Giving USA 2017 Proves Why Wealth Screening is Crucial for Your Sustainability


Linda Garrison, CFRE, Senior Consultant, WealthEngine

Hot off the press, the newly released Giving USA 2017 draws a line in the philanthropic sand: Of the $390.5 billion given to philanthropy in 2016, nearly 88% of that came from individuals in the form of outright gifts, gifts from family foundations, and planned gifts.

The single largest factor in giving growth was an increase of $10.53 billion in giving by individuals.

That’s astounding.

And it’s exactly why your organization needs to immediately invest in – at the minimum – a wealth screening of your database.  You need to know who you have in there, and who your donors are who could afford to give you more. Without wealth intelligence, many of your best donors will fall by the wayside, perhaps wondering why you never asked them for a more significant investment.

Knowledge truly is power.

Additionally, Giving USA 2017 noted that giving to religion, education, human services, health, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and the environment or animal-related causes all experienced a significant uptick, with giving to religion showing a 32% increase. Education and human services received less than half that, with a 15% and 12% jump, respectively. Giving to foundations, including community foundations managing donor advised funds, as well as to family foundations, increased by 10%.

Each charitable subsector grew in 2016 except for giving to individuals, with growth rates ranging from 3% to 7%. Of note, environmental and animal-related causes experienced a 7.2% increase in giving, the largest gain of any philanthropic subsector.

Wealth screening is a core part of our business and now is the time to do it. Your organization can reap the rewards of growing philanthropy prior to the great wealth transfer between Boomers and Millennials.

Giving USA 2017 is produced collaboratively by the Giving USA Foundation™, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute, and The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Top 3 Missed Opportunities to Utilize Wealth Screening for Advancement


When preparing for a campaign, colleges and university advancement teams have a large number of prospects available to them including alumni, the parents of incoming students, etc. Conducting a wealth screening provides you with data and insights on these prospects that can, and should, be used in your campaign planning. All of this data, however, can become overwhelming and underutilized, resulting in missed opportunities.

Join WealthEngine and Heller Consulting on Tuesday, July 18th at 2:00PM ET for our webinar Top 3 Missed Opportunities to Utilize Wealth Screening for Advancement. We’ll discuss strategies you may not have thought of that can only benefit you and your campaign including:

  • Using your wealth screening to its fullest potential
  • Proper campaign planning so you get started on the right track
  • Ensuring your screening information is integrated into your CRM/DMS
  • How you can quickly take action to maximize opportunities
  • And more!

Register now for Top 3 Missed Opportunities to Utilize Wealth Screening for Advancement.

The Data-Driven Annual Fund Part 2: Solicitation and Stewardship


A critical component to an annual fund is your case for support. Are you presenting a clear, intriguing case for support that is likely to result in donations? If not, you’re leaving money on the table, money that could be used to support your mission.

How confident are you in your ask amounts? Don’t guess. Use data to determine what the appropriate ask is.

We developed The Data-Driven Annual Fund to help organization with data understanding and use; strategies for segmentation, solicitation and stewardship of donors and prospects; and measuring and analyzing fundraising ROI and other key metrics.

Part 2: Solicitation and Stewardship discusses what to do once your annual fund plan is in place and how to maximize the solicitation process. It covers multi-channel solicitation strategies and techniques, case-for-support and ask amounts. Examples and templates are provided so can get started right away.

Download The Data-Driven Annual Fund Part 2: Solicitation and Stewardship.

In case you missed it, download Part 1: The Building Blocks.

A Nonprofit’s Guide to Running a Successful Data Engagement: Work Backwards


Part three of this 6-part series is written by Mark Daigle and Eric White, members of the WealthEngine Professional Services Consulting team.

We previously discussed the importance of having a successful data engagement and the value of having the right people in the room. Now we’ll discuss how you can work backward in order to develop a timeline.

