We all know there are millionaires hiding out in our databases…steadily giving $65 a year because we don’t ask them to give the gift they’re really capable of giving. Armed with wealth and age data, stations have the tools in hand to identify and target major donor and planned giving prospects with focused messages and appropriate asks. In addition to identifying major donor and legacy gift prospects, data enhancements can also help target membership direct mail efforts for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The 3 types of data enhancements covered in this article include:

  •  Demographic, specifically birth year data
  •  Wealth research
  •  Geo-Mapping survey

Birth Month/Year Targets Planned Giving Prospects

The best prospects to approach for a planned gift are those who have been active donors for 7+ years, and who are age 70 or more. The donors giving level is not relevant to their inclination nor their ability to provide a significant planned gift. Birth date correlated with 7+ active years as a donor are the key.

Just a few years ago appending data was a lengthy and expensive process. Cloud services have changed that dramatically. You can contract with any number of services where you load your file, get your matches, download the data and append your database within a few hours. Since there are no minimum order quantities, you can send new names for append on a regular basis. Append rates are over 90% for most files although some companies generate only a 40% match so evaluate your service provider carefully for cost per thousand records and match rate for birth month/year.

Once you have your birth year, segment your file to generate a list of those who are 70+ (born before 1948) who have been active donors for at least 7 years. Including this process with reduce costs and increase your response rates.

In this sample data reveals that 1,853 donors have been active for 7+ years. However, when we apply birth year overlay data, we find that 37 current donors are prime prospects for planned gifts. Targeting the audience reduces costs and increases your chance of success.

Applying Wealth Data to Fund Raising

You can probably name a dozen well-known wealthy donors from your file. However, you probably can’t name the hundreds of millionaires hidden in your database as rank and file members giving $60, $75 or $100 a year. These donors give what they do not because that is what they can afford, but that is what you ask for in pledge drives and in mail. Because you don’t know they have the capacity to give larger gifts, they are never asked. And when the ask is not appropriate to the giving capacity, the gift us often much smaller than it should be.

Acquire wealth data to target asks more effectively. When you know the name of a wealthy donor you can find a great deal of information about the type of wealth including land, stock and other holdings. But when you don’t know the name of the wealthy donor, it helps to acquire and append net worth data to your donor file.

If your station is like many, your self-identified major donors make up from 5-10% of your file, which leaves hundreds of wealthy donors without cultivation, appropriate ask strings, and targeted appeals.

In the sample below, wealth screening revealed 1,575 millionaires – over 1,000 of which were unknown.

This station sent their entire file to be matched with wealth data. 92.3% of the file was matched and a total of 19,005 records were enhanced.

17% of the file are millionaires and 8% are known to have a net worth exceeding $2MM.

Identifying these major donor prospects hiding in your database is just the first step. There are many approaches you could take to convert these donors to major donors. Consider:

  • Invite any of the 17% of millionaires that aren’t already members to join your major donor club.
  • Identify the top 100 of those prospects and provide them with the same level of service you give to major donors including major donor newsletters/communications, invitations to major donor events, private station tours, and access to advance ticket sales. After six months, invite them to upgrade to the major donor level.
  • At events make sure each prospect meets the GM, Board members, other major donors, and is hosted throughout the event.
  • In renewal notices segment this group and implement a more aggressive upgrade ask string.
  • Track and analyze results for this group of 100.
  • If conversion/upgrade rates for the first group are positive, start the process over again with the next group of 100 donors.
  • In addition to annual major donor gifts, knowing the capacity to give can also be used when approaching donors for capital and restricted gifts.

Geo-Mapping and Member Penetration

Geo-Mapping is a tool that can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of new donor acquisition efforts. Geo-mapping allows you to maximize response by concentrating mail where a high response is most likely. Geo-Mapping can:

  • Validate current areas where mailings should continue
  • Define new areas where opportunity exists
  • Identify areas to discontinue mailings
  • Help determine future growth potential.

This graphic shows the current mailing area identifying member penetration rates by color within zip codes.

By understanding which areas have no member penetration and are unlikely to generate members, the related zip codes can be eliminated from the mailing, not only reducing costs, but increasing response rate.

This second geographic representation of the coverage area displays recommended mailing areas in green with do-not-mail areas displayed in blue.

Ceasing to send mail into unresponsive or low response zip codes and efforts on higher performing zips will reduce costs while increasing response.

In addition to refining direct mail efforts, some stations have used the penetration data to target and actually increase underwriting sales in areas with high member penetration.

Refresh Your Data Regularly

Appending your entire file for the first time is a step that should be taken when you’re ready to use the data. If you’re not going to put the data to use, don’t waste your money getting it.

A few years ago, appending new donor accounts was cost-prohibitive unless a data cooperative was in operation. Now, cloud access to databases allows you to update new donors with wealth and birth date data at minimum cost following each on-air drive or at least once a year. Geo-mapping should be refreshed every 3 to 5 years to refine mail areas.

Allegiance Group + Pursuant fundraising agency Services regularly works with one of the countries’ largest data providers, Acxiom, and will be happy to answer questions or help arrange for data append processing. Contact Amy Houke at [email protected].

Technical Support is standing by to assist with file formatting, imports, coding, and other aspects of uploading and utilizing the appended data.