Prospect Research Best Practices for Arts & Culture Fundraisers

Prospect Research Best Practices

As a development professional in the arts and culture sector, you may be looking for prospect research best practices . Today, fundraising is both an art and a science. While data drives decision making, there is also a subtle art involved in framing and timing the ask. With this in mind, here are 3 top best practices in prospect research for arts & culture fundraisers.

Our prospect research best practice recommendations combined with tailored solutions will help you:

  1. Increase prospect engagement through personalization
  2. Convert more ticket buyers into donors or members
  3. Let your best donors guide your prospect research

1. Increase prospect engagement through personalization

Personalization is a mantra that you will hear about often in the near future. This is a key prospect research best practice in the arts and culture sector. Most organizations generally have automated emails thanking someone for a low/mid-level gift. Even though this is common practice, it is not impactful.

Personalization is necessary to increase impact and engagement. Sustained engagement will encourage prospects to support your cause, thereby becoming donors. The messaging needs to be personalized regardless of the medium. For example, a handwritten letter or call from the Executive Director sent to high-level donors can ensure a deeper connection.

Prospect research can help you take this a step further. You can personalize communication not only based on giving history but also on giving capacity and other wealth factors.

WealthEngine can empower your prospect research to reach the right set of major gift donor prospects. We can help you decide if someone should be in an annual fund portfolio or major gift portfolio.

Our wealth intelligence goes beyond net worth to generate a holistic propensity score. Wealth screening can help you set your prospect research in motion and increase donation amounts across all giving brackets by optimizing your ask.

2. Convert arts and culture ticket buyers or visitors into donors

You may be familiar with the common struggle at arts and culture organizations – the difficulty of prioritizing between ticket sales and fundraising. Both are equally important to sustain the organization. However, with lean teams, one of these gets prioritized at the cost of the other. Most organizations that we speak with tend to do a great job filling the seats in a theater or getting a high volume of visitors. Ideally, all those ticket buyers/visitors would be donors or members. Although we recognize that this may not be the case right now.

It may seem like a monumental task to research every ticket buyer or visitor. But these visitors are your greatest prospects! Our next prospect research best practice recommendation can help convert visitors to life-long donors or members. WealthEngine has the capability to screen a ticket buyer at the point of sale and notify you so you can begin nurturing. Furthermore, our API will capture potential major donor prospects in real time.

For instance, if you have a new ticket buyer who conducts the transaction on your website. Our wealth screening solution combined with API can update you on their wealth, demographic and lifestyle information immediately. This allows your team to identify prospects who have not only the capacity to give but also the propensity and intent.

The broad nature of this type of prospect research will give your team the ability to roll out the red carpet. Top prospects can be given the platinum experience before and after any event. This level of personalization would enable the visitor to become better engaged with your organization, creating a strong case to become a donor.

3.Let your best donors guide your prospect research

In our experience, we have found that a lot of organizations have a solid set of low and mid-level donors. A lot of these donors have not only greater gift capacities, but also the interest and motivation to give.  They can easily be leveled up to ensure that there is no money left at the table. As a prospect research best practice, it comes down to perfecting the ask. 

There are two ways to increase the number of high-level donors:

  • Optimize your ask. Don’t forget that prospect research can still be applied to your current donor base! Prospect research allows you to determine the capacity, propensity and intent of donors and prospects. Use the insight from prospecting to ensure that gifts from your current donors match their capacity and propensity.

Our demographic, lifestyle, interests, and affinity data can help gift officers with this best practice. Fundraisers can maintain meaningful dialog with donors and prospects as part of the nurturing process.

  • Find new high-level donors. In-depth prospect research allows you to do a deep dive into your donor base and identify patterns of traits among your high-level donors in order to find more prospects like them. WealthEngine’s analytical and predictive modeling solution can build models based on your top donors.

Our prospecting solution uses insights from these models to find more high-level prospects. This way your best donors can help you find your next best prospects!  In one such instance, our client went from raising $400k at their gala to $7.8M in 3 years. They were able to accomplish this by using WealthEngine to identify other prospects modeled after their top donors.

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Take your prospect research to the next level, contact us to learn more.

We hope these prospect research best practices set you up for year-round arts and culture fundraising success!

Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can help you perfect your prospect research.

You may also like our other articles on prospecting:

Predictive Prospecting: Profiling Your Best Clients to Find New Prospects

Prospect Automation: Why Old Ways of Prospecting Will No Longer Deliver Results

 

 

The Art of Fundraising – 5 Best Fundraising Practices for an Arts & Culture Organization

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Donations are the livelihood of your organization.  And fundraising can be challenging.  It’s both an art and a science.  In order to unlock the best practices out there, you need to find out what is making fundraising and research campaigns successful and, frankly, what’s not.  Here are five best practices for successful fundraising:

  1.  Capture Ticketing Data to Identify Donor Potential
    Arts and Culture organizations have a unique pool of individuals – their ticket purchasers – who already demonstrate a genuine interest in the mission and work of their organization. These ticket buyers already contribute to your organization’s revenue stream and represent a natural prospect pool. Once these individuals have purchased tickets and walked through your doors, you are presented with a far greater advantage—they are engaged and interested in the offerings of your organization. Now they must be cultivated while their interest level is high.  ​High performing organizations usually have a strategy to harness the information collected during ticketing. Information can be captured through online ticket purchases, surveys, and visitor kiosks placed at entrances.
     