Developing a realistic timeline is one aspect for having a successful data engagement. Know the end from the beginning. Work backwards from the close date of your campaign to determine key deadlines. Why are you conducting this analysis using data? Is the launch of a capital campaign approaching? Do you need greater efficiency in your mailing efforts? Or do you simply want insight into your donor’s capacity? Being clear on goals and objectives of your project is critical to realistic project timelines.

Once you know your campaign end date and begin creating your timeline consider any seasonality in your organization’s giving patterns. Include major holidays or scheduled leave for critical staff (ie. parental leave, etc.). These foreseeable interruptions must be accounted for.

Begin identifying key project milestones and where they fall in the project timeline. Milestones include a project kickoff meeting, pulling and preparing the data to send to your vendor, a quality control check by your vendor on data submitted, the completion of data screening and analysis by your vendor, holding a final project presentation meeting, and finally, ingesting the new data back into your CRM. Decide on fixed, but conservative, deadlines for all of the deliverables and milestones identified. 

Below is an example of a sample project timeline detailing key milestones:

1. Contract Signed September 1st
2. Introductory Contact Completed (3 business days) September 7th
3. Data Recieved from Client (4 weeks from contract signing) September 30th
4.  Screening Completed (3 weeks from data recieved) October 21st
5. Modeling Completed November 11th – 30th
6.  Onsight Completed December 14th
7.  Follow Up Call &Strategy Report January 15th
8.  Launch of Campaign February

Establishing an agreed upon timeline built backwards from a fixed campaign start date will help ensure the project is not derailed when (please note we did not say if) bumps in the road emerge. As we discussed last time, it’s important for all of the key stakeholders to agree to the timeline and the key deadlines. In our next blog, we will discuss the project hiccups that will inevitably occur, and how to handle them so they do not cause you to veer too far from your set timeline. 

A Nonprofit’s Guide to Running a Successful Data Engagement: Get the Right People on the Bus


Part two of this 6-part series is written by Mark Daigle and Eric White, members of the WealthEngine Professional Services Consulting team.

In our previous post we discussed how using evidence-based metrics can improve your fundraising efforts. The first part in our blog series about setting up a successful data engagement covers getting the right people involved.

Who are the people that need to be on board from the very beginning? Make sure to include executive leadership, development leadership, and the IT or database administrators. Everyone plays key roles at various points in the engagement. Having buy-in from everyone from the beginning is key. It will also help managing expectations. Key stakeholders should fully understand the scope, milestones, and expectations of the project. This will pay dividends later.

Executive leadership needs to take a 30,000-foot view about what is necessary to make this process a success. They will be responsible for strategic oversight. It is important that the key decision maker supports the project and they understand the scope in terms of timeline and expectations.  Cross-departmental cooperation is critical, and executives who understand the need for continued communication will help keep the entire team on task.

Development leadership will help frame the purpose of a data engagement. They provide tactical decision making. Typically, the development or advancement team will be the end-user of the data to move fundraising efforts forward. Clarifying the specific goals of the project ensures that the right data and variables are included in the data file. For instance, a university might be trying to increase donations from their alumni. It would be beneficial to know things like when did they graduate, what majors did they study, and what (if any) extracurricular activities did they participate in? These elements may provide meaningful insight.

Involve your IT department in your data project, since they may be responsible for pulling files. Pulling a file from your CRM can often be a longer process than people expect. For example, you may have to merge information that comes from separate databases. The specific variables involved in your project may necessitate a special custom data pull. Your IT professional may have to perform some database cleanup prior to pulling data. The data managers often are the source for a data dictionary that will explain custom client attributes in the file. 

Every engagement is unique. The roles described above are performed by the same person or by many individuals. It is important to have all three roles on the bus as you kick off your data engagement project.

Join us for our next post which focuses on working backward to establish key deadlines.

A Nonprofit’s Guide to Running a Successful Data Engagement


Part one of this 6-part series is written by Mark Daigle and Eric White, members of the WealthEngine Professional Services Consulting team.

You know that using evidence-based metrics is the key to improving all aspects of your fundraising efforts. You recognize data is useful and can be used in decision making. But do you know what to do with the data you have? Or do you know exactly what data you have and if it’s useful?

