Planning and Successfully Executing Virtual Events and Galas

Planning and Successfully Executing Virtual Events and Galas

September 8, 2020
Raj Khera

This article discusses why and how adopting virtual technology is fundamental for carrying on day-to-day nonprofit operations. Hosting virtual events is key to maintaining your brand awareness during the pandemic. 

Your donor community must be reminded that your organization continues to function. Your messaging should center on emphasizing the fact that those your nonprofit serves still have needs that must be met. Therefore, learning to host well planned and implemented virtual events is a top priority for meeting your organization’s fundraising goals.

Embrace the Virtual World and Its Advantages

Going virtual, in terms of business operations, requires adaptability and flexibility within your team. Doing so can actually have many long-term rewards provided the transition to virtual technology is properly implemented. Focus on the ways technology can assist your team and further your organization’s goals, and use it to your advantage. 

    • Switch Your Donor Outreach to Virtual Connections

Establishing a personal connection can be challenging in a time that requires social distancing. 

Use virtual meetings to connect with donors. Replace face-to-face visits with a Zoom call or online interaction using a similar platform. 

Virtual meetings are a good substitute for in-person meetings. However, you must allow for flexibility, which is crucial because technological difficulties are bound to occur from time to time.  Flexibility is also a necessity for numerous nonprofit organizations because many, if not most, are currently working with a smaller staff. 

Shift your focus to donors who are willing to do virtual meetings and events. Your time should be going to those who can engage and remain involved virtually. To facilitate this, segment your donors into those who are comfortable with the virtual game. 

Go Virtual With Fundraising Events 

Make the transition to virtual events. In-person galas, fundraisers, and events like golf tournaments are not possible at the moment. That doesn’t mean your organization needs to or can afford to completely shut down fundraising operations. 

With proper planning and implementation, virtual events will keep your donors and clients engaged with your mission. Virtual events offer the advantage of requiring less logistical planning, which reduces the increased pressure and responsibilities that are facing your reduced staff. Rather than viewing virtual events as a mere substitution for in-person functions, embrace the virtual experience as a fresh approach to add to your fundraising strategy.

Strategize and Understand Your Target Audience

Be creative, and be willing to try new things. Make a plan with your team, and have honest conversations about what you believe is possible to accomplish. Be willing to think outside the box and innovate. Strategize by familiarizing yourself and your staff with what will be required to ensure the event is a success.

Tailor your guest list to donors and prospects who are comfortable with the virtual experience. It’s important to target your content to those who are in a position to continue giving despite the current economic climate. Donor Segmentation allows you to correctly pinpoint your target audience that should be extended an invitation to your virtual events. Using this WealthEngine feature leaves you and your remaining staff free to focus your energies on hitting your fundraising goals. 


WealthEngine assists you in accurately identifying your target audience with its propensity to give (P2G) rating. This score is given to an individual based on their financial standing and history of charitable contributions. 

Use virtual technology to do things on a tighter budget to help with your financial planning. Virtual events do not need funds allocated for things like space, food, or drinks. You can capitalize on this to save money. 

Virtual events alleviate the need to plan at the capacity of a typical in-person function. This is important because it saves you time.


Engaging Content: The Key to Giving Your Donors an Enjoyable Experience

The reduction in event costs is a big advantage during this time of increased budget cuts. Understanding how these things will affect your guests’ experience is imperative to the event’s success. 

Providing engaging content these select participants find to be valuable is key to ensuring your donors have a good virtual experience. Hosting an event donors find enjoyable will lead the way in generating the fundraising dollars your organization needs. 

Renew your focus and encourage your staff to plan as much as possible for these virtual nonprofit events. One of the downfalls of doing things virtually is the heavy reliance on technology. 

Technology offers numerous benefits, but one of its drawbacks is increased vulnerability to issues beyond your control. Be as prepared as possible to address these problems as they occur and make adjustments as needed.

Plan, revise, and continue moving forward as you take part in these virtual experiences. Your guests and staff can provide valuable feedback about what they think works well and what improvements they would like to see. Listening to this information is crucial to making these fundraisers successful. The virtual experience offers something fresh to excite and invigorate your donors and prospects. It can provide a way to avoid the stagnation that occurs when traditional events have become formulaic. 

Get creative with your initiatives, and find ways your organization will be able to adapt your original plans to the parameters of virtual technology. As previously stated, your primary goal is to continue your fundraising initiatives. Embrace the ability to conduct these events virtually with a smaller staff. Be prepared to use these virtual strategies in our collective “new normal” that is a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Use Technology to Make the Most of Your Data

WealthEngine’s platform does the work for you, and can make a huge difference in results when your resources are limited. By understanding your donors and prospects, your fundraising strategy can be implemented in the most productive way possible. Doing so facilitates a higher return on investment (ROI) with donors. 

See how WealthEngine’s cutting edge technology can be used to supplement your team during this challenging time. Check out a free WealthEngine demo today. 


Billionaire Donors Will Ask These 7 Questions Before They Donate

Billionaire Donors Will Ask These 7 Questions Before They Donate

September 4, 2020
PV Bóccasam

When serving today’s high-end net worth billionaire donor, you can expect them to have some questions before they decide to donate. Jim Lintott, chairman, and co-founder of Sterling Foundation Management spoke at WealthEngine’s Prosper Summit in 2019 to provide us with insight into what questions these billionaires might ask before deciding to donate to your nonprofit. 

1. How Can I Make a Difference?

One of the main reasons someone will consider donating is to make a difference. It’s not for their ego enhancement, or tax benefits, though those incentives do exist. Most wealthy donors want to make a difference in the world and genuinely help people.

The donor may or may not know how they want to make a difference. They’re coming to your organization to see how their donation can affect the world. 

It’s your job to support potential donors by helping them see how they can make a difference, and help them realize where their passion lies. People usually have a burning desire to do something good. 

At Jim’s firm, they came up with a great way to help people find their passion. Often, the families that come in aren’t sure what they want to do. The family is taken into a room where 50 headlines are on display heralding good things that could happen. 

These headlines are created after consultation with each family to get to know them and their priorities. Families are asked to take 20-30 minutes and walk around the room to read the headlines. Then, choose three of them they’d like to see come true.

2. What Won’t Happen if You Don’t Get the Money?

This question may seem simple on a surface level, but it’s important to be prepared to answer this question honestly and truthfully. This is necessary for your billionaire donor to understand the importance of their donation. 

Put together case studies of projects your charity has worked on that gave positive results and prepare to present them to your potential billionaire donors. The objective is to clearly demonstrate how their money can help and why they should donate to you. 

Jim Lintott shared an inspiring story at the WealthEngine Summit, about a family who’s 12-year-old daughter was suffering from epilepsy. The family wanted to make a difference in awareness and research into epilepsy. 

The Sterling Foundation Management came up with three projects for the family to consider. The family ended up choosing to participate in all three.

This resource was created to help guide families in their epilepsy journey. It’s a great first step for people who just found out their child has epilepsy. In only three short years, became the largest epilepsy-related website that distributed information and helped build a community. 


Epilepsy Website Image


Epilepsy Therapy Project

With thorough research, Jim’s firm found that potential new cures for epilepsy weren’t making it to phase two trials. The epilepsy therapy project worked with the pharmaceutical industry to identify ways to move drugs through the testing process and move forward. Six years later, 8 out of the 12 drugs in the epilepsy pipeline were driven by the epilepsy therapy project.


The Epilepsy Study Consortium Mission Statement


Epilepsy Study Consortium

One of the major issues identified through research was the lack of people available for trials. The Epilepsy Study Consortium project helped find patients to sign up for new drug trials. Before this consortium, it took years to get a trial going. 

Through the family’s donation, they created a consortium of research hospitals in New York that kept potential candidates for trial in a usable database. When a new trial was proposed, they were able to shorten the recruiting process from 24 months to 60 days. Now, large companies are willing to focus on epilepsy treatments because the path is easier.

Imagine what the world would look like today if this family hadn’t decided to donate so these organizations could be created. How many more people would have suffered without this family’s generosity? This is the type of picture you need to paint for your potential billionaire donors to emphasize the gravity of their donation.

3. Who Can Give Me Expert Help?

Wealthy people and billionaire donors seek out experts for almost everything, including getting information about donating. If you’re putting together a proposal, be sure to show how you’ve successfully done this before.

It’s okay if you haven’t done this type of project. Be sure to show how you’re going to recruit new talent or how you’re going to educate yourself to provide the best results.

Prepare answers to these three questions so you’re ready when billionaire donors ask if you haven’t worked on a similar project before:

    • How are you going to find the expert talent needed to execute this project?
    • What are your requirements to make sure the new talent has experience?
    • What steps are you going to take to ensure the project will be completed on time?

