The Whole Enchilada: Screening The Entire Donor List

By Laurence A. Pagnoni, MPA

What does “donor research” and “wealth-screening” mean to you?

This three-part series examines the latest in donor research in three critical areas:

1. The value of screening your entire donor database;
2. Tips on what’s new about wealth screening so that you can “sell” it; and
3. The value of relationship science to connect with donors.

Part I: The Whole Enchilada: Screening the Entire Donor List

Have you wealth-screened your entire donor database? If you were like me when I served as the director of development at a local nonprofit, the answer is “No.” I only screened those select individuals I deemed to be “major donors,” and my screening methods (Google, looking at real-estate assets, considering a donor’s profession, etc.) were limited at best. I was defeating the entire purpose of prospect research in the first place—to tell me something I didn’t know about my donors, namely, that they might have the capacity to give more than I ever imagined. I like to use the analogy of “finding the needle in the haystack.” You see, the problem with only screening major donor prospects is that, on average, we are leaving 80% of our database untouched. When we “batch wealth-screen” our entire donor database, we can do five things we couldn’t do before:

1. Accurately evaluate major donor prospects.
2. Identify strong annual-fund givers, monthly givers, and planned giving prospects.
3. Find hidden major donors among your annual-fund givers and cultivate them.
4. Segment your mail list so that donors receive appropriate appeals.
5. Ask for increased gifts through moves management.

We welcome your comments about this post on the LAPA blog.

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