Software Industry Leader Edward Hughes Joins WealthEngine as President

Software Industry Leader Edward Hughes Joins WealthEngine as President

January 21, 2020

The company prepares for rapid growth in 2020 and releases the next version of its flagship machine learning-based prospect intelligence platform – WE9.2.  

January 21, 2020 – Bethesda, MD – WealthEngine, the leading machine learning-based prospect intelligence platform, has appointed Edward Hughes as the company’s new President and member of its board of directors. Hughes will work with WealthEngine’s leadership team to expand deeper into existing markets and enter new ones. 

“We are excited to have an instrumental leader like Edward take on the role of our President as we enter our next phase of growth,” said PV Boccasam, CEO of WealthEngine. “Edward brings an amazing track record of successfully scaling multiple Software as a Service (SaaS) companies from the early stages of evolution to going public. His thoughtful and disciplined approach will play a critical role in growing WealthEngine while executing on our customer’s mission.” 

Prior to joining WealthEngine, Hughes spent 9 years as the Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Operations at Appian Corp. In this leadership capacity, he integrated strategic processes which enabled the company to boast well over $250M in sales and a $3B+ valuation. In his new role as President, Hughes intends to build and support WealthEngine in similar ways. 

“WealthEngine provides organizations with deep insights into their customers and donors, allowing them to know clients in highly-personalized, actionable ways”, said Hughes, WealthEngine’s newly appointed President.  “I am excited to work with the WealthEngine team and to drive growth as we deliver exceptional wealth intelligence to the for-profit and non-profit market.”   

About WealthEngine

WealthEngine empowers more than 3000 higher education, healthcare, advocacy, financial services, and high-end luxury brands to capture tens of billions of dollars of money-in-motion™. Fueled by our proprietary WealthSignal™, derived from a trillion data points, our customers measurably improve their campaign lift across fundraising, marketing, and digital engagement with their target audience.

Rooted in machine learning, our WealthEngine 9 cloud-based platform boasts an entirely new user experience to provide wealth, demographic and lifestyle indicators that come together to formulate powerful scores available via API in real-time. The company’s Engagement Science™ platform embeds predictive models, identifies and prioritizes segments, and activates digital audiences so customers know what motivates individuals to save, invest, spend, donate, or bequeath.

WealthEngine is an active participant in Pledge 1%, regularly giving back to the community it serves through time, product and donations. Based in Bethesda, Maryland, the company has offices throughout the US. Learn more at


Wall Street Bonus Schedule 2019: How Nonprofits Benefit

wall street bonus schedule 2019

Wall Street Bonus Schedule 2019: How Nonprofits Benefit

January 17, 2020
Nandini Singh

In the first quarter of each year, the financial industry celebrates Wall Street bonus season. That’s when the previous year’s bonuses are paid to Wall Street workers.  Depending on the firm, Wall Street bonuses may be paid anytime from late December through the end of February. The 2018 bonus pool, paid in early 2019, was $27.5 billion, which amounted to roughly $153,000 per worker. Although down 9% from the previous year, the Wall Street bonus is twice the average salary of a New York City worker. This year, however, the 2019 Wall Street bonus schedule, based on last year’s performance, is expected to be lower overall. Yet some Wall Street workers will see a slight increase in their bonus. 

Some fixed income traders could see 5% less and corporate management could see 10% less. The Wall Street bonus for commercial bankers looks to be about the same. But investment banking advisors and hedge fund managers may see a 5% higher bonus. Let’s explore the impact of these payouts in the 2019 Wall Street bonus schedule and how your organization, and your donors, can benefit from them.

Wall Street Executives Bonuses: Impact of Payouts

Regardless of whether Wall Street bonuses are up or down slightly, a lot of money will flow into New York. The financial sector represents 5% of New York City’s private workforce, according to Moira Boyle, Director of WealthEngine’s Luxury Sales Strategy. “Those large year-end paychecks have a disproportionate effect on the local and regional economy.”

Wall Street bonus time has been described as inciting a type of “March madness” in terms of its exhilaration.  Part of that elation is tied to some big spending. “People are going to spend most of that money where they live,” commented New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a article. Not only New York City, but Long Island, the northern suburbs and the entire state profit. Wall Street bonuses also contribute a significant amount of tax revenue to the city and state.

The Nonprofit Share of the Wall Street Bonus Market

The question for nonprofits becomes, how will Wall Street bonus recipients spend that money? And even more importantly, how much of their Wall Street bonus may be donated to charitable organizations?

Including salary and bonus, the average compensation of Wall Street workers was $399,000 in 2018. As Boyle pointed out, the more senior executives receive the largest payouts, several times larger than their salary. “That’s enough to finance a high-priced investment,” she said. “Approximately 177,000 individuals will be buying real estate, cars, watches, bags, trips, and donating to their favorite charity.” 

If you’re a nonprofit, this is your opportunity to get a share of that Wall Street bonus spending.  ”We know from human nature that their attention will gravitate to what caught their attention most recently,” said Boyle, “so marketing and visibility are key. Charities should also take note of the time of year—this is a time when a major gift campaign can have a large impact on an organization.”

Getting Donors to Respond Positively

When it comes to major donor fundraising, you want to be able to pinpoint which potential donors are worth pursuing and build relationships with them. Your existing donor data is your starting point. Here are some questions that can help you target Wall Street bonus donors:

1. Who are your current donors?

Use your donor data to create profiles. Conduct a wealth screening. Screenings will help you determine key attributes, like income, lifestyle and interests. In doing so, you can identify common traits, along with each type of individual’s tendency and ability to donate. Build statistical wealth models of your best donors. You can segment top prospects and create personalized offers.

2. What type of donor fits the Wall Street bonus category?

To bring in new donors, you have to know as much about them as you can. Once you know what your major donors look like, you will gain a clearer picture of whom to target. WealthEngine data, combined with your database, can help determine who would most likely contribute to your organization.

3. How do they prefer to communicate?

How are you engaging your donors, based on what you know about their donation influencers? To encourage a positive response, always consider donor communication preferences. Then send your donors and prospects personalized messages that highlight their interests and align with their values.

4. Are you following up and keeping in touch?

Thank donors for their contributions and show them how their gift will be used. Continue communicating with your qualified prospects who have not yet donated. And keep in mind the “quality over quantity” motto. Besides standard donations, some donors may make choose to make a legacy gift through a will. 

A Look At Millennial Wealth

Download WealthEngine and Coldwell Banker’s A Look at Wealth 2019 to understand the motivations, behaviors, and trends of millennial millionaires.

Understanding your current donors will help you determine who are your best prospects and how to engage them. The above steps are more complex, but have been simplified here. WealthEngine can assist your organization in targeting the most likely Wall Street bonus donors. Then it’s up to you to keep them donating. 

Wall Street Bonus Schedule: Leveraging Luxury Spending

wall street bonus schedule

Wall Street Bonus Schedule: Leveraging Luxury Spending

January 17, 2020
Nandini Singh

The first quarter of the new year is when financial industry workers in New York City receive their Wall Street bonuses. This Wall Street bonus schedule, or these payouts, represents the performance of workers and the market in the previous year. Wall Street bonuses tend to be higher in years when the market does well. 

Depending on the firm, employee bonus distributions may be paid anytime from late December through the end of February. This Wall Street bonus schedule time has been described as creating a sort of “March Madness” in terms of its euphoria and spending. After all, who wouldn’t want to celebrate such a financial reward? The 2018 bonus pool, paid in early 2019, was $27.5 billion. That amounted to roughly $153,000 per worker. Although down 9% from the previous year, that bonus is twice the average salary of a New York City worker. Let’s explore the impacts of these bonuses on the luxury market and how they can benefit your business. 

