It’s More Vital than Ever that Your Donor Data Change with the Times

DonorSearch was founded on the idea that there is much more to your community than the size of people’s bank accounts. Wealth data only shows a tiny sliver of the reality on the ground. It can actually become an optical illusion, like seeing only a tiger’s tail—and believing it to be a snake.

Today, DonorSearch harnesses the power of AI and machine learning to deliver unparalleled insights into the communities of nonprofits around the country, including finding deeply engaged individuals who have flown under the wealth radar. But another benefit of working with AI and customized algorithms has emerged in our work with clients—the data produced “lives and breathes” as the situation changes. It is not set in stone like a onetime wealth screening. In fact, data can even go out of date.

This is a key observation. After all, constantly refreshed prospect info is more important than ever due to the state of our troubled economy. Yes, inflation is (thankfully) beginning to cool. However, its impact is still being felt to the same degree (if not greater) by so many organizations and companies.

Here’s an example: credit card debt continues to soar. When individuals and families feel the pinch, they worry about their own ability to make ends meet. Many can cut back on giving. That’s just what we see in the GivingUSA report, which documented a decrease in total charitable gifts for 2022. Unfortunately, total giving didn’t just fall slightly short of 2021’s total. It dropped off sharply—a considerable 10.5% when adjusted for inflation.

Crucially, the difference in donors who keep giving in tough times versus those who cut back isn’t necessarily due to bank account size. It’s also a matter of engagement. A deeply engaged donor is likely to downsize other expenditures before they stop contributing to a cause they’re passionate about.

Naturally, in a tough environment for nonprofits, the difference between success and making difficult choices is finding the most engaged members of your community and creating even more engagement amongst the community at large. The good news is DonorSearch can help your organization in the same way it supports thousands of nonprofits throughout the U.S.

One of the most important things about our AI-based approach is that it creates dynamic donor scores, meaning they shift over time. As our Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “Wealth screening is typically based on past data. When the economy is rocky, old data is much less reliable. Also, most wealth screenings fail to consider newer asset classes favored by young people, such as cryptocurrency, and innovative forms of giving favored by the same demographic, like GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms. To avoid these pitfalls, DonorSearch regularly applies its customized algorithms to your community, creating a view of your potential donor that changes with the times, instead of being written in stone.”

Another powerful aspect of how DonorSearch applies AI and machine learning concerns the question of who your organization’s future donors are. This answer can be found in the customized algorithm created for every client, the beating heart of AI-driven analysis.

Also, while wealth screening and other basic analysis tools may take five to ten variables into consideration—such as past giving and total wealth, the sheer raw power of AI number crunching allows DonorSearch to include dozens of variables into consideration. Even better? The algorithm becomes more and more accurate over time.

To this point, DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell explains, “As we continue to run the customized algorithm through our system and compare its results to real life, important refinements are made. Some of those are produced by AI itself using machine learning, and some are the result of the DonorSearch team. The end result is data that becomes sharper and sharper over time, while static data becomes weaker as it gets older.”

As Chappell points out in the book he co-authored, The Generosity Crisis, younger generations are just as capable as older Americans of achieving the deep emotional connection his book refers to as Radical Connection. “Only after so many engaged young community members are identified through AI-powered analysis can your organizational hope to engage them further. This may take various forms, such as a hands-on volunteering opportunity that inspires a financial gift.”

Ultimately, constantly refreshed data, based on dozens of variables creates tremendous opportunities for nonprofits to survive and thrive in any type of economy. Even a challenging one like ours. It’s simply a matter of looking forwards—instead of backwards. Presently, we aid nonprofits of all sizes in all fields achieve their full fundraising potential—regardless of the market and other factors. No matter how organized your fundraising efforts are, you may be shocked at the amount of data on your community that’s locked away! DonorSearch is ready to turn that data into a successful future.

To learn how DonorSearch can help you look forward without needing a crystal ball, please contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for tomorrow’s success every day, consider a career with DonorSearch.

Additional Resources

How DonorSearch Helps Turn One-Time Donations into Monthly or Annual Traditions

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The Lungs of the World: A Conversation with Michael Goldberg, a 2023 Top Ten CNN Hero

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Rise & Lead: Essentials for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders

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