Prospect Ratings: The Pillars of Fundraising Intelligence

At any one time, your nonprofit’s development office might be creating profiles for hundreds or thousands of past, present, and potential major gift donors.  And with each profile involving scores of data points, notes, and summaries, it’s easy to suffer from information overload.

But what if there was a way to boil all that fundraising intelligence down?  What if you could take a quick glance at a profile to get a gut-check on whether a prospect is a hot lead or requires more cultivation?  That’s where prospect ratings can help.

The Rise of Ratings

Simply put, prospect ratings are visual representations of wealth and philanthropic information available for each of your major gift prospects.  Ratings suggest a prospect’s “philanthropic fit” for your organization.  On the iWave platform, an algorithm generates ratings based on the records attached to a prospect’s profile.

Consultant Jennifer Filla succinctly summarized the history of prospect ratings in a recent blog post.

“Emerging information technologies have brought automation to fundraising research and the first iteration of this has been prospect donor ratings. It started with wealth screenings and the freedom to take large groups of records and electronically match them with wealth indicators. As fundraising analytics has grown, this has turned into prospect screenings that include algorithms and statistical data modeling to deliver all manner of ratings, such as likelihood-to-give ratings.”

All this means that a profile chock full of data and notes is great, but not always the most effective way of saying, “This is our next major gift donor!”  For others to read the writing on the wall, sometimes you have to write it yourself!

Prospect Consultants

If you are a prospect researcher, you may have seen a shift in your focus in the last few years.  Instead of compiling data and creating profiles (which is still a big part of the job), some researchers are now required to provide reports on their prospects.  Fundraisers and nonprofit leadership want the researcher’s educated opinion about which prospects should be the top priority.

This is a tremendous opportunity for prospect researchers to assume more high-profile roles and responsibilities at their organizations.  And who better to synthesize raw information into organizational knowledge than the people who found that information in the first place?

iWave Ratings: Transparent and Customizable

There is no standardized way to use prospect ratings.  At iWave, we strongly believe that nonprofits (and the researchers and fundraisers who represent them) should be able to customize ratings according to their fundraising needs and goals.

The ratings you will find on iWave’s platform relate to the three keys to confident fundraising.  They are:

Propensity – Does your prospect have a history of giving?
Affinity – Does your prospect have a connection to your cause?
Capacity – Does your prospect have enough wealth to donate a major gift?

Introducing the Ratings Research Challenge!

iWave is excited to partner with Jennifer Filla and the Prospect Research Institute to bring you a Ratings Research Challenge! A Research Challenge introduces a new skill, lets you practice using non-confidential information, and then brings everyone together to review and discuss.

The Ratings Research Challenge (click here to register) (a) starts with an iWave webinar (online recording), (b) provides a resource collection that includes video tutorials and other resources where you can learn more, (c) assigns homework so you can practice, and (c) brings you together with your peers in a discussion forum and in a live, online meeting.

Here’s why this kind of training opportunity works so well:

  • You master new technology in short, on-demand sessions that apply directly to the tasks that you need to perform. Who wants to learn about a million product features that you then have to figure out how to use to accomplish your work? In a Research Challenge, you get to spend time learning how to do exactly what you need.
  • You apply new techniques to your work in your unique organization. When there is no right or wrong way to use something like capacity or other ratings, learning how to approach the problem and getting your questions answered provides specific guidance and direction.
  • You build your network of people doing the same kind of work as you. Being able to reach out to your peers for advice, to share your ideas with them, and to share and watch demos of people solving problems at live meetings provides a whole new dimension to learning!

Apply Your Learning

The true value in a Research Challenge is that you can take all of your learning from a wide variety of sources and use the Research Challenge to pull it all together and apply it to your unique situation.

Join us from July 19 through Aug 2 for the Ratings Research Challenge where you get to rate the 5 Philanthropists (Nearly) Everyone Wants On Their Prospect List.

Register now for the Ratings Research Challenge and login with a free account to access the resource collection and start your homework!

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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.

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