By donorsearch

How to Start a Grateful Patient Program

Hospitals save lives by providing care that positively impacts the lives of both patients and their families, and work doesn’t get much more personal than that. That makes it sound like grateful donations should simply fall into your organization’s lap, but fundraising is not that simple. While nonprofit hospitals provide intimate care, many struggle to grow personally close to patients. While repairing torn muscles and curing mysterious pains lets your patients keep working hard, you need assistance, too. For nonprofit hospitals, donations are vital for improving hospital services. Improvements include:
  • Updating facilities
  • Purchasing better equipment
  • Talent acquisition
  • Increased marketing efforts
Fundraising success almost always requires a dedicated strategy, and creating a Grateful Patient Program is one of the best fundraising decisions that your healthcare organization could make.

Staff Needed to Operate a Grateful Patient Program


By donorsearch

What is a Grateful Patient Program?

Grateful Patient Programs are fundraising initiatives that allow hospitals and other healthcare organizations to find more major gift prospects among their patients.

What is a Grateful Patient Program?

A Grateful Patient Program raises money from present and former hospital patients, and aims to increase donations from past donors. The goal of these programs is to provide exemplary service to high quality fundraising prospects or donors to create a culture of gratefulness, which, eventually, with the proper fundraising strategy, leads to donations to the hospital.

Why Do Hospitals Need Grateful Patient Programs?

Most of us need money to do things, and hospitals require funds for the new equipment, talent, services, facility renovations, and other functions that improve both patient care and the overall hospital experience. Grateful Patient Programs also benefit patients. These programs extend the opportunity for patients to both express gratefulness and to extend support to the individual staff members and departments that played meaningful roles in their care. Patients also get to support the future of their own healthcare, as well as the medical care of countless others in their communities. In asking for money so that your hospital can do more, you’re extending the opportunity for patients to do more, too. Hospitals are also brands, and all brands want to be known for doing good. A Grateful Patient Program can support claims that your hospital provides exemplary care, as patients generously give back in return for positive experiences. A hospital with a good reputation is apt to receive more patients, and, when the good word spreads, any and all patients might consider giving some amount to support the future of both the hospital and their own medical care.

What Makes a Grateful Patient Program Successful?

A lack of public awareness in regards to financial need is the biggest hurdle for nonprofit hospitals, as reported by The Nonprofit Times. High healthcare costs foster illegitimate beliefs that hospitals rake in huge profits, but philanthropy is essential for nonprofit facilities to be able to continue to provide the best doctors, equipment, and overall care. Grateful Patient Programs require a serious investment of time and resources from your healthcare organization, so, for long-term fundraising success, think about instituting the following program components:
  • Dedicated staff
  • Budget
  • Privacy guidelines
  • Data processes
  • Recruitment strategies
  • Screening processes
  • Prospect and program management


By donorsearch

Bequests – The Other White Meat?

DonorSearch’s blog is dedicated to covering prospect research and different types of fundraising strategies, yet our readers and customers often ask about the difference between planned giving and bequests. So we reached out to Tom Ahern at Ahern Donor Communications to help alleviate the confusion.  “Pork. The Other White Meat.” was an advertising slogan introduced by advertising agency Bozell, Jacobs, Kenyon & Eckhardt in 1987 for America’s National Pork Board. Brilliant and effective, pork sales in the US rose 20% in just a few years. It got me thinking: in philanthropy, we have a somewhat similar situation. We have “major donors” … and then we have the “other major donors.” Might it be possible to gain a 20% rise in charitable income thanks to some repackaging? Here’s my thinking…. Conventionally, we think of “major” donors as those well-heeled prospects who have the capacity to make a large gift NOW. They deserve our applause. And they get it. Face to face. Frequently. But are there other major donors hiding right under our noses? Absolutely. And in abundance.

