Level Up Your Fundraising Appeal with Wealth Screening

Boost your fundraising appeal with wealth screening and level up your results.

February 2, 2023

As a nonprofit professional, you want to see your organization grow from year to year. Growth can be quantified in many ways though, from expanding your pool of volunteers to building out new programs. Among these, your revenue is one of the most important areas for growth. If your organization struggles to boost fundraising each year (or is seeing a decline in overall donations), it can be hard to know how to improve your fundraising strategy.

For most nonprofits, it helps to go back to the starting point: your fundraising appeal. There could be issues with the appeal itself keeping your organization from reaching key donors—maybe you’re sending your direct mail campaigns to donors who prefer email campaigns. To unearth missed opportunities and pinpoint new ways to diversify your revenue streams, use the data you collect about your donors through wealth screening.

These strategies can help you harness the power of wealth screening and make your fundraising appeals more effective:

  • Find rich insights by analyzing internal and external data.
  • Target the right communication channels.
  • Tailor your appeals by segmenting donors.
  • Screen as often as you want or need.

Your moves management team may not have the time to uncover these insights from the massive files of donor data you have on hand. Fortunately, using nonprofit data analytics and a powerful wealth screening tool can help your team quickly identify trends and useful insights that can inform your strategy.

Find rich insights with internal and external data.

At the intersection of internal and external data, you can find the richest, most effective insights. Internal, or first-party, data is the information your organization collects directly from its donors. First-party data includes information like the total number of donors, total dollars raised, and donor health.

External data, also called third-party data, includes compilations of data sets from external sources that help give you a more complete picture of your constituency. In the context of wealth screening, this data can highlight metrics beyond typical wealth data like discretionary income (or the money donors have on hand to spend).

When you combine these data sources, you can answer questions like:

  • Who is new to your file that hasn’t made a gift yet?
  • Who has the capacity to give more than they currently do?
  • Which donors are not monthly givers but have the propensity and ability to become one?
  • How much did donors give in the last twelve months?
  • Do donors prefer giving by mail, phone, or online?

Combining the donor data your nonprofit has on file with broader data about your constituents gives you the most accurate, nuanced information about them and their giving behavior. These insights can help you identify prospective major donors with the giving affinity and capacity to make major gifts to your cause. Then, you can use what you know about them (like their channel preferences) to create a fundraising appeal that ticks all of their boxes.

Donor data and wealth markers are essential for identifying prospects and procuring new major gifts, but your nonprofit can also leverage this information in other areas. For example, you can use third-party data to create a profile for your average donor that informs the strategies your nonprofit uses during its next direct mail or advocacy campaign. You can also use third-party data to identify donors who may be interested in legacy giving.

Target the right communication channels.

Personalized fundraising appeals are more likely to connect with your donors (and their unique motivations for giving) than generic, cookie-cutter appeals. When soliciting major gifts, crafting a personalized appeal is even more crucial. With wealth screening, you can build a comprehensive wealth profile of prospective and current donors to discern how much they donate, which organizations they give to, and which channels they are most responsive to.

Let’s say your major donors make in-person donations most often. You can deduce that they will be most receptive to other in-person outreach opportunities like one-on-one meetings or invitations to fundraising events. When making future asks, mimic the appeals that were successful in the past and cut down outreach through which channels donors rarely engage.

In addition to making your fundraising appeals more personal, helping you raise more, and improving donor experiences, reaching out through their preferred channels can help you save money. When you have a deeper understanding of which channels supporters engage with, you can stop wasting your marketing dollars by sending outreach on underperforming platforms.

To easily target donors through the channels they prefer, segment by communication preference. Doing so will ultimately save your team even more time as they can quickly send appeals to groups of donors through the right channels.

Tailor your appeals by segmenting donors.

Segmenting your donors makes it easy to craft fundraising appeals that resonate with their motivations. This can keep you from sending a donor an appeal that doesn’t align with their interests, giving affinity, or financial giving capacity. For example, you wouldn’t want to send the same appeal to a donor who contributes $50 each year and your top major donors—this approach would make both donors feel uncomfortable, confused, and even upset.

You can segment donor data based on whatever criteria is helpful to your organization, whether that’s geographic location, lapsed donors, or political affiliation. Based on what you learn during wealth screening and broader data analysis, you could segment donors based on:

  • Giving capacity. This metric indicates how much money the donor is capable of giving. You can derive capacity from wealth markers like household and discretionary income, stock holdings, real estate ownership, past philanthropic behaviors, and political contributions. Segmenting your donors by how much they can give can help you identify donors who could give more so you can pursue promising upgrade opportunities.
  • Motivation for giving. This is one of the most important pieces of information to learn about your donors. Combine external data about your donors like their background and occupation with internal data like which of your programs they engage with the most. Create segments based on the reasons why donors contribute to your cause and create fundraising appeals that address each group’s unique giving motivations.
  • Giving frequency. Group your donors by how regularly they donate to your nonprofit. GivingDNA’s guide to data-driven fundraising suggests segmenting by one-time, annual, and recurring giving. These segments can help you better understand how often to reach out to certain donors. Plus, you can combine frequency insights with data about their motivations and financial situations to find the donors who are most likely to go from one-time or annual donors to recurring donors.

Segmenting can be extremely helpful in tailoring your fundraising appeals to donors with different giving motivations, capacities, and preferences. Keep in mind that segmenting can sometimes lead to missed opportunities because you are only referencing a smaller subset of the complete data. Regularly reference your entire file without any segmentation in place to catch any overarching patterns in the data.

Screen as often as you can.

Wealth screenings are most effective when they are conducted regularly and pull from fresh, clean data. Traditionally, wealth screenings are conducted every three to five years. However, donors interact with your organization every day, meaning that there is ample time between screenings for crucial fundraising opportunities to fall through the cracks.

As you look for the perfect wealth screening platform, prioritize finding one that allows you to screen data regularly so you can identify important opportunities. Ideally, you should try to find a robust platform that allows you to screen any time you want or need to. A good rule of thumb is to screen at least once a month, ensuring you can identify new prospective major donors, spot lapsed donors, and make appeals to donors that are likely to upgrade.

Soliciting donations, particularly when asking for a major gift, can be awkward or challenging for nonprofits when they feel like they don’t understand their donors on a deep level. When you leverage insights from wealth screenings with what you learn through donor relationships, you’ll have all of the information you need to determine when, how, and why to make your appeal.


Executive Vice President, General Manager

Rebecca Gregory Segovia is Executive Vice President and General Manager of GivingDNA, an all-in-one fundraising analytics, data visualization, and wealth screening tool. With over two decades of leadership experience in marketing, fundraising, and technology, Rebecca “Becca” Segovia is a seasoned fundraising executive with a strong vision and passion for helping nonprofits reach more donors and raise more dollars to further their mission


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