Take us with you! Introducing the WealthEngine Mobile App on the go

We are pleased to announce the launch of the WealthEngine mobile app, now available for iOS and Android users. Whether you’re on the go or on the couch, search for wealthy individuals from your phone in order to quickly access profile summaries and connections right at your fingertips.

Our free mobile app was designed to offer simplified remote access in complement to the WealthEngine platform by enabling users to:

  • Search the WealthEngine database of wealthy individuals by name, location and age.
  • Review summaries of matched profiles, as well as key profile details including demographics, net worth, liquidity and giving capacity.
  • Understand how an individual might be aligned with your existing network through profile connections.
  • Save profiles to your WealthEngine account to view later when you’re back at your desk.

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For more information on the WealthEngine mobile app, please refer to our Knowledge Article or contact your dedicated account representative.

A Comprehensive Guide to Reviving Annual Funds

Annual funds

The annual fund is the lifeblood of your organization. Dollars raised through this campaign allow your nonprofit to keep meeting its goals regardless of whether you won a new grant or secured a major gift. Consistent communication on behalf of the fund also keeps you connected with your donors and helps you grow roots in the community.

Unfortunately, reviving the annual fund often falls to the wayside. Between managing your core programs or writing grant applications, it can seem like there’s hardly time for anything else. All that can change with the right tools and techniques.

In this guide, we’ll get technical on how to easily identify prospects or upsell existing annual fund donors. You’ll also learn about direct mail best practices so you can increase your campaign’s return on investment. Once you start incorporating these strategies, you’ll be amazed at how regular annual fund appeals can bring you closer to your donors.

What Is an Annual Fund?

While its usage and definition may vary between institutions, an annual fund usually covers a nonprofit’s operating costs. Gifts to the fund come from individuals who receive direct mail from the organization during a campaign.

While it might be tempting to devote more time to applying for grants or nurturing planning giving prospects, don’t underestimate the power of individuals contributing to an annual fund. According to a report from Giving USA, in 2019 individual donors gave over $309 billion. This accounts for 69% of total giving and is the largest source of donations, beating out foundations, corporations, and planned giving.

Plus, an annual fund fueled by hundreds of small donors does much more than just keep the lights on. Consider these benefits:

  • Unlike grants, endowments, or capital campaigns, you can use the money raised for annual funds on anything your organization needs.
  • Annual funds keep donor participation consistent from year to year and help update patron data.
  • They establish financial patterns so staff can anticipate when and how much money might be available for miscellaneous projects.
  • Donors who contribute each year deepen their connection to the organization and might make good candidates for future major gifts.

Not only do annual funds allow organizations to continue pursuing their core mission, but they also provide donors with tax deductions and a sense of community. By regularly engaging patrons in this way, you strengthen the nonprofit’s long-term place in the community.

If your nonprofit is within a certain industry, you might find that your annual fund campaign will be more successful than expected. The same Giving USA report found that most charitable dollars went to organizations centered around religion (29%), education (14%), human services (12%), grantmaking (12%), and health (9%).

Before Launching an Annual Fund Campaign

Maybe your attention has been focused on getting grants and you’ve let the annual fund grow stale. Before you go all-in on a revival campaign, it’s important to identify which goals and metrics are most important for your organization. This will make it easier to monitor the fundraiser’s progress and make adjustments that increase the results of your campaign.

Common annual fund metrics include:

  • Total dollars – the total amount given to the fund
  • Total donors – how many individuals participated
  • Total gifts – this may differ from total donors, as sometimes people give more than once during a fiscal year
  • Average gift – measure this by dividing total dollars by total gifts
  • Participation rate – a percentage describing how many donors gave to the fund out of all the people who were solicited for a gift

There are many more potential metrics. However, too many metrics or too much time spent on reporting can result in “analysis paralysis”, hindering progress. 

To avoid this, check out the Data-Driven Annual Fund workbook. It can help you select the benchmarks that make the most sense for your nonprofit.

How to Identify Potential Annual Fund Donors

Not everyone who has donated to your organization is a good candidate for the annual fund. Here are a few techniques for analyzing your list of current and potential donors to identify the strongest prospects for your campaign.

  • Use Look-Alike Modeling

Take a look at who is already donating to your annual fund, focusing on those who represent your ideal donor. What characteristics do they share? Do they have similar incomes or careers? 

Use these data points to identify other prospects in your donor database you can reach out to during an annual fund campaign.

Of course, that might be too much data to deal with manually, even for a highly dedicated team. A tool like WealthEngine automates the process. 

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WealthEngine comes equipped with a look-alike modeling feature—called WE Prospect—that not only analyzes ideal donors, but also fills in the gaps if you have spotty data. WE Prospect then searches your database for prospects with similar characteristics and compiles a list for you.

  • Create a Donor Pyramid

A donor pyramid represents the total dollars needed to run your organization, not including grants. Donors are grouped into different tiers based on their level of engagement and/or gift size. 

Patrons with the lowest participation, such as those who give a small donation once, are grouped at the bottom. Those who contribute a planned gift from their estate are placed at the top.

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The annual fund is at the middle of the pyramid because it encourages smaller gifts donated yearly. These donors may have different levels of wealth, but they all have high engagement.

It’s possible to manually calculate how much you need to raise in each tier and how many prospects you’ll need to solicit to reach that goal. However, if you want to compare different fundraising scenarios with the click of a button, try out WealthEngine. 

WealthEngine includes a donor pyramid modeler that can determine how many prospects you need based on your fundraising goal. It then segments potential donors from your database into each tier. This information enables you to know who to reach out to for the annual fund and who is better suited for a different initiative.

This is important because you don’t want to send a generic message to people who aren’t a good fit for your annual fund. With a focused list of prospects, you can personalize your pitch and increase your return on investment (ROI).

  • Calculate Lead Scores

Perhaps you have a long list of prospects who would make ideal donors for your annual fund. A lead score can give you a better idea of who to contact first.

A lead score is a number between zero and 100 that describes how likely a person is to give. You can use it to rank prospects against each other so you know with one glance who you should reach out to first and who might not be a good fit for the annual fund.

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Lead scores take into consideration:

  • Demographics like age, income, education level, etc. 
  • Capacity to give
  • How interested they are in your organization, also known as affinity

WE Analyze helps automatically generate lead scores based on the criteria you set. It adjusts in real-time depending on how prospects interact with your website, email campaign, events, or other assets. The more prospects engage with your nonprofit, the higher their lead score will be, as this demonstrates greater affinity for your organization. 

How to Grow Your Annual Fund Through Direct Mail Campaigns 

Direct mail campaigns conjure up images of postcards and appeals sent through the postal service.  However, these days it also includes email marketing. Any form of correspondence where the recipient can reply to your appeal directly with a donation falls into this category.

There are a few best practices that will increase your campaign’s ROI.

