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screeningScreening is a prospect identification process used to prioritize individuals in a donor database and  uncover  those  with  high  potential  as  prospective  donors.    Generally,  there  are  two approaches to screening.  Currently, the most well recognized strategy is a wealth screen.

Wealth screening, while often recommended as the first step in prospect identification, is often expensive, time consuming, and unreliable without further research and verification.  Above all, it does not provide enough insight to cover all aspects of an ideal donor profile.

Why?  Primarily, wealth screening focuses on wealth.  Essentially, screening involves matching individuals  across  different  types  of  external  information  or  databases  to  determine  their capacity to give to a nonprofit organization.  Example: By providing a name, city, and state of a potential donor, a screening tool will match this individual to real estate records, securities holdings, biographical information, and other types of data.

However, the results are not always reliable for fundraising teams to make the right “ask”.  The screen could be missing valuable records, include false positives, and ignore other important factors that make up an ideal donor.  Wealth screening is popular among those who believe cash is king.   It doesn’t matter if a donor has strong linkage to a cause if she doesn’t have the capacity to award major gifts, right?  This is true, but it leaves many unanswered questions. Wealth alone is not enough to find the right major gift donor.

Prospect screening is an alternative solution to wealth screening that involves much more comprehensive results and processes.

Prospect screening solutions such as iWave’s PROscreen provide a more complete picture of an individual because the results include ratings about their:

1.   Baseline capacity to give;

2.   Inclination/propensity to give; and

3.   Linkage/affinity to a particular cause or organization.

This strategy provides insight into not just one, but all three key factors that make a great donor. No donor profile is complete without understanding the full picture, and these prospect scores help fundraising teams determine which prospects to focus on first.

Since each nonprofit is different, it’s also important to have the ability to customize a prospect screen to suit unique goals and fundraising strategies.  Ideal customization features might include adjusting  the  weighting  of  prospect  score  components,  inputting  custom  capacity  ranges, selecting the matching algorithm’s restrictiveness, and choosing from a variety of affinity categories.  Transparency is also critical.  Can results be trusted when it’s unclear where they even came from?  A tool that clearly demonstrates how its screening process works gives more power to the user to better understand prospects and further customize the tool’s settings.

Screening is just the first step in the prospect development pipeline.  Therefore, a prospect screen needs to be comprehensive and detailed enough to matter, yet simple and straightforward so that fundraising teams can spend more time on their most important objectives: verifying, refining, researching, and spending time with the right prospects.


About iWave: For 25 years, iWave Information Systems has been delivering software solutions that  empower  education,  healthcare,  and  nonprofit  organizations  to  raise  more  major  gifts, faster.  iWave has assisted over 6000 organizations in the United States, Canada, and overseas, making these tools a proven asset for fundraising departments of any size. Last modified on Monday, 19 September 2016
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