Jim tells a comical, yet noteworthy story about how his firm was able to help their client redo a university library:

“Recently, we had a client come to us interested in redoing a university library. They had been pitched by the school. We sought out the nation’s three leading experts on technology in libraries, learning in libraries, and the future of libraries.”

Jim explains that finding and contacting these experts was done by a 22-year-old in his firm. Research costs were minimal“two salads and one sandwich.” The information gathered helped the client recognize the potential and completely reshaped the project.

4. How Do We Measure Results?

Talk is great, but eventually, your potential billionaire donor is going to ask how you measure and track project results. First, create a proxy measurement. If you can’t determine a number to go off of, you’re most likely not trying hard enough. 

Use tools like surveys audited results, or attendance records and search for third-party verifiable measurements. This is key to creating long-term relationships.

Jim’s company developed a program in the three rivers area of Nigeria to fight illiteracy. They had the extra benefit of being able to add Basic Aids Education as one of the subjects used to teach people how to read. A review of other studies showed if you can teach adults to read, you can eliminate illiteracy in an area forever. 

This makes perfect sense because no parent who knows how to read would allow their child to be illiterate. By measuring before, during, and after, literacy rates in the three rivers area moved from 23% to 85%. This is the type of information your donors are looking for. 

5. What Type of Flexibility Can I Expect?

Typically, your potential billionaire donor isn’t going to care about the nuances of your organization, such as whether you’re a nonprofit or for profit. They simply want to make a difference. Potential billionaire donors will want to make sure you’re going to be flexible.

As Jim puts it, “Your [donor] wants to make a difference. We need to think outside of our own organizations. Are there partners we should include? Are there investments we should make?”

Jim tells another story to relate how many charities work on the issue of using charcoal for cooking in third world countries. Charcoal is a concern because it’s bad for your health.

However, it’s not as simple as just providing people with better cooking materials, such as liquefied natural gas. It is necessary to change the market completely. 

If you’re in the third world and are impoverished, purchasing 30 cents worth of charcoal is your easiest option for finding cooking fuel. However, you can’t simply purchase 30 cents of liquefied natural gas. 

The smallest container available is five gallons. At least, that’s how it used to be.

Now, there’s a company that will provide the tank for free and sells gas as it’s used. This is a for-profit solution to a bottleneck the nonprofit world could not fix.

Don’t get trapped into repeating what you’ve done before. Think outside the box to solve the problem.

Flexibility Planning

The other part of being flexible with donations involves planning. For example, some depression-era givers have the fear that their personal funds will be depleted. They want to help, but they’re afraid of going broke.

Being flexible with how you handle their money can help your organization get money in the future without pressuring people now. Jim’s firm often works with clients to create a

large charitable remainder trust (CRT). 

Doing so ensures all donations are earmarked for charitable giving. However, donors can draw from the CRT if circumstances demand it. Using a CRT enables your donor to give with confidence.

6. How Can I Involve My Family?

Most wealthy families and billionaire donors want to keep the money in the family for generations, but they don’t want to simply give their children money. Instead, they want to give those inheritances responsibly to ensure the money is managed effectively. 

With an estimated 30 trillion dollars about to be passed from the baby boomer generation to gen-Xers, who will then leave inheritances for millennials, families are considering how they’re going to get the next generation ready to handle their wealth.

A lot of Jim’s clients have parents tell their children, “Why don’t you run the foundation before you run the company?” This practice makes a lot of sense because making decisions is difficult. Reviewing grants and choosing the ones that most align with the foundation’s mission is excellent training for business decision making. 

With a grant, you get to actually make a decision. And with most grants, you get to see if your decision was the right one based on the results. This gives children the confidence they need to make the right decisions in the future when they are in charge of the company.

Passion Finding

Jim explained he has been fascinated by a trend he has witnessed repeatedly in many wealthy families. The second generation has a propensity to find it difficult to identify their life’s passion.

These children most likely don’t want to compete with the fact that mom and dad were so wildly successful economically. Many succeeding generations have found they can find their own life’s passion through philanthropy.



Jim tells yet another story, this one is about a passionate child of one of their wealthy clients. The child was very concerned about the siblings of cancer patients. 

The organization dubbed Sibs for Kids was created. This idea was taken to a children’s hospital, where the concept was explained and an agreement was made to get the funding necessary for set up from the family foundation. Being able to witness younger generations find a passion is one of the more rewarding benefits that come with working with your donors to help them realize the extent of the good their donations can do.

7. What Tax Deductions Can I Expect?

As Jim mentioned earlier, tax deductions aren’t the main reason why a wealthy donor decides to give. However, it’s still an important question you should be prepared to answer at your first meeting. Be sure to explain to them what benefits they can get based on how much they donate.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the wealthy want to help you. 

As Jim suggests, “Get to know them, and I mean really know them. Know their backgrounds, know their likes and dislikes, and what really motivates them. Get to know what and why they want to make a difference and help them see that path toward change. Be prepared to change the world together. You will both be glad you did.”

Using Storytelling to Personalize Your Message and Grow Donors

Using Storytelling to Personalize Your Message and Grow Donors

August 14, 2020
Raj Khera

Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool that personalizes your messaging and encourages readers to make a connection with your organization. Successfully blending storytelling into marketing involves relaying real experiences to create compelling narratives that elicit a genuine reaction from your donor base. 

Alex’s Story

The original narrative created through the Alex's Lemonade Stand foundation


Jay Scott, the executive director of Alex’s Lemonade Stand shares the impactful history behind the company’s mission, an example of a genuine story that can be used to inspire donors. Alex’s Lemonade Stand started as the dream of a young girl battling cancer and has since grown into a nationwide research foundation for childhood cancer. Alex lives on through the legacy of the foundation, where her story continues to impact the lives of thousands of people. 

The lemonade stand began as a small business outside of Alex’s home in Philadelphia. Advertising fliers were sent out and eventually, a passerby called the local newspaper. The resulting media coverage spread her story throughout the Philadelphia area. 

In one day, Alex was able to raise $12,000, which she then donated to the hospital where she was being treated. Through her lemonade stand, Alex’s mission to raise money for childhood cancer began to inspire people across the country, allowing her to eventually raise more than one million dollars for her cause. 

Alex’s story resonated with a wide range of people who were all inspired to give so they could help make a difference, showing the power of a story. Now, Alex’s Lemonade Stand continues to use her story in their messaging by including a picture of Alex in all their newsletters, as well as sharing her story during their yearly telethon.

Alex’s Lemonade Stand also regularly shares stories of kids who are currently receiving aid through the foundation. Highlighting individual cases where the organization is continuing to make a difference in the lives of children fighting cancer just as Alex did, is a testimony to the foundation’s commitment to its original mission based on Alex’s dream. 

By sharing Alex’s moving story and relating first-hand experiences of children who are now being assisted by the foundation, donors hear and respond to a message that is simple and relatable. Alex’s Lemonade Stand also encourages donors to give by providing demonstrations of the tangible results the foundation’s work has shown, which are only made possible by donations to this worthy cause.

Storytelling: The Key to Setting Yourself Apart

Every organization has a mission, which is the expression of its purpose and an explanation of the value it offers to the community. For donors to have a clear understanding of why they should give to your cause, they must comprehend the specific unmet needs you fill and why their support is so vital. 

The first step in creating a story that clearly communicates your organization’s purpose, while making its goals relatable to your donors is to set yourself apart from the many other worthy charitable endeavors that are competing for donations from that same pool of givers. How do you distinguish yourself in the eyes of your target audience?

Developing a mission statement that describes the values and objectives your nonprofit was created to accomplish provides the basis for a compelling narrative that will evoke a positive response from donors. Formulating a solid mission statement involves developing your backstory to illustrate the driving force behind the decision to found the nonprofit. A persuasive mission statement also includes a discussion of your future goals and how they were inspired by your original story and fit within the stated values of your organization.

The Power of Storytelling in Personalizing Your Message

The 3 C's of Transmedia Storytelling


Once you have a narrative to share with your audience, you can begin crafting a plan for transmedia storytelling. This is the process of dispersing various elements systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified entertainment experience. 

Why is creating a continuous narrative important? By sending out a cohesive message across your channels, your story becomes easier to personalize, increasing the likelihood it will resonate with donors as they consume content that aligns with their interests. Through your outreach, you can track the types of messaging that evoke engagement. This information allows you to segment donors into groups based on their personal preferences. 

When your story is unified, analyzing your engagement rates and donor reaction to your messaging becomes easier. Collecting and analyzing this information is vital in helping your organization to craft personalized messaging and send it to the correct target audience.

Take Alex’s Lemonade Stand for example. This foundation has utilized the art of transmedia storytelling to continue reaching a wide audience to find and inspire new donors.