  • Limit Direct Mail Recipients

Sometimes nonprofits approach direct mail with a “spray and pray” mentality. The idea is that by sending everyone in your donor pool an appeal, you’ll increase the amount you’re able to raise. However, this isn’t efficient and often prohibitively expensive if your campaign includes a physical component, like a letter.

Consider the case of an international religious advocacy group that partnered with WealthEngine. They had an existing donor pool of 500,000 people, but rather than send direct mail to all of them, they decided to nurture patrons capable of giving upwards of $7,000. WealthEngine built a model that zeroed in on 19 major gift donors to cultivate, leading to over $530,000 in new funds.

  • Make Tailored Asks

One way to increase your annual fund giving is to tailor your appeal for existing donors. You never know who might be open to increasing their yearly gift when asked. 

The Humane Society of the United States took this approach, using WealthEngine to identify existing donors with a greater likelihood and capacity to give. Specifically, they looked for millionaires that had been donating $17 to $18 dollars to the annual fund.

The search paid off. The Humane Society increased mid-level donations by 20% and grew the number of prospects in the ’Planned Giving Program’ by 49%.

  • Tell a Story in Your Appeal

When writing an appeals letter, try to tell a story that also communicates your mission. Stories are a powerful way to grab your reader’s attention and hold it. Consider this direct mail example from Save the Chimps, a chimpanzee rescue organization.

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Notice that this letter doesn’t rely heavily on statistics. Statistics may seem compelling, but they can actually distract readers from the heart of your message. It’s best to use them sparingly or when they clearly bolster your appeal. 

In this case, Save the Chimps only breaks out facts and figures to show what different gift sizes can accomplish.

Don’t forget to add images to your letter or campaign materials. Select pictures that encourage the emotions you want donors to feel when giving to your organization, such as joy and connection.

  • Personalize Communication Strategy

Not everyone is well-suited to receive an email or a letter. It pays to take note of which communication channels your donors respond best to, then make future appeals accordingly.

If you’re a small nonprofit or have the staff capacity, this could be as simple as recording whether a gift came through the mail or your website. However, most organizations don’t have that kind of manpower and will likely need to automate the process with software. 

WealthEngine can analyze your donor database to determine what communication strategies you should use to engage with certain prospects. You can then create segmented lists, sending physical mail to some and digital communication to others.

  • Look for Ways to Cut Campaign Costs

It’s often said that direct mail can cost $0.30 to more than $10 per person. It all depends on how many pieces of mail or content you send, as campaigns include costs like:

  • Designer fees for logos and branding
  • Copywriting
  • Printing costs if sending postcards or letters
  • Postage
  • Email marketing platform subscriptions

You can keep some of these costs down by relying on an in-house marketer for the copywriting or branding. There are some fees that are tougher to avoid, like postage or an email marketing platform.

Another way to increase your ROI is to host events virtually instead of in-person. Even as COVID-19 vaccination rates climb, digital fundraisers, such as auctions held on Zoom, have few upfront costs but can yield a big pay-off.

  • Make Appeals Year-Round

While making a year-end ask is important for reviving your annual fund, it shouldn’t be the only step. Look for ways to campaign throughout the year to stay connected to your donors. 

Fortunately, you don’t need to come up with a holiday or reason to launch a mid-year appeal. There are several local and national initiatives your organization can piggyback on. 

In New Orleans, for example, GiveNOLA Day occurs each May and encourages locals to donate to hundreds of participating nonprofits. Check to see if a similar project occurs in your city.

Be sure to take advantage of Giving Tuesday, which occurs nationally every Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This event has been around for so long, donors will likely expect your organization to send them an appeal. This is also a great opportunity for an email or social media-driven campaign, which can help keep costs low. 

Looking for more ways to optimize your annual fund campaign? Download this list of strategies and tips.

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It covers techniques like how to use merge tags to personalize your emails or how to host a virtual event, so you can fundraise year-round with minimal lift.

Grow Your Annual Fund, Grow Your Organization

An annual fund is a critical initiative for your organization. It provides unrestricted dollars to help fill in the gaps between grants and capital campaigns. 

The annual fund also keeps donors engaged with your nonprofit. Without it, interest in your mission may wane and it will be harder to reinvigorate support later on.

The most important element of an annual fund campaign is having a clear picture of who it is you’re targeting. Sending direct mail to everyone in your donor database is expensive and promises a low engagement rate. Using a tool like WealthEngine makes it possible to identify prospects with the highest likelihood of contributing or increasing their annual fund gift, saving you time while increasing your ROI.

Want to learn more about how this works? Get in touch for a demo and see how WealthEngine can help grow your annual fund.

How COVID-19 Affected Higher Education Fundraising, Future Forecasts, and Fundraising Strategies

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the fundraising industry faced a year of unprecedented times and constant changes. The higher education sector saw a dramatic shift due to COVID-19 with the transition to online learning and virtual communication.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Institutions 

Statistics showing the strain on higher education from COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, higher education institutions were forced to deal with numerous challenges. Moving students off-campus and adopting a virtual platform for online classes quickly became top priorities.

  • Loss of Income Due to Virtual Learning

With most college students being vacated from their dorms and on-campus housing arrangements after their 2020 spring break, institutions faced an income loss. Entering into the fall semester, few colleges chose to try on-campus living. Many stuck to closed campuses with virtual learning.

A consequence of students living and learning remotely means no money is being spent on campus housing or meal plans. On top of these losses, colleges saw a drop off from income being raised during extracurricular activities. College sporting events, campus stores, and book sales took massive losses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Impact of COVID-19 on Alumni Relations

Another major area of income for higher education institutions comes from alumni donations. Depending on the school’s traditions, much of this fundraising is done through in-person events. This includes class reunions, alumni nights for athletics, and networking events.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic led to restrictions on in-person gatherings and events, alumni fundraising faced a new challenge to generate income. Just like virtual courses, higher education institutions have adapted their fundraising strategies for the digital world.

The Short-Term Outlook for Higher Education Fundraising

Flexibility is crucial when creating short-term solutions for the challenges higher education is facing during the pandemic. Income losses will continue until the end of COVID-19 from the lack of students on campus. Colleges and universities must adapt to make up the money elsewhere.

Development officers can benefit from donor engagement strategies. This means working with different departments in the institution to cultivate new donor relationships. It is also vital to maintain connections with established gifters. 

  • Shifting Higher Education Fundraising Priorities During COVID-19

In the wake of the pandemic, higher education fundraising has shifted toward a less isolated, more progressive agenda. Institutions must adopt elements of a solidarity approach to stay relevant with their donors.

Rather than focusing on the individual benefits of donations, COVID-19 has created a movement centered around giving for the collective good. Successful fundraising strategies will prioritize a social agenda within universities.

On top of these changing ideals, the structure of higher education fundraising is evolving. Without in-person events, the main form of communication with donors is through virtual marketing. Institutions are relying on digital platforms to share their message and cultivate donors. 

