How Well Do You Really Know Someone? | npENGAGE

How Well Do You Really Know Someone?

By on Jan 3, 2011 | NONPROFIT-FUNDRAISING

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Occasionally I hear fundraisers scoff at the idea of predictive modeling and electronic screening projects.  More often than not, these fundraisers are working for smaller non-profits, non-profits with very localized constituencies and/or have been involved in their local philanthropic communities for many years.  However, I have heard naysayers from non-profits of every size and sector.  On the flip side, I also frequently hear stories from those whose experiences really prove why screening is valuable.  Here is one story I heard recently (with some artistic license taken to protect the identity of the client I was working with):

Working with a small mostly community based non-profit, I picked a couple of prospects to ‘demo’ during a recent project review.  Usually I pick a few prospects who, between all of them, have data that highlights all of the varying types of data returned.  I always ask if the fundraisers I’m working with know the prospect.  Regardless of the answer, since I only have a finite amount of time to work with my clients, my goal still remains to provide tips and tricks on interpreting and understanding the data in general.  If I help the non-profit identify a viable new prospect, that’s just a bonus!  But generally, it’s my ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime’ approach.

As always, in this case I asked if the fundraisers I was working with knew (we’ll just call him) John Doe.  One of them piped right up: “oh, John, yeah I know him.  He’s a long time family friend and we share Thanksgiving with his family every year.  I know he works for ABC Inc. (a public company).  He’s given our non-profit a couple of $100 gifts over the past few years, and I think he attends our auction, but he’s not really connected to us beyond that.”

A quick review of the data revealed that Joe wasn’t just an employee of ABC Inc, he was the CEO, earning a mid-six figure salary and holding more than $1.5M in directly held stock!  Needless to say, the fundraiser quickly realized that while Thanksgiving dinner and $100 gifts do not reveal everything, it does provide the basis of a relationship that is now going to be leveraged for (hopefully) a much, much larger financial commitment to this organization.

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