Personalizing Emails Equal Marketing Success

Incorporating storytelling into your email marketing strategy will improve your engagement rate, driving more traffic to your online presence. 

Email segmentation plays a key role at Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The foundation makes sure to categorize their donors and share relevant stories based on the interests of each group. Jay Scott shares how this process works, explaining that these groups are broken down into lists of 1,000, 2,000, or 5,000 donors. According to Jay, these segmented email lists tend to have 2-5 times more engagement than their mass distribution list. 

While you continue to use an overarching narrative in your messaging, it is important to take it a step further by breaking your content down into smaller, more targeted subsets. Doing so will maximize your ability to attract attention from specific donors. 

It may seem like extra work to split up your email list into these groups. However, the effort is well worth it. Using personalized emails can substantially grow your return-on-investment (ROI).  WealthEngine’s platform can improve the efficiency of your email segmentation process by easing the manual workload. WealthEngine also offers a pool of 250 million pre-scored profiles the platform analyzes for you to identify which narratives are most likely to resonate with each group. 

Storytelling: The Basics of Custom Content

Custom content develops as you analyze metrics and segment your lists. Just as personalizing your email messages is important for donor engagement so is sharing custom content with your audience.

Avoid sharing stock photos, and find media from your organization to post instead. Your donors will appreciate seeing how their donations are being put to use, so share your organization’s mission through success stories and examples of their money at work.

Avoid “fluff” and filler content. Custom content works best when it is a genuine message that can resonate with your audience. Don’t overwhelm inboxes with constant newsletters and updates that aren’t providing valuable insights. Focus your efforts on sharing meaningful stories relating to all the ways your organization is making a difference. 


WealthEngine Product Update August 2020

WealthEngine Product Update August 2020

August 13, 2020

WealthEngine Product Update – August 2020 from WealthEngine on Vimeo.


With a new month comes a number of key features, improvements and continued enhancements. Check out the details of our latest product updates, or skip ahead to the 5:00 minute mark to catch a live demo.

Increased Charitable Donations Limit

Every profile directly updated with giving data and history. Now access over 170 million donation records, adding 500k per month, plus insider stock trades and more.

Value: $318,000,000

5-Star Rated Salesforce Connector

Seamless access to all of your refresh data directly within your CRM. Click here to get it from the AppExchange.

Interactive Screening Insights

Leverage an all new interactive report featuring detailed screening insights with just one click. Measure Propensity to Give vs. Estimated Giving Capacity and discover the steps for obtaining your next best prospect.

The New Donor Pyramid Modeler

Customers can now analyze and prioritize their best prospects and not just on giving capacity, but by other attributes to maximize their ‘ask,’ driving higher lifetime value and retention.


All of our models have programmatic endpoints that can create a value added benefit to every DONATE NOW button webpage. Automatically call our ‘NEXT-ASK MODEL’ to create the ‘right ask’ driving up your LYV for every donor you connect with online.

Enhanced Connections

Our customers find 30% of their new prospects from their current donors and members connections. They tend to give more consistently and at a 18% higher donation amount than non-referrals. This can improve fundraising results by 22% per campaign.

WEAdmin Report Tracking

Maximize your usage across your environment and know who your power user is within your environment. Reward them!

Interested in learning more and accessing refreshed data to get the latest insights about your donors and prospects? Click here.

How to Target Donor Advised Fund Givers for Fundraising

How to Target Donor Advised Fund Givers for Fundraising

August 7, 2020
PV Bóccasam

When your fundraising team looks for donors, they may look to those in the community with influence, connections, and wealth. An often overlooked group includes those with donor-advised funds. Check out the information below about donor-advised funds (DAFs) and their impact on charitable organizations: 

What are Donor-Advised Funds?

New York Community Trust created the first donor-advised funds in the early 1930s. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “a donor-advised fund is a separately identified fund or account that is maintained and operated by a section 501(c)(3) organization, which is called a sponsoring organization.” The donor owns the account and grants funds to nonprofit organizations to manage. 

Donor-advised fund accounts are available at financial institutions like Schwab and Fidelity. Account managers who oversee DAFs inform members of charities to contribute to from their advised fund accounts. Any 501(c)(3) organization with a current, verifiable listing on the IRS website can receive contributions. 

These types of funding accounts have a unique benefit for nonprofit organizations. This is called what Amy Pirozzolo, Director of Marketing at Fidelity Charity, refers to as the “second power” or “sustaining power.” DAFs allow nonprofit organizations to use the allotted funding as they see fit over a long time period, including being used as a safety net on a rainy day. The funds continue to appreciate after being granted to nonprofits, allowing charities to receive more funds over time.

DAFs are sources of sustaining funds that allow nonprofits to thrive even during down fundraising times like during a recession. They also provide benefits to the donors. Some of the reasons people choose to start donor-advised funds include: 

  1. The desire for a generous legacy in retirement years
  2. They want to give back excess income  
  3. The continuance of giving throughout retirement 
  4. They have funds to give, but either don’t have the time to give or are uncertain about what organization to make their fund’s sponsoring charity 
  5. The ability to give appreciated securities 
  6. The opportunity to grow their donation tax-free 
  7. A donor had a windfall or a high-bonus year
  8. The ability to see all one’s grants and gifts in one area and better manage one’s giving 
  9. There is an immediate tax reduction on the funds inside the account  
  10. DAFs are easy to set up and manage 

How People Become Interested in Giving Through DAFs: Boston Healthcare for Homeless 

Michael Bradley felt an urge to give back when he received a $1,000 scholarship at age 13. Years later, he came across Boston Healthcare for Homeless, a nonprofit that provides medical, behavioral, and dental services for the homeless, and contributed. He was invited to tour the medical center and heard stories of some of the patients served. 

Inspired by Boston Healthcare for Homeless’ mission and the selflessness of the leadership, Michael decided to contribute through his donor-advised fund. Michael observes, “When you make a contribution to the donor-advised fund, you’re dealing with a system that really is built to make it possible for you to put 98% of your thinking into the giving and 2% into the execution.” 

Michael started with a small donation. After a tour of the facility and connecting with the mission of Boston Healthcare for Homeless, he decided to make the organization a sponsor for his donor-advised fund. Additionally, the appreciation of the securities in his DAF enabled him to make a larger and more impactful contribution than he could have made with cash or a check. 


Who are DAF Donors and Why They Matter

DAF donors can make a significant fundraising impact on nonprofit organizations. Who are these donors and what difference can their donor-advised funds make? Below are some observed characteristics of these donors and why their giving is important.

Characteristics of DAF donors:

  1. They’re very engaged and involved. Generally, 79% of these donors volunteer. In comparison, only twenty-five percent of the general population volunteers.
  2. The average age is about 65, with most donors starting their DAFs around age 55
  3. They are close to or are recently retired and are thinking about the next stage in their life 
  4. These donors are at their highest-income-earning years, having paid off major expenses, and they want to “give back” excess funds 
  5. Most have modest amounts in their DAF funds (less than $25,000) though donors represent all income levels


DAFs have taken off in popularity relative to private foundations. A big reason for this is a donor with an advised fund can make an impact with their contributions during their lifetime. With private foundations, the donor’s name (and contributions) are designed to live on after they have passed. 

Fidelity Charitable, an organization that oversees DAF contributions for nonprofit clients, has noted the power of donor-advised funds. They have noticed that over the last 10 years, the number of grants in a donor-advised account rose from 5.8 to 10.4. Additionally, the average grant of $4000 has increased between 15-20% year over year.

Last year, Fidelity Charitable noted $582 million in grants coming from donors with advised funds. They have given $35 billion to charities over multiple years. The investment income and appreciated securities from DAFs contributed to an additional $11 billion for charities. 

How to Find and Engage DAF Donors

Donors with advised funds are audiences your fundraising team can’t ignore. While they can start with a modest $50 donation, they can become loyal, long-time supporters if they believe in your mission. Below are some things to keep in mind when identifying DAF donors:

  • Donor Modeling

In finance, modeling refers to predicting the future cash flow of an individual or organization based on their current earnings or payouts. When it comes to donors with advised funds, the modeling or predicting isn’t solely about how much they make or are able to give. Instead, it is looking at the donor’s age and the new life stage they are about to transition into.  

Major birthdays like 40, 50, or 60 are models to look at. When donors are at this stage of life, they are in the middle of or ending their careers. They are financially stable and have experienced a sudden boost in income and tend to make larger contributions.

If your organization waits to reach out to these donors after they see that income boost, you’re too late. Other charities are already in line asking for donations. That is where DAF modeling comes in handy. It enables you to have the donor on your fundraising radar before these life and income changes occur. 


  • Successor Agreements and Automatic Grants

In many cases, wealthy donors will list a successor organization to become the beneficiary of their DAFs when they pass. Donors with advised funds will likely name the nonprofits they are currently contributing to as successors. This means it’s important to identify and pursue these donors early on. 

