THE PAC SERIES Introduction: What is Propensity, Affinity, and Capacity?

propensity, affinity, and capacity

Good things come in threes.  When it comes to ideal donor ratings, the big three are propensity, affinity, and capacity (PAC).  Throughout the nonprofit space, there are many different perspectives (and names) for this ratings trio. But what is propensity, affinity, and capacity ratings? We’re here to chime in with our thoughts about PAC in relation to prospect research tools.

If you are unfamiliar with defining a prospect with PAC ratings, here is the breakdown:

  • PROPENSITY: Has this person given to nonprofit causes before?
  • AFFINITY: Is this person passionate about your cause and organization?
  • CAPACITY: How much wealth can this person afford to donate?

You may know propensity as inclination.  You may call affinity linkage or connection.  Capacity to give is just another term for a person’s ability to give their wealth to nonprofit causes.  No matter what you call donor ratings, you can use them to guide your prospect research and frame your major gift ask.

PACImagine a Venn diagram of propensity, affinity, and capacity.  David Lawson of Working Philanthropy once wrote that “…someone with money who is a giver to others can still not be into your mission.  Another might love everything you do, but has no discretionary dollars to share.”  Two ratings may overlap, but the sweet spot in the middle is when all three ratings are known and support each other.  That is when you really know you have a great prospect.

Over the next few weeks, we will break PAC down and build it back up again.  Along the way, we will explore how to determine each rating.  Then, we will demonstrate why considering all three ratings together can improve your major gift success.  Make sure you’re subscribed to the iWave Blog to follow the series as new posts are available.

We’ll start with Part 1: Propensity next week.  Stay tuned!

About the author: Ryan McCarvill is iWave’s Content Manager.  He joined the iWave team in 2016. Ryan enjoys meeting and learning from nonprofit professionals, researching trends in the nonprofit community, and offering strategies for development teams to use iWave’s solutions to meet and exceed their fundraising goals.    

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