Instead of connecting donors, particularly alumni, with an institution’s location or experiences, digital marketing highlights the mission and brand. This shift is changing the priorities of higher education fundraising as it creates a need for a universally relatable mission.

Long-Term Predictions for Higher Education Fundraising

Bar graph demonstrating the major needs for financial support of institutions during COVID-19

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Institutions had to adapt quickly once COVID-19 hit, with a focus on short-term solutions to make it through the upheaval. However, there will also be long-term changes as a result of the pandemic.

Virtual fundraising strategies are here to stay. Although in-person events will slowly begin to resume as the pandemic ends, digital efforts will be more important than ever to stay relevant while fundraising.

Higher education will need to strike a balance between fundamental needs and donor interests. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the struggles institutions are facing during fundraising as they continue to adapt to younger donors and changing social backdrops.

While universities will always need to fulfill their own essential fundraising goals, it will be crucial to account for the donor’s wants in the post-pandemic world. This stems from the surge of global outreach focused on the greater good during the COVID-19 crisis. Now, donors are comfortable with having a say in an institution’s mission, and fundraising strategies must adapt.

A push for focus on helping ease the burden of higher education on students rather than on the institution itself is a trend that will most likely stick after the pandemic. COVID-19 opened eyes to the  financial burden placed upon students, and donors have the opportunity to use their gifts to help.

In keeping with the idea of solidarity instead of philanthropy, higher education fundraising goals will balance between institutional needs and easing student debt burden. This includes a push for scholarship funding, health and wellness initiatives, and enhanced student services. 

Overall, universities will need to continue the work started during the COVID-19 pandemic to engage new donors and strengthen existing relationships. Athletics may be sidelined, as well as major capital projects, to make way for tackling donor wishes to better support students. 

Serving the Higher Education Community During Covid-19

Throughout the pandemic, higher education institutions have been expected to adapt and persevere despite the tumultuous times. Virtual learning has placed a strain on students and staff as they continue to navigate uncharted terrority. Universities are beginning to see traditions questioned as new strategies emerge.

The main focus of universities during COVID-19 has been placed on providing quality education in unprecedented circumstances. Campus life halted at the beginning of the pandemic, which forced institutions to shift priorities while serving the community.

Instead of kick starting capital projects like campus building upgrades or major renovations, higher education has adapted to meet the needs of their communities. This includes aiding their population with health and wellness programs, accessible COVID-19 testing, and virtual learning programs.

Fundraising Strategies During Pandemic Recovery

Focus on digital outreach across multiple platforms like Instagram and email campaigns. Virtual marketing allows higher education fundraising to stay relevant while reaching new audiences. Shift your messaging to share how your university is supporting the community during this time.

Recovery may be a long road as the pandemic fades, so flexibility will continue to remain crucial for successful fundraising. As students slowly begin to return to campus life, consistent branding and communication will help keep your donors engaged with your mission. 

 

Coping With COVID-19: Luxury Hospitality Brands

luxury consumer demographics

Luxury hospitality brands have had to pivot and alter their business models, supply chains, and operations. Here is a rundown on the state of the luxury industry and where it’s headed: 

The Effect of the Pandemic on the Luxury Industry

Luxury goods and services saw deep declines in 2020 due to financial strains and lockdowns. While luxury retail stores suffered, some segments of the luxury industry thrived. Here are some effects of COVID-19 on the luxury industry:

  • The Rise of Luxury Consignment

Luxury consignment has gotten a boost from the pandemic as people had more time to clean out their closets. Luxury consignment is hip, cool, ethical, and environmentally friendly. Additionally, the ability to sell luxury items and get fast cash has been an appealing factor for financially-strapped Americans. 

ThreadUp notes reselling a piece of clothing extends its life by two years and has an 82% reduced carbon footprint. Luxury consumers care about how their clothes are made and its environmental impact. 

For example, that $1500 Hermes handbag in your closet can be sold for cash on resale sites Poshmark, ThreadUp, or RealReal. Over the last three years, the luxury resale market has outpaced new clothing sales by a 21:1 margin. By 2023, the luxury consignment industry is predicted to reach up to $51 billion.  

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  • Remote Service is Beneficial All-Around

COVID forced many luxury brand companies to change how they operate. Some shut down their brick-and-mortar stores and moved online. Others offered curbside pick-up, virtual appointments, and delivery services.

Consumers concerned about their health have turned to the safety and convenience of online shopping. The virtual nature of doing business also benefited companies with greater productivity and cost-savings. RealReal observed their salespeople booked more virtual appointments per day because they did not need to travel to physical ones. 

 

  • Online is Where the Sales Are

E-commerce skyrocketed in 2020 as homebound consumers took advantage of the convenience of online shopping. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. consumers spent $211.5 billion on e-commerce. Online shopping accounted for 16.1% of all sales in 2020 due to Coronavirus concerns. 

The Buying Habits of Luxury Consumers

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, luxury consumers have altered what they buy and how they buy. With trips canceled, luxury customers had more to spend on items like home entertainment, fitness equipment, furniture, and home goods. The retail e-commerce market continued to grow in 2020 and will likely continue over the next few years.  

Online privacy, well-being, and family health were concerns for luxury consumers in 2020. The proliferation of online shopping has increased the risk of scams. Health and well-being were reflected in what consumers bought and their online shopping habits. 

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Short-and Long-Term Luxury Hospitality Industry Forecast

The U.S. luxury  industry shrank by 27%, to $73.6 billion in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. An Altagamma Consensus report notes that luxury stores experienced a 40% drop in revenue in 2020. In 2021, they should rebound by 8%. 

Many companies will maintain their online stores until customers feel comfortable congregating in large numbers. When that happens, brick-and-mortar stores will be experience centers. Stores will be sleeker and utilize AI automation to bring fast, personalized service. 

The North American luxury market will increase by 14% in 2021. Despite the positive outlook, 2021 will still have plenty of uncertainties.  Luxury brands can cash in on the spending consumers would otherwise spend on travel. 

While the pandemic has devastated the luxury hospitality industry, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. The rollout of COVID vaccines, federal economic interventions, and relaxing travel restrictions will bring luxury consumers back. The selling of luxury goods will remain online for many years to come.  

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Successful Marketing Strategies for Luxury Brands

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way consumers interact with luxury brands. To make up for losses, those in the luxury industry must adapt their marketing efforts. Here are some marketing strategies to implement for 2021 and beyond: 

 

  • Focus on Voice Search

Nearly half of all Internet searches are via voice. On a worldwide scale, 27% of those with Internet use voice search. In the U.S., 25% of Americans own a smart speaker that they use for browsing the internet.  

Asking Siri or Alexa a question is easier and quicker than typing a query into the search bar. Twenty-two percent of consumers purchased items online via voice search. This thriving sector is expected to become a $40 billion industry

 Search engine optimization for voice requires the use of long-tailed keywords and anticipates questions searchers will ask. The average search length is three words on mobile, six on a computer, and 29 words in voice search. You can alter your digital marketing efforts to accommodate voice through interactive Q&A, industry trivia, and customized product guidance. 

