Prospect Research Best Practices for Arts & Culture Fundraisers

Prospect Research Best Practices for Arts & Culture Fundraisers

January 25, 2019
Sharanya Venkatesh

As a development professional in the arts and culture sector, you may be looking for prospect research best practices. Today, fundraising is both an art and a science. While data drives decision making, there is also a subtle art involved in framing and timing the ask. With this in mind, here are 3 top best practices in prospect research for arts & culture fundraisers.

Our prospect research best practice recommendations combined with tailored solutions will help you:

  1. Increase prospect engagement through personalization
  2. Convert more ticket buyers into donors or members
  3. Let your best donors guide your prospect research

1. Increase Prospect Engagement Through Personalization

Personalization is a mantra that you will hear about often in the near future. This is a key prospect research best practice in the arts and culture sector. Most organizations generally have automated emails thanking someone for a low/mid-level gift. Even though this is common practice, it is not impactful.

Personalization is necessary to increase impact and engagement. Sustained engagement will encourage prospects to support your cause, thereby becoming donors. The messaging needs to be personalized regardless of the medium. For example, a handwritten letter or call from the Executive Director sent to high-level donors can ensure a deeper connection.

Prospect research can help you take this a step further. You can personalize communication not only based on giving history but also on giving capacity and other wealth factors.

WealthEngine can empower your prospect research to reach the right set of major gift donor prospects. We can help you decide if someone should be in an annual fund portfolio or major gift portfolio.

Our wealth intelligence goes beyond net worth to generate a holistic propensity score. Wealth screening can help you set your prospect research in motion and increase donation amounts across all giving brackets by optimizing your ask.

2. Convert Arts and Culture Ticket Buyers or Visitors into Donors

You may be familiar with the common struggle at arts and culture organizations – the difficulty of prioritizing between ticket sales and fundraising. Both are equally important to sustain the organization. However, with lean teams, one of these gets prioritized at the cost of the other. Most organizations that we speak with tend to do a great job filling the seats in a theater or getting a high volume of visitors. Ideally, all those ticket buyers/visitors would be donors or members. Although we recognize that this may not be the case right now.

It may seem like a monumental task to research every ticket buyer or visitor. But these visitors are your greatest prospects! Our next prospect research best practice recommendation can help convert visitors to life-long donors or members. WealthEngine has the capability to screen a ticket buyer at the point of sale and notify you so you can begin nurturing. Furthermore, our API will capture potential major donor prospects in real time.

For instance, if you have a new ticket buyer who conducts the transaction on your website. Our wealth screening solution combined with API can update you on their wealth, demographic and lifestyle information immediately. This allows your team to identify prospects who have not only the capacity to give but also the propensity and intent.

The broad nature of this type of prospect research will give your team the ability to roll out the red carpet. Top prospects can be given the platinum experience before and after any event. This level of personalization would enable the visitor to become better engaged with your organization, creating a strong case to become a donor.

3. Let Your Best Donors Guide Your Prospect Research

In our experience, we have found that a lot of organizations have a solid set of low and mid-level donors. A lot of these donors have not only greater gift capacities, but also the interest and motivation to give.  They can easily be leveled up to ensure that there is no money left at the table. As a prospect research best practice, it comes down to perfecting the ask. 

There are two ways to increase the number of high-level donors:

  • Optimize your ask. Don’t forget that prospect research can still be applied to your current donor base! Prospect research allows you to determine the capacity, propensity, and intent of donors and prospects. Use the insight from prospecting to ensure that gifts from your current donors match their capacity and propensity.

Our demographic, lifestyle, interests, and affinity data can help gift officers with this best practice. Fundraisers can maintain a meaningful dialog with donors and prospects as part of the nurturing process.

  • Find new high-level donors. In-depth prospect research allows you to do a deep dive into your donor base and identify patterns of traits among your high-level donors in order to find more prospects like them. WealthEngine’s analytical and predictive modeling solution can build models based on your top donors.

Our prospecting solution uses insights from these models to find more high-level prospects. This way your best donors can help you find your next best prospects!  In one such instance, our client went from raising $400k at their gala to $7.8M in 3 years. They were able to accomplish this by using WealthEngine to identify other prospects modeled after their top donors.

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Take your prospect research to the next level, contact us to learn more.

We hope these prospect research best practices set you up for year-round arts and culture fundraising success! Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can help you perfect your prospect research. Fill the form on the right and a WealthEngine rep will contact you very soon.

You may also like our other articles on prospecting:

Predictive Prospecting: Profiling Your Best Clients to Find New Prospects

Prospect Automation: Why Old Ways of Prospecting Will No Longer Deliver Results

 

 

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