When the Houston Grand Opera’s season commences this fall with a new production of Madame Butterfly, Larissa Potiomkin will have her prospect pipeline stocked and ready for its own debut. As Manager of Development Information at the Houston Grand Opera, she is a jack of all development trades; performing prospect research, managing the prospect pipeline and soliciting annual gifts. For Potiomkin, it all comes down to the basics, “prospect research data provides direction on whom to target and at what gift level. It’s as simple as that.”
Since the Opera began wealth screening three years ago, major gift donors have given at higher levels and overall contributions have grown by 82%. As well, their database has doubled in size to over 200,000 records through various methods of prospecting. Potiomkin estimated 2009 prospect research costs (excluding salaries) at 1% of 2009 contributions and said the Opera’s costs had been consistent since 2007 when they first implemented prospect research and screening. Using this cost estimate, the below table demonstrates Houston Grand Opera’s ROI from prospect research after their implementation in FY 2007.
“When you compare that to direct mail, web maintenance and design, special events and other fundraising costs, prospect research is a small investment that yields greater returns and one that we’ve seen contribute to our fundraising growth,” adds Potiomkin. “Overall, our ROI from prospect research these past three years is 2,766%. It may seem like an incredible number, but it’s one that shows the power of prospect research and the true potential that exists when coupled with a well-functioning, aggressive fundraising program.”
Center Theatre Group is one of the largest theater companies in the country. Their 50-year heritage makes them one of the most influential nonprofits in Arts & Culture. The company consists of three iconic centers of art including the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum, and the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Moreover, the organization believes that theatre creates an extraordinary connection between artists and audiences that begins on the stage.
Through the use of Inner Circle, the nonprofit could create a new group of active participants in their Fringe Board. As a result, Center Theatre Group realized a 36% Year-on-Year increase in overall donations.
This was possible through the growth seen in new gifts. For example, one member who had never previously given gave a gift of $1,000. Thus, through such instances, the organization realized its goal of finding new donors outside their core audience.
A Center for American Theater wanted to gain a more holistic view of their existing donors and determine each donor’s propensity and capacity to give. Using WealthEngine, the center was able to create models based on each donor’s wealth attributes.
By generating specific ask amounts for each patron in direct mail appeals, the center noticed that individual giving increased by 20% the first year and 15% the following year, with an estimated ROI of 1000%.
Signature Theater wanted to determine the appropriate gift amounts to ask from donors. Using WealthEngine, they were able to more accurately assess their donor and prospects’ propensity to give.
Not only did Signature Theater use P2G scores to create appropriate ask amounts from donors, but they also completed 1,000 individual screenings and increased their number of new donors. These screenings enabled them to hone in on building and deepening donor relationships.