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Monday, January 22, 2018

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Is Facebook the world's best EVER donor prospectingtool?
Tom Ahern

March, 2015

Pareto co-founder, Sean Triner, recites this like a monk doing rosaries, "The most likely person to give your charity a gift is a person who's given another charity a gift."

Pareto is Australia's largest direct mail and telephone fundraising agency. And he's explaining why Facebook has turned into an overflowing cash register for a charity like Soi Dog, an animal welfare charity with a bottomless supply of horrifying stories and heartwarming rescues.

Prospecting at the mass level is getting more sophisticated by the minute. We're in the age of Big Data, with algorithms crawling all over your private life.

Facebook has penetrated more than half of US households. It knows who you are. Your age. Where you graduated. Where you were born. Your affiliations. Your friends. Your moods (yes, Facebook tracks those). It sees what you like. It analyzes your clicks. It knows what you watch. What you read. Who you vote for.

It has amassed in one vast digital brain an unprecedented trove of actual consumer behavior, about you and hundreds of millions more.

And it's for sale. You can buy access. Facebook will sell you exactly the right eyeballs for your particular fundraising message.


But that's the mass side. What about major gifts?


I asked the experts at DonorSearch to provide you with a briefing about the state of major-gift donor research today. They generously provided the following.


What DonorSearch wrote


Prospect research is a time honored strategy used by nonprofits across the world to figure out which potential donor prospects are likely to make a gift and what is a reasonable gift to ask for.


Without prospect research, finding major gift donors is like searching for diamonds in a pitch black cave. You need a flashlight, and prospect research is your flashlight.


And a spotlight. Prospect research can illuminate:

  • Previous donations to your nonprofit
  • Donations to other nonprofits
  • Political giving
  • Real estate ownership
  • Business affiliations
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Insider Stock Transactions
  • Personal Information

A common misconception is that wealth best predicts philanthropic giving, but research shows that previous charitable donations are actually better indicators of future giving.


Still, philanthropy data alone does not entirely rule the day. A holistic approach, that includes both philanthropy and wealth indicators, will paint the fuller picture of a prospect. You'll see in 3D. You'll see both giving tendencies as well as charitable capacities.


"Blind" guessing vs. "smart" guessing


Prospect research that includes both philanthropic and wealth data will unearth prospects with not only (1) the capacity to give ... but also prospects with (2) proven track records of giving.


For example, a prospect may donate small gifts to your nonprofit. They look like a small donor, someone you can't afford to spend much time on one on one.


But during the research process you uncover that she previously donated a major gift - something over $5,000 - to another organization.


Alarms sound in the fundraising office.


This prospect has the means to give another large gift. She immediately becomes a better potential target than other wealthy prospects because, unlike other wealthy prospects, this individual has a proven history of giving major gifts. Your data base told you she was a small donor. But she isn't. She's potentially a major donor.


There are many different types of organizations that can benefit from "deep" prospect research. The obvious include:

  • Schools, from K-12 to universities
  • Hospitals, hospices, clinics, and related healthcare organizations
  • Fraternities and sororities
  • Arts and humanities organizations, such as museums, theaters, and performance groups
  • Religious organizations, such as churches, synagogues, and mosques

Don't waste your efforts on less-likely prospects.


Learn as much as you can prior to soliciting a donor. Identify not only who has the capacity to give major gifts ... who also those most likely to give, if persuaded your cause is worthy.


Allocate your fundraising efforts accordingly.


Prospect screening can also:

  • Identify likely planned giving donors: increase your bequests.
  • Discover new prospects so you can start developing potential relationships.
  • Determine which of your donors could be eligible for matching gift grants.
  • Educate your nonprofit on donor behavior, so you know when certain people will give, how much, and why.
  • Update your donor database, so you're not fundraising with antediluvian data.

Hey - and be sure and visit



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