First, wealth screening.
Over the past 10 to 20 years, wealth screening has become a common practice for fundraising shops. But staff should always remember that wealth screening is just a tool. And, tools can be used to break stuff as much as they can be used to build stuff.
Or, in some cases, staff might actually use wealth screening to delay their activities. “I can’t make my calls yet because I’m waiting for the vendor to send me the wealth-screened list,” they might say.
Use it to narrow down a list not build a portfolio.
After all, wealth screening is just that — a screening. It is not a portfolio building tool. Instead, it is a filter designed to help you cull your list prior to outreach for qualification purposes. Remember, you still must qualify any wealth screened supporter for passion and interest before you assign them to your major or legacy gift portfolio.
In other words, you have to understand why each donor in your portfolio cares and whether or not your cause entwines with their life story in addition to whether or not they are wealthy and want to have a relationship with you, not just your organization.
Wealth alone is an indicator of nothing much. Yet, I’ve heard board members or leaders command their staff saying, “Call _________ , she has a lot of money!” This is probably one of the many reasons why fundraising shops have such high turnover.
Understand what you really get with wealth screening.
I hate to burst your bubble but wealth screens are not exceptionally accurate indicators of wealth anyway. Wow! Can you believe I said that?
Well, NEWS FLASH… wealthy people are really good at hiding their true capacity. They didn’t get wealthy being stupid! So, at all costs, try to avoid reaching out to people just because the wealth screening said they are wealthy. Doing it that way will result in lots of dead-ends, wasted time and sunk costs.
Instead, you should try to find people who are passionate about your cause first, then screen them for wealth.
Put another way, once the list has been ‘distilled’ for potential wealth, then you should further qualify it but not with prospect research. And, yes, I DID just say that!
Prospect research is expensive and time-consuming while the best, fastest and most cost-effective way to further qualify your list is actually with donor lead generation and donor self-qualification.
Let me repeat that: The best way to further qualify your list is with donor lead generation and donor self-qualification.
Donor lead generation using your refined (‘wealth-screened’ list).
Donor lead generation involves an offer that provides value to your prospect donor. We’ve found that donor surveys work best and I directed the development of the most powerful and most used donor survey platform in the world (employed by the most respected charities and institutions worldwide). Plus, you don’t necessarily even need to wealth screen your list. Many nowadays are skipping that stage since our surveys inspire hi-capacity supporters to self-report their wealth.
I’m serious! We have helped donors answer questions about whether or not they have family foundations or donor-advised funds, how many properties they own, their business interests, etc. Plus, we’ve also asked if they’d like to use those means to fund initiatives and they’ve said, “Yes!”
Now that you understand that wealth screening should be used to cull your list (or not used at all), you need to recognize that a well-developed, tested and proven survey can help your supporters qualify themselves for your portfolio.
With a survey you’ll quickly and efficiently understand why they care, their level of passion, how your cause compares to others in their hearts and minds, and so on.
The value of this kind of low-cost donor self-qualification cannot be understated. Supporters qualifying themselves are essentially leaning in saying, “Yes! I want you to cultivate a relationship with me so I can learn how I can make a difference using my wealth to essentially purchase empowerment.”
You simply can’t get better qualified than that and no amount of wealth screening or prospect research will ever match that kind of intelligence gathered directly from your supporters.
Finally, now it’s time for wealth appending.
Assuming you decided to forgo the wealth screening and, instead, you employed a donor survey first, you will have generated leads that include hi-value, super-passionate donor prospects. They will have leaned in and that’s great. So now you will need to prioritize them. And one of the best ways to do that is, indeed, with wealth appending.
Basically, you take your ‘donor self-qualified’ list and add information about capacity to it from outside sources so you can prioritize your outreach.
Keep in mind that every donor call and visit costs your organization money. Being judicious about how you spend your time is important. Add all the wealth information you can but don’t forget the donor’s verbatims and digital body language.
Donor verbatims and digital body language take precedence over wealth screening and wealth appending.
Yep! I said that too.
Read it again if you must. It’s a new day. Fundraising HAS changed.
The best method for prioritizing your outreach is based on what the donor says and what they do online (when they aren’t with you).
For instance, if your donor prospect keeps watching a video about how they can get their name on the new building, the centerpiece of your capital campaign, I’d bet that’s a good indicator you should act upon. Don’t you agree?
Last thing… recency of online engagement.
Once you’ve got all that going
….you’ve qualified your list based on passion;
….you’ve prioritized your list based on wealth;
….and you’ve monitored your list based on verbatims and digital body language…
….you’ll want to rely heavily on recency of online engagement, not recency of their last donation as your best indicator for timely outreach.
Simply stated, when it comes to major donors, their last transaction doesn’t necessarily indicate interest in meeting with you. But recency of online engagement (for instance, engaging at 3 am with your online list of naming opportunities for that new building) does!
So what will you do and in what order will you do it? Wealth screening first? A survey first? Wealth appending later?
If you’ve been struggling with determining who to call and visit, maybe you should call us first at 301-289-3670 and try my extension at X174. Yes! I do try to answer my own phone. I’ll help you get squared away quickly and cost-effectively so you can raise more money more efficiently in no time.
Or, get a demo. You can lurk anonymously when you sign up for a no-pressure information session at www.imarketsmart.com/productdemo.
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