By DonorSearch

The Keys to Identifying a Planned Giving Prospect

Some fundraisers feel that scouting for planned giving prospects is a lot like the world’s most difficult game of Where’s Waldo. You know he’s on the page, somewhere, but for the life of you, you cannot find him. The flip side of that situation is, of course, once you find him, you cannot stop seeing him. This post is here to help you find Waldo and then Waldo Jr. and Mrs. Waldo and Waldo III. With prospect research, once you know the characteristics of whom you’re looking for — red and white striped sweater, matching beanie, glasses, blue jeans — you can set out on your mission to identify and solicit those potential planned givers. Identifying a planned (or, deferred) giving prospect is not an exact science. There’s definitely a certain amount of finesse and intuition involved that comes from experience. However, most supporters who make deferred donations fall under a specific subset of characteristics. To fully understand the prospects you’re looking for, it is important to first understand the three main types of planned gifts these supporters could make. Gift type will factor into the traits you’re scanning prospects for.

The three types of planned gift prospects are:

#1: Bequest Prospects These are what you typically think of when you hear planned gifts mentioned. Bequests are allocated in the donors’ wills. They could be lump sums, estates, or a set percentage of the donor’s assets. #2: Charitable Remainder Trust Prospects A charitable remainder trust donation is made after the terms of the trust are complete. In these cases, a trust is established that pays a specified amount annually to set recipients over a fixed period (often times until death). Once the fixed period is complete, the remaining sum of the funds goes to the nonprofit. #3: Charitable Gift Annuity Prospects For these gifts, donors gift a large sum of funds to a nonprofit. The nonprofit then pays the donor a set income from that sum yearly until the donor passes away. When the donor is no longer alive, the remaining funds go to the nonprofit. As you can probably tell, in order to fall into prospects two and three territories, the person would have to be wealthy. However, a donor does not have to be incredibly wealthy to make a bequest. In fact, there’s a common misconception that planned givers are all inherently wealthy. As you’ll see when we break down the various traits of these prospects, that is definitely not always the case. We place the identifying factors of planned givers into two buckets:
  1. Cause Connectors
  2. Statistical Inclinations

Bucket #1: Cause Connectors

By cause connectors, I’m referring to evidence of a connection to your organization. Legacy is a major concern for those leaving planned gifts, and donors want to have a legacy at an organization that they truly care about. You simply don’t make a major planned gift haphazardly. Consider these four connectors: (A) Frequent Donations And the no-brainer award goes to…frequent donations. It is highly probable that a past donor will become a future donor. Loyal donors are planned giving candidates. How do you measure donor loyalty? Well, you see how frequently they donate and how long they have been doing so. For this point, the donation amount is not nearly as important as the act of donating is. (B) Conviction in Your Mission This goes hand-in-hand with frequent donations. Logically, if someone is consistently contributing, they support your mission. Even if someone hasn’t been a regular donor, there are other ways to demonstrate conviction in your mission, like volunteerism. (C) Desire to Give a Larger Gift than is Currently Realistic Point C puts the possibilities of points A  and B in perspective. A supporter who has been a volunteer for years or gives small donations annually has a demonstrated desire to help your cause. Many charitable people are not wealthy enough to be major gift donors, planned giving is almost a loophole to get around financial limitations. If your annual income isn’t such that you have the spare finances to make major gifts, you can put a bequest to your favorite charity in your will, and give your remaining funds when you no longer need them. (D) Positively Affected by Your Organization’s Work A candidate in this category could be a recipient of your services, like a grateful patient. Basically, this comes down to someone who has tangibly experienced the potency of your mission. The best method of acquiring these types of prospects is to continue the good work of your organization.

Bucket #2: Statistical Inclinations


By DonorSearch

[Guest Post] Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data

Today we’re featuring the work of Beth Brodovsky, President of Iris Creative Group Inc. We’re always looking to give our readership the best content available and want to ensure that we fill our blog with a diverse range of content. Enjoy!

Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data

Who is your audience? Most people answer “everyone.” It’s actually the complete opposite. In fact, you want some people to not understand your message, not connect with your story and not give to your organization. If your goal is to make everyone like you, it’s all but guaranteed that no one will love you.

To Connect, you Need a Target

And you get more points for hitting the bullseye. In fundraising, that amounts to creating a story that is so perfect for some people that they feel you are truly speaking to them. They show up, stick around and give back because they want to be part of something that matters to them – not because you begged them. Knowing your audience is the key to everything.
  • When you know who you are looking for they show up everywhere.
  • You spend your time and money on platforms where you will find them – and where they want to find you.
  • You know what is an opportunity and what is a distraction.


By DonorSearch

8 Considerations for a New Major Gifts Campaign

DonorSearch aims to provide the best content available regarding prospect research and its surrounding topics. In an effort to ensure that our readers have access to as much valuable information as possible, we feature content from guest authors from time to time. This week, we’ve reached out to Marcella Vitulli of EveryAction for her insights regarding major gifts.  You’ll find Vitulli’s article posted below.   

8 Things to Remember When Creating a Major Gifts Campaign

Many nonprofits still rely heavily on collecting major gifts to reach their fundraising goals. Major gifts are a great way for many to take care of big chunks of their budget in one (or several) fell swoops.  A single major gift could fund an entire program, a few staff salaries, and give your organization stability and certainty. Sounds good right? However, a successful major gift campaign requires a strategic approach to prospect nurturing and engagement. You need to build a strong relationship with your prospects over a long period of time before, ultimately, making the ask for a major gift if you want them to give. This kind of approach requires you to play the long game, with incredible amounts of focus and planning needed to meet your goals. But fear not! Read on, and become a master in the art of major gifts.

Establish Goals and Objectives

Establishing objectives for your campaign is hugely important as they will guide all communications and outreach, and will serve as a baseline for measuring your success. When setting them, remember to make them SMART, as in: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Target Prospect List

If you want all that planning and effort to count, you’ll want to focus it in the right places. Your prospects for a major gifts campaign aren’t going to be part of the general public – instead, identify people with the inclination and means to help you out. The next step is a description for each of your targets. You should create a profile of each target, complete with a picture. You’ll need to know these people better than your best friend. Here are some questions to ask yourself about each persona:
  • What are the demographics of this person? (Age, education, location, etc.)
  • What goals might this person have?
  • What are their biggest challenges and how do they work to overcome them
  • How does this person find, consume, and share content?
  • What sort of views and concerns do they have?


By donorsearch

4 Steps to Using Prospect Research at Your Hospital

DonorSearch’s Daily Patient Screening helps you identify the best prospective donors at the perfect time to begin a relationship: while they are still in your facility, or while their positive experiences are fresh in their minds and they feel grateful towards your organization. Detailed analytics, based on back testing of two million records representing $5 billion in giving, can help you identify and research known philanthropists with a high degree of confidence. As the most comprehensive Daily Patient Screening service in the industry, DonorSearch can even help you formulate approach strategies by pinpointing who your donor knows. Daily Patient Screening is ideal for organizations that want to incorporate this best practice into their fundraising strategy. Patients appreciate the extra attention and service from an organization, and you can start relationships with potential donors who are receptive to learning more about your organization. The following document breaks down the daunting task of starting a Grateful Patient Program at your organization into four manageable steps: prepare for implementation of a Grateful Patient Program; screen and validate prospects; manage prospects; and measure program effectiveness.

#1 Prepare for Implementation of a Grateful Patient Program

Determine Necessary Staff and Budgetary Resources

Establishing a viable Grateful Patient Program requires a dedicated staff and budget. Plans should be made for additional gift officers and advancement services staff to meet the demands of the program. Besides the increase in human resource expenses, funds will need to be available for Daily Patient Screening. Questions to Ask:
  • How many gift officers will we need for the Grateful Patient Program?
  • Should the gift officers be only major gift officers, or would our institution benefit from an annual giving officer or planned giving officer on the team?
  • Is there a prospect researcher who can handle the patient screening results, or will an additional researcher need to be added to the team?
  • Will the import of patient information overwhelm the advancement services team?

