If you’re an iWave client, chances are you’ve heard us say, “Don’t forget to use your iWave credits!” quite a lot over the last year or so. But what’s the real benefit of scoring your prospects? What do all those 4s, 3s, 2s, and 1s really mean? Let’s talk it out.
Picture this: you are a prospect researcher at a healthcare organization – let’s make it a hospital foundation in Houston.
You are also a new subscriber to iWave. Today, you have two prospects to consider for your major gift program:
Robert Johnson, a wealthy investor. Estimated giving capacity: $10 million.
Jane Thomas, CEO of a successful corporation. Estimated giving capacity: $500,000.
Now, let’s be realistic. You likely have a lot more prospects to sift through than just two names. But for simplicity’s sake, let’s just look at Robert and Jane. Who should your fundraiser reach out to first?
Robert, clearly. Who can pass up a potential giving capacity of $10 million? There could be an opportunity for several years of large annual gifts here, or maybe one massive endowment for the hospital’s ICU renovations. Jane could be a good prospect too, but they can wait for now. Robert is our man.
But hold on. We’re working off a hunch here. And while logic (and maybe ambition) suggests the wealthiest prospect is the best prospect, you as a researcher know better. We need to back up our hypothesis with evidence. In other words, let’s find some data to support our hunch.
Luckily, iWave is here to help.
Now, you might be wondering: we already know the estimated giving capacities for our prospects. Isn’t that research enough? If Robert declines, we can still call Jane. And that’s a good point, granted we’re still only considering two names. What if the major gift campaign had twenty thousand names? A little bit of research will go a long way toward prioritizing our prospects. We’re not ruling anyone out. But we are making life easier for ourselves and the fundraising team. Our key metric is the iWave Score.
Within iWave, there are a number of ways to find the answers we’re looking for. Maybe we run an iWave Screening project, or maybe we plug our prospects into the 360Search and create profiles manually. Just remember to customize your iWave Score settings. Let’s try the following settings:
Capacity (estimate over 5 years):
Strong: $1 million and up
Good: $500,000 to $999,999
Fair: $250,000 to $499,999
Poor: $1 to $249,999
Weighting: Let’s keep a three-way split between Propensity (giving history), Affinity, and Capacity. Wealthy prospects are ideal, but you should also have a thumb on your prospect’s giving history and connection to your cause – specifically, a connection to your hospital.
After working through the data records on Robert, you have an iWave Profile to work with. The results are somewhat…surprising.
Robert’s iWave Score is 2. How could that be? He’s a wealthy guy — no surprise there. But from your research across all the datasets in iWave, you determined he has no giving history to speak of. That means he certainly hasn’t donated to healthcare causes. He hasn’t even donated to political causes.
You can imagine what a fundraiser might say if you blindly recommended Robert purely because he was wealthy. The fundraiser might be burned in their meeting if Robert even agreed to a meeting or returned their calls in the first place.
This isn’t to say you should delete Robert’s iWave Profile and pretend he never existed. Maybe there are other opportunities here. Maybe Robert knows somebody with a closer connection to the hospital foundation. But if you’re under the gun for major gift prospects, let’s move on for now.
By performing a similar research process on Jane, the results are also surprising.
You found Jane through your grateful patient program. And after screening and scoring, Jane has a healthy iWave Score of 4. She’s wealthy to be sure, and she owns a yacht down in Galveston. Say, doesn’t one of your board members dock his boat there too?
Jane also just made some significant stock sales, which means her giving capacity might have increased. That calls for some number crunching. But here’s where things get really interesting.
iWave’s VeriGift charitable giving database has 62 gift records for Jane. She’s given across a variety of causes, including several gifts to local hospitals. All told, Jane has donated over $2 million over the course of her career. There is clear evidence that Jane is philanthropic and has a connection to local healthcare organizations.
Who is more likely to give to your hospital foundation? The wealthy investor who hasn’t donated so much as a penny to charitable causes, or a hardworking CEO with clear evidence of philanthropy and a connection to your cause?
At the end of the day, iWave Score is just a number. It’s up to you to decide what that number means to you and your organization.
About the author: Ryan McCarvill 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.