Impact of Wall Street Bonuses on the Local Economy

This year’s Wall Street bonus schedule, based on market performance in 2019, is expected to be a bit lower for some Wall Street workers. However, for others, they may experience a slight increase. That’s according to Bloomberg. For example, investment banking advisors and hedge fund managers may see a 5% higher bonus. The Wall Street bonus for commercial bankers looks to be about the same. Fixed income traders could see 5% less, corporate management 10% less. And the Wall Street bonus for equity traders could dip as much a 15%.  

Still, even if bonuses are down slightly, that’s a lot of money to be pumped into the area. The financial sector represents 5% of New York city’s private work force, according to Moira Boyle, Director of WealthEngine’s Luxury Sales Strategy. “Those large year-end paychecks have a disproportionate effect on the local and regional economy.”

It’s easy to see how Wall Street bonuses boost the economy of New York City. “People are going to spend most of that money where they live,” commented New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a article. But Long Island, the northern suburbs and the entire state profit, he pointed out. Wall Street bonuses contribute a significant amount of tax revenue to the city and state.

Wall Street Bonus Purchasing Power

Spend it, save it, or donate it? Just what are the recipients of those Wall Street bonuses likely to do with that extra cash? “A prudent employee would treat it as salary,” replied Boyle.  “However, history has shown that non-discretionary spending and real estate transactions increase during the first quarter of the year. “r

As Boyle pointed out, the more senior executives receive the largest payouts, several times larger than their salary. That’s enough to finance a high-priced investment. The average compensation, including salary and bonus, of Wall Street workers, was $399,000 in 2018. “Approximately 177,000 individuals will be buying real estate, cars, watches, bags, trips, and donating to their favorite charity,” said Boyle. 

DiNapoli concurred. Wall Street bonus income is often spent on vacation homes in the Hamptons and on the North Fork. Or for luxury items such as boats and jewelry. East End restaurants and tourist attractions also benefit from stockbrokers’ spending.

The Luxury Market Is Growing

The luxury market grew 5% worldwide in 2018. That growth represents the sales of three major items: luxury cars, luxury experiences and personal luxury goods. Luxury experiences grew by 20% in two areas, high-end food and wine and luxury cruises.

Luxury product marketing targets consumers who have both the propensity and capacity to buy your luxury product or service. It may be apparent Wall Street bonus recipients have the capacity for a luxury purchase. But what about their interest? Are your targeted consumers interested in what you have to offer? It’s not enough to know that your prospect can afford it.

How well do you really know your customers and prospects? Consumers expect more from luxury brands. They want to do business with companies that know enough about them to provide a relevant and personal shopping experience. Luxury marketers must respond to consumer desires for those customers to take them seriously.

Getting Your Share of the Wall Street Bonus Market

If you’re a luxury marketer, this is your opportunity to get your share of Wall Street bonus spending. How are you engaging your customers, based on what you know about their purchasing influencers? ”We know from human nature that their attention will gravitate to what caught their attention most recently,” said Boyle, “so marketing and product visibility is key.”

To bring in new luxury customers you have to know as much about them as you can. And your existing customer data is your starting point. Understanding your current customers will help you determine who you want to reach and how to engage them. Here are some steps you can take to best identify your luxury buyers:

  1. Gain knowledge and insight on your customers. Segment them through analytics such as profiling and cluster analysis.
  2. Make evidence-based decisions on where to allocate your resources and the strategies to use to target prospects.
  3. Identify the data that supports your initiative. Determine the data you need to further understand your customer and create compelling offers.
  4. Approach prospects who have both the financial ability and behavioral characteristics to join your exclusive circle of customers.

A Look At Millennial Wealth

Download WealthEngine and Coldwell Banker’s A Look at Wealth 2019 to understand the motivations, behaviors, and trends of millennial millionaires.

Leverage wealth data to reach luxury consumers. And Wealth Engine can help you build a customer profile to target Wall Street bonus recipients.

8 Phases of A Successful Annual Giving Campaign

what is an annual giving campaign

8 Phases of A Successful Annual Giving Campaign

January 16, 2020
Nandini Singh

What is an Annual Giving Campaign?

In the previous piece in our annual giving series, we explored the function and value of annual gifts. An annual gift is a contribution made to a nonprofit organization or higher education institution, provided on any given annual basis with unrestricted purposes. By extension, an annual giving campaign is an organized effort, established by your organization or institution, to solicit yearly gifts to support your general operations. The question is: what all is involved in an annual giving campaign? And how best do you structure your fundraising efforts to meet your goal? Let’s explore the 8 phases involved in a successful annual giving campaign.

Annual Giving Campaign Phases

1. Form a Steering Committee

Before creating an annual giving campaign plan, it’s important to round up a group of people to help you oversee your campaign at large. The first step in your annual giving campaign is to form a steering committee. This is a group of 6 to 8 board members who will help you plan your campaign before you assemble your full staff. Essentially, the annual fund steering committee decides on the priorities and order of business an organization manages. So, they help give your organization strategic direction and support. If anything, they have a vested interest in the delivery and outcome of a project.

2. Plan Campaign: Outline Your Campaign Goal and Budget

Now it’s time to begin planning your annual giving campaign. During this time, it’s necessary to set a goal for your annual fundraising campaign. So, it’s important to make your goal as measurable as possible. Remember, at the very least, the basic goal for your annual fund is to secure funds for your operational expenses. So, it’s necessary to evaluate what your basic needs are. Revisit the mission of your organization and work backward. Ask yourself: what is our organization’s reason for operation? And what do we need, regularly, to make our mission a reality? You may also harbor more general goals that need to be quantified. This may include: cultivating and nurturing deeper connections with your donors, improving donor retention, increasing engagement, and identifying prospects.

So, once you begin planning your goal, begin mapping out a budget for annual fundraising efforts. This funding will help cover the costs of fundraising events, making solicitations to prospects, and investing in fundraising software.

3. Establish an Annual Giving Campaign team

Once you have a clearer impression of your annual giving campaign goals, it’s time to begin assembling your team. Since annual giving campaigns are ongoing, it’s easy for them to take a back seat when your staff is addressing efforts that require immediate attention. So, to prevent your campaign from falling by the wayside, it’s important to create a designated annual fund team. They will ensure that your organization is on track to meeting your annual giving campaign goal, and will work tirelessly to pursue it.

You may be wondering: who all do I involve in my staff? Since annual giving campaigns are so broad, you need to employ a cross-functional team to manage your campaign. For example, it’s necessary to hire a major gift officer since 60% of your annual fund will be made up of major gifts. Additionally, volunteers can help your organization broaden its reach and inspire more individuals to give. If anything, their presence creates the perception that your annual giving campaign is a community-based fundraising effort (not just another fundraiser). It’s also important for you to involve board members and key stakeholders so they can track your campaign’s progress and see where best to redirect your efforts.

4. Analyze your donor base

Now, before you begin developing a marketing strategy for your annual giving campaign, it’s important to figure out who your target audience is. By narrowing your focus, and determining who all would be most likely and most inclined to give, you can tailor your marketing strategy to appeal to those donors who are already interested in donating. This cuts your work in half. The question is: how do you figure out who has the propensity and capacity to give to your organization?

With a wealth screening, you can see which donors have the greatest propensity and capacity to give. Not only can you segment your audience based on basic demographic information such as age, but you can also append your database with wealth attributes. So, you can easily understand an individual’s giving history (what/how much they’ve donated in the past) and estimated giving capacity (what/how much they’re likely to give in the future). This will help you understand how to spark their interest and, as a result, expand your reach to donors just like them.

It’s also important to create an annual fund model. Now that you understand the commonalities among your planned giving donors, you have a clearer impression of who to target. By using predictive modeling, our data scientists employ WealthEngine data along with your data to create a unique, custom algorithm. Using this algorithm, WealthEngine can predict who in your database is most likely to donate to your organization on an annual basis (via online channels or direct response channels).

