How to Target Donor Advised Fund Givers for Fundraising

Donor Advised Funds

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

email marketing best practices

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. 

Free Workbook

Data-Driven Major Gift Campaigns

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. 



Communication Strategies for Donor Retention

Donor Cycle Image

Communication Strategies for Donor Retention

June 29, 2020
Raj Khera

In times when operational costs for organizations are increasing and donor prospects are lower, the need for a donor retention strategy takes on renewed importance. With the unprecedented economic upheaval and evolving business practices due to COVID-19, finding ways to communicate effectively and retain donors is crucial. Donor retention is part of the ongoing donor process that includes identifying prospects, building relationships, and donor stewardship.

Donor stewardship is the process that occurs once a donor has given to your organization. Stewardship refers directly to the continued communication and relationship building that happens after the initial transaction, which directly affects your donor retention rate. 

This guide covers the importance of donor stewardship in order to maintain donor retention, explains why donor retention is economically beneficial compared to acquiring new donors and how it increases your organization’s rate of return (ROI). The critical components of a consistent messaging plan to facilitate keeping donors informed of the impact their donations are having on the cause they care about and highlighting your organization’s continued appreciation for their support is explored in detail.

Keep reading or “jump” ahead to these sections:

Building and Maintaining Donor Relationships

Donor Cycle Image


  • Beginning the Cycle with Donor Cultivation

Donor cultivation is the process of identifying and engaging with possible prospects, sharing your organization’s mission, and beginning to build a relationship before requesting a gift. Donor qualification determines which potential donors have the ability to give to your organization, and at which level they can be expected to contribute. WealthEngine’s wealth modeling feature works to help determine the status of each prospect, so you can easily identify which areas of your organization will appeal to them and which level of contribution is the best fit. 

The donor cycle begins as soon as a prospect is identified. Help these potential donors familiarize themselves with your organization’s mission, and explain why your cause is relevant to each donor. WealthEngine 9’s Engagement Science feature allows you to utilize personalized information and interact with your donors through targeted campaigns designed to increase engagement.

Insights provided by the WealthEngine 9 comprehensive platform dig deeply into the lifestyle of your donors, so you can understand what motivates them, which allows your organization to create meaningful relationships centered around your mission and your donors’ interests. By analyzing relevant wealth and lifestyle signals, WealthEngine gives you the necessary tools to personalize your campaigns and boost your donor engagement.

Once you have utilized this information to appropriately target your messaging, continue the conversation, and explain why their contribution is important. Provide examples of the impact their support will have and make it clear where their gift will be going. This provides your donors with a clear understanding of their impact. Remember, it is important to find ways to personalize your message to make it relatable to each donor. 

  • Continue to Build Relationships Through Donor Engagement

Once a relationship has been established, it is crucial to continue nurturing a connection between the donor and the organization. Focus on keeping an open line of communication with supporters through consistent emails and newsletters featuring updates of your work and achievements. 

It is vital that the relationship between your organization and its donors be one built on two-way communication. Use all of your communication channels to solicit donor feedback through interactive surveys, polls, and reviews, and be sure to announce when elements of initiatives contain suggestions gleaned from donor feedback. This will demonstrate to your donors that their suggestions are listened to and when viable, acted upon.

Invite donors to events or activities your organization is hosting so they can witness how their gifts are being used. Donor engagement will increase the likelihood of recurring gifts while strengthening your relationships with donors, which will encourage them to remain active participants in your organization.

Cost of Acquisition


  • Increase Your Donor Retention Rate

Once a relationship has been established, donor retention is the process of retaining donors and keeping them involved in your organization after their initial gift. The goal of donor retention is to have donors give more than once and see these donors become more involved with your cause. 

Using the model above as an example, assume the initial cost to acquire a new donor is $85 while the cost of sustaining donors is $12. This graph illustrates how donor retention is economically necessary for a nonprofit to survive, as sustaining donors is significantly less expensive than acquiring new ones. 

The average year-on-year donor retention rate in the United State is 46%, which shows that less than half of all donors remain active after their first contribution. This low percentage illustrates how easily money is lost through poor retention rates, as the cost to onboard new donors is greater than the cost of sustainment. 