Besides setting up a successor agreement with a donor, allowing them to quickly and easily make grants from their DAF to the organization is another way to find and engage these types of donors. With automatic grants, donors with advised funds will come to you after learning about your organization. 

  • Engage and Welcome

Unlike other donors who can spare a one-time donation, those with advised funds have extra money designated specifically for charitable contributions. Additionally, these funds carry appreciation which increases their donation. These donors are looking for nonprofits to give funds to and need to be a top priority for your fundraising team. 

Like Michael and the Boston Healthcare for Homeless, the power of relationship-building with DAF donors is essential for your organization to stay at top of mind when donors are looking for sponsor organizations to contribute to. Start with a “Thank You” acknowledgment of their first gift. Then, create more touchpoints between them and your organization like a site visit.

As noted previously, donors with advised funds want to see and experience the impact of their contributions. A phone conversation, a video embedded in an email, a lunch meet-up or a site visit are ways you can show DAF donors the specific and detailed impacts their contributions have on those your organization serves. The more powerful and compelling your mission is and the greater the difference the contribution makes, the more persuaded potential DAF donors will be to give. 

Another example of the power of DAFs is the story of Dan and Jill Francis. They were able to give an additional $170,000 to a charity because of the appreciation and investment income generated through their DAF. This hefty donation enabled the Francis fund to educate an extra 79 at-risk preschool students. 

Donor-advised funds benefit the donor as much as the charity that receives the contribution. The appreciation of the securities of DAFs enables donors to give more to the organizations they care about. Donors can also see where their funds go and observe the immediate impact their gift has made.

These types of funds are meant to provide a convenient and more impactful giving option for donors. They also give the donor more control over where and how their contributions will be spent. DAFs also allow donors to give back when they have their highest income level.

  • Make DAF Contributions Easy With Direct Links 

Fidelity Charitable, Vanguard Charitable, and Schwab Charitable are the most common, national donor-advised funds. Pirozzolo notes, “There are around 468,000 donor-advised fund accounts in the US, with 50% of those in a major DAF. The other 50% are community foundations (30%) and single-issue donor-advised funds (20%).” 

Fidelity Charitable has found that organizations that allow donors to connect their DAF accounts make larger contributions. DAF Direct, a widget made by Schwab Charitable, allows nonprofits to do that. It connects a donor’s advised fund account directly to the specific charitable organization of their choosing. 

This widget creates a deep link a nonprofit organization can put on their donation page or letter that takes a donor to their DAF login page. From the login page, the contribution is populated with the nonprofit organization in the checkout process hosted by Schwab Charitable, Fidelity Charitable, or a similar DAF.  If you’re not familiar with DAF Direct, you can register on their website.



A great case study where DAF Direct is used is The Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride. In the widget, a participant can send solicitations to friends with a link to use their donor-advised funds. The donor can select the rider’s name and he or she will get credit for raising those funds. 

  • How to Get Started With Donor-Advised Funds

The first step in setting up your nonprofit for donor-advised funds is getting it listed on the Internal Revenue Services’ website. Once it is in the IRS database and listed, it will be picked up by organizations like Charitable Fidelity. Businesses that connect donors with sponsoring organizations to receive DAFs compile lists based on IRS nonprofit listings. 

Being listed on sites like Charity Navigator with current organization information is another option as Charity Fidelity and similar organizations scrape this and similar sites for nonprofits to include on their DAF sponsor lists. You can sign up for electronic DAF transfers once you register. Once connected, donors will have the option to select your organization as the sponsor or recipient of their donor-advised funds.

Donors who have an advised fund need to be one of the key supporter groups your fundraising team prioritizes fosters long-term relationships with. Fidelity Charitable and WealthEngine have a unique partnership whereby nonprofits can identify, learn about, and engage with various donor groups including those with donor-advised funds. WealthEngine provides charities with software that includes details about the wealth, giving capacity, and other financial data of donors, including whether they have an advised fund. 

WealthEngine helps nonprofits by educating fundraisers on ways to get donations effectively and efficiently. Fidelity Charitable can help nonprofits get listed to become a sponsor organization for the donor-advised funds of their members. Together, WealthEngine and Fidelity Charitable help charities find and cultivate donors with advised funds. 






Fundraising Strategies Despite Recent Staff and Budget Cuts

Fundraising Strategies Despite Recent Staff and Budget Cuts

July 31, 2020
Raj Khera

Nonprofit organizations have seen budgets slashed and staff furloughed due to COVID-19. This has made it difficult to raise the funds needed to provide vital services to the community. Despite budget cuts, staff layoffs, event cancellations, and economic concerns, fundraising is possible with the following strategies:

1. Use Automated Technology 

There are many fundraising tools available that automate routine tasks like email and social media scheduling, e-newsletter template creation, and website user data analytics. Though it may be tempting to invest in every fundraising tool, you need to look at the needs, budget, and manpower of your organization first.

You’re probably familiar with MailChimp, Constant Contact, GoFundMe, Buffer, Raiser’s Edge, and Hootsuite. These programs are easy to use and some are inexpensive or even free. 

You can segment your donors, set up online fundraisers, and schedule social media postings and emails. These online tools can save your team time and effort, without breaking your budget. They are great ways to quickly get information to your donors and prospects.

In addition to these automated fundraising tools, WealthEngine has a host of donor scoring and campaign management software that works in conjunction with the abovementioned digital tools. This automated online fundraising technology helps you identify the most promising donors to send your message to. It also helps you create and manage donor campaigns that utilize the tools listed above. 

Budget cuts due to Covid-19 have forced nonprofits to take a fresh look at the costs of the tools they are using. You may need to cancel software subscriptions that are not delivering or being used. Be careful not to cancel too many as automation is crucial for organizations with smaller staffs.


2. Use Targeted Messaging for Categorized Audiences

Despite possible income reductions facing your donors, you shouldn’t stop asking for gifts. There are donors who are willing and able to make financial contributions. 

Some prospects may feel powerless due to state-mandated lockdowns and event cancellations. Many donors will see the opportunity to give, even a little amount, as a way they can make a difference.

It is recommended that you research, follow up on, and categorize your donor lists. Not everyone on your lists should get the same message as they donate different amounts, donate to varying projects, and at different frequency rates. 

Once you segment donors, it is important to have tailored fundraising messaging that doesn’t include a hard ask. Remember, the current financial strain may be affecting your donors. When your donor list is segmented, it is easier to send the right message to the right people at the right time. 

If you haven’t invested in a tool like WealthEngine that analyzes supporter behavior and gives them a score based on their giving capacity, you can miss finding eager and willing donors. You will also miss out on the opportunity to share your organization’s messaging.

Donor Prospect Scoring

Many nonprofits use donor segmentation to group supporters into categories. Common segmentations include the amount given, donation frequency, giving capacity, and the length of time a donor has supported the organization. Scoring helps the fundraising team narrow down which donors and prospects to pursue.

At Northern Nevada HOPES, the fundraising department assigns individuals scores based on their ability to make a major gift and whether they’ve given in the past. For example, an individual with the highest score of 1/0 means they have given in the past and that they can give at least $50,000 over five years. In this case, the “1” represents the category the prospect falls into and the “0” indicates their priority within the category.

Donor management systems like WealthEngine help nonprofits focus on donor prospects through the assignment of a score. The wealth score, a number between 1 and 100, assesses the financial health of a prospective donor. Unlike the Northern Nevada HOPES score, where the lower number is better, you’ll want to focus your efforts on donor prospects with a wealth score of at least 90.


Look-Alike Modeling

Look-alike modeling is a form of marketing that notes common characteristics of an organizations’ most qualified donors. These common demographic characteristics can include:

    • Area code
    • Car type
    • Profession
    • Life stage
    • Age
    • Interests and hobbies
    • Family size and makeup

Once you note all these common characteristics, you can run it through a donor prospect platform like WealthEngine. This helps you find more donors that may have otherwise gone under your radar.


Follow Up with Donors

Your fundraising messaging needs to go beyond the ask. Now is a great opportunity for your nonprofit to reach out and empathize with your donors.

One organization that did this is Northern Nevada HOPES, a community health clinic. The organization realized its staff and donors were experiencing the same difficulties, making it easier for them to empathize with donors. As a result, they were able to secure large donations of “$5,000, $10,000, even $15,000.” 

Northern Nevada HOPES sent out emails, handwritten notes, and made phone calls to donors and prospects with simple questions of “How are you?” “How is your family?” “Are you okay?” 

This introduction opened the door to one-on-one conversations where the donors asked Northern Nevada HOPES how they were doing. That question from donors helped form the messaging on the organization’s website, email, and social media channels: ‘We are okay and our doors are open.’