5. Develop a marketing strategy

Now that you’ve formed your annual giving campaign team, it’s time to develop your marketing strategy. Remember: communicating the mission and message of your campaign is your first priority. Who does your organization seek to serve? And how will it address the needs of that community? How will your organization leave a lasting impact? To develop an effective marketing strategy for your campaign, you should create a case statement, campaign theme, collateral material, media, and at least two campaign kickoffs (one internal and one external).

During this time, it’s also incredibly important to develop your stewardship strategy. It’s paramount to focus on engaging your donors in ways where you can form deeper relationships with them. This will help you increase the number of recurring donors in your base, who are incredibly valuable to your organization. So, in order to cultivate and nurture your donors effectively, it’s necessary to hyper personalize your outreach. By articulating or displaying a grasp of their individual contributions or interests, you can forge connections with your donors that highlight their values in relation to your overall goal. This can be done through different channels such as direct mail, online campaigns, or planned events.

6. Launch your campaign

Now that you’ve done all of your annual giving campaign prep work, it’s time to launch your campaign! Before you open your campaign to the public, you should first conduct a Board (or Internal) Campaign, soliciting internal gifts. Once all of your board members have made contributions, you can then go to the community for support. Remember: the Internal campaign lays the foundation for your annual giving campaign, so public support can only be gained after you’ve received complete participation from your Board.

Once you’ve opened your campaign to your community, it’s important to solicit gifts in sequential order. This fundraising strategy, of sequential solicitation, is a guide outlining the order in which you should receive gifts to meet your fundraising goal. That being said, it’s important to secure your major gifts first, and then receive smaller gifts toward the end of your campaign. That way, once you secure the bulk of your goal through larger donations, the smaller gifts you receive are just meant to help you reach the end of your goal.

During this period of gift solicitation, it’s also important to create opportunities for your donors to interact with your organization beyond donating. This could be through the creation of special events, volunteering opportunities, peer-to-peer fundraisers and other nonprofit fundraising ideas.

7. Thank your donors

As your annual giving campaign efforts wind down once you’ve met your goal, be sure to express thanks for their participation. Without their efforts and commitment to your cause, you wouldn’t be able to transform your mission into a reality. Your donors, and their generous contributions, are what make that possible.

So, before following up with another ask, be sure to express your gratitude by sending them a personalized thank you message! When donors feel acknowledged for their actions, they feel like change agents, and are inspired to do more to create a positive impact.

8. Track Your Progress

Now that you’ve reached the end of your annual giving campaign, it’s beneficial to reflect on your campaign process. Ask yourself: what worked? What extraneous factors did we not account for? How could we transform our campaign moving forward? Answers to these questions will help you address and reframe your fundraising goals.

It’s also necessary to assess your stewardship goals and restrategize if needed. Did your donor retention rate increase? By how much? Are there donors in your database who have the propensity or capacity to give more?  Which donors upgraded their gifts? Evaluating your campaign from this lens helps you adjust your fundraising strategy. It also helps you identify effective ways to deepen donor engagement for future campaigns.

A Look At Millennial Wealth

Discover the best prospects you can target for your annual giving campaign. Download WealthEngine and Coldwell Banker’s A Look at Wealth 2019 to get inside the minds of millennial millionaires.

This is the second article in our Annual Giving series. We hope you enjoyed learning about the phases involved in an annual giving campaign. Stay tuned for our third article. We will explore potential annual giving campaign ideas you can implement to boost your fundraising efforts.

Trends in Millennial Spending: 9 Areas Millennials Invest In

trends in millennial spending

Trends in Millennial Spending: 9 Areas Millennials Invest In

January 10, 2020
Nandini Singh

Millennials are part of a generation that has become recognized for their unique characteristics, especially in terms of their interests, preferences, and spending habits. Wealthy millennials may share many of the traits of their peers. However, affluent millennials see things a bit differently when it comes to money. If anything, their luxury spending behavior is more distinctive. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are on the brink of surpassing Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation. That gives them tremendous economic power. So, businesses wanting to capture a share of this market must pay attention to the following trends in millennial spending.

Top 9 Trends in Millennial Spending

It may not be possible to predict exactly where millennial millionaires will direct their purchasing power in the new year. But, previous trends in millennial spending should give us clues about how affluent millennials may spend their money in 2020.

Here are some areas where we can see patterns or trends in millennial spending habits:

1. Technology

The first big trend in millennial spending is in tech. Having grown up with technology, millennials are very comfortable with it. They prefer managing their money online and they mostly shop on the net. Online flash sales, for example, have served as their entry point into luxury brands. Wealthy millennials also enjoy using social media to share their unique experiences, such as going to an exotic location on their private jet or yacht. 

2. Investing

Millennials, in general, are more risk-averse with their investments, since they entered the workforce following the Great Recession. But, affluent millennials are more open to investing. They are apt to invest outside the U.S. They like investing in technology and their most popular stock investments are in tech companies. They’re also drawn to exciting or trendy investments, such as cryptocurrency. According to an Edelman report, 25% of millennials surveyed use or hold cryptocurrency and 31% are interested in it. Furthermore, 75% of them believe tech innovations like blockchain make the global financial system more secure. 

3. Real estate

Millennials also believe real estate is key to wealth creation. Based on our research, more than 90% of millennial millionaires are homeowners and they are more likely to be married. Most millennial millionaires live in California, followed by New York, Florida, Massachusetts, and Texas. But they prefer to live in places that are more affordable, like the suburbs or second-tier cities.

Affluent millennials may also choose nontraditional luxury neighborhoods over more prestigious ones. They prefer new construction, open floor plans, and want to be closer to “the action.” Home improvement? Younger millennials are typically not keen on big renovation projects. But, as they get older, wealthy millennials are gaining interest in larger homes in great locations, even if they need updating.

4. Health and wellness

Health and wellness is another emerging trend in millennial spending. More than 60% of millennial millionaires say they are interested in health. So, they are spending more money on a healthy lifestyle. This includes spas and weeklong retreats. Many of them also like the idea of being able to walk to fitness centers and healthy dining options. So these preferences may influence real estate trends.

5. Brands

Millennials, in general, are less likely to be loyal to a single brand, compared to older generations. They’re also more socially minded. Based on our research, 70% of millennial millionaires say they are willing to spend more with brands that support causes they care about.  Wealthy millennials will even seek them out. These trends in millennial spending may change the game for luxury brands and luxury industry professionals.

6. Fashion

Another trend in millennial spending is focused on fashion. Wealthy millennials are creating new fashion trends and status symbols, according to Business Insider.  While millennials may dress more casually, they like to buy pricier sneakers and streetwear. Young, tech CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have helped popularize the look.

7. Cars

Many millennials are choosing rideshare services and public transit over owning cars. Interestingly, when they do buy, millennials prefer Sedans to SUVs. Besides vehicle cost, millennials want to account for rising gas prices and lack of available parking in many cities. These factors inform their purchases. But even millennial millionaires rank the BMW 3 Series as their top choice, followed by the Honda Accord and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

8. VIP treatment

Similar to other millennials, affluent millennials favor experiences instead of things. This is especially reflective of where they choose to spend their money. They’re more willing to pay extra for VIP treatment and customization. This is so they can gain greater comfort or better service. Think special sections in clubs or luxury hotels that will enhance their experience.

9. Charities

Charitable giving is also a big trend in millennial spending. Millennials are also very generous donors. 35% of millennials report they have donated to charities, according to our Millennial Wealth Report.  And, for millennial millionaires, about 56% donate. Affluent millennials want to use their wealth with purpose, to make a difference and improve the world.

Want to Know How to Reach Millennial Millionaires?

Millennials are surpassing baby boomers as the largest, living adult population. They stand to inherit $60 billion in the great wealth transfer. Read our report, in collaboration with Coldwell Banker Global Luxury, to understand how you can reach them.

