Prospect Research: What Does it Mean for Canadian Nonprofits?

If you work at a Canadian nonprofit, you likely already know about the differences and struggles in this industry, compared to your neighbours in the South. Privacy laws and the way data is tracked and stored are different. Even the way nonprofits approach global events like Giving Tuesday is different. 

Here at iWave we have a unique perspective into this as a company headquartered in Canada, serving US, Canadian, and international clients. We are so happy to see the diverse range of nonprofits, missions, and visions we help with daily!

We often get asked the question of how prospect research is different based on the location of the nonprofit and their donors. So we’d like to take a little time to explore some best practices for Canadians using iWave.

Where To Start?

If you have a donor’s full name, the name of their spouse, and an address, a great place to start in iWave is our Generate Profile feature. Using the iWave “magic”, we’re able to use the information you provide to match data for you. This puts the power in your hands from the beginning. It allows our system to pull from billions of wealth and philanthropic indicators to build you a ready-to-customize profile on your prospect. And when we say magic, we’re not kidding here. It really happens so quickly!

If you don’t have those additional details, have no fear! Feel free to start with our 360search instead. Please keep in mind here, less is always best. Start by searching for your prospect or donor’s first and last name. You may add location to your search if needed. You can parse down the results as needed from there. From here, you’re able to take what you’ve learned about a potential prospect and find those details you were missing. Then add the data you’ve found to a profile to gain an in-depth perspective of the prospect based on what you found. 

What’s Different About Real Estate?

Real estate data in Canada is less readily available than in the States, which is mainly due to strict privacy laws. However, with the Manifold dataset in iWave, you can get a feel for the median property value, the household income, and the average value of household charitable donations based your prospects’ postal codes. These pieces of information are invaluable for understanding your prospects. 

As we explore in this blog post here, rather than seeing individual properties and their respective values, Canadians see postal codes and the corresponding averages of important financial clues. And as researchers, you know that clues are just the start to finding information on your next major gift donor!

In addition to Canadian real estate data, there is always a possibility that your prospects may have property in the States. Fantastic news here – you can use iWave’s US real estate data to find them and add the record to your prospect’s profile. If you find a record that is promising, and you’re still unsure if it’s your donor, the mailing address will show city and province/state for tax purposes. You will often find their Canadian address or city/province listed there. If they match – congratulations! There is a good chance this is the person you were looking for.

Searching For Foundations

Something to keep in mind is that US foundations will also often fund Canadian organizations. Because of our robust foundations data, you’re able to see how foundations give and who they give to. That leads into another rabbit hole, which is researching like-minded organizations to find a list of foundations that have supported them in the past. This is a great way to create a targeted prospect list!

Estimating Capacity

A quick plug here, if you’re interested in diving into wealth and past giving and how those factors contribute to an individual’s capacity and propensity to give, watch our webinar here!

Using Income

For Canadians, the Manifold dataset we mentioned before will give you a Median Income Variable. When looking at estimating capacity from that, you can take that amount and multiply by 10%. 

Using Real Estate

Keep in mind, although real estate is often used in determining capacity, we know that it is not always the best indicator. Prospects could have large mortgages, recently refinanced their home, and live in a city with a grossly inflated real estate market. In that case, their capacity to give would be affected by those things. But if you did want to dive into using real estate data through Manifold to determine capacity, you can use the median value of properties in the postal code and multiply that by the primary residence percentages listed in the table below. 

Using Giving History

This is a fantastic way to determine capacity for Canadians! Simply use the total value of known donations and the number of years they have been actively donating and plug them into the formula below.

Get Plugged In, Ask For Help

Collaboration is key. Get connected if you are feeling isolated or are searching for more connection and information. We highly recommend joining an association where you can talk to other professionals about your day-to-day struggles, questions, and ideas. APRA Canada and AFP Canada are two key places we recommend! 


About the authors: Jamie Donahue and Sarah MacLeod are Customer Success Managers at iWave. They are thrilled to help clients everyday as they use iWave to fundraise with confidence and research for more major gift donors. 




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