Bequests: Major gifts “for the rest of us”

The charitable bequest is the “other” form of major gift. But you don’t find it at the top of the giving pyramid. You find it amongst the masses, according to researchers like the UK’s Richard Radcliffe. Please note: Most charitable bequests originate from middle-class households … not from the aristocrats who occupy Downton Abbey, but from the generous hearts of the normal people who watch Downton Abbey. For those middle-class households, a bequest will typically be the largest single gift ever made. Lawyer and radio host Tony Martignetti, writing for GuideStar, says that the average US charitable bequest is worth $32,000. In Australia, says Pareto, the average 2011 bequest to charity equaled $54,453. In the UK, says Mr. Radcliffe, the typical charitable bequest is worth about €200,000. “OK, I’ll take that!” I hope you’re shouting. “That’s quite a pretty penny.”

Oddly, American fundraisers seem quite bad at bequest marketing

In America, bequest giving is stuck. Bequests represented just 8% of the annual contributions to charity in 2011, according to Giving USA 2012. It’s 8% now. It was 8% a decade ago. And it was 8% two decades before that, if memory serves. For all the money and time presumably spent on promoting charitable bequests in America, our fundraisers seem unable to move the needle overall. Really, you just want to reach out and tap the gauge to see if it’s still working. In the UK and Australia, on the other hand, bequest giving annually hovers between 20-30% of the total haul. I find their successes, and America’s persistent failure, a tantalizing challenge. I wonder: Is the problem in the US a packaging problem? Do we need to re-conceive what charitable bequests are? Do we need something like “the other white meat”? Are fundraisers just seeing bequests the wrong way?

“Would the person who thought up ‘Planned Giving’ please report to the principal’s office?”

Fundraisers commonly lump bequests in with things like Charitable Remainder Annuity Trusts (CRATs) and Charitable Remainder Unitrusts (CRUTs) under the inscrutable label “planned giving” … even though bequests are said to be, in fact, 90% of all “planned gifts.” You have to wonder who comes up with this stuff. Is there some diabolical, mischievous Committee Devoted to the Utter Obfuscation of Otherwise Incredibly Simple Things? (Answer: yes.) Where’s the sense, though, in classifying a middle-class product like charitable bequests in with a bunch of products (CRATs and CRUTs) that appeal mostly to people so wealthy they need financial planners? Those are two distinct target audiences. Which means the sacred “laws of segmentation” kick in. And those laws dictate that you should market bequests separately from other “planned giving” products, because the core audience for bequests is different than the core audience for CRATs and CRUTs. Yet we market them all together in the US … and we get 8% of our annual charitable income from bequests vs. the 20-30% realized in the UK and Australia. Just saying. About the Author: Tom Ahern is one of the top authorities on how to drive nonprofit revenue through effective donor communication and leads Ahern Donor Communications. Guest Post: Want to contribute to DonorSearch’s blog? Email us with your guest post ideas!  

By DonorSearch

Prospect Research for Arts and Culture Nonprofits

Imagine a world without music: stages bereft of the patters of ballerina feet, theaters stripped of their actors, and galleries deprived of inquisitive conversation. No art. A culture built upon rationality and devoid of its hallmark creativity. Such a world may never exist, but just like hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters, the human spirit requires funding in order to thrive. Prospect research is the key to how your arts and cultural nonprofit can survive and thrive! Ticket sales and membership fees won’t fund your organization quite like a major gift will. It’s the difference between eating a pile of Halloween candy instead of one giant slice of dark, dense, creamy chocolate cake. The chocolate cake is more food, more satisfying, and you don’t have to open multiple wrappers to enjoy it. A few significant donations will help you to attain your fundraising goals better than a plethora of small gifts, and prospect research is the best way to identify major gift donors. It’s hard to identify new prospects and donors. Like, solve-a-Rubik’s-cube-while-blindfolded-and-with-one-hand-tied-behind-your-back hard. Okay, maybe not that hard, but, without the proper tools, prospect research can be both time consuming and imprecise. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want to spend it searching for and then pursuing the wrong prospects. We’ll cover the following topics so you can gain a better understanding of how your arts ad cultural nonprofit can benefit from prospect research:
  1. How screening for arts and cultural nonprofits is different
  2. Who arts and cultural nonprofits should screen
  3. How arts and cultural nonprofits should preform prospect research
  4. When arts and cultural nonprofit should screen prospects
For more advice on how to receive gifts from major donors, download our free whitepaper on Major Giving: Prospects and Approaches