Establish Guidelines to Protect Patient Privacy

While preparing for the start of a grateful patient program, federal, state, and local laws regarding patient privacy must be reviewed. The hospital’s own policies should also be reviewed. After this review, prepare a plan for protecting the privacy of patients and their families. DonorSearch takes the privacy and security of your data very seriously. We go beyond HIPAA regulations to keep your data secure. Data you share is never shared with other clients, and your internal giving information is not added to our database or available to any other client. Your files, including data you upload to us and information we return to you, are only accessible to you. Please request a copy of our data security policy if you would like to know more. Questions to Ask:
  • What are the privacy laws our institution is required to follow?
  • What are the institution’s policies regarding patient privacy?
  • Who in the foundation office will have access to the patient information?
Determine What Patient Data is Needed and Where it Will Be Stored DonorSearch requires the name and address of the patient to screen your prospects. A spouse name is helpful to further validate data. Medicare or Medicaid patients, patients receiving mental health care, and those under the age of 18 should be removed from the screening list. To complete RFM and other modeling, patient data should be cross-checked with your institution’s donor database and giving information should be sent for screening. Decide where the screening results will be stored in your donor database. Questions to Ask:
  • How will the patient data be acquired each day?
  • Who will prepare the patient data for screening?
  • Who will import the screening back data into the donor database?
  • Does our patient management system integrate with our donor database?

Gain Support of Hospital Leadership

To establish a beneficial Grateful Patient Program, the foundation office must work with many different hospital divisions. To obtain the support of the different hospital divisions needed to carry out the program, seek the support of the hospital’s CEO first. Present the potential increase in foundation revenue from a successful Grateful Patient Program. Seek out information from other institutions with a similar structure that have a successful program. If necessary, enlist the help of board members to convince hospital leadership. Once the CEO is on board with the project, it will be easier to convince the various other hospital divisions that will be affected. Questions to Ask:
  • What hospital divisions will be affected by a Grateful Patient Program?
  • What can the foundation staff do to make the roll out of a program a positive experience?
  • Who is supportive of the program, and who can convince others of its importance?

Prepare Medical Staff and Recruit Doctors

The medical staff is bound to have concerns with foundation officers making visits to patients they are trying to treat. If their concerns are addressed early and often, resistance can be minimized. Select a group of doctors and nurses who are supportive of the program to serve as ambassadors for the foundation. Questions to Ask:
  • Which members of the medical staff can serve as foundation ambassadors?
  • How can we use positive patient stories from the medical staff as foundation marketing material?
  • How can we minimize the impact of the Grateful Patient Program on the medical staff?

#2 Screen and Validate Prospects

Determine Frequency of Screening

Decide how frequently you need to screen patients. If you plan to make visits while patients are still admitted, daily screening is needed. If you plan to contact patients within three months of their discharge, weekly or monthly screening is acceptable.

Set a Timeline for Using Screening Results and Create a Solicitation Plan

A patient who had a positive experience in your hospital should be contacted within three months of their discharge. Determine which gift capacity levels will rate a personal visit and which gift capacity levels will be moved into mail solicitation. Make sure your priority for visits is those who have given to you previously.