Besides letting the donors and community know their clinic was fine and their doors were open, they mentioned the need for a community health clinic. This messaging went out through their email database.


Personalize Your “Thank You” With a Video

Donors want acknowledgment and appreciation for their financial gifts. You may have an automated “thank you” page, email, and phone scripts set in place. While these are fundraising must-haves, are yours engaging or personal?

Videos are powerful ways to take your “thank you” message to the next level. Videos should be short and feature your organization’s CEO, the fundraising or marketing manager, or someone who has benefitted from the nonprofit. All your representative has to do is sit in front of the camera and thank the individual for their contribution.

The best “thank you” videos are candid and appreciative, say the donor’s name, thank them for their contribution, and include a touching message.

Some “Thank You” messaging tips to consider include:

    • The message resonates with donors and pulls at their heartstrings
    • The message is warm and welcoming
    • The message elicits gratitude
    • The message acknowledges the receipt of the gift 
    • The message mentions where the donation is going

3. Get Creative with Online Events

Since traditional in-person fundraising events have been canceled due to COVID-19, nonprofit organizations have the opportunity to be creative with online events. Roughly two-thirds of nonprofit organizations reported they were either considering or have already held a virtual fundraising event. Below are examples of what some nonprofits have done instead of holding in-person gatherings and events:


Northern Nevada HOPES

Northern Nevada HOPES held a town hall for donors and prospective donors of their recently built Hope Springs facility. The CEO hosted the event. 

A few weeks later, a virtual gala took place. The virtual gala event was a one-hour cocktail hour held over a Zoom call featuring an online, silent auction.


March of Dimes

With their signature walk canceled, March of Dimes created a March Madness bracket-style competition called March for Babies Step Up! Teams and individuals compete against each other to raise money and get virtual badges and ribbons. Through the middle of May, participants tracked their progress and completed a series of contests using a mobile app called Charity Miles.


Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCan)

PanCan turned to a virtual walk followed by an event called Virtual is the New Purple that featured virtual town halls, forums, and one-on-one conversations. Volunteers, team captains, sponsors, and stakeholders took part in the event.


St. Baldrick’s Foundation

St. Baldrick’s Foundation provides treatment and services to children with cancer. The organization wanted a fun and creative way for people to get involved and raise funds

their solutionVirtual Head Shaving.

These virtual head-shaving events allowed people to raise funds through peer-to-peer fundraising that encouraged donor contacts to shave their heads in return. Participants filmed themselves getting their heads shaved by hosting an event on Zoom or Twitch, which allowed friends and family to watch.

With virtual events, the sky’s the limit. If any of these virtual events inspire you, be sure to check out more online events at Double the Donation. Other virtual online events nonprofits have participated in include:

    • Webinars
    • Podcasts
    • Virtual Golf Tournaments
    • Online Charity Concerts
    • Calendar/Cookbook Giveaway
    • Virtual Dance Marathon
    • Virtual Game Night


4. Safe In-Person Meetings are Still Possible

The health concerns of Covid-19 may have canceled your traditional fundraising events. You may be re-thinking all in-person meetings. However, in this time of stay-at-home orders, business shutdowns, and social distancing, in-person meetings are more important than ever. 

During times of economic downturns, nonprofits who have “used the time to create stronger relationships come out ahead.” With the increased social isolation, health concerns, and economic uncertainty of your donors, they need someone to come alongside them and show empathy. Organizations that go out and listen to the needs and concerns of their donors will build closer relationships with them. 

While digital communication tools are great, they cannot replace in-person meetings. It is important to have strong relationships with donors and online meetings lack the personal touches needed for relationship-building. With donor consent, appropriate safety measures in place, and the “green light” from your state health authorities, you can still have those crucial in-person meetings.

Instead of the traditional lunch or dinner at a restaurant or sitting in a nice coffee shop, you can both enjoy a boxed lunch or a coffee-to-go on a park bench or any outside space. For these meetings, it is important to wear a mask and stay at least six feet apart. 

These in-person meetings will allow you to share information about your organization and provide the personal connection one cannot get online. However, the choice to meet in-person will be up to the prospective donor. If he or she is uncomfortable meeting face-to-face, there is nothing wrong with a virtual Zoom or Skype meeting.

5. Ask Your Board Members for Help

80% of nonprofit organizations have fewer than 20 board members, with the average being around 15. For many organizations, board members are chosen using a list of requirements. It is a rule for most board members to donate a certain level to the nonprofit each year.

During this challenging time of fundraising, it is a good idea to ask more from your board members if they haven’t already stepped up. The extra responsibilities for board members can take many forms. You can ask them to increase their level of giving or ask them to do more volunteer or pro-bono work for the organization.

Your board members should be willing to help in any way possible. When asking for board member support, here are some things to consider:

    • Give members advance notice of  your heightened expectations 
    • Be transparent and ask for their opinions, feedback, and suggestions
    • Make sure there is consensus around the decision
    • Be sensitive to the financial situation of each board member
    • Be consistent in what you ask each board member
    • Be open and specific about the needs of your organization


Now is a great time for creative fundraising, using technology, connecting with donors, and getting additional support from board members. Fundraising is still doable even though Covid-19 seems to have negatively impacted nonprofits’ bottom lines. A good first step is to use tools like WealthEngine to find donor prospects. 

Once you know which donors to focus on, you can segment your supporters and write appropriate fundraising messaging. It is also important that you continue asking for donations, conduct socially-distant in-person meetings with prospects, and ask your board members to help with fundraising efforts. 


Maximizing Your Targeted Marketing by Optimizing Your Email List

Maximizing Your Targeted Marketing by Optimizing Your Email List

July 30, 2020
Raj Khera

This article focuses on ways you can optimize your email list by making use of social media platforms and email list segmentation. By personalizing your messaging, you make your product or service more relatable and show how it can be beneficial to a particular subset of clients. 

Email marketing probably isn’t a new term if you spend time creating a marketing plan for your organization. It is important to understand how to make the most out of your email list. There are around 3.9 billion active email addresses in the world, which means there is a lot of potential when it comes to using email marketing to reach your target audience. 

Given all the time and resources spent cultivating your email list, maximizing the effectiveness of your list is crucial to your success. By going beyond a traditional email campaign strategy to use this information in other ways, you can increase your return on investment (ROI) and your target audience reach. You can also pick up new leads and look-a-like audiences.

On average, email campaigns generate $38 ROI for every $1 spent making it one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing. While simply focusing on creating email newsletters and placing your message in your client’s inbox is important, there are ways to expand the use of your email list. 

Email preference graphic


Direct Email Campaigns

The simplest way to start using your email list is to begin a direct email campaign. 87% of B2B marketers say email is one of their top free organic distribution channels. Getting your message into your target audience’s inbox is one of the easiest ways to reach out to prospective and current donors. 

While it is possible to send an email blast to your entire target audience, by being intentional with your messaging, your campaigns will be even more successful. Email segmentation is crucial to increasing your conversation rates and engagement with your message.

By dividing your email list into segmented audiences, you will be able to reach your target audience with personalized calls-to-action that will encourage engagement from the recipient based on their lifestyle, interests, and donation ability.

WealthEngine’s platform digs deep into the preferences of your target audience to help you get a better idea of which messages will resonate in their inboxes. By analyzing wealth profiles, WealthEngine helps you prioritize the perspective and current donors who should be receiving your emails.

When segmenting your audience, it is important to remember appropriate messaging for each group. Segmentation is a great strategy, but it needs to be implemented correctly to work. Use the information provided by WealthEngine to see which type of call-to-action each group will be most likely to engage with. 

Facebook and Instagram Custom Audiences

Mixing social media ads with email marketing helps you target your audience on other platforms enabling you to share your messaging using different types of content. Facebook allows you to build custom audiences by uploading identifiers like email addresses, so you can target your email list with Facebook ads. 

By using this feature, your email list goes a step beyond the inbox and helps you expand your target audience by matching Facebook profiles from your list with similar profiles, known as a look-a-like audience. Maximizing your Facebook ad reach by using your existing email list will help you increase your ROI and expand your target audience to new prospects. 

Instagram acts as the visual partner to Facebook, and its platform uses the same settings to create custom audiences for targeted messaging. By marketing to your email list through these platforms, you can create quality campaigns that encourage traffic and put eyes on your message, increasing your conversion rates. 

Twitter Audiences

Twitter has a different format compared to Facebook and Instagram, but its ad strategy is similar. Twitter is another social media platform that can enable optimization of your email list. Like Facebook’s Custom Audiences feature, Twitter allows you to tailor your messaging to certain segments of your email list. 

Rather than focusing on ads, Twitter ultimately focuses on messaging. This social media platform allows you to promote your profile to your chosen audience or sponsor tweets to raise awareness about your message. Like Facebook, Twitter can use the email addresses you upload to create look-a-like models to extend the reach of your message to potential new users. 