1. How Screening for Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Is Different

Prospect research has a lot of consistency across various nonprofit industries, but hospitals acquire prospects differently than schools who acquire prospects in a unique way from arts and cultural organizations. How people engage with your nonprofit can dictate when and where to look for major gift prospects. Other nonprofit industries don’t have members and ticket purchasers who are already giving money to your organization. This makes discovering financially capable prospects different from how hospitals, schools, and other nonprofits identify prospects, and prospect research can fill in all the missing details that can separate potential prospects from those worth pursuing. Furthermore, your organization is a form of entertainment. From gardens to animals to ballerinas, arts and cultural organizations show off forms of creative work. Many of the people who come to see your work have a certain amount of personal investment in the subject matter, which makes finding new prospects unique as people have to be passionate about what you create. As a form of entertainment, you receive plenty of audience feedback. These critiques let you know what prospects care about, as they want these particular things fixed. Or they might love your work! Either way, feedback lets you know who cares about what, so you can use those particulars to both make more specific donation pitches and perform in-depth research on prospects. Arts and cultural nonprofits have a unique angle for getting to know prospects, and learning how to think about different patrons in order to segment donors for screening is an important skill to learn.

2. Who Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Should Screen

Major gift prospects can be segmented in a variety of ways. For arts and cultural organizations, prospects tend to fall within one of the following categories:
  • Members
  • Single-ticket purchasers
  • Special event attendees
  • Consistent donors


A unique aspect of museums, aquariums, theaters, and other arts and cultural organizations is that they offer memberships. While memberships might demonstrate a sincere loyalty to an organization, they also may represent economical financial decisions more so than a desire to invest in an organization. For instance, take Gertrude, who attends her local art museum for the first time and discovers that a single day ticket costs $10, while a year-long membership costs $35. Gertrude decides that, between her friends, family, and personal interest in art, she’ll visit at least four times throughout the year, so she purchases a year-long membership. Gertrude becomes a member because she is trying to save money, and not because she wants to contribute more than required to the art museum. Membership is best looked upon as an indicator of association with your organization, but not a guarantee that people want to donate.  Arts and cultural organizations should disregard membership participants completely, however. Going back to our example, if Gertrude continues to renew her membership year after year, this could be an indicator that she is interested in supporting your organization. Keeping a record of your organization’s members can offer insights into which donors are likely opting into the program to save money or because they want to support your cause. Whether you’re a museum, theater, or zoo, your members can play a vital role in your fundraising plan (just check out what this guide from Doubleknot has to say!). Keep in mind: most major donations to arts and cultural nonprofits do come from members, so, while membership is not a tell-all detail, it is something to pay close attention to.

Single Ticket Purchasers

Arts and cultural organizations also have consistent influxes of single-ticket purchasers. Like memberships, single-ticket purchases don’t indicate any particular affinity for your nonprofit, but they do demonstrate engagement and permit you to open up the conversation about donating.

Special Event Attendees

Special event attendees have a lot of potential to become major gift prospects since galas, museum dinners, and similar events include pricey entrance fees and attract the intelligent elite, who tend to have money to spare. However, never assume any prospect is or is not a major gift donor without conducting prospect research, as you might miss out on significant donations. Not only is prospect research a best practice for any fundraising campaign, but it can unearth hidden details about consistent donors.