It is also worthwhile to seek out donors who can donate their time to initiatives. Just because a donor’s financial outlook may not make them a promising cash donor does not mean that the resources they could bring to the organization as a valued volunteer should be overlooked.

The continued cycle of donor cultivation and stewardship is vital because sustaining current donors has a positive effect on your organization’s return on investment (ROI), and plays a crucial role in your organization’s survival. Maintaining relationships and encouraging donor engagement leads to a higher ROI as your sustainment costs continue to lower and your revenue stream increases during a donor’s lifetime involvement in your mission. 

By continuing the donor cycle past the first gift through communication and strategic donor engagement, the experience donors have with your organization can improve, and your donor retention rate will increase. 

The Importance of Communicating the Impact of Donations

So you’ve received a donation, now what? Making sure your donors see how their gift is supporting your cause will be vital in retaining them for future contributions. Some organizations give the option for donors to specify where they would like their donation to be used. Finding ways to showcase these impacts can strengthen the donor relationship. 

Start with a plan for communicating the value of each donation. Share the ways these contributions are being used to sustain your organization’s guiding mission, while also enabling the pursuit of important new endeavors that align with the values of the organization. 

Continually emphasize how the generosity of your donors makes these actions possible. In the digital age, it is easier than ever to keep in touch with donors, so you can easily focus your social media messaging to showcase the impact that is being made to benefit your cause.

It’s also extremely important not to forget the importance of personal contact. Send a handwritten note thanking your donors for their gifts; have a plan for you or someone from your team to speak with them personally when they attend events, and make a point of discussing all the ways their donations are being used, being sure to listen to any suggestions donors may wish to share. Making the effort to meet and speak with them as individuals and discuss the progress the organization is making thanks to their generosity can make all the difference when it comes to donor retention. 

Communication Strategies for Retaining Donors

Communication is the most important factor when working to retain donors. Focus on maintaining early contact with your donors. Personalization is also vital in nurturing the donor relationship and small acts such as remembering to acknowledge and express gratitude to donors right away, with a quick post-gift follow-up, such as a brief phone call or a personalized email thanking them for their continued support, increases the likelihood the donor will continue to feel connected to your organization and its goals. 

Timing is important, and maintaining consistent and efficient communication will ensure a donor feels seen and appreciated by your organization. Always let donors know that the important role they play in the organization’s success is appreciated and go out of your way to ensure each donor feels welcomed by your group.

Share meaningful content and a consistent narrative. When reaching out to donors to give updates on the impact their support is having, focus on driving your messaging through intentional content. Donors will appreciate, and most likely respond to, action-driven messages rather than fluff, and a consistent narrative illustrating how their gifts are being used will encourage continued donations to your organization.

Ask for donor feedback by conducting surveys and polls, and do your best to integrate their suggestions into your work. Don’t be afraid to use your communication lines to ask your donors what they think. Reach out and hold conversations with them, so you can tailor your communication strategies to their needs and avoid donor fatigue

Developing and Implementing a Successful Donor Stewardship Program

Donor Stewardship Program


As you continue to search for new prospects, and implement donor stewardship programs, start by gathering and analyzing your information. Create personalized campaigns, segment donors according to their financial capacity to give and their shared interests, based on insights gathered by WealthEngine 9’s We Analyze tool, which features look-alike modeling, and use this information to create a plan to reach your target audience. 

Find ways for donors to get involved beyond their initial gifts. Reach out when you need volunteers, especially if you have an event coming up that is being funded by their contributions, or when something exciting is happening within your organization. 

Donors who are actively involved in initiatives will see the impacts of their gifts first-hand and feel inspired to continue giving, which increases your donor retention rate. Donors who give of their time also need to feel they have made impactful contributions and be shown that their endeavors are making a difference. Continually prioritize highlighting the impact donor support is having on the sustainability and success of your mission using every form of communication available.

For more information about how your organization can more efficiently search for new supporters while retaining its current donor base and increasing its donor retention rate, check out a free demo of the WealthEngine platform today.


