University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects

University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects

May 1, 2019
Sharanya Venkatesh

Did you know that your screening data can help you find overlooked donors? Wealth Screening is not a new concept in university fundraising. WealthEngine’s solution WE Screen has helped several higher education institutions understand their alumni base by appending a breadth of data. For instance, Northwestern University used WE Screen to enhance their development efforts.

Prior to the first parent screening, their Parents’ Fund raised approximately $500,000 annually. Within the first year of screening, they found that the Fund had doubled. Within four years, the Fund had almost quadrupled to $1.75M.

Screening is a great start. However, higher education fundraising has a little known secret that few educational institutions use. The secret is modeling. When you create a model of your past donors, you learn unique insights about your contacts.

You can then use your customized university fundraising model to score all future contacts. Doing this narrows down your list of qualified prospects to the most likely donor candidates. Driving your university fundraising efforts based on a targeted list is efficient. Moreover, it can save your team time and generate higher revenue, in a shorter period of time.

Development and Advancement at Universities

Higher education fundraising has enabled universities to raise over $40 Billion. However, the yearly growth rate in fundraising dollars remains below 2%. Why is growth slow?

The reason is that the old ways of prospect research and fundraising no longer work. University fundraising can be effective when it is targeted, personalized and more engaging. Understanding prospects beyond their wealth is the key to personalization and increasing engagement.

How can you understand what makes your contacts unique? The answer lies in modeling your screening data.

How to use Screening for Higher Education Fundraising

Regular screenings can serve as the foundation for your development and advancement efforts. They enable you to see a complete picture of a patient’s wealth, lifestyle and affinities. Therefore, conducting monthly wealth screenings help ensure that you don’t miss any opportunities. 

For instance, WE Screen merges our proprietary wealth scores and ratings with your contact data. Now you know what we know about your contacts’ wealth, income, lifestyle, and affinity.

When you review and track data from your screenings regularly, you can act on it right away. For example, let’s say you had 2500 students who graduated last year. You can now screen them as alumni. Wealth screening can tell you which of these alums are candidates for university fundraising in a matter of hours.  Therefore, you can ensure that you start nurturing the relationship right away.

A University Fundraising Model Reveals Much More

As noted earlier, wealth screening is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to university fundraising. Subsequently, you can extract actionable insights from your screening data. What if you could find new prospects that look like your best donors? You can accomplish this by learning from past successes in your development efforts.

For instance, you can upload your data from screening directly into WE Analyze. The solution finds patterns of traits among your patients.  These are traits that your top donors have in common.

Your insights on these traits can be fed into a custom model. The model will help you find prospects who are most likely to give to your university. You may, however, be surprised to discover who is on this list.

The Senior Director of Trinity University, a WealthEngine client, says “Modeling answers a number of questions beyond what a wealth screening offers—the results from a screening show propensity to give, but that’s not specific to your organization….That’s the importance of custom modeling; it uses our data and tells us who has an affinity to give to Trinity…

We identified many individuals who weren’t on our radar but had high propensity to give, and we saw there were many previous givers we hadn’t continued stewardship with…”

How the Model can Predict Giving to Your University

Patterns that are fed into the model can help you find more prospects like your top donors. This means you now have a data-driven way to predict higher education fundraising. By finding prospects that are likely to engage, the model can help you predict giving for the next 12 months.

With over 20 analytical models, WealthEngine can model your wealth screening data to identify the best prospects for major gifts, annual gifts, planned-giving and much more. Additionally, models can also help you craft a capital campaign to raise money for a new wing, building or program. Models that use machine learning and artificial intelligence, like the ones WealthEngine creates, take the guesswork out of finding more prospects, retaining existing donors and growing their commitment.

For example, another WealthEngine client is a large, private, research university in the midwest. They decided to pilot test modeling for their major gifts program. They ran a model and picked 10 random prospects to approach. All 10 prospects answered their call. 3 of 10 prospects took an in-person meeting. Further, 2 of the 3 people are in talks with the university about gifts at the $100,000 level. All this has transpired in a span of 2 months, whereas it usually takes Major Gift Officers an average 18 months to get to this point in their donor relationship. Therefore, the model not only cut down the lead time by about 16 months.

Further, the university is going to leverage the model to contact the remaining 212 identified prospects. These prospects have the capacity to generate another $4 million in higher education fundraising. Moreover, the university can predict giving over the next 12 months by relying on the model. They can also ensure that they are reaching contacts that they had not identified as high-quality prospects before.

WE Insights: Get a Free Sample of a Model of Your Data

WealthEngine has a free service for clients in which they can get a sample model on actual data. For example, you can learn the following insights about your donor base:

average donor profile

Moreover, you can use your model to personalize your message to your prospective donors. WealthEngine’s models reveal detailed information about your past donors so you can see how well new prospects fit with the profile of past donors.

major gift donor profile

Learn more about how WE Insights can generate an insightful profile from your screening files.

Score New Contacts Against Your Model for Instant Results

As we noted earlier, modeling not only finds your best prospects but also helps predict giving. Moreover, the model is not just a generic predictor of giving. It actually reveals who is most likely to give to your university.

Score your database of alumni who have never given before against the model. This will help you identify top prospects you have overlooked. Thus, the model helps generate a list of high-quality prospects very quickly.

Predictive prospecting enabled by the model uses the attributes of your best donors to help you find the best new prospects. It can also help predict university fundraising for the next 12 months. Data from the model can support your development efforts for a 12 month period. WealthEngine recommends refreshing your model at the end of this period to ensure that you are working with the most updated information.

Further, you can increase the efficiency of higher education fundraising through API implementation. WealthEngine’s API can seamlessly integrate into your existing CRM and provide you updates in real-time. This means that every time a new contact enters your database, they can be scored against the model to reveal their potential instantly.

Learn How to Model Your Screening Data

Learn more about how your monthly screening data could help you increase conversions and lower costs. Model your data now.

More Ways to Maximize Your University Fundraising Program

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

Inner Circle – How to Find Connections of Your Close Contacts

One Reply to “University Fundraising: Use Modeling to Identify Overlooked Prospects”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.