Google Customer Match

Google Ads is a huge tool for digital marketers, and the Customer Match feature allows you to use your email list to customize your message to specific audiences as needed. Since Google works as a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising service, conversion rates are crucial for gaining the ROI needed for your campaigns.

Customer Match allows you to upload your email list and segment the audience as needed for your message. When using this feature, you can choose which segment of your email list sees a particular ad. You can also choose to exclude your email list altogether, allowing you to target only cold leads and prospects.

Google Customer Match can also create a similar or look-a-like audience based on the email list you upload. Better yet, the feature will retain the data of those who interact with your advertisements, so you can add these similar audience members to your email database.

CRM Marketing and Retargeting 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tool that allows you to get the most out of your email lists when used with segmentation and retargeting tactics. Working with CRM marketing to retarget your email list can help you nurture your leads and cultivate them into donors. 

Retargeting, in simple terms, works when a user is targeted by other ad campaigns after engaging with your email. This is efficient because it keeps your message at the top of the recipient’s mind and continues to nurture the lead from your email list. 

WealthEngine’s platform integrates well with CRM systems, so you can have access to wealth intelligence technology that helps you better understand your audience. This is important for retargeting because you will be able to segment your retargeting emails to continue the cultivation of leads in the most efficient way possible. 


How to Find and Appeal to Today’s High Net Worth Donors

Hight net worth donors

How to Find and Appeal to Today’s High Net Worth Donors

July 24, 2020
PV Bóccasam

Jim Lintoit is the founder and chairman of the Sterling Foundation, which has created over 350 nonprofits using funds from high net worth donors. On a regular basis, he interacts with the 1%, managing their money and finding ways for them to achieve their philanthropic goals. Below he shares wisdom and advice you can use to appeal to higher-end net worth donors, getting them to fund your organization. 

“Personalization in Today’s *World is Vital” 

We live in the age of the internet, personalization has never been easier. If you want to find donors for your nonprofit organization that has a higher-end net worth, you need to know as much about them as possible including their interests, dislikes, family members, financial situation, and so on, so that you can appeal to them in the most effective way possible. 

If you aren’t personalizing your appeals, then you are putting yourself at a complete disadvantage because the truth is, someone else is, and they will steal that donor right out from under you. You aren’t asking for pennies, you are asking for large sums of money, for missions that will change the world, so you need to put in the work. When it comes to donors, “Get to know them, and I mean really know them” because you need to “Be prepared to change the world together.” 

    • Personalize with WealthEngine 

Using Wealth Engine’s WE Screen feature you can easily personalize your campaigns through wealth and lifestyle indicators. Our comprehensive platform uses real-time intelligence to update donor profiles and automatically segments donors through wealth scores and ratings. 

Using the data on WealthEngine you can determine information about donors like: 

    • What is the giving level they are comfortable with? 
    • Where do they have houses? Do you have any events near those houses you can invite them to? 
    • What kind of investments do they normally make? How is your campaign similar to those investments? 

This kind of information will make or break your campaign, so you better have it. 

WE Screen feature to find donors for nonprofit


Be the Difference Donors Want to Make 

Donors genuinely want a chance to make a difference. Of course, things like ego enhancement, tax breaks, and legacies matter to them, but in the end, the people who come to Jim want to donate to help fix problems and be a force of positive good in the world. 

They often come to him with a burning issue in mind, sometimes with just the general desire to bring about change, and what they want to know is: how? 

You have to be the “how.” 

Jim emphasizes there is one question above all others you need to be able to answer when donors come to you: “What won’t happen if you don’t get this money?” 

If the answer is nothing special, or not one that will personally appeal to the donor, then you have lost them. 

“Wealthy People Seek Out Experts for Almost Everything” 

If you want your campaign to be effective and find donors for your nonprofit organization, you have to show donors why they need you to accomplish their goals. Let’s be real, wealthy people are used to getting the best, so you need to prove to them why you are the best. 

Either show that you are an expert in what you are proposing, or that you have talent working for you that is highly regarded in their field. They need to feel secure that their investment is going into a project that is going to make the difference it sets out to. 

Welcome them in by offering the security of knowing they are working with people who have the skills and capabilities to achieve the donor’s stated goals, and once these are accomplished, keep reinforcing that feeling of security by sharing measurable results from the project. Transparency is instrumental in continuing the cycle of giving, ensuring more donations in the future. 

Get the Next Generation Involved 

Another great way to continue the cycle of giving is by getting the next generation involved in donating. It’s not just a stereotype, it is actually very common for the very wealthy to involve their children in managing their philanthropic contributions. 

After all, it’s excellent management experience if the kids are being groomed to take over their parent’s business. It can also relieve the head of the family of the additional responsibility of managing philanthropic endeavors. Additionally, Jim explains that most second-generation super-wealthy tend to have trouble finding their life’s passion and philanthropic opportunities can deliver that passion to them. 

Identify Next Generation Givers with WealthEngine

You can easily find donors for your nonprofit and utilize information about next-generation givers using WealthEngine’s WE Search feature. Its extensive database uses information from 60 sources, looking through 300 million profiles and 122 million households, covering past charitable contributions, stocks, assets, and more for high-profile donors and their family members. If a family member has shown an interest in a charitable organization similar to yours, WE Search can find them, their contact information, and an entire profile’s worth of other useful information. 

WE Search feature to find donors for nonprofit


Don’t Get Trapped in the Short-Term of Your Organization 

You should be thinking about continuing the cycle of giving into the future, but you should also consider the future of your organization and how you can use the donations you are campaigning for to grow it, making it more appealing to other donors. 

The donors you are pitching don’t “care about the oddities of your organization versus another organization, or the fact that you’re a nonprofit versus a for-profit. Your client wants to make a difference.” You have to think outside your own organization and outside of what you have always done before to find donors for your nonprofit. Ask yourself what will appeal to your client and what will make the difference they want to make. 

Be Flexible With Your Gifts 

Be flexible, not only with your organization’s path but also with how you accept money. Jim explains, “You may need the money now, you may need the money in the future. There are all sorts of ways to be flexible with how gifts are given.” 

You can use charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, pledges, and so on, instead of just accepting gifts in one lump sum. Jim deals with a lot of, “depression-era givers” who genuinely fear becoming poor again, despite the fact they may have hundreds of millions of dollars now. A charitable remainder trust is a great way to put those clients at ease. 

Ready to Effectively Find Donors? 

Don’t campaign without doing your research. Try a Free Demo of WealthEngine Today! 


Grow Your Organization by Incorporating Disruption and Personalization

Data Driven Personalization

Grow Your Organization by Incorporating Disruption and Personalization

July 22, 2020
Raj Khera

Disruption and personalization aren’t limited to retail industries. Nonprofits, higher education, and other organizations can reach more people with their mission by incorporating disruption and personalization into their fundraising models, too.

The key to making these traditionally consumer-based business techniques work for other organizations is to use them in conjunction with the right software. This guide discusses the types of business disruptions, how to build experiences using data driven personalization, the three essential elements of one-to-one personalization, and the software that makes it all work at scale. 

This guide is based on a presentation given by Bob Ghafouri, the Founder and Senior Managing Director at Accenture Bloom, a group that helps companies turn their existing assets into new revenue streams.

How Personalization Has Caused Disruption Across All Industries

Before the era of online shopping, an individual’s interaction with a brand was limited to the time they spent in a brick and mortar store or perusing a printed catalog. Advertisements on TV, radio, or in magazines were intended to appeal to a wide audience. Potential customers were exposed to few if any personalized experiences that could have increased the likelihood of a sale.

Online shopping and advertising have completely revolutionized this process. Now, companies can infer what products are the best fit for potential customers and present relevant advertisements to those prospects on any platform. Marketing is tailormade to the individual using curated merchandise choices based on their preferences and behaviors. 

On top of this, companies have revolutionized the ways they do business. These disruptive elements combined with personalization techniques allow relative newcomers to overtake entire industries and leave long-established businesses in the dust. 

3 Elements of Disruptive Businesses

There are three primary ways to disrupt an industry: through experience disruption, business model disruption, or technology innovation. Companies that have successfully disrupted their industry have mastered at least one of these elements.

    • Experience Disruption

Experience disruption occurs when you create a unique customer experience that causes consumers to pivot because the platform is so frictionless. 

AirBnB is a prime example of this type of disruption. With AirBnB’s website or app, you can instantly find a one-of-a-kind place to stay anywhere in the world. 


Not only that, but AirBnB can help customers find curated experiences or monthly stays, all in a simple and pain-free platform. Customers have no need to supplement their travel experience with any other company. 

    • Business Model Disruption

New pricing models, product delivery methods, and different ways of allocating capital are all types of business model disruption.