Consistent Donors

Consistent donors, who tend to be members, are your prime major gift prospects, as they already give and engage with your nonprofit on a regular basis. A proper wealth and philanthropy screening can unearth previously unforeseen major gift potential among these loyal donors. This allows you to ramp up your gift cultivation from their normal amount to a more significant gift that can improve your nonprofit’s fortunes.

3. How Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Should Perform Prospect Research

Most prospect research companies favor wealth data over philanthropic histories, but that’s an ineffective approach


By donorsearch

What Software Does DonorSearch Integrate With?

DonorSearch offers software integrations with a wide range of technology companies, so you can use our comprehensive prospect research software in coordination with your other powerful tools. Below is a complete list of companies that we integrate with. They are organized into one of three categories according to how you access DonorSearch’s data:
  1. API Integration — Seamless integration at the click of a button. Use the information in your CRM to search for philanthropic and wealth data from DonorSearch and integrate this prospect data back into your database with ease.
  2. Custom Data Field Integration — DonorSearch is the CRM’s prospect data provider of choice, and the CRM provides fields specific to DonorSearch to house your prospect data.
  3. Manual Integration — You can import DonorSearch data into the CRM, but the fields are not customized for DonorSearch. Data must be exported in a CSV file and imported manually into the CRM.
The specifics vary between software options, but DonorSearch plays nice with all of these technology tools. With DonorSearch, you get more of the information you need when and where you need it. Keep in mind that you must be a registered DonorSearch user to receive technical integration support, and DonorSearch does not provide technical support for all integration software.  

API Integration

These companies let you access DonorSearch’s philanthropy and wealth data with the simple click of a button, so you don’t have to do the heavy lifting of importing the data yourself.


Agilon provides Agilon One, which is a modern fundraising and communication software for nonprofits ranging from healthcare to higher education to public radio. You want to develop, grow, and maintain relationships to support your institution, and Agilon wants to provide innovative solutions, problem analysis and correction, and on-demand reports and information.

Resources to Integrate

Agilon integration support Contact Agilon for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


Reach, engage, and retain the advocates you depend on to achieve your vision for a better world. Bloomerang has pooled together the latest in best practices for fundraising, loyalty, engagement, and retention to create a simple donor database solution that decreases donor attrition and increases nonprofit revenue.

Resources to Integrate

Contact Bloomerang for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


DonorPerfect provides one unified database to organize all of your constituent data. With straightforward constituent relationship tools, you can make smarter, timelier decisions to raise more money for your cause. DonorPerfect received the most ‘excellent ratings’ from the nonprofits N-TEN and Idealware in their donor management systems reports.

Resources to Integrate

Details of what you can do thanks to the integration Contact DonorPerfect for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  

Little Green Light (LGL)

Founded in 2007, years of experience in web-based software, business development, and real-world fundraising experience allow Little Green Light to provide nonprofits with a 360-degree view of their constituents. LGL’s web-based donor management software provides a singular location to help nonprofits track details about volunteers, members to alumni, donations to events, mailings to campaigns, and all of their constituents.

Resources to Integrate

Slideshow about how to use DonorSearch for Little Green Light Contact LGL for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


Raise more revenue through automation and help staff streamline day-to-day processes within one truly connected platform with NeonCRM’s cloud database. NeonCRM empowers organizations by placing their most important information in one dedicated system that’s accessible from any internet connection. Online forms integrate easily with any website. Also, auto feed information to NeonCRM and allow for real-time processing and recurring payments.

Resources for Integration

Integration guide from NeonCRM Contact NeonCRM for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


Compass is OmegaFi’s data-rich, information integration product for national Greek foundations. Achieve your organization-wide business process goals with an assist from OmegaFi.

Resources to Integrate

Contact OmegaFi for more information at: Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


The Patriot Version 2 system is designed for the headquarters staff of chapter-based fraternal organizations. Patriot V2 is the smart way to manage your data and complements your organization’s business model.