8 High-Conversion Fundraising Tactics in the Wake of Coronavirus

Donor Pyramid

8 High-Conversion Fundraising Tactics in the Wake of Coronavirus

June 17, 2020
Raj Khera

While everyone is contending with some level of financial uncertainty in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this does not mean your fundraising efforts need to stop or even decrease. In fact, continued fundraising activities during this time are essential for ensuring you maintain a strong relationship with your donors.

However, one important element of fundraising has changed as a consequence of COVID-19the manner in which organizations need to go about identifying and reaching out to their donors. This guide details ways fundraising organizations are pivoting to continue their capital campaigns, explains the types of messages that are proving most effective at this time and outlines specific actions you can take to continue raising money. 

Read on or “jump” ahead to each section:

This guide is based on an interview between Rick Dunham, Chair of the Board at the Giving USA Foundation and the CEO of Dunham + Company, and Raj Khera, WealthEngine’s EVP and Chief Marketing Officer. Listen to the webinar here

The Importance of Fundraising in the Time of Coronavirus

Given the global impact of the sudden economic downturn, it’s imperative that nonprofits continue fundraising in this difficult time. It is important to bear in mind that many nonprofits are founded based on mission statements declaring a commitment to increasing equity in fair treatment and opportunities for advancement among underserved sections of society.

The societal challenges members of these groups face are only exacerbated when a catastrophe like COVID-19 shakes the foundations of social and financial norms. As Dunham noted, “If your mission was relevant before all this hit, then it’s still relevant today.” 

In fact, the number of individuals in need of assistance can increase significantly. This has certainly proven true in the wake of COVID-19. As Khera observed, “We saw [recently] there were over six million people that had filed for unemployment. Our country is hurting…there’s a lot of need out there.” 

Donors also depend on consistent communication for assurances that the organizations they support are still functional and fulfilling their mission in times of crisis. If you go silent during a critical period for fear of being perceived as insensitive, it may end up damaging your relationship with your donors rather than helping it.

Dunham urges people to remember, “It’s not about the organization, it’s about what the organization is actually able to accomplish in the lives of people.”

8 High-Conversion Fundraising Tactics in the Time of Coronavirus 

The pandemic hasn’t put an end to fundraising. It’s only changed how fundraising is done. These tactics ensure that you’re appealing to and communicating with donors effectively.

1. Find Alternative Touch Points With Donors

Social distancing protocols and specifically, bans on public meetings in groups have disproportionately impacted religious-based nonprofits that now find themselves searching for alternative fundraising strategies. 

Dunham, whose company is a global leader in providing fully integrated marketing and fundraising strategies for nonprofits, offers the following suggestion: “Part of what I want to encourage churches to do is to consider a midweek eAppeal, that is more like an offering, if you would, that encourages people [and] reminds people of the ongoing work of the church.”

The same is true for museums and community organizations that primarily interact with people through face-to-face interactions. Just because your doors are closed to the public doesn’t mean that communications with them need to cease. You simply need to find a more appropriate method of interacting with them. 

2. Segment Donor Lists

Before sending a single email, segment your donor list using a donor pyramid. A donor pyramid can accurately identify which donors nonprofits should pursue at specific target amounts. 

Donor Pyramid

A behavioral trend has emerged where high-level donors are continuing to give but in smaller amounts, while mid-tier donors are increasing their gifts. Take advantage of this trend by targeting donors in these tiers with relevant messages and requests for donations.

WealthEngine recently unveiled the first artificial intelligence-based donor pyramid modeler in the industry. This advanced tool allows nonprofits to easily and quickly visualize how major fundraising endeavors should be broken down among giving tiers. 

With this tool, you can automatically segment your existing donors so you know who to target for planned giving, major gifts, mid-level gifts, and more. You can also easily see how many prospects you need to meet your goals. WealthEngine then works to find those prospects for you. 

Khera detailed how the donor pyramid modeler works by giving a hypothetical fundraising goal and explaining how you can use this new tool to create an accurate visualization of how close you are to meeting your fundraising objective: “Let’s say you want to raise a million dollars. All you do is type that in and our pyramid will actually help figure out how many gifts you need for each tier. You can change the thresholds for each tier…and it’ll recalculate everything for you, including your conversion ratios of how many people you need to meet, and how many you would close.”

