As a member of the Target Analytics consulting team, I typically ask clients how they would characterize their current prospecting efforts. Are they reactive (pursuing a prospect based on gifts made) or proactive (pursing a prospect based on identified potential)? All too often I hear (with some embarrassment), “Reactive”.
I try to assure these organizations that they certainly aren’t alone—this type of fundraising was once the norm. However, in this day and age of incredible technology and sophisticated research tools, there are definitely ways that your organization can implement a much more proactive culture of philanthropy, sometimes even before a constituent makes his or her first gift.
Wealth screening options today are extremely diversified. Gone are the days that the only cost effective way to do so was “by the batch” with results taking weeks to get back. Offerings can be either full or self service and, depending on the vendor you choose, can also offer dynamic screening options, allowing you to screen all or some of your new donors even before a thank-you letter is mailed.
Here’s one suggestion: Depending on how many gifts your organization receives each day, determine a threshold that makes sense based on staffing capabilities. For example, if you receive 500 gifts a day, you may want to look at new donors of $250 or more. This may reduce your pool to 20 or less. With dynamic screening tools, you could submit each of these individuals to your wealth screening service and have the results back in a matter of minutes.
Nineteen of these may return unremarkable results: Numerous owners of $400,000 homes or individuals with small businesses. But, imagine that 20th screen comes back indicating that your new $250 donor owns $12,000,000 in real estate, holds $20,000,000 in insider stock shares and annually makes gifts of $25,000+ to over a dozen non profits, some of which have missions similar to yours!
So, how would this change your response to his or her gift? Would you still send that same thank-you letter, or would you do something different? Perhaps pick up the phone, express your thanks and invite the donor over for lunch? If you answered “yes”, you are definitely ready to change your current philanthropic culture from reactive to proactive. And, if you need any more convincing, consider this: if you don’t do something different with the donor, there is a very good possibility the next organization he or she sends a check to will. Why not let it be you?
Do you have a great story of how being proactive proved to be a game-changer at your organization? If so, I would love to hear about it. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laura Worcester is a consultant for Target Analytics. You may reach her at her email@example.com.