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Fresh Approaches to Fresh Data

by Erin Lynch Moran

republished with permission from iWave's blog at

Not long ago, organizations only conducted a comprehensive predictive modeling and wealth screening study once every few years. The studies would begin with a large, complex query built by advancement services staff and would take about six to eight weeks to complete. Information would be returned in a flat file, and researchers would work as quickly as possible to identify the best prospects and confirm their capacity ratings.

Modeling and screening have come a long way. These days, resources like iWave make it possible to conduct wealth screenings on an ongoing, on-demand basis, and predictive models can be trained to “look for” new prospects as frequently as every day. (Full disclosure, The Solas Group offers perpetual modeling.)

With the availability of data that can identify and rate constituents on an ongoing basis, organizations are revolutionizing the way they work. If you have access to on-demand modeling and screening data, or if you’re thinking about getting them, here are five ways you can maximize the impact of those resources and that fresh data:

Conduct an Engagement Assessment.

How long has it been since you have looked into the effectiveness of your donor engagement strategies? Take advantage of your modeling and screening by reviewing your population from two different perspectives. First, what are the capacity and likelihood ratings of the individuals that have received recent 1:1 contact? And second, who are the best prospects from the standpoint of ratings/capacity with whom there has been no recent contact? An engagement analysis can help development officers see how they could maximize the value of their time.

Add Stewardship Touches

You may not have time to thank every annual fund donor personally. But with modeling and screening scores, you can query your daily or weekly gift activity to look for new gifts from unassigned, high-scoring prospects and give them a call to say “thanks.” There is no better way to start a relationship with a donor than by thanking them. Note that this should be additive to whatever your organization’s ongoing stewardship practices are, not a replacement for fundamental touches like receipts and thank-you letters.  

Rethink Your Regional Strategy

Many organizations map the regional distribution of their constituents without analyzing the regional distribution of their top-rated prospects. It is not uncommon to find that the regional distribution of your high-likelihood, high-capacity prospects is different from that of your overall constituency. Next time you plan your regional strategy, consider mapping out the most prospect-rich areas rather than simply the most populous ones.

Give Corporate Relations a Leg Up.

Have you ever analyzed the giving likelihood of constituents employed by your top corporate prospects? Your corporate relations team could benefit from finding out which employees of those corporations are more inclined to support your organization. Even if those individuals aren’t ready to make a major gift now, they may be in a position to influence a corporate gift from their employer.

Start Relationships off on the Right Foot

One advantage of on-demand services like those iWave and Solas provide is that you can gain quick insights into the capacity and likelihood of constituents right from the start. Take advantage of this by routinely screening the names of newly added individuals in iWave. If you predictive model perpetual, it will calculate your new constituent’s giving likelihood literally overnight. Having such insights when individuals are added to your database makes a world of difference in your ability to proactively manage those relationships.

These ideas are just a few of the many ways you can take advantage of data that stays fresh, and they point to how much more your organization can gain when likelihood and capacity data points are in step with other changes to constituent records. Ultimately, these services help ensure that fundraisers are working efficiently and are positioned to succeed. 

To learn more about how to make strategic use of likelihood and capacity data, check out the webinar Optimizing Portfolios with Modeling and Screening Results presented with Ron Eisenstein, my partner at The Solas Group, as well as David Lively, author of Managing Major Gift Fundraisers: A Contrarian’s Guide. In it, we explore how modeling and screening data can form the foundation of a winning major gift fundraising strategy.

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