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  • Rally Behind a Cause 

Younger luxury consumers support brands that are active in making a positive impact in the world. Simply providing superior products will not cut it anymore for today’s luxury buyers. Brands must now prove they care about current issues like sustainable practices, social justice, online privacy, and ethical business practices.  

The heart of your luxury brand marketing plan must center around causes important to your customers. Luxury consumers are more likely to support brands aligned with the issues they care about.

 

  • Invest in Making Podcasts

Due to the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, podcast views increased significantly. For entertainment and engagement, luxury consumers are hungry for audio and visual content, making podcasts a top 2021 marketing trend

Podcasts are great tools to inform and entertain customers while also boosting brand credibility, transparency, and trustworthiness. Podcasts can be in any format that is aligned with your brand and captures the interests of customers.Dior, Gucci, and BMW are a few luxury brands that have launched podcasts around social issues, influential women, and music. 

2020 was challenging for the luxury hospitality industry. Companies had to move online. The luxury industry will rebound, but brands need to gear up for voice search, podcasts, and advocate for a cause. 

 

 

The State of the Financial Services Industry in the Wake of COVID-19

financial services marketing

Even though we’re a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial services industry continues to adapt and transform. Ever-changing social distancing protocols and market trends require companies like those in high finance to adjust quickly and often.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know which strategies your company should focus on, keep reading. Below are the biggest ways high finance has adapted to the pandemic. We’ll also discuss the strategies that are here to stay and will make you more competitive in the future.

How High Finance Has Adapted to the Pandemic

The world of high finance, with its need for cybersecurity and constant communication, faced challenges with remote work that other industries didn’t. Meanwhile, market volatility increased customer dependency on financial advisors. Companies successfully responded to these and other obstacles with these strategies:

  • Working Virtually

Like many industries, the majority of the financial services sector shifted so employees could work from home. However, financial companies had to adjust in ways other businesses didn’t.

While the rest of the world uses software like Slack and Zoom to keep teams connected, those tools aren’t secure enough for finance. Alternatives like Symphony and Webex adhere to financial companies’ high security standards while keeping employees at home.

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In addition, organizations needed to come up with quick fixes for unique challenges. For example, Lulalend, a fintech startup in South Africa, had to keep employees in touch even as the country experienced challenges with the electricity supply. Their solution was to provide team members with USP battery backups to use during outages.

Overall, working virtually has gone well. PwC’s Remote Work Survey found that 69% of financial firm executives believe their employees are as productive working from home or even more so than they were pre-pandemic. However, the same survey noted that companies often struggle with bandwidth constraints and limitations with remote coaching.

  • Digital Prospecting

High finance transactions involve sums that require a deep level of trust between parties. That trust is usually nurtured through face to face interactions over time. 

Remote work has encouraged many companies to get creative about how they build those bonds. Some methods include:

  • Increased content marketing – Write emails or blogs that answer your ideal customers’ most relevant financial questions.
  • Participating in webinars – 72% of customers would rather learn through video.
  • Hosting virtual meet-ups – Give potential customers the one-on-one experience while social distancing.

Financial advisors have also exploded onto social media, sharing tips on LinkedIn and engaging with potential customers on Twitter. However, financial brands should be mindful about how they handle these platforms.

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In an op-ed for CNBC, Blair DuQuesnay, an investment advisor and financial planner at Ritholtz Wealth Management, notes, “Brand accounts do not garner as much attention, engagement or trust as individual accounts do. Firms that fail to recognize the power of the individual brand, or those whose cultures oppose the promotion of personal brands, will lose momentum on social media.”

Remember, prospects favor online interactions that feel genuine. This is easier when engaging with another person on social media instead of a faceless financial brand. 

For more on how you can optimize financial advisor prospecting during the pandemic, check out this guide

 

  • Increased Digital Communications Channels 

In such uncertain times, people want guidance and help on demand. This has led to a transformation in how companies and customers communicate virtually.

According to a survey of 2,500 enterprise decision makers conducted by Twilio, 60% of financial services companies responded to the pandemic by expanding their digital communications. This includes adding chatbots, live chat, and in-app chatting. The same survey found that on average, digital communication strategy schedules accelerated by almost six years.

Interestingly, the pandemic may have saved some financial businesses in the long run. Fintech companies were ahead of the curve when it came to adopting digital communications. Meanwhile, 69% of U.S. banking brands had average or below average digital performance. Lockdowns forced those institutions to pivot their digital strategy, bringing them up to speed with Fintech.

  • Analytic Software 

Data analytics have always been crucial for financial companies. The pandemic merely illuminated that. Changing circumstances have accelerated certain transactions, like selling stock, inheritances, and business sales.

Raj Khera, former Executive Vice President of WealthEngine, explains during this live Q&A that the best time to find new customers is before their major liquidity event, not after. This puts you in the position to advise them on tax breaks or other areas that will make their transaction smoother. Data analytics makes it possible to find those customers before they even realize they need your services. 

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With prospect research software like WealthEngine, you can screen a database of potential customers and look for certain characteristics. For example, Khera notes that in the next decade, millennials will increase their wealth by a factor of five as 20 trillion dollars in assets will be transferred to them. Data analytics software makes it possible to find those future customers and start building a relationship with them today.

The Future of the Financial Services Industry

Even as vaccines roll out, remote employees and online chatting are here to stay. 99% of financial companies in the Twilio survey agree that future opportunities for virtual work are possible. Meanwhile, 94% of respondents say they’ll keep expanding virtual communication channels even if the pandemic subsides.  

That being said, customers expect authentic connection with businesses despite communication moving to digital channels. Used well, technology facilitates those human moments. 

Video conferencing and webinars are only the beginning. Data analytics tools, such as WealthEngine’s WE Analyze tool,  lets you zero in on prospects who are the best fit for your services. 

This saves you time searching for potential customers so you can spend more of your day in one-on-one virtual meetings. Plus, you can find the prospects with the highest capacity, propensity, and intent to work with you.

WealthEngine makes this possible. Get in touch today for a free demo and see how WealthEngine can help you reach your goals during any financial climate.

 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Nonprofits and the Outlook for 2021

Impact of COVID on nonprofits

During a year of unprecedented times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofits and other businesses have dealt with waves of constant change and uncertainty. Throughout forced closures, months of remote work, and inconsistent reopening plans, nonprofits have constantly adjusted by implementing strategies like virtual nonprofit fundraising to stay afloat.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Nonprofit Fundraising

Impact of COVID on nonprofits through statistics

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All nonprofit organizations rely heavily on fundraising, especially through charity events, for operation. As the pandemic began to spread, many organizations had to adjust to remote work and face the harsh reality of event cancellations.

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic showed a bleak March and April. Most countries faced strict shutdowns and limited in-person interactions for essential business only. With heavy limitations on numbers for in-person gatherings, nonprofits began to shift their plans for scheduled fundraising events.

