What is Fundraising Intelligence and Why is it so Important?

You may have noticed, but we talk about Fundraising Intelligence a lot. And there’s a good reason for that.

We believe in it!

If you’ve never heard of the term before, think business intelligence – for fundraising. In the age of technology, social networking, and an overall overload of information, business intelligence takes data and makes it meaningful.

“Business intelligence is a broad term that encompasses data mining, process analysis, performance benchmarking, descriptive analytics, and so on. Business intelligence is meant to take in all the data generated by a business and present easy-to-digest performance measures and trends that will inform management decisions.” –Investopedia

Fundraising Intelligence

According to Helen Brown with the Helen Brown Group, “fundraising intelligence is business intelligence for nonprofit organizations”.

The prospect research field started shifting in the way it describes itself a few years ago. New terms were tossed around like “prospect development”, “donor research”, “prospect strategy” as new ways to describe the industry. The truth is, fundraising intelligence is all of the above.

As Helen Brown discusses on her blog here, there was a need to better explain what the prospect research profession was all about and how much more it involved; beyond simply researching prospects. “We’re the knowledge epicenter. We provide information about prospective donors and help organizations manage their systems so they can build stronger relationships with their donors.” In short, fundraising intelligence fuels your major gift program with the intel you need to analyze your data, identify top prospects, and make more educated gift asks to the right person an the right time.

Nonprofit Needs Are Varied

Since every nonprofit organization is different, the way they tackle things like data management, donor relationships, and research is different too. Large nonprofits may have entire development teams devoted to prospect research, whereas smaller nonprofits may have one development person doing it all – research, data collection, and major gift asks.

Fundraising intelligence is the best way to ensure you are asking the right person, for the right amount, at the right time. That goes for any nonprofit, of any size.

The Competition is Real

Now more than ever, nonprofits are finding themselves in competition for funds. Charitable giving in 2017 exceeded the $400 million mark. Based on the 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Project, charitable giving in 2018 increased 1.63% above the previous year. That’s a lot of cash.

However, according to that report, the actual number of donors has gone down. So that means, more money is being given by fewer donors.

Accordingly, if more nonprofits are focusing on different fundraising strategies to stand out in the market, you should too. And that includes making room for fundraising intelligence.

How to Put Fundraising Intelligence Into Action

If you already have a fundraising intelligence tool, you’re on your way! If you don’t, or are deciding which one to choose, *cough cough*, iWave is the top-rated fundraising intelligence platform in the industry. Don’t just take our word for it though, find out what other people are saying here.

We know a thing or two about making prospect research data work for you. We offer data-driven intelligence on your donors and prospects that you can use in the real world, right now! In a nutshell, we make your job easier and your fundraising outcomes better.

Now that we’ve convinced you, we’ll show you how fundraising intelligence works in 3 steps:

Step 1 – Screen

Use iWave screening and our new Insights feature to segment your database into an actionable roadmap of potential donors and find your hidden gems.

Step 2 – Validate and Research

Understand your prospect’s affinity to your cause, history of giving, and capacity. This allows you to prioritize your list and make the most of your time.

Step 3 – Share

Compile and share your new list of detailed prospect profiles with your development team and put confidence behind your next major gift ask.

Why is it so Important?

No matter what you call it – prospect research, donor research, or fundraising intelligence – the strategy behind your team and the tools you use are important. Your nonprofit and the work you do matters. Fundraising intelligence fuels your vision to create a better world by bringing new investors to your cause. Fundraising no longer has to be sustained by assumptions and guesswork. You can base your major gift asks on data and research found in iWave, and ensure you are making informed, evidence-based major gift asks that will result in raising more major gifts, faster.


About the author: Liz Corney is iWave’s Content Marketing Manager. She has a degree in Journalism, is a fiercely positive team-player and a creative self-starter. She has experience working in software technology, video/mobile games, learning & development, social & traditional media, and communications. Liz is also the co-founder of a local nonprofit organization working to better the lives of homeless women in her community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.