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Five Wealth Screening Myths: Busted

Wealth screening is the prospect identification process that highlights individuals with the greatest potential of contributing major gifts to your organization. Wealth screening works by matching individuals in your internal database to your vendor’s database of wealth, philanthropic and biographic records. Development departments can segment hundreds or thousands of individuals you know very little about into a prioritized list of prospects with the greatest capacity and inclination to donate a major gift to your organization. A successful wealth screen can be the bridge between your organization and its next major gift. So why are there so many assumptions about wealth screening that make it sound so complex and futile? Historically, wealth screenings were deemed too time-consuming and too expensive, but the story is changing. Today’s wealth screening solutions have adapted to be an invaluable tool in the nonprofit toolkit. With the right solution, you can find new opportunities in your database to raise more donations for your cause, faster.  Let’s challenge some of the common myths about wealth screening:   

1. It takes too much time.

Once upon a time, screening your database was a time-intensive task with a questionable return on investment. Preparing the screen was meticulous, and the results were out of date as soon as they came in – days, weeks or even months later! Thankfully, this is no longer the case. New screening tools have evolved to return screening results in a matter of minutes. Regardless of how often you screen, a fast screening platform will provide quick results to ensure your fundraising is as effective as possible.    

2. It’s not cost-effective.

Wealth screening was traditionally seen as an expensive option, but this is because many organizations aren’t optimizing their wealth screenings to get the most value from their investment. Helen Brown of Helen Brown Group said it best in this blog post: “Wealth screenings are a waste of money when people aren’t prepared for the process”. Every organization can benefit from wealth screening as long as you are willing to put in some work, before and after screening, to organize your data and implement a plan.   

3. It’s not trustworthy.

In the fundraising world, there is nothing more unfortunate than asking for a gift that is too large, or leaving money on the table because of a misinformed ask. Having confidence in your ask boils down to the accuracy of the information you’re basing your gift ask on. Your wealth screen will return prospect scores, the baseline for fundraising, and understanding what makes up these scores is critical. Your wealth screening solution should let you take a look behind the scenes to understand what records, data, and intel contributed to the prospect scores in your results. Then, you can validate the information and formulate a confident ask.  

4. It doesn’t give the full picture.

Historically, wealth capacity was the sole factor used in finding prospective donors. But, knowing if a prospect has the ability to give doesn’t tell you if they are likely to give to your specific organization. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way! Nonprofits now have access to comprehensive wealth screening solutions that look at a donor’s history of giving (propensity), and connection to a cause (affinity), to accompany their wealth information. Using a prospect’s affinity, propensity, and capacity will ensure you’re looking at the full picture of a prospective donor. This will help uncover overlooked names hiding within your donor management database.  

5. It can’t be customized to my organization.

No two nonprofits are created equal, and neither are their fundraising goals. Your organization may be searching for donors passionate about education, while another nonprofit may be looking for individuals with a connection to healthcare. The levels of importance of a donor’s capacity, propensity and affinity will vary from organization to organization. Wealth screening is not one-size-fits-all. With modern wealth screening solutions, you can customize screening criteria so it is tailor-made to your organization’s fundraising strategy.    These misconceptions about wealth screening were valid (and still are) for some wealth screening tools. But some leading-edge fundraising intelligence solutions, that also include wealth screening have overcome these challenges and blazed the trail for faster, more transparent, tailor-made results.   

About the Author

iWave, the industry’s top-rated fundraising intelligence platform, enables nonprofit organizations to fundraise with confidence. In a new era of nonprofit fundraising, iWave solves critical challenges facing fundraising professionals today: how to identify, qualify and retain donors to raise more major gifts. iWave’s intuitive and easy-to-use solutions give access to the industry’s highest quality wealth and philanthropic information so you can determine who to ask, how much to ask for, and when to ask. Since 1991, over 6000 clients, including many of the largest education, healthcare, and nonprofit organizations in the World, have relied on iWave to power their fundraising efforts.