Dollar Shave Club is well known for having a disruptive business model. Part of what made the company so disruptive was the simplicity of their idea. 

Dollar Shave Club's Disruptive Business Model


They sidestepped traditional retailers and rethought pricing. Instead, customers pay a monthly subscription to have Dollar Shave Club razors and cream delivered to their door. 

    • Technology Innovation

Data and technology have reached new levels of democratization. That means you no longer need massive amounts of capital to get a product off the ground, rather, you can make use of technology ecosystems that are already there. 

“It makes it a lot easier for disruptors to get into an existing business or industry and quickly consume the most profitable elements of the profit pool,” Ghafouri noted during his presentation.

For instance, you could start a kombucha company today that could compete with Nestlé by building a business on top of Amazon’s Redshift platform. You could market through Instagram and Facebook, then source and create the product through on-demand manufacturers. 

Incorporating Disruptive Business Elements Into Fundraising

What do these disruptive business elements mean for nonprofits or organizations who are trying to raise funds? It basically boils down to how fast and easy it is for donors to give amounts and gift types that make sense for them. 

If your organization has an outdated website, is using buggy software, or doesn’t offer personalized giving options, then expect to miss out on a few new donors. That effect is compounded if a similar organization touts a more streamlined experience. 

“There is a set of experiences that consumers are expecting from you,” observes Ghafouri. “Whether you’re in nonprofit, banking, retail, or luxury, there are expectations around those experiences that come from other places.” For example, customers are, “expecting an Amazon, AirBnB, or Netflix experience on”

Technology innovation is perhaps the most accessible disruptive business element available to organizations like universities or financial services who aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel in their industry. A prospect screening tool like WealthEngine not only makes it possible to comb through prospects at scale but also automatically updates their profiles with new data about their wealth and lifestyle. 

Prospecting Screening Tool Assists with Data Driven Personalization

WealthEngine then uses predictive lead scoring to hone in on prospects that are most likely to give to your organization. With this level of intelligence at your fingertips, you can simplify and automate the process of converting prospects into donors. 

How to Effectively Use Data to Drive Personalization

Companies gather a lot of data about customers. It’s a hot topic of conversation, and while that data collection gets a bad rap, it shouldn’t put you off from making use of it. 

In fact, Ghafouri asserts that 82% of customers are willing to share their data. The secret to that sort of buy-in is in how you collect and use their data.

    • Be Transparent 

Customers want to know what data you’re collecting and why. They also want to know that you value their data and will do whatever it takes to protect it from being compromised. Finally, it’s important for them to know that you won’t sell it to third parties. 

Aside from being the smart thing to do, it’s also the legal thing to do. If there’s even a chance that your customers or donors reside in the European Union, you’ll want to make sure you’re following all the guidelines in this GDPR checklist

    • Give Customers Control

Instead of predicting what customers want and sharing a potentially irrelevant offer or promotion with them, give customers the opportunity to share their intent data. Intent data basically states what things customers are interested in.

“I think the important thing here is that a lot of the customers or consumers out there want to control that journey that we create for them,” notes Ghafouri. “They want to provide input as they create that journey.” 

Dollar Shave Club puts this into action by immediately giving potential customers the opportunity to share their intent data. This invitation to take a quiz about what products a customer might like is displayed prominently on Dollar Shave Club’s homepage: 

Data Driven Personalization Displayed by the Dollar Shave Club


The quiz asks questions like what body parts you shave, how often you shave, and if you have any problems, like skin sensitivities. With this information, Dollar Shave Club’s software can infer which products are best for you and create a personalized customer service experience.

    • Create Unique Experiences

Customers are looking for personalized customer service experiences that go across physical and digital spaces. If sharing their data gives them the ease and functionality they’re looking for, then they’ll be more willing to share it.

Nike+ is a connected fitness ecosystem that includes products and services like the Nike+ Training Club App, the Nike+ Running App, and Nike+ SportWatch GPS. Working together, these apps and products collect massive amounts of data about customers, but it’s all in service to their fitness.


This integrated ecosystem also helps customers seamlessly log and analyze workouts in realtime, which is essential for anyone who wants to improve as an athlete. 

    • Focus on the Four Rs 

The four Rs are to recognize who the customer is, remember them, and make relevant recommendations. If recommendations aren’t relevant, then the customer is going to feel wary about sharing their data. 

Ghafouri offers this anecdote on how jarring irrelevant recommendations can be: 

“If you go to MyFitnessPal, you get offers or promotions that have nothing to do with fitness. I got a travel offer for a Cancun vacation on the app. What they did is they sold my intent to a third party, then that third party advertised to me because I was searching on vacations to Cancun.”

This sort of personalized advertising can feel particularly invasive because it signals to customers that their behavior and activity around the web are being monitored, then the data sold to the highest bidder. 

3 Elements of One-to-One Personalization

Once you’ve gotten permission from customers or prospects to collect their data, you’re ready to put that data to work. These three elements of one-to-one personalization will help you create the unique and relevant experiences that your customers are looking for. 

    • Personalized Shopping

Personalized shopping is the products or services you recommend based on data you’ve gathered about an individual and the intent data they’ve shared with you indicating their preferences. 

A donor pyramid is an example of how personalized shopping might work for a nonprofit or organization. It breaks up donors into different types, with the majority likely being one-time donors and the fewest falling into the planned giving category. Using the right tool, you can target certain prospects with a request for the level of giving that’s best for them. 

WealthEngine’s Donor Pyramid Modeler can automatically determine the number of prospects you need for each level based on the amount you need to raise during a campaign. You can adjust the modeler with conversion rates and What-If analysis. The modeler then shows how much you can raise with current contacts, who you need to contact at each level, and how many new prospects you need to reach your fundraising goal. 

    • Personalized Merchandise

On its own, personalized shopping is limited, as it relies on significant customer profiling in order to make any inferences. Personalized merchandise takes it to the next level by looking at the small details and unique preferences that make up an individual. 

“Profiling isn’t personalization,” says Ghafouri. “Personalization is about that intimate human conversation you have, whether it’s digital or physical and with a consumer or donor.”

Automation can only take you so far. Many exchanges require a human touch and connection so that customers or donors can get exactly the experience they’re looking for. By communicating directly with a donor, you can learn about what issues or services are important to them and what giving options they may be open to that the screening software couldn’t determine on its own. 

    • Personalized Advisor

A personalized advisor is a moment of upselling or cross-selling to a customer or donor.

For example, if you were to order a latte through the Starbucks mobile app for pick-up, the app might also recommend a muffin to go with it.  

“I may want a bottle of water to take with me,” says Ghafouri, “and who knows, maybe I want lunch, packed, so I can buy lunch at breakfast. That’s a curated experience, a pure recommendation which is what you’re finding in a lot of the sites today.”

What should be avoided, notes Ghafouri, is recommending a product that would replace or compete with the original purchase. For example, you wouldn’t want to offer a chai tea after the customer indicates they’re interested in a latte. 

In Summary: Combine Elements of Disruption and Personalization to Create an Unstoppable Organization

Technology like WealthEngine’s prospecting software can help nonprofits and organizations create personalized experiences and disrupt their industry. However, technology alone isn’t enough. 

Don’t let real conversations with your donors or patrons fall to the wayside. These can be critical moments to unearth details about people that software alone can’t hone in on. 

Aside from that, your organization is likely in the business of helping people. What better way to do that than by directly asking donors how you can best be of service? 

The way to make more of those conversations happen is to use software that scales up your prospecting efforts. Get in touch for a free demo to see how WealthEngine makes it possible. 

Fundraising for Higher Education Institutions During COVID-19

Higher education

Fundraising for Higher Education Institutions During COVID-19

July 17, 2020
Raj Khera

This guide covers the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the ability of fundraising for higher education institutions and offers donor strategies, tips, and tools to assist schools in fundraising in the current economic climate.

By mid-March, more than 1,100 colleges and universities across the United States canceled in-person classes in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The choice to close was made with student-safety in mind, although it risked the financial safety of the institutions who made it. 

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The empty campuses, online classes, and canceled events that resulted have left colleges with huge financial deficits and no apparent way to significantly increase much-needed funds. Now is the time to fundraise, the question is: how? 

Financial Effect of COVID-19’s on Higher Education Institutions

The first hit higher education institutions took was having to return prorated refunds to students for expenses like dining and housing costs, which previously had been dependable income. That income will continue to be lost for institutions that decide to stay closed during the coming semester. 

Institutions who decide to open will continue to suffer from financial difficulties in regard to additional student expenseshaving to find and fund alternative housing options. Some universities are contracting with area hotels to spread out students, while others are forcing students to move from dorms to off-campus homes. Both of these strategies will result in housing expense shortfalls, with the former resulting in institutions paying more to house students, and the latter resulting in fewer students paying housing fees for higher education institutions. 