3. Identify Donors Most Capable of Giving

It doesn’t make sense to reach out to a particular donor if their financial situation has drastically changed and they’re no longer capable of making their usual gift. Instead, use data analytics to focus your fundraising efforts on those who have experienced less of an impact.

WealthEngine’s WE Data tool enables organizations to quickly identify those individuals most capable of giving.

WealthEngine Profile

The We Data feature analyzes information from 60 sources, 300 million profiles, and 122 million households, and then offers insight into a prospect’s net worth, income, assets, history of giving, and more. With that kind of detailed data at your fingertips, you can easily find donors capable of supporting your mission, even at times of challenging circumstances on a global scale.

4. Be Authentic With Email Marketing

The subject line of your email campaign is the first thing donors see, so make it count. Aim to strike a balance between being sensitive to donors’ current situations and leaving the door open for them to continue participating in your mission.

Dunham shared the experience of one of his clients who supplemented its fundraising efforts with an email campaign that began with a simple yet impactful subject line: “How are you doing?”

Dunham explains this subject line was so effective “because . . . it immediately let the donor know how much and how important that donor was to that particular organization.” 

The body of your email should be equally engaging. In the case of Dunham’s client, the body of the email began with, “How are you doing in light of all that’s going on right now? We’re concerned about how you’re doing.” The message also addressed the health of the organization, its plans for moving forward, and expressed gratitude for the ongoing support it had received. 

This lone email blast generated $50,000 in donations. While certainly an impressive return, Dunham was quick to point out that this example of successful email marketing is not an isolated outcome: “For the month of March itself, that would be the last three to four weeks, we’ve seen a 26% increase year-over-year in revenue, but it’s because they’re actively engaging.”

5. Be Honest About Your Need

This is no time for organizations to hold information back from donors: If your nonprofit is genuinely struggling, do not attempt to downplay the stark reality. Efforts to downplay financial distress could negatively impact the carefully cultivated relationship between a nonprofit and its donors. Dunham emphasizes the importance of maintaining a relationship built on trust by asserting, “Nothing could be more distressing to a supporter, somebody who has invested in you, [than] to find out that you were in trouble and you never said anything about it.”  

Dunham advises struggling organizations to issue “a very clear request for funding” detailing why money is urgently needed. 

One of Dunham’s clients was an organization that could only sustain itself for approximately 18 days before operations would be forced to close. The solution was a quickly assembled multi-channel campaign that honestly addressed the situation, clearly stating the urgent need for funding. The ensuing donations allowed the organization to survive.

Dunham asserts, “Without being vulnerable and communicating the severity of their situation, this company could have potentially ended up closing their doors.” 

Smile FM, a Christian radio network based in Michigan, is another organization that saw similar success using the same tactic. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the station averaged a loss of three ongoing givers per month. When the pandemic hit, they began losing roughly three ongoing givers per day.

In response, the organization crafted an honest, compassionate email and sent it to 2,557 people, generating 25 donations within the first hour. Less than 24 hours later, the station had received 68 gift pledges, totaling nearly $20,000. Aside from on-air pledge drives, no fundraising initiative in the station’s history had ever generated such a generous response in such a short amount of time.  

6. Match Messaging to Donor Demographics

In addition to being authentic and honest, the messages you craft and their delivery system should be relevant to the demographics of your donors.

WE Analyze, a tool by WealthEngine, gives organizations an in-depth look at donor demographics so they can create messaging that matches the personas of their supporters.

Demographic Dashboards

For example, if your donors tend to be older, a fundraiser driven by direct mail is likely going to be more effective than one through an Instagram campaign or Facebook ads. 

Of course, there’s some messaging that you can land on without needing a demographics analysis tool. A faith-based organization such as a church, for instance, should tailor the content of their emails to reflect how they would engage with their congregants in person.

Dunham noted, “We’ve seen a tremendous response to a message around ‘How can we pray for you?’ For the faith-based organizations, there’s been tremendous engagement around that.”

This message works because it’s the same approach a person would take if they were comforting one of their faith-based peers in a face-to-face encounter.