Forced closures of event venues called for previous fundraising plans to be revisited. Limited reopenings and event capacities also impacted plans while nonprofits were constantly adapting to the new guidelines.

Virtual Nonprofit Fundraising During a Pandemic

One of the major impacts seen by all industries during the COVID-19 pandemic was the sharp switch to remote working conditions and the cancellation of most in-person events. Adapting to these new conditions, nonprofits continue to strategize ways to make virtual communication effective.

Nonprofits that have successfully navigated through the pandemic relied heavily on digital marketing and fundraising tactics. Organizations switched their efforts to social media and email campaigns. Many planned in-person events became virtual fundraisers. Check out the previous link to download WealthEngine’s free step-by-step guide for successfully hosting these online events.

While organizations are still adjusting as new phases are implemented throughout different states, the emphasis on virtual fundraising allowed nonprofits to function during the pandemic. These continued efforts include virtual fundraisers, ongoing email marketing campaigns, and strategic social media content to keep donors engaged with the mission.

Effects of Remote Work on Nonprofits

As businesses shut down and employees began to telecommute, remote work became the new normal for most during the pandemic. This caused a heavy reliance on Zoom meetings, Slack, and email communications. 

The switch to remote work impacted the way employees performed their jobs. This change also caused adaptations in most aspects of daily life.

Working Remotely: Pros and Cons

The new normal that emerged in 2020 saw many employees navigating their new work-from-home environments with little preparation. The shift to remote work was abrupt, and organizations have begun seeing the pros and cons of having employees work from home.

Flexibility is a huge plus for remote work. Previously, many employees found themselves trying to balance their work and home lives, including things like child care and screen time hours. The lack of commute time and the ability to use their computer almost anywhere, means employees working remotely function on their schedules as needed.

Virtual communication can be a downside when working from home. Zoom calls and Slack messages make it hard for employees to connect. 

This can make collaborative efforts challenging. Without the usual office banter, workers can feel isolated and may struggle to effectively communicate with coworkers and complete projects.

Remote work presents another con due to the lack of work/personal life boundaries. Constant access to computers and no real separation between the office and home can make it difficult for employees to set clear working hours. 

Remote work has caused a shift in employee habits. Flexibility will remain a high priority for those working remotely long term.

Interacting With Donors

The COVID-19 pandemic halted most in-person meetings during 2020. For nonprofits that rely on donor interactions, this shift has impacted the way organizations communicate. 

While meaningful interactions with donors remain crucial to success, these conversations have moved online for the time being. Many nonprofit donors are seeing a shift to email and social media communications.

Content like newsletters and Instagram posts have played a huge role in keeping donors up-to-date. Virtual fundraisers have offered ways to connect and encourage continued contributions to the organization’s mission.

Due to the reliance on virtual communication, nonprofits have had to find new ways to engage with donors to maintain their relationships.

2020 Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics

infographic discussing the current state of charitable giving plans

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Nonprofit fundraising statistics play a significant role in predicting trends for the next year. With the unusual circumstances surrounding 2020, much of this data can be used to show exactly how the pandemic affected the nonprofit sector.

The impact of COVID-19 on nonprofit operations resulted in 75% of organizations making cuts to their budgets. This sounds concerning, but the ability to work virtually allowed for budget cuts that helped nonprofits stay afloat while adjusting to new pandemic guidelines.

During the second quarter, nonprofits saw a 7.2% increase in total donors. As the pandemic began to affect daily life, organizations were lucky to see more donors contributing to their respective causes. 

Overall, donations less than $250 saw a 19.2% increase. This means many organizations benefited from small donations made by new or existing donors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

GivingTuesday saw a 29% increase of donors on December 2nd with 34.8 million people participating in charitable giving. This led to a 25% increase in total numbers compared to money raised in 2019.

Despite a year of change and uncertainty, many of the statistics show a positive year for nonprofits.

Moving Forward: Long term Outlook and 2021 Predictions

As the pandemic continues to shape 2021’s economy, nonprofits will see the need for flexibility remain a key consideration in planning. With vaccine accessibility and downwards trending case numbers, it is possible for in-person work and fundraising to resume in 2021.

Nonprofits can expect an opportunity to build public trust in the coming year. There seems to be a continued trend with social justice movements and philanthropic giving. Virtual fundraisers and networking events may integrate into the new normal.

As the COVID-19 pandemic begins to wind down, nonprofits will continue to see lasting effects on their structures. Remote work may be the new normal, and digital engagement will remain important for donor retention.

Strategies for Nonprofit Membership Renewals

Membership is vital for the survival and continued functioning of any nonprofit organization. High membership numbers and their retention through membership renewals improve your organization’s effectiveness and ensure growth. 

There are many channels for increasing nonprofit membership renewals ranging from volunteering during fundraising campaigns to using professional agencies to track your potential customers and increase your organization’s brand awareness

Just 31% of offline-only first-time donors and 25% of online-only first-time donors are retained for more than one year. What is it that makes nonprofit membership renewals so difficult to retain? Are there ways to alleviate these issues?

Why Nonprofit Membership Renewal is Important

Nonprofit membership renewal is a constant, crucial process necessary to sustain your organization financially. Yet, nonprofits big and small alike typically experience a large percentage of membership turnover.

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Around 45% of all donors across the world are enrolled in a monthly giving program. Members of a nonprofit organization are generally more philanthropic than non-members. Thus, membership renewal is a vital contributor to an organization’s financial security.

Highlighting the Benefits of Nonprofit Membership

To appreciate the exchange that occurs between a nonprofit organization and a member, it is important for both parties to understand exactly what nonprofit membership entails. This will help the member understand all they are gaining through membership and the ways they can contribute to the success of the organization. 

By clearly defining the perks of membership and the important role committed supporters play in advancing the mission of your nonprofit organization, you incentivize strong renewal rates.

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  • Privileges

Make it clear what facilities, benefits, and other privileges members will enjoy as part of your organization. Will they be educating themselves by joining? Are there any new experiences they should look forward to? 

Whether members will be receiving a vote during the annual general meeting, a seat on the board, or simply a newsletter, remind prospects what nonprofit membership entails. 

Since many donors check histories and public records of organizations before opting for membership, it is very important to maintain transparency regarding what the organization has provided for its members in previous years. 

Provide specific examples of the benefits of membership via social media and include online testimonials as a means of building trust with your future members. Research shows that 72% of people trust organizations on the basis of online reviews and testimonials.

  • Duties

Nonprofit membership should be mutually beneficial to the member and the organization. Tell potential renewals and new members what they can do to aid your organization in its endeavors and how they can take full advantage of all membership has to offer.

Do you have donation programs in place? If so, make them transparent. Help members help you—they need clear guidance as to how they can promote your mission and vision.

Be it through membership drives, awareness-raising initiatives, or just gathering support, all members should have a detailed understanding of how they can further the goals of your organization. This will bring meaning to their membership and simultaneously boost the profile and activities of your organization. 

