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Why Data Source Matters When Screening Donors

We’re at a point in time where millions of data points are being generated and stored at any moment . You can find out a range of information about almost any subject, including individuals.

Data usage has exploded among businesses and nonprofits alike. It makes sense; data-driven organizations can optimize their operations like never before. Smarter, data-informed decisions help organizations effectively meet their goals and consistently engage their target audiences.

In the nonprofit world, the benefits are huge. The right data can guide your campaigns, help grow your mission and save you from inefficient expenditure. Introducing data to decision-making can lead to some big wins, but of course, your data sources need to be of high quality.

Here at iWave, we take data integrity seriously and are very transparent about where our data comes from. Data source matters, and here’s why:

What to look for in donor data

First off, it’s important to be discerning about where your data comes from. There is such a thing as “bad” data, and the consequences of using it to inform decisions can be costly. For example, your team might make ill-informed requests, leading to potential embarrassment, or even reputational damage.

How will you know you’re using reliable data? Here are some criteria to follow:

Look for a high-quality source

Most data software uses algorithms or AI to help pull out insights. The insights that are generated are only as good as the data that goes in. For example, if the data that goes in is minimal, then the AI will only “learn” so much over time. On the other hand, more comprehensive data, including detailed text descriptions, parameters, and relationships help to make AI or natural language processing better over time.

High-quality data sources tend to have built a reputation in the data analysis space. You can generally find out quite easily who is behind the company as well as the primary sources of data. They’ll have examples to back their work and often, many testimonials or reviews from satisfied users.

The data is continuously updated

A quality data source should be regularly updated as parameters, data types, processes and the environment donors live in constantly change. For example, how do major events impact donor behavior? We already know that many changes were observed over the Covid-19 pandemic, but what about changes such as tax laws?

The data source is relevant

This might seem like a “state the obvious” point, but the data gathered must be highly relevant to your organization and the goals you hope to achieve. As an example, if you gathered too much data on a small subset of donors, it might introduce bias to your datasets.

The data has been validated

Any reliable data source should be constantly validating their data. This means cleansing it to ensure it is of high quality and representative of the truth.

An example of poor data validation could occur when a person has passed away, yet companies or nonprofit organizations keep sending them offers in the mail for years to come. Not only can this cause distress for surviving spouses or loved ones, but it’s a waste of resources for the nonprofit.

Why do data sources matter when screening donors?

Data sources matter because there are multiple risks to your organization if the data is corrupted or not of high quality. Some of these include:

Lower success rates

Let’s take screening as an example and say you’ve identified what you think should be an ideal target audience for a new campaign. If the data has led you astray, then the audience you’re targeting is possibly not a good match. Your nonprofit can end up spending a lot of time and money trying to entice people who were probably never going to donate in the first place.

Poor reputation

Have you ever seen people comment in frustration about a company or nonprofit that keeps targeting them? “Why do they keep sending me stuff?!” The problem is, if it’s your organization, this could be doing reputational damage. People tell other people, and soon word gets out.

You can also look at reputation in terms of when it might be a good time to ask for donations. There are some points in people’s lives when it is definitely NOT a great time to be asking them. If you have faulty data, you risk that you’ll go blundering in, making a request at a very poor time.

Opportunity cost

If you’re not asking the right people, or if you’re asking people at the wrong time, there’s also an opportunity cost. This is because you could have been using your time to reach out to people or organizations that are more likely to support and grow your mission.

Financial risk

Your organization, like other nonprofits, has to stretch every dollar and ensure that you get a return for your mission from any expenditure. Poor data gives unreliable information, and if you act on it, you can end up spending a whole lot of money for no return.

What are premium sources of donor data?

When it comes to screening potential donors, we recommend nonprofits head straight for reliable, premium sources of data. These are all sources that meet robust criteria for quality, like what we outlined above.

iWave has the industry’s most robust and highest quality wealth, philanthropic, and biographic data. iWave partners with the best of the best in data providers, which is confirmed by the results of our user base.

