Major Donor Cultivation: Why Modeling Is Critical to Fundraising Success

Major Donor Cultivation: Why Modeling Is Critical to Fundraising Success

January 31, 2020
Nandini Singh

Nonprofits rely heavily on contributions made by donors, to realize their intentions (or mission) in actionable ways. Fundraising, in that sense, helps secure the future impact of an organization. This all starts with donors, and how invested they are in your cause and its activities. The question is: how can you replicate past donor success to secure more gifts, not just now, but in the future? The answer is modeling. Let’s explore some insights into modeling and why it’s critical to successful major donor cultivation and your fundraising success. 

The Changing Landscape of Fundraising

Thanks to major developments made in tech and social networks, nonprofit fundraising is rapidly evolving. With the rise of AI and ML, for example, more nonprofits are adopting these technologies to strengthen their major donor cultivation. They have the tools to gather data quickly so they can be more efficient in creating positive change. These technologies also assist organizations in understanding and appealing to their existing and prospective donors now and in the future.

In that sense, the need for hyper-personalized engagement is now a necessity rather than a benefit. Since Millennials and Gen Zs are consuming tons of information at a time, it’s imperative to capture their attention. Especially in ways that are personally applicable, so they feel valued as your donors. Millennials’ median annual giving is twice as much as Boomers and Gen Xers at $13,654. Gen Z will also account for 40% of all consumers as of 2020. With their increased influence and giving capacity, it’s important to understand how they give and how to connect with them. 

Importance of Modeling

The core of successful fundraising lies in the relationships you’ve cultivated and nurtured with your donors. By enhancing your major donor cultivation strategies, you’re likely to receive substantial gifts that will push you towards your goal. But, what if you’ve exhausted your efforts? Let’s say you’ve reached out to every donor in your database. Those who have contributed major gifts and small, one-off gifts. You’ve solicited contributions from the individuals you know have the capacity and propensity to give. But, now you are left guessing who to reach out to next. That’s where modeling comes in.

Models help you understand past donor successes and identify prospects with characteristics in common with your best donors. With predictive analytics and modeling, not only can you find high net worth prospects, but you can also find those who closely resemble your best existing donors. You can evaluate their giving history and project their estimated giving capacity. In short: you can see how much they currently give and how much they’re likely to give in the future. 

How to Get Started With Modeling

Predictive analytics and modeling, when combined, allow you to gain key insights about donors and improve your fundraising efforts and major donor cultivation. Not only are you able to find prospects who have the greatest propensity and capacity to give, but you can also use models to predict when they’ll give and how much. In short: predictive modeling can help you find more donors, predict giving levels, retain your donor base, grow donor commitment, and more. 

1. Screen your donors

This is to help you understand your existing donors on a deeper level and uncover hidden potential in your database. Through wealth screening, you can attribute wealth ratings and scores and merge them with your contact data, so you get a clearer picture of your donors’ lifestyle, demographic, and affinity data. These scores help you identify and categorize (or segment) donors and prospects with the right attributes. So, not only are you gaining a general impression of an individual’s characteristics, but you are also understanding their wealth. This includes their total assets, net worth, cash on hand, their propensity to give, charitable giving, and more. 

2. Analyze your donor data

Remember: forecasting fundraising income accurately helps you reach your major gift fundraising goals. So, before you predict who will give to your organization, it’s important to understand what makes your audience unique. What, specifically, about them and their interests do they share, that inspires them to give? Using WE Analyze, you can analyze your screening data and gain a 360-view of your donor base. This gives you a clearer picture of commonalities among your donors, and allows you to tailor your communication with them in ways that are more engaging and personal. 

3. Create and use a predictive model

 After uploading your screening file, you can then create a unique, custom algorithm. This will help predict who will be most likely to give to your organization. So, in the case of fundraising, the model created will be built on strong indicators of gift-giving. These indicators may include: number of events attended, gift capacity, the existence of a family foundation, board affiliations, or other attributes. So, once your information has been analyzed, you’ll receive an API response indicating whether or not each of your prospects is likely to give. Your prospects are also prioritized in order of gift capacity and propensity. These rankings and indicators will help you target your fundraising efforts; hone in on donors who have the greatest willingness to give; and approach each of your prospects with highly personalized, tailored messaging.

3 Reasons Modeling Is Critical to Successful Major Donor Cultivation & Fundraising 

Not only does modeling help you identify and focus on the donors who have the greatest propensity and capacity to give to your organization, but it also gives you major insights into 3 key areas: 

1. Modeling allows you to gain a greater understanding of donor motivations

Since models allow you to identify and evaluate the commonalities among your existing and future donors, you gain a greater understanding of their motivations and behaviors. Which demographic of people give to your organization? Is it women over the age of 50 who own dogs? Or, is it men in their 40s who like to go camping? By analyzing your donors and prospects, and creating a donor persona, you can identify the ways prospects will want to interact with your organization. This will help you bring in more gifts as time goes on, instead of waiting idly by to see if your donors will give. 

2. Modeling drives personalized campaigns

Fundraising success comes down to well-timed and optimized asks. The best way to do this is by cultivating and nurturing personal connections with your donors. If some part of their narrative or their experiences are being addressed by your organization, they’ll feel more inclined to give. Why wouldn’t you give to an organization that understands and acts upon your values? Refined donor segmentation, in that sense, helps you tailor your messaging and communication. You can divide your donors and prospects into smaller groups based on their interests or giving ability, and subsequently generate personalized messages that resonate. Not only does this enable you to tailor your messaging, but it also helps you notify donors about experiences that match their interests. This presents them with added incentives to give. 

3. Modeling helps you uncover hidden gems

Not only can modeling help you understand which types of donors are most inclined to give to your organization, but you can also identify prospects you may have never thought to approach. This is especially helpful when it comes to major donor cultivation.

Let’s say you’ve based your model on your top 100 donors, but have a list of 5,000 constituents. These constituents represent individuals who have contributed small gifts. Although it’s important to learn about the top hundred donors, it’s even more important to compare your model to the 4,900. This will help you uncover hidden gems. So, when sifting through those constituents, you can identify which of them closely resemble your best supporters, but who aren’t making major gifts. Even though they have the propensity and capacity to. You can then determine which donors to cultivate and nurture further. This allows you to deepen relationships with donors who may want to contribute more, but haven’t been inclined to give because they were not presented with the right ask. 

Leverage Modeling to Boost Your Major Donor Cultivation

Do you know which of your donors & prospects have the greatest propensity and capacity to give? Discover the ways modeling can help you unearth hidden gems and discover new donors with major gift potential.

Not only can modeling help you target donors and prospects who have the greatest propensity and capacity to give to your organization, but it also enables you to tailor your fundraising efforts and outreach to appeal to them best. This will help you develop a loyal community of donors who will give now and in the future.

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