7 Tips for Building Stronger Major Donor Relationships

7 Tips for Building Stronger Major Donor Relationships

7 Tips for Building Stronger Major Donor Relationships

January 7, 2020

A major gift means something different for every organization. Whether it’s $500, $5,000, or $50,000, there’s one factor that stays the same across any major giving context: organizations need to engage their most critical donors to build long-lasting relationships with them.

Many nonprofits think that major gift fundraising is tricky to master, and they aren’t wrong. There’s a simple rule that your organization should always keep in mind, thoughit’s all about the quality of prospects, not the quantity. In other words, don’t disqualify a lead just because you don’t think they can’t donate as much as others can. 

After all, that individual may be substantially more committed to your cause (affinity) than someone who has a higher wealth capacity but less of a connection. We’ve all heard the stories of individuals who leave their entire estate to an organization (totaling millions of dollars), and they would have never shown up on a capacity screen.

Looking for those who genuinely care for your nonprofit is the way to go. For the strongest long-term results and the health of your nonprofit, your major donors should be in it for the long haul. Chances are you won’t encounter someone who makes a major gift out of the blue and then disappears. They gave to your cause because they care and want to see the impact they can make with your organization. Capturing donors’ attention to build a meaningful relationship with them is a series of complicated steps, several of which we will go over.

Even before a donor makes a gift, though, you need to be proactive in retaining that generous donor’s attention. Otherwise, you’ll lose it (along with your shot at turning their attention into an emotional connection). To develop stronger relationships with major donors, follow these best practices:

  1. Ask for supporters’ feedback.
  2. Learn what motivates donors to give.
  3. Track and review behavioral data.
  4. Maintain an open line of communication.
  5. Show donors the impact they’re making.
  6. Look at wealth indicators.
  7. Focus on donor stewardship.

Major donations aren’t something your nonprofit should ever overlook. While they make up less than 1% of all individual donations, major donors are responsible for over 70% of all donation revenue. Remember, they care about your cause, so you should care about them, too. Ready to improve your relationships with major donors? Let’s get started!

1. Ask for supporters’ feedback.

There’s no better way to develop relationships with supporters than by asking for their input. Why do we gather donors’ feedback in the first place? Well, for one, it makes them feel valued, engaged, and like they have a say in your organization’s efforts. Surveying donors is all about relationship building. When you understand donors’ expectations, you can act on their feedback, strengthening their emotional connection with your cause as an important part of their lives.

If you’re worried that supporters won’t respond to your questions, don’t be. Supporters like surveys; they really do. It gives them a chance to enter a two-way conversation, tell their stories, express the changes they’d like to see, and myriad other things. 

Think of it this way: if someone is already emotionally (and financially) invested in your work, it’ll mean a lot to them that you reach out and genuinely want to know their opinions. 

Gathering feedback (including self-reported data like donors’ communication preferences) is an important part of engagement fundraising, the most effective way to build major donor relationships. As a brief overview, engagement fundraising revolves around making donors feel like the “hero” of their own life story. By looking at the right data and leveraging it in your communications, you can fully engage prospects and develop stronger relationships. To dive deeper, visit MarketSmart’s engagement fundraising guide.

How to collect feedback

Now that you know why we gather donor feedback, you need to learn how to collect feedback. There are three main methods for doing this:

  1. Surveys. As previously touched on, this is the most powerful and direct way to gather feedback. Encourage donors to give guided feedback on specific ideas, programs, and so on. We recently wrote a comprehensive guide to conducting donor surveys that you can read here
  2. Reviews. Donors can give unstructured feedback on specific ideas, programs, and so on.
  3. Polls. These provide quick insight into one question. Think general questions on ways to improve a program by asking how much they care about it.

While polls and reviews can give you quick answers, surveys are the best way to capture feedback. The whole premise behind donor surveying is to gather input and make changes based on individual donor perspectives. This is a great retention strategy, because you can leverage the information you gather to better communicate with donors in the ways that they’ve outright told you they prefer.

2. Learn what motivates donors to give.

It’s not enough to look at wealth indicators and call it a day. Sure, wealth data gives you an estimate as to how much donors can potentially give, but this doesn’t give you any insight into who they are and why they give in the first place (affinity). It’s all about figuring out each supporter’s “why.” There are a few common reasons donors give (to start, it makes them feel good), but motivations vary from prospect to prospect.

While there are several ways to collect this information, there’s one tried and true method for getting these answers. Just ask.

Surveys are great for more than collecting feedback; they help you learn about your prospects, too! Make sure to ask the right questions and don’t overload them with too many though. Better yet, don’t overload them with bad questions. No matter how many good questions your survey asks, it can be ruined by just one bad one.

To find out a donor’s “why,” ask questions centered around the following:

  • What their involvement and personal stories are;
  • What they’re passionate about;
  • What other organizations they support;
  • Which programs they care about;
  • How they might consider giving to your organization; and
  • What they do in their free time (e.g. hobbies, interests, etc.).

We understand that it can be difficult crafting the “right” questions. As a general rule of thumb, get to the point and gather the essential information (like we indicated above). While you do want demographic data, that doesn’t capture a prospect’s motivations or personality. Save those questions for the end and instead engage users more deeply from the start by asking them about why they support your organization. Once you’ve reviewed the survey results, use this information in communications to further engage prospects. 

3. Track and review behavioral data.

Staying ahead of evolving major donor relationships is all about using your resources to learn more about your prospects. Sure, surveys are great for getting a better understanding of who your donors are, but what about getting one step ahead and finding out what interests them without a survey response?

Well, it turns out you can learn a lot by taking a thorough look at prospects’ interactions on your website. This is what we call their “digital body language,” and it can be really useful in developing relationships with major donors. For instance, are they interested in a specific program within your organization? Chances are, they’ve visited the specific page about it on your website several times and maybe even downloaded a brochure on it.

It’s of the utmost importance that you track the following:

  • What pages your prospects visit;
  • Which videos they watch;
  • What resources they’ve downloaded;
  • Which emails they’ve opened;
  • How frequently they visit; and
  • How long they stay on the site.

The recency of their engagement is important, too. Just because someone visits your website often doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a better major donor prospect than someone else. On the other hand, if someone visits your website for the first time in a few months and specifically heads towards the “how to support the future of this college” page, that’s a big indicator for your major gift officer that the individual is showing interest. 

In addition to capacity and affinity, raising major gifts requires the right timing, and looking at behavioral data can help you get a better sense of when the “right” time is.

What they click on can also make a difference. If you can see they recently downloaded a program brochure and you have their past survey response to see what their interests are, then there you go! You have a good prospect to pick up the phone and call. Plus, you can use the self-reported data you gathered with the survey to take personalized outreach one step further.

4. Maintain an open line of communication.

Growing your major donor relationships means consistent, respectful, and authentic communication. From here, one of the (if not the) most important part of an open line of communication is making sure interactions are wanted. You have to maintain contact with major donors in a respectful, authentic, and mutual way. Otherwise, you’ll lose their attention and support. Remember, when it comes to donor-nonprofit relationships, the saying “trust is hard to gain and easy to lose” proves true.

Forcing interaction doesn’t get your nonprofit anywhere, especially when it comes to major donors. It will completely throw your efforts off course, pushing major donors away. 

When conducting outreach, always make sure that it’s two-way communication, not just “look at us and how great we’re doing” type of messaging. Invite donors to interact and give their feedback, encouraging them to express their opinions, ask questions, tell their story, and voice any concerns.

To encourage positive reactions, always take their communication preferences into account. If you don’t, donors will think you’re just doing what’s easiest for you, not caring about them or working harder than you have to. Then, they won’t feel compelled to put in any more effort than they think you did.

Once you have the art of outreach under your belt, experiment with automation. Automated communication takes a lot of grunt work out of major donor retention and allows gift officers to focus their precious time on those that want to meet with them right now. After all, there’s nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting with a major donor that wants to meet with you to build stronger relationships.