  2. Leverage Membership to Fuel Your Donor Pipeline
    Your donors like to feel involved with your organization.  The benefits of membership are to regularly engage people in the mission of your organization and then to encourage them to support it financially.  By paying quality attention to this membership group, your organization can get a lively pipeline of  donors ready to be nurtured and promoted to the next donation tier. Benefits could include: discounts, valet parking, special events, backstage tours, post-performance receptions, event privileges, gift store discounts, educational seminars, magazine subscriptions, and free admission. 
     
  3. Leverage Your Board to Build an Inner Circle
    While some organizations see active fundraising participation from their board and volunteers, others wish theirs were more active and involved.  The model board candidate has a circle of friends that show a similar giving capacity and inclination toward the Arts.  You want your board members to reach out to these friends and help the development team cultivate with a personal touch, ultimately strengthening your organization’s major gift pipeline.
     
  4. Invest in Screening
    Upgrading current donors and identifying new prospects are challenges for arts organizations.  Invest in a screening of your donors and prospects to determine who has the capacity, propensity, and affinity to donate to your organization.  Screening can help you fill in the gaps and deepen your data records so you can better segment and prioritize. 
     
  5. Manage Your Data Proactively
    The recording and updating of donor records is a must in successful fundraising.  Properly run Donor Management Systems (DMS) secure accurate and easy to follow-up results from research and wealth screenings. A well-managed DMS and solid implementation plan is indispensable. One of the most significant ways to increase the value of the data from your wealth screening is to integrate the results into your DMS. The DMS allows your team to compile information on all donors including their contact information, giving history, special event attendance, ticketing history and other interactions with the organization.

Fundraising as an arts organization poses its own set of challenges. Don’t let these challenges derail your fundraising. Use these tips to set your organization up for success.  

Do you have a story to share about successful fundraising in your arts organization? Share in the comments below.

 

Grateful Patrons…Special Intelligence

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I just came out of watching the latest (and maybe, just maybe the best?) Bond movie – Spectre.  Now I have to admit, I am British, I love cars, I love watches and I love Bond, so I am somewhat of a sitting duck for both the movie producers and gratuitous product placements that seem to be everywhere in Bond movies.   Walking out of the theatre, I was on a high; I felt like James Bond’s less fashionable sibling who wanted everything his brother had!  If someone had presented me with the opportunity right then and there, I would have purchased that new Aston Martin DB10, that new Omega watch, or that oh-so-well-fitting Tom Ford suit!  

Unfortunately, I won’t be buying any of those thing right now (Bond accessories are a little out of my league) but you get the gist. Marketers dream of people like me who are caught up in the moment and will do just about anything to get what they see in front of them.  By next week, the euphoria will have worn off….I’ll be Mike Lees again (not the Bond Brother)…and I’ll have seen other cars, other suits and other tempting targets for my hard-earned cash. The moment will have passed.

So what’s the lesson here?  In sales, marketing and fundraising, timing is everything; it’s sales and marketing 101. This basic principle works in grateful patron programs as well. There are three basic pillars for qualifying a good sales or fundraising opportunity:

  1. do they have the budget?
  2. do they have the affinity or the need? And,
  3. is now a good time to ask?

Let’s look in a little more detail at these three in reverse order:

  • Timing – Place a message when your audience is most susceptible.  It’s not only product placement marketers that have been doing this successfully; healthcare fundraisers have been using this tactic with great success through Grateful Patient Programs (GPPs).  They know that frequent screening of patient records and frequent outreach to ‘grateful patients’ can yield great fundraising results.  For many years now, hospitals have been able to do more research, make necessary capital purchases and fund significant initiatives through these programs.  The same holds true for Grateful Patron Programs. You need to ask yourself…
    • How often are you screening your patrons?  Do you reach out to them when they are most ‘grateful’ (i.e. after a performance) or do you wait until later, maybe even until the end of the season?
  • Affinity – This one is easy.  Your patrons clearly have affinity to your cause….after all, they just came to watch your show, or visit your establishment; and many of them do so frequently.   But have you looked beyond this?  
    • Do you have the data and insight into their lifestyle and interests to determine what else interests them, what else may better align them with your cause?  Are there partnerships you could exploit to attract them?  For example, if you have a significant number of fashion lovers in your patron base, could you partner with a luxury brand to deliver a special event?  Consumer analytics vendors like WealthEngine can help here.
  • Resources – This one is a little harder.  You may know your most prominent patrons well.  But do you know the rest?  Do you truly know their capacity to give?  Do you have the insight to be able to make the right ask?
    • Wealth intelligence when done right can score your entire patron base and prioritize each and every one so that you focus your resources in the right place and optimize your fundraising with the right ask.  This is where tools like WealthEngine can truly make a difference.

All of this can seem a little daunting, but it really isn’t.  With some simple changes to your fundraising practices and the introduction of the right data, you can develop processes to consistently make the right ask of the right people at the right time.  

Many of your peers are already doing this (take a look here) and can attest that while you don’t need the resources and cunning of an international special agent, you do need special intelligence.   That’s where we can help.   The name’s Engine…WealthEngine.

To learn more about WealthEngine and our Grateful Patron Program offerings for Arts & Culture organizations take a look here.

From accountant and financial analyst to entrepreneur and get-to-market strategist (it’s never as easy as just going-to-market), Mike’s professional journey has armed him with a unique set of skills and perspective – starting with a product that meets unmet needs, through delivering simple and differentiated messages that generate demand, Mike has done it all.