Here are some of the premium sources we leverage:

ZoomInfo

ZoomInfo is a specialized web crawler that looks at corporate websites, SEC filings, news sources, user contributions, and public websites to build professional and institution profiles.
ZoomInfo’s existing profiles are continually updated to include contact information, employment history, board memberships, educational background, and more. They have a strong reputation, with a client list that includes Google, T-Mobile, and Zoom.

Nonprofit organizations can use data from ZoomInfo to:

  • Prospect new donors, find lost alumni, and build prospects lists quickly and easily using numerous search criteria. These include: profession, location, alma mater, etc
  • Enhance existing profiles with contact information, board affiliations, employment records, personal interests, educational background, personal and professional networks, and more.

Dun and Bradstreet

Dun & Bradstreet is an industry leader for commercial data, analytics, and insights for business. They provide unparalleled depth and breadth of information on corporate executives and the publicly or privately owned institutions where they work.

Within the data, users will find US, Canadian, and international corporate executive information, including contact and biographical information for both institutions and individuals. Dun & Bradstreet curates the data from tens of thousands of sources – including online records and their worldwide data partners.

With around 200 years in business, Dun and Bradstreet have a deserved reputation for quality.

Database USA

DatabaseUSA is one of the top sources of business, executive, and consumer intelligence data. This means you get access to contact and biographic information on 245+ million individuals, 15+ million businesses, and 10+ million death records.

DatabaseUSA’s business database is triple verified and 95% accurate. They verify business information using yellow page data, telephone verification, institution websites, and search engine information. Using DatabaseUSA, you can:

  • Find valuable information on your prospective donors, including contact information, occupation, income, personal interests, and other relevant data points.
  • See information on small and mid-sized businesses including the number of employees, sales revenue, contact information, and credit rating.
  • See lists of both corporate and individual donors, based on income, sales revenue, geography, and home value.

Verigift

Verigift helps you to understand the giving capacity and inclination of your donors. This is iWave’s own database of charitable gift donations, recipients, and donors. It is the fastest growing and most up-to-date charitable giving database because of the innovative record extraction technology it uses to gather donation records.

Use VeriGift To:

  • Find new prospects by searching who is giving to competing institutions.
  • Determine prospect affinity/inclination for your cause. Every giving record is linked to a recipient, identifying the cause(s) a prospect may support.
  • Make an educated ask – understand an individual’s capacity based on the amount they have given in the past.
  • Predict future giving. VeriGift has records going back almost 25 years so you can recognize trends and patterns to predict future giving.

CoreLogic

CoreLogic provides US real estate information so that you can better understand a prospect’s potential capacity. CoreLogic is the premier supplier of US real estate, mortgage, consumer, and specialized business data. These records are compiled from property records, tax assessments, property characteristics, and parcel maps from tax assessors and county recorder offices across the nation.

Use Real Estate Information To:

  • Prospect for new donors by zip code, street name, or even asset range
  • Find multiple properties for a single donor, even if they are in different states
  • Determine your prospect’s capacity to give by researching current property values and mortgage details including mortgage balance

RiXtrema Prospects of Wealth

Brought to you by RiXtrema (formerly Larkspur Data), Prospects of Wealth utilizes over 70 different sources to gather detailed information on millions of high net worth individuals. Information outlined includes address, contact information, biographical information, estimated net worth, and wealth indicators.

Use Prospects of Wealth to

  • Identify new prospects that have the financial means to contribute to your organization based on estimated net worth, evidence of wealth, corporate information, and location
  • Understand your prospect’s net worth, profession, interests, and income

Thomson Reuters

iWave’s enhanced wealth data is brought to you by Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of individual and institution wealth and insider transaction information. You can use Thomson Reuters within iWave to

  • Track the daily wealth-creating activities of high net worth individuals.
  • Build a list of prospects based on job function, location, alma mater, and more.
  • Know the activities of the institutions they work for.
  • Build comprehensive profiles, including contact information, executive biographies, trade information, and more.
  • Make more timely, educated major gift requests.

