challenge was identifying those individuals who had the capacity to give large amounts and understand more about them to be able to effectively reconnect and cultivate each as a major gift prospects.

The Solution
When Ken Kimble, the Director of the Capital Campaign and Foundations at CBHS came onboard, he suggested that they run a donor screening on their alumni network, and soon after involved WealthEngine for help with this data enrichment project.

They performed WE Screen by securely uploading their alumni file and received the appended results directly in their WealthEngine Platform. The team used the Propensity to Give (P2G) and the gift capacity range scores to segment their alumni base for major donor cultivation. They then used WE Search to gain deeper insight on their top prospects.

Once the screening was run and they began segmenting, they immediately identified an out of town alum that was worth $50 million+ who they initially knew nothing about. With the help of the WealthEngine Platform, they began to gain deeper insight into this new major gift prospect. Within the year, they successfully secured a seven-figure gift to the campaign from this individual.

Since running wealth screenings, they continued to see great success resulting in:

  • Eight seven-figure cash gifts raised
  • $16 million in donation commitments
  • $4.5 million in planned giving commitments

These gifts helped to build a new science building, renovate their dining hall with a full meal service plan, build a
new $10 million athletic facility, and contribute $2.5 million towards an endowment fund for faculty development.

Next Steps
Ken and his team are in the WealthEngine Platform every day, and have since run three wealth screenings on their
alumni base over the years. Each time they run a screening they identify new major gift prospects that they were
previously unaware of from a capacity standpoint.

With their next upcoming screening, they are also turning to WealthEngine to help with a data supplementation and
cleaning project to track down alumni who might have moved and who they aren’t currently engaging with. CBHS
had done their due diligence and considered other vendors to help with this cleanup project, but ultimately decided
that WealthEngine was the best partner to trust with their data.

With each data project, CBHS works with WealthEngine as they continue to improve the quality and accuracy of
their alumni database. From these screenings, it has since been shown that there is a deep donor pool that Ken says
“could easily set up the school for funding over the next 50+ years.”

Ken is a loyal customer that truly sees the value in wealth intelligence and goes on to say that “the platform goes
beyond just paying for itself, compared to the potential you have in raising funds, you’re crazy not to use these data

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association


“WealthEngine has given us so much to work with,” explains Keith Niles, Senior Database Analyst for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), the fundraising arm of the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. “Basically, we now have a wealth of quality, actionable data, thanks to the screening we performed through WealthEngine.” GLAZA has traditionally had a sizable number of prospects and names; in fact, the membership database alone holds 64,000 households and about 300,000 records. Meanwhile, the Zoo staff includes only one prospect researcher, Michelle Mesrobian. And, while Mesrobian handles the Zoo’s prospect research, she is also responsible for donor relations and, most recently, was named project manager for the Zoo’s feasibility study in preparation for an upcoming capital campaign.

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Signature Theatre


Signature Theatre is a Tony Award®-winning, nonprofit professional theater company with a mission to produce contemporary musicals and plays, reinvent classic musicals, develop new work, and reach its community through engaging educational and outreach opportunities. Beginning in a garage space in 1993, Signature has swiftly become a landmark theater in the DC Region’s theatre scene, as well as a recognized player among the nation’s regional theatres.

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Le Moyne College


Having worked at Le Moyne College for over 20 years, Deborah Reinhardt Youmans has learned how to build value into a prospect research management program. When she first started as Director for Advancement Research, the College was spending significantly on prospect research and wealth screening tools but wasn’t applying the information in a strategic and team-oriented approach to realize strong returns on investment. Today, her strategy involves routine donor and prospect screenings, internal data mining, ongoing prospect tracking, and more importantly, prospect management meetings in close coordination and communication with development officers.


“The bottom line is that everyone involved in fundraising has to work as a team and that requires each individual to take responsibility for what he or she is here to do. You hold yourself accountable for the role you play on the team, as should those around you,” says Reinhardt Youmans. “You also want to remember that philanthropy is a volunteer action for a common good, while fundraising is the ability to look through the eyes of a donor. Each member of your team needs to embrace that a joyful donor is your destination and, of course, enough of them to make goal!”

At Le Moyne, prior to any solicitation visit, the staff assigned meet with the Research Department and agree on the amount the prospect will be asked. “Yes, our profiles have the suggested ask and all the data and analysis to back it up,” says Reinhardt Youmans, “But, I have found that this simple process of meeting prior to a solicitation helps to build the team atmosphere, boost the confidence of those going out, and forces a meeting of the minds. You may need to role play Scenario A and Scenario B with the staff assigned, while at the same time trust their ability to make the right judgment call during the visit.”

Building the Pipeline

Reinhardt Youmans is a firm believer that “screenings should be used to confirm top level prospects and identify those up and comers for the next campaign. If you are using a screening now to identify new major donors for your current campaign, you’ve missed the mark from a timing perspective.” She adds, “While I expect Research to continuously identify, screen and qualify prospects that is only one piece of the puzzle, as the most important step is moving those potentials into the pipeline to build relationships. Another important piece of the puzzle is the fact that relationships provide ‘knowns to the unknowns’ for additional pipeline movement.”