5. Show donors the impact they’re making.

Human beings are visual creatures. We like to see the difference we’re making, no matter how small. Your donors—your major donors, in particular—are no exception. If you don’t consistently provide them with value, in this case the emotional payoff from their generous gifts, they won’t feel like a priority for your organization.

Remember, donors want to feel like the “hero” in their own life story. At the end of the day, all you can do is give them an outlet to express themselves and let them know the impact they’re making. While this may seem like a heavy task, it’s actually not all that hard.

First, you’ll need to identify which aspect of your organization they’re most aligned with. Leverage this when crafting your approach for each supporter. From here, focus on targeting communications and marketing toward the specific interests and areas they find valuable. Then, deepen engagement using storytelling methods that speak to their values. Consider which programs they care about (maybe they designated this in their survey), and direct their donations to support something they’ll be most likely to appreciate. 

After showing supporters the impact they’ve made, consider the overall differences that major donors have made on your organization’s work. For instance, dedicate a portion of your website to your major donors (or even consider creating a separate VIP microsite for major and legacy donors), express your appreciation, and share images with them. Create targeted newsletters with pictures of the work your organization is doing thanks to major gifts. The list goes on. 

The only limit is your imagination! It’s all about creating a welcoming environment where prospects feel wanted and impactful.

6. Look at wealth indicators.

While wealth indicators don’t tell a donor’s whole story, they are important to consider. For a quick look into your prospects’ abilities to give, check into the following wealth indicators:

  • Previous donations to your nonprofit
  • Previous donations to other nonprofits
  • Profession and education history
  • Real estate ownership
  • SEC transactions

Remember, though, that just because someone doesn’t have the financial capacity to donate doesn’t mean they’re not a valuable prospect. Wealth indicators are only one small part of the equation (capacity, affinity, timing). For instance, if a supporter has the passion to give but can’t donate financially, they may make a great volunteer or lower-tier donor, or legacy prospect. 

Just keep in mind that not everything is always as it seems and that people are more than just their numbers and demographics. We all have heard stories of individuals like Sylvia Bloom, where someone may not seem wealthy on paper but have nonetheless quietly amassed a fortune.

Also, standard donations aren’t the only ways donors can give. For instance, a legacy gift (i.e. a donation through a will) is just one way a donor makes a major gift that they couldn’t have otherwise made during their lifetime. 

On the other hand, someone who is financially stable may not be willing to donate. You can’t turn someone into a major donor. They have to make the decision to make that kind of  philanthropic impact on their own. The sooner you realize this, the quicker you’ll start locating and engaging promising prospects instead of those who have no interest in supporting you.

Leveraging wealth indicators can be a “first defense” for prioritizing your time. However, the other indicators we mentioned above should carry more weight (even if they may be more challenging to collect and analyze).

7. Focus on donor stewardship.

All of this talk of data may have you wondering, “How do I actually use this information?” Well, in short, it depends. Specifically, it depends on the donor, their preferences, and a whole host of other things. The point is, you need to get to know your major donors and cultivate relationships with them.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all option for donor stewardship, there are some common methods that regularly produce results for nonprofits. To start, processing gifts quickly and saying thank you should be the first step any nonprofit takes. For your convenience, here’s a brief summary of how the stewardship process works when boiled down to the essentials:

  1. The donor gives to your organization. 
  2. You thank the donor for their gift.
  3. Confirm the donor’s expectations and intentions.
  4. Recognize the donor accordingly.
  5. Let them know the impact the gift made.

Use giving tendencies to determine your stewardship strategy. For example, a frequent or recurring donor requires different strategies than a volunteer who’s never given financially to your organization before. Just make sure to keep the donor’s perspective in mind.

Remember to always survey, survey, survey! Capturing this valuable supporter information gives you insight into how you can grow donor relationships. For instance, ask: “Why are you connected to our mission?” “Which influential person brought you to us?” Etc. The sooner you learn this stuff, the sooner you’re able to engage these individuals on a more personal and authentic level.

While surveys and face-to-face interaction are the top ways to get to know your donors, there are other ways to ensure mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships. To learn more about engaging major donors, check out Qgiv’s donor retention guide.

At its core, building donor relationships, and major donor relationships, especially, is about getting to know supporters and providing them with an outlet for expressing themselves. Otherwise, they won’t stick around or truly feel compelled to do what they can to help you succeed.

Although this list is by no means comprehensive, we hope that you learned something about building stronger major donor relationships. To recap, use surveys to ask for donor feedback, learn what motivates them, review digital body language, look at wealth indicators, and put special care into stewardship. Also, ensure that you maintain an open line of communication where you show donors the impact they’re making. Best of all, put “value” first and instill that culture throughout your organization.

Now that you know the best strategies for building stronger major donor relationships, get to work and make your organization the best it can possibly be!

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About the Author

Over the past 6 years, in his role as Senior Solutions Advisor at MarketSmart, Jeff Giannotto has advised organizations of all sizes on Engagement Fundraising. Leveraging integrated technology and marketing, MarketSmart helps nonprofits generate, qualify, cultivate and prioritize potential donors. Over the years, Jeff has consulted with Salvation Army, City of Hope, Food For The Poor, ASPCA, Girl Scouts of the USA, Special Olympics, and more.

Annual Gift Definition: What Is an Annual Gift?

what is an annual gift

Annual Gift Definition: What Is an Annual Gift?

January 6, 2020
Nandini Singh

What is an annual gift, and how do these types of gifts support your nonprofit? In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of annual gifts. In this article, we’ll discuss the key components of annual gifts; the importance of these contributions; how best to set gift levels; and finally, the types of annual giving programs that can fuel your fund. Let’s begin with a definition of an annual gift.

What Is an Annual Gift?

So, what is an annual gift? An annual gift can be a contribution made to a nonprofit organization or higher education institution, provided on any given annual basis (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) with unrestricted purposes. In short, these gifts are contributions raised on an ongoing basis for a variety of uses.

Your organization’s purpose and overall goal are at the center of annual giving. So, all the funds you raise help you continue to serve your mission. As a result, most organizations primarily use annual gifts to cover their operational expenses. By raising money for the operational needs of your organization, you are able to keep your nonprofit up and running.  This allows you to continue making a difference in the ways you’ve set out to. Annual giving, in that sense, is the backbone of any healthy fundraising program.

Importance of Annual Gifts

Besides covering the operational expenses of an organization, annual gifts serve multiple purposes:

1. They Garner Unrestricted Funding for Your Organization.

Unlike a planned gift or donations made for a capital campaign, annual gifts raise awareness for your cause. These donations fund your regular and ongoing expenses, so they support your broader goals and serve to remind your donors of the values of your cause. Annual funds are a good way of reinforcing your goals and identifying ways to amplify and expand them.

Although annual gifts can be used to offset an operational deficit, they can be used for anything. Since annual gifts are an organization’s source of unrestricted contributed income, they should be the central component of an organization’s fundraising efforts. Annual gifts can also be used to supplement other campaigns or events. If anything, annual gifts strengthen your chances to reach your overall organizational goals.

2.  It Helps Broaden Your Donor Base.

The majority of individual donors who donate to an organization for the first time usually do so through its annual campaign. So, for many organizations and higher education institutions, the collection of annual gifts is an opportunity to broaden their donor base and increase retention.

It’s simpler and advantageous for nonprofits to focus on cultivating relationships with donors who have already given. If you’ve already received a donation from a donor, it takes fewer resources to persuade them to give again. So, as you make direct asks, you can emphasize recurring giving to your donors.

One way to do this is by forming a membership program. Membership programs reward donors who join by providing them with special perks in exchange for contributions or “membership fees”. These perks can range from exclusive fundraising event invites or merchandise from your cause. This method of cultivation incentivizes donors to give and gives your organization control over the gifts you receive.

3. It Can Serve As Your Pipeline for Major Gifts and Planned Giving Gifts.

Annual gifts can also serve as your pipeline for major gifts and planned gifts. The question is: how do you determine which donors (who have previously given) have the inclination or ability to give more?

