By Elisabeth B. Galley, Vice President, Arts Consulting Group
- Understand the value of wealth screening to identify potential major donors,
- Develop customized cultivation plans for targeted prospects, and
- Understand the role of the board committees in campaign preparedness.
The Value of Wealth Screening
Many nonprofit organizations utilize wealth screening as an integral part of their donor prospect research. As trustees, you may have had members of the development team or executive leadership present proposals to the board for approval of expenditures to conduct this type of research. Here’s what you need to know in order to make an informed decision regarding investing in wealth screening services.
Ideal donors are those who have both an affinity for the museum and the financial capacity to make a significant gift. But how do you get beyond the usual suspects – those families that are the giving pillars of your community? One solution is to look more deeply into your museum’s database. Museums have members. These individuals are valued consumers and have displayed interest by attending exhibits and fundraisers and continuing to purchase memberships year after year. They are primed and ready to be invited to support your museum in a deeper way. But how do you know who, when, and for how much to ask?
Decades ago, before internet research was part of everyday life, development professionals would gather the members of their development committee and review lists of potential donors by gathering information about friends of committee members. While parts of this practice are still valuable, research has come a long way. Today there are several companies that offer wealth screening services for nonprofits, including Donorscape, Wealth Engine, Target Analytics, and iWave. Although the specific information delivered may vary from company to company, the process is essentially the same.
Services provided by these companies help museums electronically screen a large quantity of selected donor records, including lecture subscribers, members, gala ticket purchasers, or other connected individuals, against 14 of the most respected public information databases. When data is matched, the resulting information may report on the prospective donor’s financial position, community connections, board experience, property ownership, age, public and private company ownership and political contributions, among other data points. It also rates the prospect’s propensity to give and affinity for your museum to achieve a balance of connection, commitment, and capacity. This information can be used to determine potential sources of new or increased contributed income from individuals in the form of annual, capital, endowment, and planned gifts.
The returned information rates donors from top prospects who have a strong affinity for your museum and significant capacity to give down to those prospects who may love your work but cannot make a major gift. Development teams can use this information to:
- Determine the overall funding capability of your museum’s database.
- Identify a hierarchy of potential major donor prospects to cultivate for higher level gifts.
- Create robust portfolios for each development professional based on the donor prospect hierarchy information, as well as targeted portfolios for the Executive Director/CEO and selected board leadership.
- Develop personalized cultivation strategies and a moves management pipeline to acquire new major donors.
- Understand those donors who will remain core annual fund contributors but do not have the capacity for future major gifts and design appropriate relationship maintenance programs for that group.
Using wealth screening services, your development team will be able to segment the donor database to understand where to invest fundraising resources to yield the best results, regardless of the size of the museum’s development department. The costs for this service have become much more affordable in recent years and the return on investment is tremendous. By acquiring just one new major gift, this investment will pay for itself.
The information gleaned from wealth screening also helps to shape customized donor cultivation efforts and can inform decisions regarding the identification of ideal members to consider adding to your governing board. These concepts will be explored in Part II of this series next month.
wealth screening services at your organization.