Resources to Integrate

Contact Patriot for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


ResultsPlus offers donor management software with none of the IT maintenance. Manage fundraising events and ensure both the accuracy and deliverability of your constituent mail and email address information with the tool that supports the way you work. ResultsPlus maximizes the time of both your staff and volunteers, so you can focus on what matters most: cultivating donor relationships and supporting your mission.

Resources to Integrate

Contact ResultsPlus for more information Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  


Salesforce1 for nonprofits provides a set of end-to-end solutions to make any nonprofit a better connected nonprofit. Your organization obtains a unified view of every interaction your organization has with clients, supporters, members, funders, volunteers, and affiliates.

Resources to Integrate

Contact DonorSearch to learn how to integrate today  

Custom Data Field Integration

With custom data fields specific to DonorSearch, importing your major gift prospect research is a breeze. Andar/360

Andar/360, a Helix Ltd. software product, has spent the past two decades establishing close relationships with their customers and has absorbed much of the United Way culture and unique business requirements. With over 450 years of United Way specific experience, the Andar/360 team speaks the United Way language and helps all departments work together in one collaborative platform that focuses your organization on your customer.


By donorsearch

4 Ways to Keep the Data in your Donor Database Clean

DonorSearch’s blog is dedicated to covering prospect screening and other fundraising-related topics, yet our readers and customers often ask how they can keep their donor databases clean. So we reached out to Steven Shattuck at Bloomerang to share a few strategies for how nonprofits can keep their donor databases clean.  A nonprofit can never reach their full fundraising potential unless their donor database has clean, actionable data. Making sure that data is accurate when it’s first inputted is one challenge. Keeping it that way is quite another. If you ever want accurate prospect screening results or useful reports, you must keep your donor database clean and tidy. Here are four tips:

Tip #1: Document your data entry procedures and review them often

Many donor databases fail to reach their true potential simply because there is no defined process for data entry. Documenting and sticking to one universal process will ensure that all data is formatted consistently, and will protect your fundraising efforts in the event of staff turnover. Because organizations evolve as they grow, it’s important to re-examine your processes every once in a while (at least annually). You may have an obsolete procedure, or find that there’s a slightly better way to do something. Don’t be afraid to change if it increases your productivity!

Tip #2: Run an NCOA at least once a year

Running an NCOA (National Change of Address) process will ensure that your constituent’s contact information in your donor database is up-to-date and accurate. The NCOA database contains data for all change of address requests filed by US postal customers in the past 48 months. Running an NCOA process will compare the contact info found in your database with the info found in the NCOA database. It’s always a good idea to run an NCOA a few months before a big direct mail appeal. 17% of Americans move each year, and running an NCOA is a requirement to qualify for USPS bulk mailing rates.

Tip #3: Have multiple people in the organization use the database


By donorsearch

How Does Our Bulk Screening Work?

Bulk screening is our most popular service, as it helps many nonprofits to find the major gift prospects among their masses of donors. A bulk screening can save your nonprofit valuable time that can be devoted to other fundraising efforts.

What is a Bulk Screening?

You’re a busy organization and you have lots of donors. A bulk screening allows you to submit 2,000 or more donors to DonorSearch. We will research each donor and return comprehensive reports that detail philanthropic histories, wealth markers, and other vital information. Bulk screenings work great for:
  • Annual Screenings — If you only screen donors once a year, get as many comprehensive profiles as possible to maximize the amount of major gift prospects you find.
  • Grateful Patient Programs — New patients are continually admitted to your hospital, and you want to know who might be apt to donate in order to best allocate your fundraising efforts.
  • New Parent/Alumni Events — Similar to grateful patient programs, schools always have new parents who might donate, and identifying the best prospects fast allows you to focus your efforts on prospects with real potential.
  • Pledge Drives — Public broadcasting stations need to know which viewers are major gift prospects or else they could waste valuable amounts of their finite time seeking large gifts from the wrong prospects.
  • Preparation for a Major Gala — Potential donors might flock to your big event, but, unless you know who they are and whether or not they might be inclined to give, you might miss out on significant gifts.