7. Offer Gift Matching

Gift matching, a process in which a high-value donor or sponsor matches lower-value donations, is another powerful fundraising strategy. This approach may include a traditional gift-matching program or be implemented as a challenge, in which a larger donation will be made if a certain threshold is met through the combined efforts of several small and mid-level donations. 

Dunham maintains that the “true match” approach is the stronger of the two gift matching fundraising initiatives. Explaining his preference for a true match gift challenge, Dunham argues that true match has more of an impact, “especially if there’s some sort of a time frame on it, that if you run the potential of losing a portion of the match, and the donor’s intent is to get people to really be engaged” this approach can be very effective in getting people to commit to giving. 

The doubling effect of a person’s gift is also a powerful tool. If a donor realizes meeting a certain gift threshold will result in their donation being doubled—increasing the impact for the organization—their incentive to give is increased. 

For these types of programs to be efficient, it is vital that fundraisers have a firm grasp on the capacity for giving among their potential donors. This information allows nonprofits to set realistic fundraising goals. 

We Analyze assists organizations by monitoring and tracking donor giving history. This gives organizations a more accurate prediction of how gift-matching initiatives will perform.

8. Host Virtual VIP Events

Virtual tours and online performances help organizations remind supporters that they’re still offering value to the community and that their societal impact, as well as their financial needs, continue even as the nation works to emerge from “stay in place” restrictions.

However, interest in virtual tours has tapered off as the pandemic has progressed, so organizations need to get creative about differentiating themselves. Virtual events like webinars, live music, speaking engagements, or other distinctive experiences are still seeing success.

Virtual events have proven to be effective tools for cross-promotion and working cross-functionally with other organizations with whom you have established relationships, enabling you to expand your reach to a wider audience. Virtual events also offer ample lead time in promotion and can be used in conjunction with email messaging.

Before scheduling an event, organizations should consider how their donor audience will react to the offering. Ask yourself whether featuring the content online makes sense or if it feels forced; proceed with the event only if you feel that what you’re offering will truly appeal to your core audience.

Key Takeaway: Intentional Messaging Fuels Fundraising in the Time of Coronavirus

Although the pandemic is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, nonprofit organizations remain committed to their founding mission statements. Now more than ever, certain sectors of society depend on the assistance offered by nonprofits, making fundraising and garnering continued financial support for these organizations increasingly essential.

Organizations must pivot their messaging and delivery systems to show donors the importance of continuing to support them. Being honest about your needs, staying true to your mission, and being careful about how you construct messaging and virtual offerings are all essential for fundraising in uncertain times.

To learn more about the full assortment of tools included in the WealthEngine platform that elevates fundraising initiatives in uncertain times, sign up for a WealthEngine demo today.

Retail Banking Customer Segmentation

Retail banking image

Retail Banking Customer Segmentation

June 4, 2020
Raj Khera

Retail banking, also known as consumer banking, offers financial services to the general public. Typical services offered by retail banks include checking and savings accounts, personal loans, credit card access, and mortgage loans. 

This guide covers definitions of retail banking and customer segmentation and a discussion exploring common types of retail banking customer segmentation, how data analytics are used in customer segmentation and the benefits of segmentation.

What Does Customer Segmentation Look Like in Retail Banking?

Retail banking services are commonly provided by financial institutions at physical locations, or branches, where customers can manage their money and speak in-person with a banking agent regarding other financial services or products offered. 

Most services can be provided at ATMs or through mobile banking platforms, which in recent years have gained substantial traction. Since these institutions have a broad customer base, banks often group their customers into categories based on similar traits, a process known as customer segmentation

Customers that make up a retail bank’s user base can vary widely by numerous factors including age, gender, income, lifestyle, etc. Banks can segment their customers into lists dividing their consumers into groups based on certain key characteristics and take actions that better align with each segment. 

Obtaining and acting on customer data through the lens of segmentation can have a massive impact on marketing and sales, retention efforts, customer service, and more. 

Carefully analyzing such a high volume of customer data can be daunting. By using tools and software like WE Analyze, retail banks can easily capture data such as spending habits, frequency, and capacity, and then use this information to identify the most appropriate time to make a loan offer. In turn, this targeted action improves the likelihood of retail banks earning increased revenue through customer loans.