Membership contributions highlighted through social media reach a large number of your potential members. Therefore, it is important to look at your social media profiles, email campaigns, and newsletters regularly to analyze their impact on your membership renewal process. 

For example, if you notice that data-driven posts from your organization’s Facebook page get you more followers as compared to regular posts, then this shows your members are more inclined toward your organization’s progress numbers than its routine programs.

Strategies to Boost Nonprofit Membership Renewals

The chances for membership renewal increase when members are given complete clarity on the benefits they will receive from continuing their membership. They should also have an understanding of the benefits they would deliver to the organization. Thus, a two-way relationship is established 

You may use several effective strategies to boost nonprofit membership renewals:

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  1. Nurturing Members

Look after your members. Make sure a mentorship program is in place wherein senior members encourage new members to take an active part in events and organizational initiatives. This will help with the transfer of responsibility as junior members learn and grow into senior membership roles over time.

Nurturing members will help streamline the process of membership and ensure that your members respond positively to your requests for renewals. It will also act to create a bond between members and your organization. Renewals are more likely to occur when members feel that sense of connection with the organization and the people involved in it. 

  1. Looking to the Past

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This is why it’s crucial to analyze data trends from preceding years and understand the shifts your organization has experienced in membership renewals. Factors you may want to consider include the average number of annual membership renewals, the average duration of membership, and activity (participation/donations) during membership.

You should also look at the demographics of your members—where and what age groups most of your donations are coming from. Analyze the reasons for this and consider how you can broaden membership appeal to a wider audience. 

Use donor segmentation to tailor membership renewal campaigns to groups with mutual backgrounds and interests to boost renewal rates among those demographics.

  1. Communication and Concerns

Make sure to promptly address any issues that arise with your members. Ensure that all lines of communication between your organization and its members are open and easily accessible. Proper and consistent communication goes a long way in avoiding misunderstandings. 

Making this extra effort demonstrates to your members that your organization appreciates them and prioritizes their concerns.

Be sure to request members renew via multiple platforms to ensure it remains top of mind. Nonprofit organizations have an email open rate of 25.50%, which means on average, three out of four emails you send will generally remain unopened. 

Using multiple communication channels increases the number of opportunities for you to remind members it’s time to renew. Tracking how existing members are responding to membership renewals can help you understand where miscommunication may be occurring and offer insight into where improvements can be made. 

Communication also allows you to understand if the renewal process is needlessly complicated. Streamlining the renewal process allows members to be comfortable and makes them more amiable. 

  1. Providing a 24/7 Online Membership Renewal Gateway

Sending your members email and text reminders with an attached 24/7 functional membership renewal link increases the likelihood of membership retention. 

Remember, membership renewal should be as simple and user-friendly as possible. Membership renewal that involves simple signup at a time convenient to your members is much more likely to be successful compared to a burdensome renewal process where members must navigate to your website and find a link themselves.

  1. Surveys

Surveys help you understand what your members want. They are a vital method of communication and validation. Surveys can also serve as a means to acknowledge donors’ expectations from your organization.

 A survey can collect important information that you can use to better understand what membership means for your organization. Careful consideration of this data allows you to see which members are more likely to be retained, enabling you to concentrate your efforts on these individuals.

Surveys may also assist you in identifying why some members choose not to renew. This kind of information is valuable for improving future member retention initiatives.

The fundamental keys to achieving positive nonprofit membership renewal rates are communication, remaining consistent and true to your organization’s mission and values, and making the renewal process as user-friendly as possible. 

To see how the WealthEngine W9 platform can assist your nonprofit membership renewal and acquisition efforts, sign up for a free trial today!

 

How to Track Down High Potential Donors in a Mountain of Data

data mining for customer segmentation

Understanding how to efficiently use data to identify top-performing prospects is important to all aspects of nonprofit fundraising. Michelle Tilton, VP of Marketing at Infutor, discusses constantly evolving data collection methods and the importance of data accuracy for finding prospects who will be receptive to a donation request.

Infutor, a partner of WealthEngine, is a company at the forefront of consumer identity data management and identity resolution. Their mission is to help clients instantly know what they need to understand about consumers.

Increase and Advancement in Data Collection Methods

Each day, data is collected from millions of consumers across multiple channels. This information ranges from donor profiles to website engagement. While data collection has steadily increased as data collection methods have advanced over the years, 2020 has seen a huge influx of new activity.

The pandemic has driven almost all demographics and businesses online. Because of this, new people, like the boomer generation, are beginning to navigate the digital world. Shopping, business meetings, and social events have begun to take place in virtual settings.

Nonprofits are directly impacted because of these shifts. There has been a permanent change in the way people engage with digital content. Now, organizations are competing with more commercial companies for consumer attention. 

Data Breakage

This term defines what occurs when your donor profile doesn’t line up with the true information about a person. Michelle explains, “We’re seeing about 30% of data breakage within a donor database over a 12-month period.”

Many factors contribute to data breakage. Michelle observes that it’s common for data to be entered incorrectly during the first capture of donor information. 

Michelle notes another contributing factor is that consumers often try to be purposefully elusive. To support this contention, Michelle points out that surveys demonstrate that up to “60% of consumers intentionally provide wrong information.”

Data is always evolving. Personal information like addresses, phone numbers, and emails, are dynamic. To illustrate this fact, Michelle notes: “One in three consumers change

email addresses, 50 million phone numbers change annually.” When these components change, your database becomes full of obsolete profiles. 

The main problem with data breakage is its impact on your return-on-investment (ROI). Impressions and engagement rates fall when data leads your marketing to the wrong destination.

Data Cleansing Ensures Data Accuracy

Infograph of the process of data cleansing

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Letting data go unrefreshed for a long period of time can cost your organization in the short-term by causing you to lose out on donations. In the long-term, the time staff must take away from vital fundraising efforts to manually cleanse and restore your donor profile data is detrimental to overall campaign success. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) maintenance is a major factor involved in data cleansing. Regularly working with a system that provides data enrichment will keep your information up-to-date. 

Referential data plays a key role in ensuring data accuracy. It provides context for time-sensitive data and helps to provide key identifiers for each profile in your system.

Activation Improvements

After gathering and refreshing data, organizations need to activate the information against an audience. This plays out as successful targeted messaging across multiple channels of communication. 

For example, Infutor works with a highly recognizable nonprofit healthcare organization that is primarily funded through public donations. 

They receive information across multiple platforms including inbound forms, call centers, direct mail, and social media. Infutor identified the organization’s need to bring together all of the data their channels collect into one database.

As a solution, Infutor implemented a single-point entry master database. They took all of the donor information, added intelligence from Infutor’s data, cleansed at all points in the process, and made this database accessible to key members.

Through this process, Infutor was able to identify 42,000 donors who were incorrectly marked as deceased in the organization’s records. Taking the time to have quality data allowed this group to add 42,000 new names to their list of prospects.

