Top 5 Myths About Prospect Wealth Screenings

New tools like A.I. are exciting and full of big promises, but does that mean the tools that have been around a long time are less effective? Although they’ve been around for decades, wealth screenings remain a valuable and surprisingly affordable tool — that still gets misunderstood.

Following are the top 5 myths about prospect wealth screenings. Read on to learn how wealth screenings can benefit your fundraising.

  1. Once the wealthiest donors are identified, I will have my list of major gift prospects.

While it is true that screenings can help you identify major gift prospects, wealth alone does not define a great major gift prospect. The best indicator comes from your organization’s internal data — giving history. Your donor’s giving history tells a story about their affinity, or how close they feel to your organization.

Wealth screenings append or add external data about wealth to your donor file. This lets you pair your internal giving information with external wealth information to find your best major gift prospects. A donor with high affinity and high wealth is the perfect place to start!

  1. The information in the results file is very accurate and does not need to be checked with additional research.

If a salesperson ever tells you that algorithm-matched data is 100% accurate, run away fast! And if it is not 100% accurate that means there will be some errors. As anyone who has ever gotten a piece of mail or email with your name misspelled can attest, there is a lot of bad data roaming around.

Additional validation research on those donors who have high affinity and high wealth is well worth it because those are the donors who are the most likely to be able to make larger gifts to your organization. These are the donors who are most likely to lead your campaign, catalyze your strategic vision, or if you are a food bank, buy the refrigerator you need to keep food fresh.

  1. The gift capacity rating can be used as the ask amount.

Well, maybe. Gift capacity is typically calculated as a 5-year pledge and is based on visible wealth — assets in the public domain, such as real estate. In theory it is meant to be the largest gift a person could make if they gave all they had to one organization. Even if you are using an A.I.-driven score, your donor would have to have a really high affinity to be motivated to give it all to your organization!

Gift capacity ratings are also limited by the data available. For example, some wealthy individuals might have their wealth invested privately, pushing their capacity rating lower. Even with these limitations, the gift capacity rating can help you better understand the potential wealth in your donor file.

  1. The information is riddled with errors and is pretty much useless.

There is bound to be at least one donor you know either has a lot of wealth or doesn’t and is rated wrong in the screening. But remember, the screening simply can’t be 100% accurate. The data from your database likely has errors, we know data sources in the public domain have errors, and matching algorithms have limitations, too.

The purpose of the wealth screening is NOT to append 100% accurate information. The purpose of the wealth screening is to help you identify your best major gift prospects — those with high affinity and high wealth. When you use the services of a prospect researcher, they will use proven techniques to help you sort through the errors and the accurate information.

  1. I’m not in a campaign, so a wealth screening won’t help me with my fundraising.

It’s true that campaigns provide the perfect storm for a wealth screening. But even if you purchase a wealth screening for your campaign, you can still use the data every time you need to pull a list. If you import the ratings into your database, you can use them to help you create better lists such as for your gala invitations, your special appeal, or your board thank you call list.

Wealth screenings add external wealth data to your database. And if that’s true then you can run reports that include that information. This means you can benefit from knowing that the person who has given you $500 every year could give you much more. And if that gives you confidence to make a $1,500 solicitation for a special project or ask for a campaign pledge, well done!

Make wealth screenings part of your data strategy

With the explosion of information technology, such as wealth screenings, it’s time to stop thinking about data solutions as specific to a fundraising strategy. Instead, make your purchasing choices part of your data strategy.

For example, it is just as important to think through what data points will go where in your database as it is to segment the wealth screening to identify your major gift prospects. These days, successful fundraising depends on good data.

This is why so many organizations hire prospect research professionals when they want to get serious about raising major and transformational gifts. Experienced prospect researchers understand the connection between the database, the data, and fundraising strategy, guiding you to better information and better process and procedure.

Prospect wealth screenings can be a valuable, and economical addition to your fundraising data strategy.

About Aspire

At Aspire Research Group, we provide specialized consulting and research services – because we believe you deserve a methodical, replicable process for major gift success. Successful nonprofits have too much donor data to sift through. This overwhelms staff and creates confusion about exactly which prospects to focus on. Visit to find out how we can help you get focused on the right major gift prospects.

By Jennifer Filla, Aspire Research Group LLC

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