By conducting a wealth screening, you can determine which donors have the greatest propensity and capacity to give. This is a good indication of which donors you should cultivate and nurture further. You can also use a wealth screening to see what or how much your donors have given in the past. These insights into your donors’ giving history can help you determine how inclined they are to give to your other programs. You can create conversations with interested donors about additional ways they can create lasting change.

This is an opportunity to direct donors to your major gift programs or (depending on their age and giving history) your planned giving program. So, if a donor already gives to your cause, and can give more, it’s important to continue developing your relationship with them.

Setting Annual Gift Levels

Although annual gifts don’t fund targeted projects, it’s necessary to remember to plan out your gifts and how best to acquire them. So, be sure to set gift amounts that are reflective of your donors’ giving habits. In order to do that, it’s important to consider the following factors:

1. Your Campaign

What goal have you set for your campaign? How much do you need to raise to meet the needs of your organization this year? By assessing a specific amount to raise, you can feasibly create a solid foundation for your most basic needs.

2. Giving History

How much has your donor given in the past? Do they donate sporadically? Or do they give in regular intervals? By understanding your donor’s habits, you can get a true sense of their propensity for general philanthropic giving. It also allows you to estimate how much they could give in the future based on their current giving habits.

3. Average Annual Gift Size

Similar to evaluating your donors’ giving history, you can set gift amounts based on their giving habits. This can help you secure gifts more easily, since the amounts you set are within the range in which your donors give.  For example, the low to mid-level gifts collected should make up about 15-25% of your campaign goal. Over time, you can begin increasing this set amount, and ease donors into giving a bit more.

Types of Annual Fund Programs

So, when it comes to supporting and fueling your fund, there are a number of different fundraising programs you can implement to raise annual gifts:

Year-End Fundraising

Year-end fundraising is the process of engaging and following up with prospective and existing donors towards your end-of-year giving season. Donations collected in this type of program support specific projects and your annual fund. So, when deciding upon your year-end goal, it’s important to pick a broad theme that fits with your organization’s mission at large. The goal should serve as a reminder to your audience of what your purpose and values are as an organization and why your cause is worthy of your donor’s support. Show your donors how their contributions create the foundation off of which your organization can thrive.

Sustainer Programs

For those donors who’ve committed their support to your organization at any frequency and through any method (also known as sustainer donors), it’s important to increase their retention. This is becoming easier through the emergence of automatic giving. Donors can now make regular, automated contributions to organizations. Not only is this option convenient for donors, but they also provide nonprofits with a more predictable revenue stream.  These small, recurring gifts fall well within the structure of an annual fund. Donations received within this automated structure are made for general use, so they’re relatively unrestricted.

Viral Fundraising Initiatives

As we become increasingly connected across social platforms, we are constantly sharing content with each other. Now, nonprofits are leveraging these channels to create initiatives where the public has a chance to donate to their cause at large. This is usually done by engaging your donors in an activity or conversation where they can show and share their support via social media. For example, the ALS ice bucket challenge (a viral fundraising initiative intended to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) was a viral video sensation in 2014. Every video posted of people participating in the challenge raised an incredible amount of awareness for ALS. Supporters ended up raising $115M for the ALS Association.

In that sense, social media-based fundraising initiatives grab the attention of individuals and help nonprofits collect a high volume of one-off gifts in a short amount of time, due to the viral nature of the fundraiser.

A Look At Millennial Wealth

Discover the best prospects you can target for your annual giving campaign. Download WealthEngine and Coldwell Banker’s A Look at Wealth 2019 to get inside the minds of millennial millionaires.

This is the first article in our Annual Giving series. We hope you enjoyed learning about the function and value annual gifts provide nonprofits. Stay tuned for our second article. We will explore annual giving campaigns and the phases involved in their structure.

WealthEngine 2019: A Year In Review

WealthEngine 2019: A Year In Review

December 27, 2019
PV Bóccasam

As the year comes to a close, we want to extend a big thanks to our WealthEngine community, and especially our customers, for allowing us to reach new heights.

At the beginning of 2019, we, as a community, made a commitment to level up. Not only did we strive to provide more for our users, but we were also driven to enhance their experience in every way. This steadfast commitment has enabled us to uplift humanity, within WealthEngine and beyond. Now, as we look back on our year, our accomplishments serve as powerful reminders of what can be achieved when we come together and dedicate ourselves to pushing our own boundaries.

Here are some year-end highlights:

We launched our most innovative platform to date, welcoming users to the new world of Engagement Science™!

This year we launched our most updated platform to date, WE9. Using breakthrough technology, the WE9 platform consumes trillions of data points to create more than 250M pre-scored profiles. These profiles are all complete with scoring and insight into propensity, capacity, and intent– or, what we know as Engagement Science. And with the launch of WE9.1, we have enhanced our existing platform and have introduced many new capabilities for our integration.

Speaking of new capabilities within our integration, welcome WealthSignal™. WealthSignal is our newest graphic, giving users a holistic view of the most important scores of their donors, customers, and prospects. These scores include attributes including propensity to give or spend (P2G and P2S), giving history, and net worth. In addition to these scores, WealthSignal further enables fundraising professionals, marketers, and wealth managers to segment and personalize their best prospects more efficiently.

Now, WE9 is every client’s one window pane to reach prospects in all channels thanks to our 250M+ emails refreshed and 140M+ new personal phone numbers added. Aside from the development of this robust omnichannel communications strategy, WE9 offers a confidence score on each donation record to indicate the quality of match to that specific profile helping clients make informed decisions. We can now help clients act with confidence in driving their mission forward, as they continue to uplift humanity.

We expanded our team in one of the world’s budding tech hubs!

In an effort to double down and invest in innovative products, support, services, and engineering capabilities, we expanded our in house team across the pond in Bangalore, India and welcomed over 40 new members to our growing team. As the central hub of where our core products and innovations are being developed, our Bangalore team plays a pivotal role in the company’s growth story. Situated in what’s now considered to be the Silicon Valley of India, our new Bangalore office will enable us to strengthen, enhance, and expand our platform capabilities in innovative ways. We’re excited to see how quickly our team members have transformed our platform and contributed to the advancement of our mission.

We built on the momentum and success of last year’s WE Prosper Summit!

In 2019, we held our second annual WE Prosper Summit at The Newseum in Washington D.C. This year, we assembled a group of thought leaders, experts, partners, and clients from global causes and international brands for a day-long conference to discuss the power of personalized engagement.

Over 250 guests gained fresh insights from industry speakers such as Bob Ghafouri, Founder of Accenture Bloom; Amy Pirozzolo, Head of Marketing at Fidelity Charitable, and Patricia Eisner, former Chief Development Officer of The Malala Fund. Additionally, participants networked and engaged in rich conversations exploring the latest trends and best practices in data-driven prospecting. Not only are we witnessing the impact that personalization is having across industries, but we’re also unearthing the ways data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can drive positive social impact.

We leveraged our data to unearth major insights into Millennials, and other segments, on their wealth!

In partnership with the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury program, we created  “A Look At Millennial Wealth 2019” analyzing the key aspects of the millennial millionaire lifestyle. The population of young wealthy people is growing. By 2030, millennials will hold 5 times as much wealth as they have today. They are expected to inherit $68 trillion from their predecessors in the Great Wealth Transfer. So, in order to effectively reach millennials, it’s critical to understand how they approach wealth.

We’ve been completely blown away by the response we’ve received. It’s been featured on broadcast media and top-tier media, such as Forbes, US News & World Report, and Business Insider (among others), with about 240M media impressions.

We bolstered our existing partnerships and forged new ones!