Building First Party Data

Bar graph showing the ROI on first, second, and third party data

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The importance of first party data emerges in three overarching patterns: cookies, walled gardens, and privacy.

Third party cookies are becoming obsolete. They expire quickly, are easy for consumers to opt-out of, and cannot be used cross-device. 

Walled gardens refer to sites working with a company that has a closed data ecosystem, like Google and Facebook. You can use the technology on these sites, as well as access the audience, but you cannot export this data to other channels.

Privacy is one of the most influential factors when building first party data. Understanding privacy implications is more than knowing laws and regulations. Michelle stresses it is crucial to have a deep empathy toward a consumer’s right to opt-out of marketing communications.

Utilizing Your Data Collection

The first step in producing high potential donors is to find the key indicators of your top customer base. WealthEngine’s WE Screen feature is a great way to discover insight into a person’s lifestyle. 

This information allows you to build out profiles on each of your highest performing donors. Using these indicators will make it easy to analyze the information.

WealthEngine’s WE Analyze feature automates this process for you. With a couple of clicks, WealthEngine provides specific segmented lists, like major donor profiles or annual gift donors. With this access, it’s possible to personalize marketing efforts for higher engagement rates. 

Look-alike Modeling

After figuring out who your top donors and prospects are, the goal is to multiply your contact list by finding other people with similar profiles. Look-alike clients share the same attributes, such as similar lifestyles and wealth scores, as your highest performing donors.

With WealthEngine’s prospect tool, there are 300 million Americans that WealthEngine can search through to generate your look-alike list. 

Understanding Channels and Deep Data Analytics

Looking at channels helps organizations understand how and where consumers spend their time. This information guides marketing dollars to personalize messaging, which allows for targeted engagement during fundraising campaigns.

Although this insight into consumer activity is important, it’s just as crucial to remember that it is always changing. Constantly analyzing data for data accuracy and new trends can help maximize your ROI. 

For example, Infutor was able to help a client conduct an in-depth segmentation analysis to identify five clusters out of their 130 that were producing 3-4 times the results of the median. Conducting deep analysis helps to make sure you are optimizing all of your data. 

Want to know more about how the WealthEngine comprehensive platform can assist your organization in making the most of its data? Request a free WealthEngine demo today!

WealthEngine 2020: A Year In Review and a Look Ahead

WealthEngine 2020 year end letter

As we prepare for the new year, I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved over the course of 2020 to help our clients reach their goals. Through our thought leadership series and innovative product enhancements, WealthEngine is honored to play a role in enabling organizations to find their next best prospect faster and easier.

The year culminated with a big announcement: WealthEngine was acquired by Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the parent company of Wealth-X. We are looking forward to charting the path ahead with enhancements to our platform, data, services and support with our expanded team.

Thought Leadership

Executive Briefing Series

At the start of the pandemic, WealthEngine created a series of online executive briefings to help clients navigate the waters of our new environment. Some highlights of our most popular sessions, all of which are available for on-demand replay, are:

Market Potential Reports

WealthEngine’s Market Potential Reports provide a deeper understanding of opportunities to reach population segments based on estimated net worth, cash on hand, investable assets, business ownership, giving capacity and history, interests and passions, and propensity to invest, spend, and donate, and much more.

These insights incorporate 250 million scored profiles of the U.S. population and are available for the top 15 US metros. Use these reports to determine market size, segments to target, and go-to-market strategies.

Request a Market Potential Report →

A Step-by-Step Guide to Hosting a Virtual Fundraiser

Virtual galas and fundraisers are becoming increasingly important in the age of the pandemic. Even though your champions and prospects can’t meet in person, they would love to support you through an online event.

Get this step-by-step guide to setting up and running a successful virtual gala.

Download the Guide →

Using Wealth Models to Build a Data-Driven Planned Giving Strategy

For any nonprofit, big or small, one of the biggest areas of growth for fundraising is planned giving.

Use this all-inclusive guide to: 

  • Pinpoint the best methods to identify planned giving donors
  • Identify the best way to approach donors to cultivate strong relationships
  • Create your planned giving marketing strategy

Get a copy of this guide for all the necessary tips and tricks you should implement to execute your planned giving campaign today!

Download the Guide →

Affluent Trailblazers

In coordination with Coldwell Banker, we released a new report about luxury lifestyle spending in 2020. The report revealed trends on shifting priorities for high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals. 

Get the Report →

Giving Tuesday Toolkit

Our updated Giving Tuesday Toolkit continues to be a popular guide, packed with copy/paste campaigns, social media posts and more to help organizations raise more. This year, we provided an additional toolkit for Giving Tuesday Now back in May.

Although Giving Tuesday is behind us this year, the toolkit provides material that can be used this spring as many organizations hold Giving Days to coalesce their communities around their cause.

Download the Toolkit →

WE Prosper Summit

In October, we held our WE Prosper Summit, a gathering of thought leaders from global causes and international brands. Over 500 participants from around the country came together for a two-day conference of rich keynote speeches, how-tos, roundtable discussions and presentations from 10 thought leaders among our clients and partners.

The theme of this year’s WE Prosper Summit was Growing the Pyramid. Thought leaders, experts, partners and clients discussed the latest trends they’re seeing and best practices in raising more, while spending less considering the current climate. 

Listen to the Replays →

Product Enhancements

Our product and engineering teams continue to push towards building new features and data updates. WealthEngine 9 had many enhancements this year that empower our users to get the insights they need.

Donor Pyramid Modeler

Many executives responsible for fundraising often spend long weeks of painstaking spreadsheet analysis to create a donor pyramid, also known as a fundraising pyramid or gift table.

WealthEngine‘s donor pyramid modeler is the industry’s first machine-learning based platform that automates this arduous process to create accurate donor segments and formulate strategic fundraising plans.

Watch a quick 15-minute training video on how to use this WealthEngine feature, which provides several use cases to help segment donors quickly, populate major gift portfolios, and create a data-driven plan for 2021.

Watch the Training Video →

Data Updates

WealthEngine’s database, which now boasts over 171 million philanthropic and charitable donation records with half a million records being added monthly, also updated more than 324K Executive and CEO job titles and added more than 20K Insider Stock Transaction records.

Collectively, we have added more than 13 million new organizations, updated over 17 million existing organizations, and a total of roughly 7 million existing organizations whose total employees or sales/revenue has changed.

New WealthScore

Our new WealthScore is effectively predictive analytics distilled into one number between 1-100. Save time and effort by using one score that takes into account a prospect’s wealth, propensity, capacity, affinity, intent and more. Apply it to make informed decisions that identify your most promising opportunities.

Increased Security

As part of WealthEngine’s ongoing activities in platform security, we also rolled out multi-factor authentication (MFA). Using freely available authenticator apps, clients can now have an extra layer of security to login to their account, in addition to their username and password.

