Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Finding Your Donor ‘Whales’

In Las Vegas, they are known as “whales.” In fundraising, that same gambler is called a major donor who is betting on you.

To reach the well-heeled requires a different, often personal, approach over an extended time when the potential gift.

To figure out who should be on a prospect list, David Chase of Chase Solutions in Centerville, Mass., spelled out a number of sources that can be tapped. Called data screening, it involves poring over other databases to see how closely they match your own and build on what you have.

The process is not infallible, he told the annual conference of the New England Association for Healthcare Philanthropy in March, and can produce false matches.

But looking through various records of everything from real estate and stock holdings to yacht ownership and the board of directors appointments can help guide development efforts in the following eight ways:

* Identifying the best prospects and rating them.
* Estimating the donation capacity not only of individuals but an entire list.
* Rating levels of donations, including size and frequency.
* Identifying which forms of giving to which they will be most amenable.
* Finding personal connections that will have the ear of the target.
* Using the information as a building block of a campaign, looking at such areas as how to raise average gifts, to upgrade large donors and the cause to highlight.
* Determining which prospects merit the strongest focus.
* Such data screening will generally cost from $3,500 to $15,000 depending on the number of people researched and how much information will be collected.