A bank’s customer segmentation approach can vary widely and must be based upon the organization’s business model and priorities. Segments can be quantitative, such as by age and gender, or they can be qualitative, such as separation by values and interests.

Maximum value is obtained when banks merge both types of data to better understand the wants and needs of their customer segments, allowing them to offer the right product or service at the right time.



Common Types of Retail Banking Customer Segmentation

There are numerous ways to segment customers. Traditionally, segments are demographic, geographic, or product based. With basic demographic and geographic information, a retail bank can tailor its marketing efforts so they are personalized to meet consumer demand. 

Here are some of the more traditional segmentation categories retail banks may consider:

  1. Location: Marketing efforts geared toward specific geographic areas.
  2. Gender: Beneficial when promoting male and female-specific products online.
  3. Age: Improve age-based predictions about customers. For instance, millennials are more responsive to digital marketing strategies, with most having an email account dedicated to promotional content and over 95% of them subscribing to email lists after “liking” a company’s Facebook page, whereas baby boomers tend to be more financially stable and have higher brand loyalty.
  4. Wealth models are helpful because they convert certain qualitative attributes into qualitative scores. Wealth modeling enables banks to know where to focus their acquisition and marketing efforts to target customers who yield the highest return on investment.

Once this information is gathered, banks refine these segments by analyzing the spending habits and capacity of their customers to increase revenue by knowing which product or service should be offered and when. In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on segments that incorporate customer spending behavior or interests, often getting quite granular with the variables, as there are many factors that impact a customer’s willingness to spend. 


Sample Retail Banking Segments

Once a bank is able to categorize and understand the customer they are working with, they can use software to learn how to best assist them. These are three examples of retail banking segments and how they might be approached for relevant services and marketing:

    • A family living in the suburbs with two children under age six in a house less than 1200 sq ft, who have a net worth over $500k. This segment could be attractive to candidates looking for home loans to move into a bigger house.
    • An existing customer who has only a car loan for $30,000 with your bank, but is also a business owner. This segment can be approached for business banking, line of credit, or equipment loan/leasing.
    • An existing customer who has less than $50k in your accounts but who has also been flagged as an accredited investor. This segment could be open to your private banking or wealth management services.
    • An existing customer who has a net worth of over $500k and a child, aged 17, who has a debit card with your bank. This segment can be tapped for showing how to help their child build credit using a secured credit card. This works the same way as a debit card, (that their parents might be willing to fund), but their usage and payoff history is reported to the credit agencies to help start building a credit history.

For banks looking to get the most out of their segmentation, knowing how to use wealth and lifestyle information to target the right audience with the correct services is key to retaining customers, and predicting their needs.

How Data Analytics is Used in Retail Banking Customer Segmentation

Once retail banks begin collecting and screening key data from their user base, analytics can be used to turn customer data into actionable insights for each of their consumer segments. As previously stated, data analytics are most commonly used in retail banking customer segmentation to identify common traits or characteristics among customers to personalize service or product offers. 

Marketing software helps companies fill in the gaps in their customer database by using data enrichment, data cleansing, secure delivery and real-time updates to maintain high-quality data. Automation offers increased efficiency in comparison to resources lost when spent manually maintaining and updating databases, allowing more time to be allocated toward building stronger relationships with each customer segment.


Wealth screening through WE Screen uses proprietary wealth scores and ratings and merges them with current customer data, enabling companies to know more about consumers’ interests, political affiliations, net worth, and capacity to spend. These insights can be applied to segments to create a variety of initiatives such as reducing churn rates, improving satisfaction, and more. 

With WE Screen, banks can gather analytics on customers from their lifestyle segment using affinity scores applied to their data. 

Using a Look-alike Model

Using segmentation and affinity scores, banks can rank consumers by variables such as net worth or cash on hand to identify their most (and least) valuable customer segments, allowing them to concentrate special marketing efforts directly to their top consumers. 

Creating a look-alike model for these customers takes this application of data analytics further, allowing banks to target prospect segments they know will yield a higher profit. Look-alike modeling allows banks to gather and identify common traits from a certain customer segment and find new prospects who match those same criteria. 