The additional protection layer is a unique code that a user enters after typing in their password. This code changes every 60-seconds and is available via numerous authenticator apps that can be installed on their mobile device. Using MFA significantly reduces the risk of an unauthorized party accessing a client’s account.

Improved User Experience, Performance and Scalability

Finding accurate information quickly is now easier with improvements to WealthEngine’s user experience. The newly designed tagging, filtering and sorting features provide an easy way to segment donors or clients.

Users can see a visual view of connections to help them know the warmest path to reach a prospect. Back end improvements are making the platform run faster with increased scalability.

API Access

We recognize that many of our clients prefer to access inside their existing workflow. We have added new features to our API that now allow clients to access our WealthScore and custom model scores, in addition to other insights. Our partnerships with Salesforce, ROI, EveryAction, Omatic, SalsaLabs, and many others offer unparalleled access to our timely information that help clients make informed business decisions.

Looking Ahead to 2021

To expand our ability to serve our clients, we sought out investment to support our growth. In December 2020, we announced that Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, the parent company of Wealth-X, acquired WealthEngine

We are very excited about the opportunity to join forces with like-minded teams to bring a suite of solutions to our clients that will increase effectiveness and save them time and money. I look forward to sharing our roadmap and meeting with you, our clients and partners, throughout the year.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday and new year,

Richard Green, CEO of Wealth-X and WealthEngine

Smart Engagement: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Work Smarter Not Harder

This article summarizes a podcast hosted by Raj Khera, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer of WealthEngine, and Blake Groves, VP of Products and partnerships at Salsa Labs. Blake offers several timely fundraising tips for nonprofits struggling to fundraise in the face of resource constraints.  

Fundraising Tips Despite Resource Constraints

Nonprofits encounter numerous challenges caused by limits on staff and other resources. These resource constraints contribute to the following issues:

  • Pressure to balance the necessity of continuing to meet organizational needs despite budgetary and other resource shortfalls 
  • Limited budgets going toward supporting the mission rather than advancing marketing initiatives
  • Funding cuts resulting in remaining staff having to adapt to wearing “many hats” 
  • A conflict of priorities between gaining new supporters and retaining current ones
  • “Not enough time in the day” for effective fundraising

Smart engagement emphasizes devoting more time to those supporters who are most willing and able to give. Rather than spreading a wide net, target specific supporters with customized messaging. Focusing on who will best achieve your marketing goals results in effective fundraising campaigns. 

The implementation of smart engagement enables nonprofits to work efficiently, not harder. Blake asserts that for fundraising success, nonprofits must “cut through the clutter and noise.” Organizations must understand their donors and know where they are on their fundraising journey. 

Blake emphasizes that smart engagement begins with data. Combine this data with the appropriate technology to identify and interact with your prospects. The right strategy comes from knowing your audience, their interests, and donation capacity, and includes “day to day techniques.”

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Targeting the Right Prospects and Supporters

Technology makes it easier to target and familiarize yourself with prospects and donors. Gathering and using data to create specific messaging will vary. Blake proclaims, “Smart engagement technology is not a single piece of technology.” 

Blake asserts Salsa Labs partners with WealthEngine to develop automated, targeted data and messaging. The propensity to give (P2G) score and additional wealth indicators on WealthEngine’s WE9 platform are proprietary data analytics tools. These features identify supporters and prospects’ ability to give and their giving histories. 

The Wealth Score assigns a number from 1 to 10 to each supporter. The score reflects a person’s wealth, giving capacity, and inclination, intent, and affinities.

The two scores help nonprofits focus on the most qualified prospects and donors. You can set and adjust scores for specific donor types including major gift donors and annual donors. Your fundraising efforts are made more efficient by focusing on high-potential donor groups. 

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While data technology has changed, the traditional cycle of targeting donors hasn’t. Every nonprofit organization utilizes some form of the following cycle:

  1. Target potential donors
  2. Connect with donors
  3. Convert donors
  4. Understand the data
  5. Rinse and repeat

Blake remarks that machine learning improves this cycle to better meet fundraising goals. He further states that leveraging technology enhances “the ability to do the targeting” when “prescriptive and automated” methods are used.

Organizations can’t achieve all of their goals, initiatives, and campaigns, even with all of the necessary data and fundraising tips. The prescriptive method looks at compiling donor data to direct the next actionable step of a fundraising strategy. Instead of getting overwhelmed pursuing a range of donors, focus on those who can make the biggest difference. 

A key component of the prescriptive method is the use of automation. Blake gives an example of how important automated reminders are in reaching and engaging donors:

“The system lets you know, ‘Hey, Raj did something with us.’ We know Raj is a good supporter; you should call him rather than wait for that monthly report. Having a system alert you, do automated messaging, and automatically score supporters, lets me know these are my best prospects and I know what I want to do with them.”

Even with the data, your ideal supporters may not be who you expect. They may be overlooked. Machine learning helps expand your search for these supporters. 

Blake gives an example of targeting the wrong donors: 

“Imagine your best supporters happened to be in their mid-50s. They have kids in college, and they have an interest in social reform. I want to look at finding look-alike audiences for prospecting.” 

Blake suggests asking, ”How do I find other people that look like them in terms of profile, interests, and wealth scoring? How do I find those people so that I can say, ‘Well, these are my best supporters?’”

Blake goes on to ask whether his system can identify and alert him of his ideal prospects. Additionally, he wants to know their engagement levels and how he can move them toward a higher ask. Blake suggests people in their 30s with no kids in college could prove to be a key demographic that should be looked at to identify and target top supporters.

Choosing The Best Campaign Strategy

Blake relies on what he calls the “five minutes from concept to completion” idea. He explains, “I should be able to create a new donation form specifically targeted to that campaign within five minutes.” He can pick a template, find the data, and push out the content using automation tools. 

Blake suggests easily putting together a donation form featuring smart asks. This technique allows the donor to easily click the form to generate a specific ask. 

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 Having a “Day-to-Day” Strategy

The amount of technology and data can be overwhelming. When you analyze the data and present it in an actionable way, it becomes powerful and manageable. Blake states data is valuable but numbers aren’t as useful if they can’t be immediately acted upon. 

Some successful, actionable strategies are virtual galas and mini-galas. COVID has made these events necessary; ingenuity and adaptability have made them an effective fundraising tool. These smart engagement strategies allow virtual community-building around shared interests.

Only invite specific supporters. The small number of targeted invitees makes virtual mini-galas successful and cost-efficient. These online events focus on the invitees’ common interests, familiarity with the organization, and giving capacity.

Peer-to-peer initiatives are another actionable smart engagement strategy and fundraising tip. It embodies the “word of mouth” concept. Identify and target loyal supporters who will share your organization with their networks.

Data identifies ambassadors and machine learning streamlines donor communication and engagement processes. WealthEngine can gather, analyze, and incorporate data into your nonprofit marketing initiatives. For more information about how WealthEngine can help your organization optimize its fundraising potential, contact us for a free demo today.