In 2019, we continued to strengthen and cultivate an ecosystem of trusted partners such as:

We shared the power of wealth and lifestyle insights at conferences such as Dreamforce; the Salesforce Higher Education Summit; Salesforce World Tour; Salesforce Connections, and Ellucian Live. We also launched Wealth Insights on US Business Owners and Wealth Insights on US Consumers on the AWS Marketplace. Thanks to our partners, and our participation in their events, we’ve been able to provide our users with holistic, integrated solutions and resources that enable them to boost their marketing, sales, and fundraising efforts. Progress made with our partners in 2019 was a cross-functional team effort with Product, Customer Service, Marketing, and Engineering all supporting business partner activities.

We pledged to uplift communities around the globe!

This year, we’ve continued to uplift humanity through our commitment to philanthropic leadership with the Pledge 1% movement. Spearheaded by Atlassian, Rally, and Salesforce, the Pledge 1% movement is a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business. This year, we are proud to support the following causes and their efforts in their communities:

Along with a network of entrepreneurs and companies, we’ve leveraged 1% of our product to better communities around the globe so we can continue empowering communities and individuals everywhere.

We expanded our social media reach across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

Our team is always looking for new and innovative ways to engage with our network and broader community. This year we invested in growing our social media presence and building our social networks into an environment that fostered new ideas, shared valuable best practices, and facilitated discussion and engagement. As a result, we experienced a major spike in our social media following and engagement across 2019.

At the beginning of the year, we had a total audience of nearly 11,000 across all of our social media platforms, with an average growth of 80 new followers per month.

However, as the year has progressed (and through the creation of our new Instagram account), we’ve gained significantly more traction. As we invested in developing and sharing more thought leadership content, our social media following has grown to more than 47,000 followers, with an average growth of over 3,000 followers per month. Thank you to all of those who keep up with us on social media, and for those who haven’t yet, be sure to follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Looking Ahead

As we look toward 2020, WealthEngine will be advancing investments in three major areas that we believe will change fundraising and marketing for nonprofits and for-profits alike:

  • Analytics: We’re building new data-driven insights from our vast array of 500 billion data points and applying machine-learning techniques for accurate scores and models. Our investments in Engagement Science, data science to untap actionable intelligence, enables our clients to know exactly how to personalize a message that resonates with their audience.
  • API: Our engineering team will keep adding more capabilities to our API so clients who require integrated connectivity to WealthEngine’s growing insights can see and use results directly inside their tools of choice. This includes instant access to highly segmented audiences and scores from models that tie in seamlessly with their digital outreach tools, CRM/DMS and other software.
  • Activation: Launch campaigns using new smart segments, smart donation buttons and pages, digitally activated profiles across media channels or just plain effective direct mail. WealthEngine’s activation capabilities are a great way to drive higher yields with better accuracy using insights that have been specially curated for you.
  • WealthEngine Partner Innovation Network (WIN): We will integrate over 30 different systems and make it easy for you to reach your next best donor, patron, and prospect to maximize your yield on campaigns while reducing your cost of donor retention and growth.

Thank you to all our customers, partners, and associates across the globe for helping us further our customer’s mission. We are committed to advancing the ways we use data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to augment how we understand data to generate new insights for our clients. When pairing those insights with the gift of human touch, we can reach our collective goals more efficiently.

And this is just the beginning. Here’s to taking even greater strides to uplift humanity in 2020. Until next year!

Planned Giving Marketing Plan: Best Ways to Approach Donors

planned giving marketing plan

Planned Giving Marketing Plan: Best Ways to Approach Donors

December 13, 2019
Nandini Singh

The core of planned giving is donor relationships. If a donor has given to your organization over time, and you’ve cultivated a relationship with them, they will be more inclined to create a future gift. But, before you can discuss planned giving with donors, it’s important to understand how to approach them. Let’s explore the necessary steps you should implement in your planned giving marketing plan. With the help of Steve Maughan⁠—VP of Planned Giving and Estates at the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society International⁠—we’ll also explore some tips on how to navigate challenges you may face.

Planned Giving Marketing Plan: 4 Key Steps

Step 1: Creating Your Planned Giving Donor Profile

The first step in your planned giving marketing plan is to identify which donors and prospects to reach out to. As discussed in our previous article in our Planned Giving series, there are two primary planned giving tools you can use: wealth screenings and modeling. Both tools allow you to gain insights into the unique qualities of your planned giving donors. At what age have most of your donors contributed planned gifts? And, what are the commonalities among these donors in terms of interests and behaviors? By screening and modeling your donors, you can also identify which have the greatest propensity and capacity to give. So, you can get a clear impression of how to segment your donor base and who you should target.

For the Humane Society, they have been highly data-driven in their approach. They have primarily looked at the wealth affinity and ages of their donors to determine who to target. For example, the average individual who contributes a planned gift to the Humane Society is either a single or married woman or man with no kids. And, they typically have a liquid net worth between $500k and $5M. Individuals within these segments have the highest likelihood of making a bequest. Additionally, out of these segments, they identify which individuals have the highest likelihood of making a decision in their lifetime. In short, the more decisive the donor, the more likely they are to reach out. So, not only is it important to reach donors based on their potential interest, but it’s also important to reach donors based on the likelihood that they’ll take action.

Step 2: Pinpointing the Best Channels to Communicate With Donors Through

The next step in your planned giving marketing plan is to determine how best to communicate with your donors. This is best done through a highly coordinated, cross channel marketing system. So, instead of just doing a direct mail campaign, you would do email and social media campaigns as well.

A marketing channel that should be leveraged, which is gaining more traction, is social media. Most baby boomers (who are now being targeted for planned gifts) flock to social media to stay connected with their networks. In a 2016 study done by the Pew Research Center, experts found that 81% of adults over the age of 65, with an income over $75K, owned a smartphone. Additionally, the average Facebook user is a 63-year-old woman. So, it’s important to focus your marketing efforts on the areas where your target demographic is communicating. Once you’ve done that, you can create tailored messages that allow donors to begin thinking about planned giving, without you having to persuade them to contribute a planned gift.

Step 3: Meeting Interested Donors in Person

Once you’ve focused your marketing efforts, the next step in your planned giving marketing plan is to set up time to meet with interested donors. Through your cross channel marketing approach, interested donors may begin approaching you, expressing that they are considering contributing a planned gift. So, when you meet with donors in person, it’s important to invite them to learn more about your organization, your mission, and the results you’ve seen.  If donors feel that their personal values align with the mission of your organization, they’ll feel more inspired to give. This is especially important as most baby boomers typically give to two or three charities. So, it’s incredibly important to cultivate and nurture your donor relationships. Show your donors how their interests can be realized in actionable and impactful ways.

Also, if a donor is ready to give, it’s important to follow the donor’s lead when it comes to determining gift size. Since a planned gift is made for future use, the amount can be pretty nebulous. So, it’s important to discuss gifts in terms of the percentage of an estate, or other tax vehicle, rather than a specific amount. That’s for the donor to decide.

Step 4: Collecting Planned Giving Donor Testimonials

The last step in your planned giving marketing plan is to ask donors to share their testimonials. By collecting stories highlighting why donors decided to contribute a planned gift, you have authentic anecdotes that have the ability to connect with prospects. Most donors can look at the testimonials of people who have given and empathize or identify with them. For the Humane Society, they noticed that most of the testimonials didn’t come from wealthy donors. They came from average middle-class donors. They had the opportunity to explain their passion for the cause; why they wanted to give; and how they hoped their story would inspire someone else to do the same.

Connections like these (in-person conversations, donor testimonials, and social media engagement) can also have a major impact on how much donors give. For example, at the Humane Society, they noticed that when donors hadn’t been reached out to, they contributed about $40k. But, when a dialogue had been initiated with them, most would gift $130k or more. That’s a 225% increase. So, by prioritizing connecting with your donors, in different forms through different channels, they’ll feel more inspired to give all they can to support your efforts.

Potential Challenges in Your Planned Giving Fundraising Strategy

Although these steps should help you navigate your planned giving campaign, there are always challenges that may present themselves along the way.

