I knew one ministry development staff member who would visit every donor in a town who had given in the last couple of years. He visited those who were home and left notes for those who weren’t with a small gift of appreciation. Yet, he didn’t see an appreciable increase in giving from most of those donors.
Why? He called on everyone, regardless of the capacity or inclination to give. He spent the bulk of his time talking to—or leaving notes for—people who were not likely to increase their giving. What he lacked was a way to identify those donors with the highest propensity to give and a strategy to build relationships with those people.
Conducting wealth screening on his donor file would have:
- Saved him time
- Helped him find his hidden major donors (in his current database)
- Increase gift income
How Wealth Screening Works
Businesses and government agencies have created massive databases of information cataloging what assets (cars, homes, etc.) and businesses people own, their membership on boards of various kinds, and so forth. These data are available to the public.
When you conduct wealth screening, the wealth screening tool will look at multiple databases containing many data-points and estimate about how much one individual might be able to give to your ministry. These estimates can be enhanced if you provide information on donors’ past giving.
Our research conducted on three ministry sectors indicates how many ministries use this important tool. (See chart below.)
Christian radio ministries have made the greatest use of wealth screening (55%), with 40% saying they have conducted this assessment within the last two years and 15% saying they did so prior to that. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of Bible colleges have used this tool, while 38% of rescue missions have done so.
Convert It to Action
One of the common complaints about using wealth screening is that fundraising staff members don’t know how to use it. Often, they see tables of numbers and don’t know how to convert them to concrete action steps.
This where it helps to have a fundraising coach or consultant who is experienced in devising and implementing a major donor cultivation plan. Using data from the assessment of your donors, your coach can help you formulate an overall major donor plan as well as guide you in the best way to approach individual donors.
The data we have collected indicate that many ministries could increase income to fund their God-given vision if they conducted wealth screening on their donors.
Want to harness the power of your hidden major donors? Just set up your free coaching call to start the conversation >>