“When Should I Screen My Donors?” Five Case Studies

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Before hosting a major fundraiser, consider screening attendees to determine your priority prospects.

In our previous post, we shared some must-have features to look for in your prospect screening solution.  But if you’ve never attempted a screen before, you might be wondering: in what situations does a screen even make sense?

Here are five case studies that might help you decide when a screen is right for you.

“We need new prospects with a strong affinity to our cause”

For education organizations like private schools and universities, prospect screening is especially relevant and insightful.  As we discussed in a previous blog post, the parents of your students have a clear affinity to your organization, thus shortening their cultivation time.

With a prospect screen, you can segment and generate scores for a list of this year’s new parents.  What clues can you find about their philanthropic history and capacity to give?  Even if a prospect may not have major gift potential, there are many ways to get parents involved as volunteers, coaches, and career mentors.  Screening and scoring can help you connect these dots.

“We need new prospects with a history of philanthropy”

Let’s say your organization is hosting a black tie dinner.  Many of the bigwigs in your local community will be there.  But do you know their giving history?

Luncheons, banquets, and fundraising events are a major investment of time and vital resources.  As such, they demand a strong return on investment.  Take a good look at your pre-show attendee list.  Run these names through a prospect screen to learn about their philanthropic tendencies.  Maybe a new prospect has an extensive political giving history, or maybe they already contribute to an organization with a similar mission as yours.  Now when the day of the event arrives, your fundraising team can establish the right relationships with the right prospects.

“We need new prospects with high wealth capacity”

In lieu of affinity or giving history, some development teams focus research efforts on determining capacity alone.  There is good reason for this approach.  If your nonprofit is truly looking for major gift donors, high capacity to give is a must.  To help, some screening vendors package their solutions as “wealth screens.”  

However, without the context of affinity and propensity (and RFM scores for existing donors), focusing solely on wealth can lead to an array of issues: false-positives, an incomplete picture of your prospect, and inflated major gift asks.

A prospect screen, meanwhile, focuses on wealth indicators (income, real estate, stock holdings, etc.) with the added context of charitable giving records, political giving records, relationship maps, and more.       

“We need new prospects with all three – propensity, affinity, and capacity”

The ideal major gift donor will score high in propensity, affinity, and capacity.

A prospect screen is a great strategy for a hospital or healthcare organization with a grateful patient program.  Affinity is already known due to the prospect’s patient status or connection to a patient.  But a full prospect screen helps answer questions about the prospect’s giving history and capacity.  

Consider iWave’s charitable giving database, VeriGift.  In this one database, you can see millions of verified giving records (propensity) that describe the recipient (affinity) and the gift amount (capacity).        

“We need to know more about our current donors”

Imagine you work at a prominent museum that is launching a campaign for a new exhibit.  If your museum is like most nonprofits, you know most of your major gifts come from less than 15% of your donors, regardless of your mission.  

As well, you probably know exactly who your best donors are based on records in your donor database and your own experience.  After some preliminary work, you’ve come up with your top 40 major gift donors.  But in light of this new exhibit, maybe those donors would be willing to give more?

This is where an RFM Score provides valuable insight.  RFM stands for Recency-Frequency-Monetary – this is an internal analysis of the current relationship you have with existing donors based off their giving data to your organization.  When submitting a screen, you can learn a donor’s RFM by submitting the following information:

  1. Total Gift Count
  2. Total Gift Amount
  3. Last Gift Date

It’s never been easier to screen your prospects

With the introduction of automated and customizable prospect screening, running a screen is no longer an expensive or time-consuming process.  With solutions like PROscreen, you can submit a list of prospects and get the results back the same day.  Whether you want to segment a large batch of new prospects or simply want to learn more about a handful of current donors, the power is in your hands.

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