One of the biggest challenges organizations face is receiving gifts from individuals who may not know enough about the cause. Some have very specific ideas of how they would like their gifts to be used. This can be restrictive if their goal doesn’t align with the projects or strategic plan of your organization.

In situations like these, if you can’t fulfill the obligations associated with the proposed gift, it’s better to decline it. No matter how large the contribution may be. It’s important to remain true to the intentions of your donor and how they seek to create change, while also continuing to serve your organization’s mission. Be sure to refer these donors to other resources they can use so their intentions and goal intersect, and can be seen to fruition. Additionally, be mindful when you’re communicating with prospective planned giving donors. Make sure that they have a clear impression of your objectives and initiatives going forward, so your future projects can be supported.

Planned Giving Campaign: Tips for CDOs and Gift Officers

Now that we’ve gone over the necessary steps to implement in your planned giving marketing plan and how to navigate potential challenges, here are some additional things to keep in mind as you communicate with your donors and prospects:

  • Focus on donors who have contributed consistently over time.

If you’re building a program, don’t just focus on individuals who’ve contributed large sums. Talk to the donors who have contributed $5, $10, or even $15 every year for the past five to ten years. These donors consistently support your efforts and display loyalty and passion for your work. If approached for a planned gift, they’ll likely feel inclined to give.

  • Have a board member who’s an advocate and will keep your program going.

When you upsell to your board, it’s important to keep an eye on your progress. Be sure to track the number of new donors and bequests you’re working with annually. It’s also important to track the dollar value of people who’ve committed to contributing a planned gift and shared the confirmed value of their bequests. This reinforces to your board that you’re gaining traction in your program and that it can continue on. Also, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. If you start and stop your program, it can impact your momentum and potential success.

  • Remain donor-centric in your approach.

It’s important to remain cognizant of your supporter’s time. If you’re having a meeting with them, they know exactly why you’re there. So, be very clear and focused on your objectives in your conversation. Remember: it’s the donor’s timeline and decision, not yours. If you establish a system around needing goals, donors may feel that their connection to the cause isn’t valued. This may inhibit them from supporting your efforts beyond their lifetime.

  • Don’t disregard the use of social media.

As most baby boomers flock to social media to stay connected, it’s important to communicate with them in those spaces. You can generate tailored and relevant messages to connect with them. And, because they are active on these platforms, there’s more likely to see and respond to the messages you’re generating about planned giving. Additionally, this also gives potential donors an opportunity to familiarize themselves with your organization’s mission and initiatives. So, they can see how they fit into your efforts, and find ways to make a significant impact.

Driving the Donor Journey: Guide to Descriptive Modeling

Boost your fundraising using WealthEngine’s modeling tool. Discover your next best donors you have yet to connect with.

5 Nonprofit Trends Influenced by Technology

nonprofit trends

5 Nonprofit Trends Influenced by Technology

December 11, 2019
Nandini Singh

This past year, we’ve seen the power personalized engagement had on donors. The question is: what other things will influence the nonprofit sector? And how are nonprofits changing based on their integration of predictive analytics, AI/ML, and other technologies? Let’s explore the top 5 nonprofit trends (influenced by tech) that will impact the industry as we move into 2020.

Nonprofit Trends Influenced by Tech & Analytics

1. Fundraising is becoming more accessible because of social media reach.

The first nonprofit trend influencing the industry is social media’s influence on fundraising. As competition rises, technology is helping nonprofits reach out to donors in ways that are focused. Donors can now be reached on a local, national, and global level. Social platforms allow people to connect and share information from anywhere at any time. And, most platforms allow people to donate to causes.

For example, Facebook birthday fundraisers have gained more attention over time.  Users can now make posts redirecting to a cause they support. They can then encourage their network to donate on their behalf.  Within the first year of creating birthday fundraisers, Facebook users raised more than $300M for causes. As of now, Facebook allows you to choose a cause to donate from a list of 750,000 nonprofits. So, donors can now give to any cause at any time from anywhere.

2. Constituent Relationship Management systems & analytics will allow nonprofits to identify, segment, and engage donors more effectively.

The second nonprofit trend that is influencing the industry is the increased use of CRM systems and predictive analytics. As these tools advance, nonprofits are relying on them to find and engage donors. Fundraising teams, large and small alike, now have the tools to clearly organize donor data according to their preferences. This lets them strategically manage their fundraising.

Using predictive analytics, gift officers can gain insights on their donors and prospects. For example, they have the ability to learn about their donors’ propensity and capacity to give; their behavior; their personality; and their giving history. And, as they update the information they have on them, they can tweak their outreach. This will help organizations adapt to donors’ evolving interests. So, they will always remain relevant to them and be able to engage them purposefully.

Take the University of Maryland for example. Mary Beth Nibley, Director of Prospect Engagement, needed an easier way to manage her prospects. At the time, her team was managing prospects from Maryland’s Med school and school of social work. As a small group, they found it difficult to determine which prospects were worth pursuing. But, using predictive analytics, they found it easier to sort through their donor pool. So, they were able to segment their donors effectively and efficiently. With a CRM and predictive analytics, organizations can gain relevant donor information instantly. They also have the tools to appeal to donors in personalized ways.

3. Technology will enable nonprofits to stay personally connected with their donors, remotely.

Another nonprofit trend influencing organizations is the use of technology to connect with key donors. It’s becoming more and more important to engage donors in ways that are novel. Each donor wants to create change with significant impact and influence. So, they want to give not only to benefit communities, but also to reach the people with the most influence. In short, the CEO, or the face of the organization. Technology, in that sense, has allowed donors to connect with those channels more easily.

Take the Malala Fund for example. Patricia G. Eisner, former CDO of the Malala Fund, was able to connect with donors by doing more than sending out a personalized email or note. Using technology, the Fund was able to have Malala connect with her audience remotely. They were able to create and send personalized videos where Malala was able to address each donor individually. So, the messages weren’t just personal. They provided donors, especially major gift donors, an added incentive to take greater action, give more,  and inspire others to as well.

4. Apps and Tech Intermediaries will Re-Invigorate Donors to Give

The use of apps, and other tech intermediaries, to boost fundraising is also a rising nonprofit trend. As stated in the Giving USA 2019 report, the state of charitable giving in the United States is shifting. The number of non-donor households is continuing to increase. So, we’re experiencing a decline in mid-level donors. This is greatly impacting the revenue streams of nonprofits across the country.

So, in order to seamlessly engage donors, nonprofits are partnering with brands and services. In short, they’re creating new and easy ways for donors to give. For example, customers can now donate through apps like Lyft, Uber, and Venmo (among others). These options make it easier for nonprofits to interact with their donors and prospects. It’s also a more approachable and affordable way for donors to remain involved. So, as donors make purchases, they have the opportunity to round up the cost of their purchase so they can give. They also have a chance to give more specific amounts to organizations of their choice through these apps. The use of intermediaries will make it easier for nonprofits to gain a steady stream of gifts. They also have the potential to push donors towards everyday giving.

5. More Nonprofits are Moving Towards Crowdfunding

The last nonprofit trend that’s gaining traction is crowdfunding. Crowdfunding was, and is, primarily used for contributors to fund an initiative, online. Usually through a collection of small investments. However, crowdfunding is now projected to become an over  $90 billion industry by 2025, so it can be a valuable tool for fundraising.

Crowdfunding is beginning to help nonprofits raise money for specific projects or causes. It can also help nonprofits reach diverse audiences. This further enables them to meaningfully engage donors and spread messages that increase their impact. Additionally, projects funded on this platform can be shared via social media & can be linked to live giving portals. This encourages recurring giving and allows donors to engage directly with your organization.

Best Practices to Strengthen Your Fundraising

Discover the best ways to build and maintain strong donor relationships from our panel of experts at the WE Prosper Summit 2019.