How Technology Keeps You on the Leading Edge of Fundraising

The process of taking an unknown prospect and moving them through the steps to ensuring they become a life-long major gift donor has not changed that much over the last few decades. From identification, qualification and discovery to cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship, today’s nonprofits, healthcare organizations, and educational institutions are quite familiar with moving prospects through the donor cultivation cycle. But in order to stay on the leading edge of fundraising, the way that organizations execute these steps has changed significantly, due in large part to the big improvements in fundraising software available today. 


Fundraising in 2020

To be on the leading edge of fundraising in 2020 means having the right functionality, the ability to access the highest quality and variety of data and leveraging integrations and other technology to streamline and optimize the fundraising process.


Data: The Foundation to Fundraising Success

To ensure your organization is asking the right person, for the right amount, at the right time, begins with having data you can trust. Accuracy, variety, and quantity of data are just a few of the considerations to help you fundraise with confidence. 

To achieve that peace of mind, your solution should have data with the following characteristics: 

  • Data Quality: Not all datasets are created equal. There are a lot of fundraising products being sold on the Internet that deliver data from sources that are free to the vendor but aren’t the most accurate. Quality of the data is critical as it drives your prospect scoring and is a classic example of  ‘Garbage in garbage out’. If the data you are relying on is subpar, the resulting scores will be unreliable. Imagine believing that a prospect has a capacity to give of $25,000 but with better data, it is determined to be actually $100,000, that is a large opportunity missed.


  • Data Variety:  Some fundraising solutions will offer capacity information but lack philanthropic and affinity data. In order to get a 360-degree view of your prospect, knowing only they are wealthy does not give the complete picture. Being able to access and score a prospect based on their giving history as well as their affinity to your cause are two very important metrics to help ensure you are not dedicating valuable time on a wealthy prospect who doesn’t have a history of giving or any linkage to your cause. 


  • Data Recency: How frequently data gets refreshed is something that often gets overlooked but is another important consideration.  Some vendors might have quality data but only refresh that information on a quarterly basis meaning your organization could be making important decisions based on stale data. Using a fundraising intelligence software that has a more dynamic dataset configuration means information is updated and appended frequently resulting in not only more accurate data but can also provide a trigger for making a major gift ask at the most opportune time. For example, if your organization can identify that a prospect just sold their house, this could be a great time to solicit the prospect. 


Functionality: Smarter, Faster, Stronger 

Fundraising software has come a long way in a short period of time. A lot of functionality that would have been deemed advanced not too long ago is now becoming fairly commonplace. Core features such as wealth screenings, scoring, search, and profiles are being offered by many of the leading providers. 

Discerning fundraising teams in 2020 are now putting a premium on mobility, customization, transparency, intuitiveness, and speed. 

Regarding customization and transparency, companies don’t want cookie-cutter solutions. They want to be able to tailor the search criteria and ideal donor profile for their specific fundraising needs on a project by project basis to get the best matches.  In addition, organizations are increasingly wanting to have complete confidence in the results by being able to easily see how prospect scores have been derived and what records were matched to get a true snapshot. Determining a prospect’s affinity based on their actual donation history, and not an affinity based on general interests, is a much more effective way of determining an inclination to give. 

Mobility is another hot topic for nonprofits looking to find their next major gift prospect. Fundraisers spend a lot of time away from their desks and seeking tools to help them while on the go. Being able to score a potential prospect while at an event, or checking the profile of an existing prospect on the way to meet them, are just two examples of what some fundraising software is now capable of. 

Similarly, prospect researchers are looking for efficiencies in their daily processes seeking out research tools that offer faster and more powerful search capability. The quicker the results are returned, the more prospects a researcher can locate and validate. As well, researchers love to do research, but that doesn’t mean they love researching how to use certain functionality within their fundraising software. Having an intuitive and easy-to-use fundraising solution maximizes user adoption and enhances effectiveness improving employee morale and resulting in more major gift prospects being discovered and cultivated.


Integrations: Optimizing Performance

To help nonprofits align their prospect research and fundraising efforts, leading fundraising software offers integrations to other solutions such as donor management systems (DMS), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and other technology platforms. 

These integrations not only make it easier for fundraising teams to work more efficiently but the data being shared across networks can result in new-found insights. By being able to cross-reference information in the DMS, which tracks internal giving, with external wealth, biographical and philanthropic data, organizations can get a 360-degree view of which prospects to target. For example, a donor may have given a small financial gift, but looking externally, it is discovered they have a track record of giving large sums to similar organizations. As a result, that donor would be a top candidate for follow up.


Fundraising Platform: Tying It All Together

To recap, having the best data, latest functionality, with the ability to seamlessly integrate with other systems will enable nonprofits to maximize their fundraising efforts in order to achieve their world-changing missions and stay on the leading edge of fundraising. 

Seeking out a fundraising platform that can deliver on all three will help make that possibility a reality. 


At iWave, we are dedicated to empowering nonprofits and we are relentless about helping our clients accomplish even more good, faster. To learn more check out our customer videos and case studies.



About the author: Bob Gorham is iWave’s Director of Product Marketing. He is a curious person who finds no greater joy in his professional life than to work with clients and stakeholders to understand their needs and take action. Whether it be helping improve brand awareness, repositioning an existing product, or to better understanding the competitive forces and trends affecting our industry, Bob brings enthusiasm and 20 years of experience to each project he works on.




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