Provide DonorSearch with Patient Data

Provide DonorSearch with your patient data in the evening, and we will have the information screened and returned to you in the morning. You will be provided with in-depth screening and research that can help you pinpoint your strongest prospects with critical information, including:
  • In-depth reports on past philanthropy
  • Past philanthropy to your organization
  • Insights into the organizations and causes the donor supports
  • Political giving
  • Ask amounts based on philanthropy and wealth
  • Corporate and nonprofit involvement
  • Real estate ownership
  • SEC insider stock transactions
  • Links to annual reports where the donor is mentioned
  • Giving by the donor’s spouse
  • Personal, corporate, and organization backgrounds
  • Other wealth markers, such as airplane and boat ownership

Import and Review Screening Results

After your screening results are imported into your donor database, a prospect researcher should prepare a report on each prospect that is highly rated. Your prospects will be returned to you with a DS rating. DS ratings are a quick snapshot of external giving, as well as wealth. The ratings do not include your internal giving information, but are based on data acquired from several external sources.
  • DS1-1: Exact match as a donor giving $5,000 or more to a nonprofit or political organization found in our giving history archive. A DS1-1 rated prospect may have markers of wealth or may only be matched to a significant giving history, and have no notable wealth markers.
  • DS1-2: Exact match to exceptional markers of wealth. LexisNexis real estate holdings of $2 million+, D&B business executive at firms with revenues of $5 million+, Guidestar Foundation Trustees, SEC Insiders, Market Guide Executives.
  • DS1-3: Exact match to lower, but notable, markers of wealth, including LexisNexis real estate holdings totaling $1-2 million, D&B business executive at firms with revenues of $1-5 million, or political giving in excess of $10,000.
  • DS1-4: Exact match to LexisNexis real estate holdings of $500,000-1 million.
  • DS1-5: Exact/very likely matches to individuals giving elsewhere, but at levels less than $5,000.
  • DS2: Possible/unconfirmed matches to key databases including foundation trustees, SEC Insiders, Market Guide executives, business executives.
  • DS3: No noteworthy matches to giving history or wealth indicators.

Assign Prospects to Gift Officers


By DonorSearch

A Killer Q&A: Prospect Research Aids Annual Giving

Prospect research and annual giving go together like peanut butter and jelly, like Simon and Garfunkel, like Turner and Hooch. What I mean to say is that prospect research and annual giving are a great pair, and prospect research should certainly be used to assist your annual giving campaigns.

To best explain how the two fundraising components fit together, we’ve provided detailed answers to the 4 most common questions regarding the relationship between prospect research and annual giving.


By donorsearch

Prospect Research: Importance and Impact

With more information publicly available than ever before, prospect research is becoming an increasingly popular tool for nonprofit organizations to increase their fundraising capabilities. Sophisticated analysis now makes it possible to identify an organization’s best prospective donors, as well as better understand how to approach each one and what size donation to request. Prospect research can help organizations:
  • Identify prospective donors
  • Determine potential gift amounts
  • Formulate ask strategies
  • Segment donors by potential gifts
  • Build guest lists for events
  • Efficiently use fundraising/development resources
  • Reduce fundraising costs

Prospect Research: Definition and Benefits

Would you ask a total stranger for money? More importantly, would you expect a total stranger to give your nonprofit a five-figure, six-figure or seven-figure donation? Before drafting or trading for a player, sports teams prepare in-depth profiles of each prospect, looking at both past achievements and the factors that are most likely to predict future potential. They use that information to weigh different players against each other, estimate likely salaries, and determine which players are most likely to help their team. For many nonprofits, annual giving represents the majority of gifts received, surpassing the number of gifts received from major and planned givers and events. Benefits of Prospect Research:
  • Start and develop relationships
  • Develop approach/engagement strategies
  • Estimate ask amounts
  • Uncover “hidden” donors
  • Increase gifts from existing donors
  • Segment donors by likelihood of giving, capacity to give, and type (annual, major, planned) of likely gift
  • Identify potential board members and organization champions
  • Find more donors who share your values


The Keys to Identifying a Planned Giving Prospect
[Guest Post] Your Perfect Person is Hiding in the Data
8 Considerations for a New Major Gifts Campaign
4 Steps to Using Prospect Research at Your Hospital
A Killer Q&A: Prospect Research Aids Annual Giving
Prospect Research: Importance and Impact