Having been a team member for three campaigns at the College (Building on Excellence, Tradition with Vision and Achieving New Heights) she notes that the best-run campaigns for the highest return on investments (ROI) are those where each member of the team is knowledgeable and embraces the vision, mission and strategic plan. “That means that your alumni office is the point-guard for discovery, every office on campus is the point-guard for discovery, every event, every mailing, every email, every social media posting, every incoming response to the Annual Fund Appeal is a point-guard for discovery. If you are simply screening for capacity ratings without understanding the crucial aspect of building and maintaining relationships, you are blind to what is out there and what can be.”

Build Trust

Before you begin any forward-movement, advises Reinhardt Youmans, come together as a team. Understand the value and contribution that each role in the Division gives to your fundraising efforts. During a campaign, take the time to correct actions, recalibrate and celebrate. Post-campaign, come together and freely discuss, openly and honestly, what went right and what did not go as planned. “You have to reflect upon yourself, you have to discuss issues and then be willing to let go of any past hurt and grudges that often occur during the hectic pace of a campaign and the urge to make goal. As a group, you cannot move on to what you will ‘become’ or ‘do’ in the future until you are willing to spend time, resources, money and your own internal energy and emotions to make the decision to move forward as a cohesive unit.”

Move it Forward

Reinhardt Youmans advocates regularly scheduled meetings where those identified are added to portfolios based on ‘agreed-upon’ criteria that every member of the team supports. Portfolios can be built and fine-tuned based on the level of giving, the specific passions of the prospect and in truth, the personality and skill level of the development staff. One should include all relevant development staff in the meeting, as that heightens not only the team atmosphere, but forces open and honest communication. Tracking also helps Research evaluate how close their original capacity ratings were to the final ask, as this type of confirmation for the capacity ratings and ask amounts ensures that future requests are well planned and executed. “You learn when to push and when to pull as those added to portfolios are tempered with those that need to be removed. If you as a researcher are credible, your involvement and advice during these meetings is valuable. You have to remember that each member of the team is to be open-minded to provide constructive criticism and to accept it. When you have the right team atmosphere, specific talking points can ‘smart’ at times, but all is positively given and positively received.”

Le Moyne’s success is also due to the donor relationships nurtured by development officers. “We measure a development officer not by the number of donations they generate but by the number of visits they make to a prospect, because we have found a strong correlation between the frequency of visits and resulting gift,” says Reinhardt Youmans.

Le Moyne’s current prospect tracking process is based on several closely monitored factors:

  • Length of the average cultivation cycle
  • Length from initial visit to the ask
  • Proximity of the suggested ask to the final close and any variables
  • Common occurrences among prospects, at varying gift levels

“In the short term, it allows us a snapshot of where we are and where we are headed. In the long term, it is an invaluable tool for strategic planning towards the next campaign,” explains Reinhardt Youmans. “Research should always be ahead of the curve, preferably two years out, and we need to start building the relationships now in preparation for the next campaign.”

Build Momentum

Le Moyne, established in 1946, has a relatively short history, compared to the other 28 Jesuit colleges and universities. Le Moyne is just now coming into its own as a strong fundraising entity as prospects have reached the higher levels of giving. Le Moyne’s last campaign, Tradition with Vision from 1996-2001, resulted in the achievement of $30.5M to their goal of $25M and garnered their first $1M gift. Their most recent campaign, Achieving New Heights from 2004-2010, experienced the College’s first $5M, $4M, $3M and $2M gifts. “We were also fortunate to receive a $50M bequest in fall 2008, but the moral of the story is not the amount, it is the fact that in over 30 years of contact and stewardship with the prospect, no one dropped the ball. That, in a nutshell, should be the outcome of prospect management.”

“You have to keep moving forward and remember the mission of your organization.” She advises, “The more that you can be a team player and work closely with your development staff, the better your response will be as you build trust and evaluate whether the gift capacity and actual ask amount are on target, time after time. The technical skills, art and science required for Research should never be prioritized above the mindset of what you are doing this for. These are some of the tools to help you get to the finished product; they are not in themselves the finished product. Your finished product is a loyal and well-stewarded donor with the recognition that it took a team of individuals to make it happen.”

Roanoke College


Roanoke College has been a client of Datatel for more than 11 years; first using the Benefactor donor management system then upgrading to Colleague Advancement in 2008. At that time, Datatel and WealthEngine partnered to integrate WealthEngine screening data into Colleague Advancement which has since created a seamless integration and batch screening process that Roanoke can employ completely within their donor management system.

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Saint Mary’s College


Saint Mary’s College had done a wealth screening, but it had been years before and no one was involved in the process, Joni Warner explained. So, Warner, Director of Research for Development at the college, had a lot of decisions to make as she began to investigate the possibilities of a screening. She knew questions like these would need to be answered: What is our plan? What will we find most helpful in the results?

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