Banks can use this information to create personalized messaging for potential customers who resonate with them from the very first interaction based on the segment(s) they fall into. This often increases conversions and builds stronger relationships with consumers.

Retail banks can use other basic consumer information to more quickly identify trends among customer segments and use it to further personalize interactions. Some of these data points include:

    • Acquisition source: Noting where a new consumer was acquired. This helps track where new customers are coming from, enabling banks to capitalize on those channels.
    • Initial spending: Banks can identify the first purchase a new consumer makes, helping them to make better predictions about customers’ future needs and purchases. 
    • Device usage: This enables banks to understand which devices customers use for various services, clarifying what actions can optimize those interactions and engagements.

Because there are so many pieces of customer data that can be analyzed, data mining is becoming increasingly popular for larger financial institutions. Banks use data mining to apply extensive analytics to current data and to spot trends that may not otherwise stand out. 

For instance, a bank can use data mining analytics to discover the top 5 attributes shared by customers with the highest lifetime value (LTV). Knowing those key characteristics, banks can concentrate their marketing efforts by creating personalized campaigns targeting high-value customers. 

Data analytics performed on customer segments can also be used to create more efficient predictive models for retail banks. When machine learning is integrated, it can use these models to create a smoother customer experience by better forecasting what customers need and when. 


Machine Learning

Machine learning is gaining traction and is predicted to have a positive impact on nearly all aspects of larger technology-driven organizations, with 57% of technology professionals expecting machine learning to contribute toward improved customer experience.

Benefits of Retail Banking Customer Segmentation

Through a solid understanding of their customer segments, retail banks can personalize consumer experiences and quickly form genuine relationships with new and existing customers. Improving these efforts leads to reduced costs and increased revenue. A list of common benefits derived from customer segmentation follows: 

    • Lower Acquisition Costs

Through customer segmentation, banks can deploy more personalized initiatives that increase the likelihood of prospects becoming customers. Banks can also generate specialized efforts toward segments that yield the highest profitability. One way this can be achieved is by using a look-alike model

    • Increased Sales

By knowing customer interests, habits, and desires, banks can offer customers exactly what they are looking for when they need it the most, leading to increased revenue. 

    • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) prediction 

CLV helps banks identify their most valuable customer segments so they can focus on acquiring customers who generate the most revenue over time.

    • Decreased Churn

Creating a personalized experience for retail customer segments increases customer satisfaction, often leading to increased customer retention and brand loyalty, decreasing churn rate.

    • Improved Marketing Campaigns

Using customer segments, retail banks can determine the best way to attract new customers, build brand loyalty, and promote specific products. Having a better understanding of the target segments will lead to increased conversion rates

Customer segmentation makes marketing, product development, and even customer service more effective by helping retail banks gain further insight into specific groupings within their customer base. 

To begin segmenting your customer list, visit WealthEngine today to see all of the powerful tools our platform offers to help organizations turn data into action. 

How to Create a Donor Pyramid to Raise More for Your Capital Campaign

donor pyramid

How to Create a Donor Pyramid to Raise More for Your Capital Campaign

May 28, 2020
Sharanya Venkatesh

Are you starting a capital campaign? Then, missing this step could send your campaign down a rocky road. This important step is building a donor pyramid.  These structures also referred to as fundraising pyramids, are an accurate way to prioritize development efforts.

Yet, not all pyramids are created equal. Read on to see how to build one that will boost your campaign and help you exceed your goals.

What is a donor pyramid?

A fundraising pyramid is a visual that categorizes prospects by their engagement level. Further, it provides nonprofits a path to move donors from lower levels of giving to greater commitment.

fundraising pyramid

While some donors will move from one -time donations to planned giving, not everyone has the same journey.  For instance, mid-level donors are generally a reliable segment. They need a strategy that is tailored to them and they shouldn’t always be pushed up the giving ladder. However, there are still hidden gems in your donor base who can be nurtured all the way to the top of the pyramid.

