I already have a wealth screening; why prospect research, too?

So your organization recently completed a wealth screening. Whether it was your entire database or an important segment of your database, why do you also need prospect research? The wealth screening gave you an estimation of assets and a giving range. What more do you need?

That’s it – a wealth screening gives you data. Yes, data that can be very helpful, such as the types and amounts of assets held by an individual and a capacity for giving based on these identified assets. But, there are some shortfalls here. It doesn’t show you the entire picture. Here are the top three reasons that you also need prospect research to get the most out of your wealth screening:

  1. Confirm that data! Your wealth screening is only as good as the computer algorithms the screening company uses. There is typically no fact-checking on an individual basis. For example: if you have an individual with an extremely common name, you may end up with confirmed or identified assets that are not accurate for this individual or it could go the other direction and have no confirmed assets.  Other reasons that a realistic prospect might come back without confirmed assets or giving could be as simple as using a maiden name or hyphenated name. Or perhaps a spouse’s name is listed in the gift record. These are all little things that can have a huge impact. Having a prospect researcher confirm the data that comes back from a wealth screening is so beneficial in making the most of the resources you allocated for the screening project.
  2. Capacity to give is great, but dig deeper! Your screening will most likely give you an estimated major or annual giving range. This is a great starting point. It gives you a general financial picture of your prospect. Here’s how that number could be a bit misleading. Say Mary Smith is a multimillionaire and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts – maybe even millions – over the years; but just because she is extremely philanthropic doesn’t mean she gives to every organization that asks her. When looking into the data, you may find that Mary only gives to her alma mater and has no history of giving elsewhere. If your organization is not her alma mater, you might be out of luck. Instead of wasting time and resources on pursuing a prospect with little likelihood of giving to YOU, you could focus on others who give to the same types of organizations or even your own donors who you now find out have more capacity than you thought. It really does pay off to have a prospect researcher analyze your returned data.
  3. Learn more! The data returned from your screening is so helpful but it’s often missing something really important – biographical information and how these individuals are interconnected to your organizations and others you may know. If you screen tens of thousands of names, it may not be cost-effective to dive into full-scale research on every single individual. However, a good prospect researcher can help you segment the list and identify which are top priorities for learning the more in-depth information.

If you are thinking about a wealth screening and don’t know where to start (or finish!), reach out! I would be happy to discuss the options that make the most of your budget and goals.

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