From the Author of Opening the Door to Major Gifts: Mastering the Discovery Call (Charity Channel Press)
When making discovery calls, there are many ways to obtain valuable information prior to the visit. One method is to hire a wealth screening service to survey your donor database and determine the approximate ability of donors to give generously. While this can be a valuable service, it certainly isn’t mandatory. In the best of worlds, all donors who come to your organization — whether through a special event, direct-mail donation or online gift — should be reviewed by a committee of knowledgable volunteers AND analyzed through wealth screening software to determine capacity. Unfortunately, both methods have drawbacks. While volunteers are often willing to share their insights about prospects, they are generally less likely to introduce you to them or accompany you on a visit. Further, while wealth screening can give you some indication of a prospect’s ability to give, it tells you nothing about the individual’s inclination to make a major gift.
What all this means is that you need to go see your donors and find out for yourself. They are helpful, but you do not NEED volunteers or fancy software. Just meet with your prospects, ask questions and LISTEN. You will know soon enough how they feel about your organization.
Here’s an example of how wealth screening might be helpful, but certainly is not vital. Let’s say you have time to only see one prospect, but have two on your list. The first prospect has a wealth screening rating of $50,000 and has made annual gifts of $500 to your organization in each of the last three years. The second prospect has a capacity rating of $500,000 but has not given at all in the past five years. Before that, there were only two gifts, each for $25.
So, which prospect are you going to try to meet with?
The first prospect will definitely be my top priority because the prospect is a significant annual donor, and in fact a donor of some consistency (three straight years). The second prospect may have great capacity, but I have no idea if there is any real interest. Previous gifts were not large, and they occurred some time ago.
That’s why I think wealth screening and gift ratings are helpful but not necessarily essential. In this case, did the wealth screening really matter? At its simplest element, if someone is supporting your organization significantly and consistently, why not try to go visit that person — if for no other reason than to simply say thank you?
Makes sense, doesn’t it?