Donor Pyramid Modeler

A donor pyramid, also known as a gift pyramid and as a gift table when presented in table format, gives you a clear understanding of how much you can raise. When created manually, producing a donor pyramid can be time-consuming since you have to take into account numerous data points. These include an individual’s capacity, propensity and intent to give.

WealthEngine has created the industry’s first AI-based donor pyramid modeler to empower all nonprofits, small and large, to generate a donor pyramid in minutes. This 2-minute video shows how it works:

Simply enter the amount you want to raise and you will automatically see how many prospects you need for each fundraising tier. Use built-in thresholds and conversion rates, or make adjustments using our What-If analysis. Then, instantly see how much you can raise with your current contacts, identify who to talk to in each tier, and know how many new prospects you need.

WealthEngine does all of the segmentation math and analysis for you in minutes to identify wealth strata and propensity.

Try the Donor Pyramid Modeler → 


When you are ready to find new prospects, use WealthEngine’s powerful prospecting tool to identify ideal opportunities and import them directly into your CRM/DMS like Salesforce.

Why Donor Pyramids can Make or Break Your Capital Campaign

A fundraising pyramid helps you focus your campaign dollars to the right set of prospects. When you build a data-driven pyramid, your data will automatically reveal patterns that you can use to build your campaign.

Starting a campaign that is aimed at a random sampling (or the entirety) of your database will dilute your ROI. When your entire base receives a generic message from your nonprofit, the number of people who will engage will naturally be low.

Even if you’re in the middle of a capital campaign and you realize that you’re not seeing results, a donor pyramid can help revive it. All you have to do is segment your base and prioritize those prospects who have the propensity, capacity, and intent to give.

How to Create a Data-Driven Fundraising Pyramid

Wealth screening is the first step. Screening data gives you a holistic picture of who your prospects are. In other words, you can understand your prospects’ wealth, lifestyle, interests, and affinities.  This means you now know their potential not only in terms of capacity to give but also interest and intent.

By learning more about who they are, you can really speak their language. For example, United Way of Greater Saint Louis says,

“We really like the level of granularity we can get in the data, understanding details, such as propensity to give and giving capacities helps to fill in gaps in the profiles….Finally, learning about a prospect’s interests can help us better shape the conversation to customize our asks. We are a lot more cautious about the ask now that we have more intelligence…”

Therefore, screening helps you segment your prospects into different rungs of your donor pyramid. Those with the highest capacity and engagement (for instance, those with high P2G scores) are candidates for major gifts or planned giving. Similarly, those with lower capacities but high engagement are well suited for mid-level or recurring donations.

Interested in learning more about creating data-driven campaigns? Download our Data-Driven Major Gifts Campaign Workbook!

Using Modeling to Enhance Your Donor Pyramid

Wealth Screening is the first step, which means that a wealth model can drive your capital campaigns much further.

Screening can give you a broader view of your donor base. Modeling can actually help you predict the outcome of your campaign. For example, WealthEngine’s Gift Pyramid Model can automatically build a pyramid and predict campaign success.

In that sense, modeling is predictive based on custom insights that are deep and actionable. The model builds a specific formula for your organization’s donor base. The model generates a score against which you can compare your prospects. By doing this, the model automatically splits your list into 10 equal deciles. The top decile will represent the top 10% of prospects for your campaign. The top two represent the top 20% and so on.

Going from Fundraising Pyramid to Campaign: Practical Implementation

Predictability allows you to improve your goal-setting. With your targeted campaign, you can not only set ambitious goals but also exceed them. Follow these steps after creating your data-driven donor pyramid:

1. Segment and target those donors who are apt for your campaign. Annual fund campaigns, for instance, can focus on prospects who have the highest inclination and capacity for this type of gift.

2. Evaluate your deciles to see which ones will be most effective for your campaign.

3. Set your budget based on the number of deciles you would like to include, or include deciles based on your campaign budget.

4. You can go down the list of deciles until you meet and exceed your campaign goals.

Breathe New Life into Your Capital Campaign

WealthEngine’s modeling removes the guesswork and puts you in control of your campaign, budget, and ROI. Book a demo today to learn more!

Request Demo

Related Reading

Capital Campaigns: Fundraising Strategy for Nonprofits

What to Do When You Inherit a Fundraising Campaign