The DonorSearch Process

Our bulk screening process is designed to return comprehensive results that cause the best prospects to rise to the top.

Step One

At DonorSearch, philanthropy comes first. We analyze your internal data on prospects’ previous donations. Evaluating these relationships lets us measure and compare the strongest predictors of future giving. We make a dedicated effort to ensure that you receive accurate results according to a schedule that you dictate.

Step Two

The difference between DonorSearch and other prospect research companies is our philosophy that philanthropists make the best prospects. If a donor has given generously to a similar nonprofit in the past, then that person is apt to give to another organization. Screening for philanthropy first means that you no longer have to assume which prospects are most inclined to give. DonorSearch screens records against 30 unique philanthropic and wealth databases in order to return the most detailed and accurate results in the industry. The incorporation of philanthropy histories may seem obvious, but other prospect research companies still value wealth markers first. While wealth screening can accurately identify valuable prospects, it does not predict if people are philanthropic. Philanthropy data demonstrates a previous history of giving, which separates wealthy prospects from wealthy prospects who actually donate to charitable causes. You want to allocate your finite fundraising resources to potential prospects and not just any old bloke with a large bank account. Also, without philanthropy data, you might overlook many potential major gift donors because they have less wealth than others on your list.

Step Three

After a philanthropy screening, DonorSearch conducts a wealth screening. This data highlights capacities to give, affinities to donate, and asset information, such as real estate and boat ownership. While philanthropy comes first, we value a dual approach. A wealthy prospect is more valuable if he’s philanthropic, and a philanthropic prospect is more valuable if he’s wealthy. When the two ideals converge, that’s when prospect research makes the heavy lifting of identifying your best major gift prospects feel like a walk in the park.

Step Four

The quality of your data matters, and DonorSearch goes the extra mile to ensure the most accurate screening results. In-house prospect researchers spend hours manually reviewing results to eliminate extraneous time that your staff would spend doing the work themselves. A computer screening typically results in 70% accuracy, but our assessment process raises the accuracy to an industry-best 90-95% accuracy. You can also talk to your DonorSearch representative about how to manually verify additional prospects.

Step Five

Sophisticated analytics provide modeling on all donors. The modeling relates:
  • Likelihood to donate to the annual fund
  • Major gift likelihood
  • Planned giving likelihood
A collection of ratings systems allows you to easily comprehend the best prospects from a mere three scores. These scores are derived from both provided and external giving information. Prospects are ranked by both their propensities and capacities to give.

Implementing Your Screening Results

While DonorSearch does the heavy lifting of providing the prospect research in a comprehensible format, it’s up to you to put it to work. Steps to effectively implement prospect research should occur before you receive your research and continue afterwards. These steps include:
  1. Prepare a Strategy — You want to have an idea of what you’re looking for in prospect data and how you might implement such information.
  2. Clean Up Your Data — It’s no use trying to organize new data among a mess of old or outdated information.
  3. Develop a Solicitation Plan — Outline a comprehensive plan for how you will utilize the data and target the top major gift prospects.
  4. Analyze Prospect Screening Results — Figure out who to target, what the best approaches will be for each prospect, and share the information among all relevant departments.
  5. Land Major Donations — Major donations take awhile to land, so get out there and start pitching to the major gift prospects who you so dedicated yourself to finding.

Prospect Research Training

In order to get the most out of DonorSearch’s bulk screening, it’s vital that you be well versed in our tool. We provide free, unlimited basic training as part of our service, so you can learn how to efficiently navigate and analyze your prospect lists. From My Portfolio to Integrated Search to our Prospect Generator, you’ll become well acquainted with our host of tools


How to Start a Grateful Patient Program
What is a Grateful Patient Program?
Bequests – The Other White Meat?
Prospect Research for Arts and Culture Nonprofits
What Software Does DonorSearch Integrate With?
4 Ways to Keep the Data in your Donor Database Clean
How Does Our Bulk Screening Work?