Wesley Homes is the nonprofit operator of two continuing care retirement communities in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. The flagship Des Moines community was founded almost 70 years ago as a ministry of the Methodist Church and is home to 600 residents from all walks of life and faith backgrounds. A second community, Lea Hill, houses approximately 225 residents. “We are very proud of our history and the quality of care we provide,” shares Kelly Merry, Campaign Manager. “Our Circle of Concern is the expression of our charitable mission that provides care for those who have outlived their resources or need additional help to maintain their health, well-being and dignity.”

The Challenge

“Our vision is unique for our region,” explains Kari Rallo, Executive Director of the Wesley Homes Foundation. “We are looking to expand and bring the full continuum of care to families in communities in our region that don’t have that option.” Wesley Homes Foundation is embarking on a comprehensive, multi-phased, seven-year campaign to fulfill its mission. Campaign priorities include:

  • The renovation and redevelopment of the flagship Des Moines campus, which at almost 70-years-old needs a new, contemporary building.
  • A skilled nursing facility at Lea Hill, which when complete will expand the levels of care there to the full continuum of independent living, assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing.
  • Two completely new continuing care communities in Puyallup and Renton. These facilities will offer all levels of care and will be unique in their communities.

Each priority includes both a capital and an endowment component. Additionally, a Capital Investment Fund has been created to accommodate donors who wish to support the mission and overall vision without specifying a benefit to a particular community or project. Campaign goals range from $3MM to $11MM for each project, and timelines differ for each, with Lea Hill well underway, and Puyallup and Renton still in the building awareness and engagement phases.

“Getting funding for projects that benefit seniors is a challenge,” says Rallo. “We were told that in King County less than 1% of donors support projects for seniors.” As a result, finding major gift donors is even more difficult for Wesley Homes than for many organizations. It’s truly like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Wesley Homes faces the task of identifying major gift donors:

  • With the capacity to give six- and seven-figure campaign gifts, and the propensity to support projects for seniors.
  • For multiple campaigns, two in regions where staff is not familiar with the community and where there is no natural constituency.

The Solution

Given the significant challenges, Wesley Homes’ campaign counsel recommended a database screening and ongoing access to a prospect research and identification solution they could rely on through the life of the campaigns. Rallo and Merry interviewed two firms, and selected WealthEngine. By initially screening their database of residents, families and supporters, they were able to begin building a gift pyramid to provide structure and prioritize cultivation and campaign asks.  “The WealthEngine information has been very helpful in the community aspect of the campaign. It shows connections that community members have to our residents and volunteers, and we can begin to strategically build relationships with them,” shares Rallo.

Wesley Homes Foundation has been using WealthEngine’s Prospect Generator to help identify completely new prospective capital donors. “We have generated lists based on wealth attributes as well as a proclivity to support projects for seniors,’ says Merry. “We’ve been surprised when we share those lists with our campaign volunteers, as they never would have anticipated some of those people have capacity. It’s like finding the millionaire next door.”

The Result

“We are making good strides and have built a lot of energy and momentum,” explains Rallo. “We are raising awareness and securing lead gifts, and in the case of Lea Hill, which is farthest along, it is ahead of schedule and we’ve raised $200K more than we thought we’d have at this point in the campaign.” Merry adds, “A lot of our success can be attributed to having the right prospects on our lists, and being able to develop the right strategies to cultivate them. WealthEngine has supported both of those goals.”

The Wesley Homes staff has relied on WealthEngine’s ratings and scores to generate lists and prioritize prospects based on both their ability and propensity to give. The lists are then sanitized of any sensitive information and shared with their volunteer team. Like many volunteer fundraisers, they know people, but they are often not comfortable sharing wealth or suggested ask amount information. The basic WealthEngine information is enough to get conversations started and get volunteers to open up. Sometimes it also opens their eyes to new possibilities.

Next Steps

Rallo and Merry will continue to use WealthEngine as their campaign matures and evolves. They will use it to:

  • Identify prospects from among their known constituents and supporters based on identified capacity and propensity to give.
  • Discover completely new prospects with capacity and proclivity to give to senior-related projects using WealthEngine’s Prospect Generator database.
  • Clarify and leverage connections between the people they know, including residents and campaign volunteers, and those they would like to get to know in the communities into which they are moving.