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Is Wealth Screening Dead?

Last updated: June 26, 2024

Wealth screening is dead. Okay, not really dead, but it’s certainly outdated.

Wealth screening has been used for decades to research donors and prospective donors. But there are three key problems with it: First, the process of manually uploading large groups of prospects or donors into your database has been (and still is) expensive, time-consuming, and tedious. Second, the information is static and quickly becomes out of date. Third, the main focus of screening has always been on wealth, leaving out other factors that seriously impact the likelihood of someone becoming a donor.

But in a world that has evolved so much technologically, we now have the power to harness vast amounts of data, dig deeper into individuals, foundations, and corporations, and understand the motivations behind why they give—all in real time. These innovations have spawned something that will change the fundraising game: Live Profiles.

Timeline: Evolution of Wealth Screening

  • 1990s – Wealth screening in the nonprofit industry started in the early 1990s with printed directory catalogs and CDs loaded with lists of contacts. In the late 1990s, it moved to more accessible, internet-based directories.
  • 2000s – Moved to online software and began including a broader range of data sources.
  • 2010s – Evolved to include predictive analytics, data integrations, and proprietary data sources. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of data led to the inclusion of more than just wealth when researching, specifically affinity and propensity.
  • 2020s – Donors expect nonprofits to have a full picture of their lives and to know about various changes they experience as they happen. Real-time data is becoming non-negotiable, leading to the creation of Live Profiles.

The Pitfalls of Traditional Wealth Screening

Wealth screening is static, and results are a point-in-time snapshot that requires manual rescreening to update. It’s simple: Real life happens continuously, and small (or large) changes are frequently made in the lives of donors, making the screening results outdated soon after the information is uncovered.

It is expensive and time-consuming to constantly rescreen your list to get updated information. It’s just not possible to do it more than once a year for most institutions, and in reality, many organizations only screen every three years. All the while, donors now expect organizations to understand them and their situation on a deep level. Our online algorithms are serving us exactly what we want on a daily basis, and we expect the same from nonprofits. Donors expect personalized, TIMELY engagement. What happens when you miss a key life event of a donor you are stewarding? This can easily lead to inauthentic connections and missed opportunities.

Traditional wealth screening gives an incomplete picture if it only focuses on capacity, leaving affinity and propensity out of the story. Stick with me here: Imagine a child going through a growth spurt over the course of a year. Each day, something is slightly different, they get a bit bigger. What if you only bought them clothes once a year? The clothes from January would not fit properly in August. Imagine further if you only looked at their height, and not their shoe size. This is what it is like when you only look at the wealth capacity of a donor; you are missing so much of the broader picture. Their affinities and propensity to give are as integral as wealth to the execution of the stewardship process.

Traditional wealth screening is limited to individuals, which is a real problem considering more foundations and companies are in existence (and giving to nonprofits) than ever. According to Giving USA’s Annual Report on Philanthropy, giving by foundations grew 1.7 percent in 2023, and giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 3.0 percent in 2023. This shift in giving trends means it is imperative to have access to and understand your foundation and corporate prospects.

The Solution: Live Profiles

So what is the answer to these problems? What is the next innovation? Real-time data, insights, and automation in the form of Live Profiles. It seems so simple… because it is.

Okay, so screening is not dead; it has just evolved. The function of “screening” can now be done continuously in the background, so you don’t have to.

Picture a profile being continuously screened so that it is always up to date. You can access the profile at any time, and you can trust that it is current and relevant. It provides a dynamic, accurate, and complete picture of your prospects and donors, with no guessing or filling in the gaps.

The benefits are numerous:

  • Gain real-time insights on hundreds of millions of donor profiles for individuals, foundations, and companies that are screened continuously
  • Cut down research time, allowing for the ability to adapt fundraising strategies swiftly in response to new insights
  • Receive real-time alerts on important changes to your donors, so you can act with the right message at the right time
  • Search for new ideal donors. Instead of only having access to donors within your database that you have screened in the past, you can find new prospects and access their Live Profiles at any time
  • Integrate with your CRM and other tools in your tech stack to ensure your entire team has access to data and insights on donors and prospects
  • Access robust and accurate data, scores, and analytics like Kindsight Scores and Planned Giving Scores at any time

How do Live Profiles fit into Fundraising Intelligence?

Kindsight’s Fundraising Intelligence leverages the power of big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation to revolutionize modern fundraising efforts. It combines the most comprehensive advancement and fundraising CRM (ascend), with rich data and insights (iwave), and revolutionary AI-based content creation (engage), which can help nonprofits and advancement professionals discover, engage, and steward donors in a more efficient, effective, and impactful way.

Live Profiles significantly enhance and inform fundraising strategies, effectively driving the entire system by giving up-to-date data and insights on donors. This real-time information on donors and prospects is the core of Fundraising Intelligence because it allows for personalization in engagement. This personalized approach ensures that each interaction resonates with your donors, fostering stronger connections and boosting fundraising outcomes. You’ll be able to have the right conversation, with the right donor, at the right time—every time.

The Modern Way to Fundraise – In Action

Picture this… You have a donor database full of thousands of donors, but you know little, if anything, about them.

Now imagine your Fundraising Intelligence platform has enriched every donor in your database with robust, actionable data and insights. Click on any prospect or donor’s Live Profile in your database and automatically see an overall score, capacity to give, planned giving scores, actionable cultivation and engagement analytics, as well as many other key wealth and philanthropic insights about the individual.

One day, you get notified that one of your existing donor’s planned giving scores has just increased from 3 to 4. With the complete Fundraising Intelligence platform you can easily action the real-time updates about changes to Live Profiles. The donor is automatically added to your planned giving prospect list. An alert is sent to your CRM to notify the appropriate users of this change and of the new workflow that will be starting shortly. This workflow includes sending direct mail, a personalized email, and a follow-up call to set up a meeting one week after the email. Sounds like creating all of that content could be a bit overwhelming doesn’t it? It’s not.

Generative AI will draft the direct mail and email pieces based on the donor’s profile and planned giving score. The draft is sent to the appropriate user to review, edit, and send. Pre-call coaching notes are automatically created and delivered to the appropriate team member. Voila! Your new planned giving donor is within reach.

Getting Started with Live Profiles

With accurate, actionable donor data and insights, the process of identifying, understanding, and engaging prospective donors becomes more efficient and more timely—ultimately, maximizing the chances of securing donations.

Wealth screening is like the fax machine of fundraising—still around, but aren’t there better ways to get things done?

Ready to transform your fundraising with Kindsight? Request a demo today.


Written by Mary

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