Insider Filings

Insider Filings is another data source powered by Thomson Reuters. Insider Filings are sourced from original forms filed with international securities commissions. They include transaction and security ownership information providing detailed context to help you make a more educated ask.

This database Includes

  • US Insider Filings: Capture all US insider activity as reported on SEC Forms 3, 4, 5, and 144.
  • Canadian Insider Filings (SEDI).
  • UK Insider Filings (UK Trade and UK Regulatory News Service).
  • Asia Insider Findings: Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

You can use Insider Filings to search transactions and securities ownership by individuals and institutions, gain insights on asset liquidity and understand events that impact the giving capacity of your prospect.

Political Giving

Political giving records can be a great indicator of donor capacity. iWave utilizes several reputable political giving sources for this data, including

  • FEC
  • Elections Canada
  • National Institute on Money in State Politics

Currently, these databases contain millions of political contribution records that are updated on a monthly basis, and date as far back as the year 2000.

Use political giving data to

  • Quickly identify your prospect’s comprehensive giving history to federal political campaigns.
  • Use searches by political parties and lobby groups to identify donors who share an interest in your cause.
  • Search by contribution amount to identify high-capacity donors.
  • Search for your prospects by name, or identify potential donors, by looking for large donations to local candidates or specific lobby groups.

Foundations

iWave uses foundation data from Guidestar and Canada Revenue Agency to identify potential sources of support by cause.

Guidestar:

Guidestar provides a dataset with information for

  • Grantmakers analyzing the funding of current and potential grant recipients.
  • Grant seekers looking for sources of funding.
  • Prospect researchers looking for board member connections or affinity clues.

US foundation and public charities information are brought to you by Guidestar Premium, the most comprehensive source of foundation information in the U.S.

Use foundations & public charities data to

  • Determine the best ask amount by looking at which foundations are giving (and how much they are giving) to foundations similar to yours.
  • Build a list of foundations based on a number of criteria including location, family foundations, category (healthcare, education, etc,), and identify the foundation’s employees and decision-makers.
  • Better understand the affinity and propensity of your prospective donors through their donations and board affiliations.
  • Research how to apply for a grant, when applications are due, and any restrictions.

Canada Revenue Agency

Canada Revenue Agency provides information for a similar group of users as Guidestar.

Canadian institution and public charity information are provided by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Use foundations and public charities data can be used for the same purposes as Guidestar above.

HEP Data

HEP Data’s Matching Gifts dataset allows you to maximize your fundraising efforts by identifying institutions that will match your donor’s contributions. The goal is to discover institutions, subsidiaries, and divisions that match employee gifts to nonprofit institutions & organizations.

GiftPlus has all the information you need to collect matching funds such as contact information, procedures and deadlines, minimum/maximum match amounts, eligibility requirements, restrictions and conditions, and often even a link to the institution’s matching gift request form.

Use Matching Gifts data to

  • Maximize every gift by finding institutions that will match, double or even triple their employee’s donations to your organization.
  • Make it easy for your donors to have their gifts matched by providing them with their institution’s matching gift request form.
  • Build a list of institutions with matching gift programs and then identify employees at those institutions who have the capacity to donate a major gift.

Obituaries

By partnering with Legacy.com, iWave is able to provide access to obituary articles from over 1,200+ Newspaper partners and 27,000+ funeral homes.

This information provides

  • Obituary and service information from funeral homes, including name, last lived city and state, funeral service location, age, birth, deceased date as well as full text of the obituary.
  • Obituary information sourced from newspapers including name, funeral service location, age, birth, and deceased date, newspaper publication, and link to Legacy.com profiles.

Bottom line

If you want to do better with screening donors and furthering the mission of your organization, then data sources matter.

Data-informed nonprofits have a great opportunity to more effectively source donors and maximize their contributions, but you need reliable, high-quality data to make the best decisions.

iWave proudly commits to data transparency, security, and compliance with industry standards and regulations. We offer nonprofits a robust, multi-pronged dataset to suit your needs. Take a look here to learn more.

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