Further exacerbating the problem, due to the pandemic and subsequent recession, fewer students are interested in traditional four-year institutions at this time. A survey conducted by Arts & Science concluded that 1 in 6 high school seniors who were planning on attending a four-year college or institutions full-time this fall believe they will now take a different path. This decline in interest will inevitably lead to more lost expense-induced and tuition income. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, higher education institutions are also having to deal with finding a way to effectively fundraise in this unprecedented situation. A survey conducted by Washburn & McGoldrick estimated that 43% of higher-education fundraisers would be unable to meet their goals this year, denoting that a tried-and-true method has yet to be found. Between losing expenses, tuition, and fundraising money, higher education institutions are in an undeniably precarious financial position. 

Fundraising for Higher Education Institutions

There has not been an event like the COVID-19 pandemic in any of our lifetimes. 

Everything has changed, so fundraising strategies must adapt. Below are some tips and tools you can use to help your college or university make it through this crisis: 

    • Personalize Outreach to Donors

Prior to COVID-19, personalized outreach to donors was of utter importance. Now, it is a necessity. 

With an overwhelming number of worthy causes competing for donations, it is crucial that you communicate why your cause is equally important. The best way to make a compelling case is by being informed about what appeals to each individual donor, how much they can contribute, and other background information. 

That information is at your fingertips with WealthEngines’ comprehensive platform. With WealthEngine’s real-time intelligence you can automatically personalize a prospect’s online experience. 

WE Screen analyses donor profiles for you, segmenting them and providing wealth scores and ratings so you can easily find the right prospect to approach. This helps you identify who you should be targeting for fundraising campaigns, and how you should be targeting them. 

Specifically, WE Screen helps you create a donor pyramid with wealth modeling so that you can precisely and effectively segment and target donors. A donor pyramid categorizes prospects based on their engagement levels, mapping out paths for nonprofits to move them from lower levels of commitment to higher ones. 


    • Alumni Fundraising Strategies: Appeal with Relatable and Immediate Projects 

An effective strategy for increasing donations now is emphasizing to donors how their contributions can help solve relatable and immediate problems within your institution and student body. Hot button projects at this moment are strengthening mental health programs on campuses, creating new programs for increasing student safety, and of course, financial aid. 

One of the biggest problems higher education institutions will face in the coming school year is providing financial aid to students. Higher education institutions have to juggle their financial needs with the financial needs of students who are personally suffering from the recession or whose families are struggling due to the recession. 

State aid to higher education institutions nose-dived during the Great Recession, and to this day, “except for a handful of states, spending per student in public colleges and universities, adjusted for inflation, remains far below pre-recession levels.” Adding to this burden is the likelihood that during and after coronavirus, the increase in financial aid costs will either rival or surpass the increases seen during and following the Great Recession.

In fundraising to provide financial support to students, schools should make a conscientious effort to demonstrate the impact of donors’ dollars, providing them with information about the students who have or will benefit from their financial support. In doing so, institutions will make donors feel more connected to the positive change they are making in student’s lives, increasing the likelihood they will continue to donate.

    • Appeal to Middle-Tier Donors 

Donations from mid-level donors are often overlooked in favor of trying to win over top-level donors. This is a mistake.  As a collective force, mid-level donors can be powerful. 

Experts believe that the trend of mega-gifts from top-level donors will decline because of the pandemic. This prediction is informed by past trends of big-time philanthropists contributing a lesser amount of large cash gifts to institutions during crises. 

However, experts predict that a surge of grassroots financial support from middle-tier donors is likely. Therefore, higher education institutions should direct their energy toward appealing to alumni for small gifts. 

An example of this occurred recently when Eastern Michigan raised 2 million from small donations, often totaling between $25-100 each, which it then turned around and handed out to graduates and freshmen. The institution gave  $600 to each graduate and $400 to each freshman in hopes of easing the financial burdens they were facing due to the coronavirus pandemic. By going for middle-tier donors, and setting a goal that would create measurable, relatable change, Eastern Michigan succeeded. 

To determine which middle-tier donors you should approach, use the WE Analyze tool. This predictive lead scoring and analysis platform uses one of the largest consumer data sets ever created to quickly give you deep insights into your donors. You can use that information to find middle-tier donors most likely to donate to your institution.

    • Stay Organized in the Chaos 

Every workplace has been shaken up by the chaos caused by COVID-19. The key is to prioritize organization so that you are fully capable of taking advantage of all tasks and opportunities that arise, especially fundraising options. 

A clean and accurate database will save your institution time and resources. You will never need to track down lost alumni or update records with an accurate email address, phone number, and other contact information. 

WealthEngine can provide you with that database, organizing your systems with real-time integration through its easy-to-use technology and strong partnerships with leading software providers. Spend less time organizing, let WealthEngine do it for you.

    • Create Online Fundraising Events 

The inability to hold on-campus events will definitely hurt higher education institutions. After all, a pillar of U.S. universities is the events that campuses hold for prospective students, current students, alumni, and community members. Higher education fundraising events are incredibly important to institutions. 

Higher education institutions receive the majority of their donations from two sources: online donations and in-person fundraising events. Losing one of those sources will inevitably lead to higher education institutions receiving less donation money. You can mitigate that loss with online events. 

Get creative, many organizations have been using platforms like Zoom to hold musical events, social events, and ceremonies in the absence of in-person gatherings. You can easily construct an invite list by using WealthEngine’s database. It contains over 90% of the US population, and you can choose from over 1,500+ attributes to construct the perfect, customizable list. 

    • Stay Updated on Donors 

Some of your donors may be thriving financially right now while others may have suffered considerable losses. It’s important to keep track of changes in the financial outlook of your donors. 

Using WealthEngine’s WealthScore feature, you can quickly identify prospective donors and predict their giving levels. WealthEngine’s extensive wealth screening analytics tools give you a solid understanding of who has the capacity and propensity to give. 

WealthEngine’s data is comprehensive and up-to-date, providing you with the necessary tools to keep your donor list up-to-date. 

Fundraising in the Future

Our present has been completely altered by the pandemic, so naturally, the future will be, too. What the future of fundraising will look like is still not completely clear, but below are some informed predictions from experts: 

    • Large Capital Gifts Will Be a Thing of the Past

Large capital gifts to fund campus building projects will likely be a thing of the past. Previously, some of the largest fundraising growth was in the capital project arena; however, it’s a hard-sell to collect donations for campus buildings on empty campuses. 

    • Funds Will Be Reallocated to Benefit Students 

The immediate growth in student financial need has led some higher education institutions to create initiatives that provide aid to students. Davidson College, UCLA, and Penn State are just a few of the higher-learning institutions that have recently rolled out initiatives to help students who are facing coronavirus-related hardships. 

This push to use donations to help students may be met with some reluctance from donors. A CASE study found that alumni donors prefer to donate to athletics rather than donating to financial aid. 

    • More Donations Toward STEM Programs 

Another fundraising priority schools should consider is raising money for technology upgrades so that they can improve their online learning capabilities. Most economic experts agree that trends toward donating to medical and scientific research and STEM initiatives will develop. 

Donor Responses

Due to the recession brought on by COVID-19, donors are limiting and freezing their donations and gifts. This is unsurprising when you take into account donor responses during the last recession

Paul N. Friga, a clinical associate professor at UNC found that general philanthropic donations in America in 2008 dropped 11.7% from 2007, a drop that was mirrored by a double-digit drop in donations to higher learning institutions. In 2009, UNC experienced a drop of $30 million in philanthropy, along with a significant drop in state support and endowment returns. This totaled out to equal 25% of the previous year’s operating revenue. 

This decrease in philanthropy, when higher education institutions have already taken a huge financial hit due to shutting down campuses, will be detrimental, forcing the closure of even more schools. In 2009, UNC dealt with the loss of income by raising tuition, but that doesn’t seem like an option in the current financial climate. The recession has led to families tightening their belts, an effect that puts expensive institutions at a disadvantage. 

Since 1988, colleges and universities have increased tuition by 213% and student debt is at an all-time high, equaling $1.53 trillion across the US. Because of the recession, and the already dramatic increase in tuition over the years, schools that raise tuition more to make up for losses due to COVID-19 will likely see a dramatic decrease in applications. One of the best options available to schools is to adjust fundraising strategies to try to mitigate losses. 

Looking for Assistance?

Try a free demo of WealthEngine today! WealthEngine’s experts will guide you through using the platform’s comprehensive software, showing you all the benefits it has to offer. WealthEngine consultants take a personalized approach to your fundraising endeavors, making sure you understand how to best apply WealthEngine’s full range of tools including Wealth Search, Wealth Screening, Trend Analysis, and numerous others to optimize your college or university’s fundraising campaign.