If the answer to these questions are “no”, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and you’re not helpless. Engaging with a strategic third-party vendor can give the additional lift you need to help your fundraising take off.

Once you’ve vetted and selected the data provider of your choice and are preparing to begin your engagement with them, there are some key pieces to consider to maximize the effectiveness your project. We have compiled five areas that we suggest you and your team start thinking about as you prepare to embark on your project. For your data partner to properly execute and meet key deadlines, you should be prepared to discuss the following areas with them.

Over the upcoming weeks, we’ll dive into more detail on the topics below and lay out the process of setting up a successful data engagement step-by-step. In the meantime, here’s an outline of what’s to come:

Get the Right People on the Bus
Who are the people that need to be on board from the very beginning? Make sure to include executive leadership, development leadership, and the IT or database administrators. Everyone plays key roles at various points in the engagement. Having buy in from everyone from the beginning is key and it will also help with managing expectations. Key stakeholders should fully understand the scope, milestones, and expectations of the project. It will pay dividends later.

Work Backwards
Work backwards from the close date of your campaign to determine key deadlines. When are you going to conduct the A/B testing of your mailing campaign? When is the silent phase of the capital campaign scheduled to close? What is the deadline for submitting finalized collateral to the mail house?

The preparation, screening, and analysis of data sets takes time. Even the most straightforward data project sometimes lasts weeks or months so working backwards from fixed deadlines will ensure a successful outcome and help alleviate undue stress towards the end. 

Expect Hiccups
It is inevitable that you will experience a few bumps along the way. Suppose you have diligently entered birth dates onto your CRM or DMS records. You’ve exported them into an Excel file to share with your vendor, but your vendor calls to say that some dates appear as 1/1/1900! Your colleague that manages the database is on leave. What are you going to do? How are you going to fix this without having to push back your deadlines? Things like this happen sometimes, so be prepared. Ask your vendor. They can help.

Get Your Hands Dirty
Commit to being comfortable with the unknown. We learn more effectively by doing. Your data vendor is not asking you to be a statistician, but you may be asked some questions and be tasked with some responsibilities that will require you to be willing to stretch your mind. Do yourself a favor and don’t shy away from rolling your sleeves up and getting your hands dirty. You will become a better fundraiser for it.    

Enjoy the Ride
Fundraising brings with it a whole host of anxieties. Some of the old ways of operating are going to feel the safest, but they may not work. Embracing an analytical approach to fundraising can be scary, but it’s also a lot of fun. Data-driven fundraising empowers organizations to make more effective decisions that will drive their mission forward. There is nothing like the thrill of finding your OWN real life “millionaire next door.” They’re out there and you can find them by taking the right approach.

Working with a data vendor does not have to be daunting. Focusing on these five areas can help you have a successful data engagement and build a relationship with your vendor that will be beneficial for years to come.

In our next post we will dive deeper into who the right people are and the value of getting them in the room.

Why Your Nonprofit Should Consider an Independent Audit to Improve Fundraising


You know the importance of improving fundraising operations, processes, and results. This includes any investment you’ve made in wealth screening and predictive modeling, since they’re only as good as your implementation after receiving the data.  So, let’s ask some questions and see if any of these might pertain to your current situation:

  • Are you nearing the end of your wealth intelligence contract? Do you know what steps are crucial for your ongoing success?
  • Are you concluding a multi-year engagement which included screening and predictive modeling and you’re wondering if you’re applying the insights correctly?
  • Are you struggling with making your grateful patient program as impactful as possible?
  • Do you have a particular pain point (or points!) and don’t know what to do next?

If you’ve answered “yes” to any – or several – of these questions, then you should consider bringing in independent counsel for a development audit.

This short, in-depth exercise can help pinpoint strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth in your fundraising operation, your use of wealth intelligence data and provide a roadmap of best practices and recommendations to move forward successfully. Bringing in an outside resource to conduct this audit also ensures you receive an impartial look at what your organization is working on and what can be improved. In essence, it’s getting someone else to ask the tough questions that you may not want to ask.

