Wealth Screening: The Definitive Guide

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.

Capacity to give

Likelihood of donating

Relationships to other prospects

Wealth Screening Basics

Why do you use wealth screenings for fundraising?

Determine matching gift eligibility

How can you determine who is eligible for matching gifts?

If you can determine that certain gifts made by donors are match eligible, this can at least double the amount you receive from them.

Wealth screening can help you identify who among your constituents is eligible for a matching gift through their employer. For this purpose, DonorSearch’s platform integrates with Double the Donation, the leading matching gifts database software.

Find major donor prospects

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

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

How much can a given prospect realistically donate?

Not every donor will be able to give the same amount. At its core, wealth screening answers a fundamental fundraising question of how much a prospect can give.

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.

  • Stock Ownership

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

  • 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. In addition, if you incorporate an automation platform for matching gifts, you can identify those who are eligible for matching gifts based on their employer email address.

Using Wealth Screening

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.