Donor screening is a process where a list of potential or current donors is analyzed and, usually, ranked. Typically, the names on the list will be ranked for their viability as a major gift prospect, but donor screening is also used to identify monthly, annual giving, and other types of prospects. Donor screening is extremely useful in better understanding your donor database and the people in it.
Why is Donor Screening Useful?
Consider the following scenario. There is a donor who has been faithfully giving your organization $100 every month for the last few years. This donor is very likely entrenched firmly in your organization’s monthly giving bucket. And rightfully so; based on gifts to your organisation, this donor fits the profile of a monthly donor.
Donor screening has the potential to reveal information about this donor that will alter that profile. Perhaps the screen reveals that, based on external wealth indicators, this individual has the capacity to make a six-figure gift. Perhaps the screen analyzes external donation records (gifts to other organizations) and reveals this donor is on the board of private family foundation that routinely makes five-figure gifts to the local hospital.
In this scenario donor screening has helped your organization realize that a fantastic monthly donor is actually more of a major gift prospect.
Donor screening also helps you segment your database. A good donor database is used by multiple people for multiple reasons (or, sometimes, one person assuming multiple roles). For example, a donor database should be able to tell a major gift officer who her top prospects are. It should also be able to tell an annual giving officer who his top prospects are. And it should also be able to tell the organisation what postal codes are likely to have the biggest impact for an upcoming mailout.
How do I do it?
Typically, you will send a donor screening service a spreadsheet containing names pulled from your database. This spreadsheet may also include email addresses or postal codes depending on a) the data the service needs to conduct a screen and b) the data they will return to you.
The service will then attempt to match those names (and other data points, if included) to external data sets. External data sets used in a donor screen can include: real estate wealth, connections to your organization, donation records, and salary records. After the names have been matched the screening service will append the spreadsheet you sent with the data they have pulled and rank your list of names based on any agreed upon criteria.
Donor screening is an immensely effective exercise for a fundraising organization to undertake. It can quickly help identify under the radar prospects in a database and also segment a database for more effective out-reach. Donor screening is a crucial step in developing a better understanding of a donor database and the people in it. Organizations that understand who their donors are raise more money.
Hello, and welcome to 2020! I’m a little late in welcoming everyone here to the new decade, but I wanted to reflect a little on 2019, look forward to 2020 and give our users and audience a look at what we’re thinking about here at CharityCAN.
Trying new things
We spent quite a bit of time working behind the scenes here at CharityCAN in 2019, culminating in the launch of our new donor screening product. It’s been the first new product we’ve launched here at CharityCAN in quite some time, and definitely the first new product with me in the role of CEO. Launching anything new is hard, but I’m really proud of what our team has been able to accomplish.
We also kicked off another pilot project near the end of 2019 to integrate CharityCAN with Raiser’s Edge NXT. The project, whose first phase is nearing completion this month, is our first foray into the world of CRM (constituent relationship management) software, with a goal of making CharityCAN data more accessible wherever you need it.
These two projects took a lot of our software development time, and I’m excited to start seeing the returns of our work in 2020 when we start getting these new features into the hands of our users.
In non-software projects, in 2019 we also hosted our first online webinars, which we hope to continue to do on a quarterly basis to keep everyone updated on the newest features here at CharityCAN.
Refining other features
Because we did a lot of work behind the scenes doesn’t mean we ignored the CharityCAN platform entirely, however! In 2019 we launched the ability to create your own custom relationship maps, so you can leverage the connections your organization has that aren’t in the public domain.
We also added some more CRM-like functionality of our own, allowing you to create notes on prospect profiles and to save companies and charities of interest to your prospect profiles page. We also have the ability to create a list of favourite profiles to use in relationship path searches, and the ability to easily merge and edit prospect profiles, instantly updating your relationship graph in the process.
As I mentioned earlier, one of our first priorities in 2020 is getting some of the work we did in 2019 out the door and into the hands of our customers. Besides donor screening and our RE NXT integration, we have a couple features waiting in the wings!
For the rest of 2020, we’re going to be taking a very close look at the CharityCAN platform. We’ll be examining the data we already have there to try to find new connections we might be able to make between various data points. Then we want to discover the best ways to present that data and get it into the hands of our users. We want to make sure we’re able to give Canadian prospect researchers the data they want, how they want it, in the most user-friendly way possible – whether it’s through a donation record search, inside their CRM, or maybe even pushed to them in a recommended list of prospects.
I’m excited to see what 2020 and the rest of this decade will bring for CharityCAN and Canadian prospect research. Happy New Year and happy searching!