Once your organization has decided to undergo a development audit, look for a provider who can do a deep dive into your documentation, be present onsite to interview key stakeholders, and will provide a final, detailed written report and an overview presentation.

This kind of brief, affordable engagement can mean a world of difference in your fundraising operations and results.  And, it can fine tune your investment in wealth intelligence to ensure you aren’t just purchasing a product, but an authentic solution to meet your organization’s needs.

If you are interested in improving your fundraising operations by identifying any gaps you may have, contact us about a WE Quick Audit.

Keeping in Touch with Your Donors


In times of higher costs and shrinking donor prospects, it’s extremely important to manage your current donor relationships. Your best donors are your current donors. That’s not to say you should let your prospecting go. Instead, it means you need to maintain a high-touch approach with your current donors, while you are out prospecting for new donors. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking that a regular donor will always be there for you.

How to Keep in Touch

You need a plan. This plan is a nurturing and promotion plan. You want to retain your current donors and encourage them to increase their gifts. You also want them to network on your behalf.

In today’s age of global communications, there are many channels for use to keep in touch. Your organization should use all of them (unless someone has opted out of a particular mode): social media, events, emails, annual funds, newsletters, etc.

But… don’t overdo it. You want to keep a donor interested; you don’t want to end up deleted before read or marked as spam. Keep in mind – most of these communications should not be asks. That’s right. Timing is everything. If you ask your donor at every chance, it dilutes their interest. You want your donors excited about your work.

If a donor, no matter their level of giving, asks a question or makes a suggestion, have someone from staff personally reach out to address their concern. Your donors will feel closer to your organization. Think about how much you appreciate an actual person on the phone in this age of computer response. Your donors feel the same way.

A Personal Touch

Rather than a one-size fits all, consider a multi-class approach. You want your donors to continue to give to your organization. You also want a donor, when they are able, to increase their gift. This can be a simple process, by grouping your donors by Low, Middle, High and having a development plan for each class of donor.

Be truly donor-centered. If you treat people, no matter their level of giving, as an integral part of your mission, they will respond in kind.

For more ways to manage your donors and increase their gifts check out Growing Individual Gifts: An Analytic Approach to Data-Driven Success.

Create Your Own Affinity Score


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.

Collecting Social Data


Social data comes from various outlets.  It’s not just your online presence; it is in-person meetings, networking events, phone calls and even gossip. You capture all of these points in your database, building detailed profiles. With all of these social data points in your database, it can be hard to know what to do with them.  However, nonprofits have a major opportunity to use social data to asses a prospect’s life and passions. 

Your development team should use this information with the aim of connecting your organization’s work to what a donor cares about – if you reach out with a pertinent campaign, a prospect is much more likely to give when they are personally and passionately aligned with your mission.

Timing is everything

Without social data, knowing when the right time to reach out is can be a challenge. Social data provides cues, allowing you to make a more informed decision on when it’s the right time to reach out.

Through your social connections, you can have an inside track on a donor or prospect’s life: job changes, births, graduations and more. These are great times to reach out and make a personal connection with your donors. On the other hand, social data can let you know when it’s not the right time to reach out, helping you avoid any uncomfortable situations that could dissuade a prospect. Overall, social data delivers excellent background information to build a connection into a relationship.

Be social with your social data

Your development team won’t be the only ones to benefit from social data. The web team, social media team, management, human resources, etc. can all use social data to be more successful. Aside from identifying donors passionate about your mission, your whole organization can use this data to not only improve their work, but to foster a culture of philanthropy. If your nonprofit is hosting a large gala event, wouldn’t it be nice to arm your executives with pertinent data about the key attendees? This ensures they effectively use their time for cultivating these relationships. Once the event wraps, be sure to debrief with the executives. It’s an opportunity to gather more social data to add to your database. When your whole team works together on your social data, it’s a win for your organization!

Social data can be key in targeting specific segments of your database. Register for our webinar Leveraging Social Media & Events to Engage Millennials to learn how to better engage millennials through social media and events.