What is Wealth Screening?

Wealth screening is a powerful tool that nonprofits can use to help determine donors’ capacities to give.

As a subset of prospect research, wealth screening looks at top indicators of wealth like real estate ownership, business affiliations, and stock holdings in public companies.

These screenings use data to unveil an accurate estimate of a potential donor’s wealth. The process helps fundraisers locate major gift prospects hidden among the crowd.

Wealth screening can help determine:

Capacity to give

Likelihood of donating

Relationships to other prospects

Table of Contents

Wealth Screening Basics

Why do you use wealth screenings for fundraising?

Find major donor prospects

Major donors are a crucial source of funds for any nonprofit.

As such, it’s imperative to find out who among your supporters could be ready to make a major gift to your organization.

Researching your donor base first using wealth screening techniques can help you identify who among them has the potential to become a major donor.

Create realistic fundraising goals

Not every donor will be able to give the same amount. At its core, wealth screening answers a fundamental fundraising question:

How much can a given prospect realistically donate?

Once you have established an amount to expect from each of the prospects in your donor base, you can temper your fundraising expectations and set realistic goals for your nonprofit.

Plan your direct asks

The more you know about your supporters, the better!

With the insight that wealth screening provides, you’re better equipped to accurately segment donors for targeted communications and design ask strategies around the ideal gift amount for each prospect.

Simply put, tailoring your asks to each prospect makes it that much harder for them to say no.

What data should you have in a wealth screening?

Philanthropic Indicators

Philanthropic indicators speak to a prospect’s affinity for charitable work and your organization. Logically, a donor who has given in the past and who has been involved with your nonprofit recently and frequently is a strong candidate for becoming a major gift donor.

Past Giving

The strongest indicator of future giving is past giving. Donors who have given between $5k and $10k to a nonprofit are 5 times more likely to make a charitable donation than the average person.

Nonprofit Involvement

Involvement in a nonprofit demonstrates that a prospect has a vested interest in philanthropy and understands the process better than the average donor.

Political Giving

Political giving, traceable through publicly accessible databases, can provide a window into a donor’s wealth and inclination to give.

Wealth Markers

These indicators are what typically comes to mind when people think about wealth screening. Above all else, wealth markers are simply signals of someone’s financial capacity to give — just as philanthropic markers are a good indication of a prospect’s willingness to donate to charity.

Real Estate Ownership

Real estate ownership is a great indicator of wealth. An individual that owns $2+ million worth of real estate is 17 times more likely to give philanthropically than the average person.

Business Affiliations

A two-fold indicator, business affiliations say a lot about a prospect’s own wealth and giving capacity while also revealing potential professional connections for your nonprofit.

Stock Ownership

Stock ownership can give you an idea of a donor’s relative wealth and potential ability to give.

Using Wealth Screening

What wealth screening tools do you recommend?

Zillow is a useful wealth screening tool since real estate holdings are a strong indicator of philanthropic giving.

Zillow

Real estate ownership is a quick and easy indicator of wealth — but it also points to an individual’s propensity to give.

People who own $1-2 million in real estate are 4 times more likely to give philanthropically than the average person.

Simply enter a prospect’s address into Zillow’s search field and learn the value of the property.

You can visit Zillow.com here.

When conducting wealth screening, consult SEC.gov for public stock holding data.

SEC.gov

SEC.gov has a searchable database to investigate a prospect’s stock holdings.

This is a tool that can provide valuable insights into an individual’s wealth.

Note, however, that this database only shows public stock holdings. Ownership of private companies will not be visible here.

You can look through SEC.gov’s records here.

FEC.gov can help you identify political donations during your wealth screening.

FEC.gov

FEC.gov is another government database that allows you to discover the political giving history of your prospects.

Their gift amounts can teach you how much they are capable of giving.

In fact, just the act of contributing to political campaigns demonstrates a propensity to give in general: donors who have given over $2,500 in FEC contributions are 14 times more likely to give philanthropically.

You can look through FEC.gov’s records here.

DonorSearch's wealth screening tool, in its beta version, draws from a partial set of DonorSearch's philanthropic database.

DonorSearch Giving Search

Currently in its beta version, DonorSearch Giving Search is a free, online prospect research tool that gives its users access to a condensed version of DonorSearch’s philanthropic data.

Simply enter a prospect’s information and the Giving Search tool will display their past giving history.

You can visit the DonorSearch Giving Search tool here.

What are wealth screening best practices?

Clean Your Database

Take the time to clean up your database. The better your original data, the better your results.

To keep your data up-to-date, you should:

  • Keep track of who has been active recently.
  • Make sure you have accurate donor home and email addresses.
  • Pinpoint your average donation amount.
  • Get rid of duplicate information.
  • Have detailed and specific data entry procedures.

Prioritize Philanthropic Markers

As was mentioned before, wealth indicators are just one part of the equation.

When trying to figure out who will be most likely to give to your organization, you should first look at a prospect’s philanthropic indicators.

This will help you determine whether they are charitably-inclined in general and give you information about what causes they care most about.

Screen in Segments

Consider segmenting your screenings into smaller, more specialized categories. This will greatly speed up processing time and also yield more targeted results.

Segmentation categories could include:

  • Recurring donors
  • First-time donors
  • Lapsed donors
  • Event attendees

Verify Your Wealth Screening Results

Enlisting a screening service can drastically speed up and improve the wealth screening process.

But it’s important to remember that no screening company’s data is 100% perfect.

As such, make sure that all of the new information you’re receiving is accurate and take the initiative to check anything that seems off.

How can DonorSearch help?

Check out the many nonprofit resources DonorSearch offers, including wealth screening.

Searches and analyzes wealth and philanthropy databases

Helps allocate scarce resources effectively

Manually verifies prospects before you receive them

Accurately determines capacity to give and likelihood of giving

Screens donor list against 20 unique databases

Provides in-depth information to help strategy development

Can I see DonorSearch in action?

The online DSgiving wealth screening tool allows you to quickly search DonorSearch's expansive donor database.

STEP 1: Go to DSgiving.com, where you can type in identifying information about any donor.

Search any donor on DSgiving to start your wealth screening.

STEP 2: View biographical information about your donor.

DSgiving displays a donor's giving history for your wealth screening.

STEP 3: View your donor’s giving history.

While free online resources like DSgiving are useful for small nonprofits with few major donors or as a first step for larger nonprofits, a full wealth screening service such as DonorSearch can provide much more comprehensive information complete with scoring quicker than an individual on your staff.

Additional Wealth Screening Resources

Dive into prospect research after learning about wealth screening.

Prospect Research: The Ultimate Guide

One of the most important tools you have at your disposal when designing successful fundraising efforts is prospect research.

Need a refresher?

Brush up on everything there is to know with our newly-updated Prospect Research Ultimate Guide!

Incorporate wealth screening into your major gifts strategy.

Major Gifts and Major Gift Officers: The Basics

One of the biggest reasons organizations turn to prospect research is to help them identify potential major gift donors.

Major gifts play a vital role in the financial health of any organization.

Discover more about major gifts and how you can successfully solicit them!

Your wealth screening process can be useful when planning for your annual fund.

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Browse the top 7 wealth screening software solutions.

Top 7 Wealth Screening Solutions

Ready to automate your wealth screening process with the best software out there?

Look no further for the perfect software!

Check out Double the Donation’s ranking of the top 7 wealth screening software for nonprofits.