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Wealth screening is the practice of gathering financial data on potential donors to find hidden wealth and donation opportunities. This is a crucial step in raising funds, as it often helps an organization prioritize and craft more effective outreach strategies.
All of that important data is hard to find unless you’re working with a third-party vendor, though. Not only do wealth screening tools offer large databases with fact-checked information, they also have security measures and the ability to identify pathways to potential new contacts, something that smaller businesses wouldn’t necessarily be able to do on their own.
For Major Gift Officers (MGOs), finding the right wealth screening tool is imperative. Here, we will outline the different types of tools to help you better understand what’s available—and we’ll show you how Nexis Wealth Navigator combined with Nexis for Development Professionals can give you the wealth screening superpowers you need to do your job efficiently and easily.
There is a wide variety of tools used for wealth screening, including public sources, research platforms, donor management systems, and data analytics tools. Regardless of which path your institution chooses, there are best practices to consider when it comes to the process of wealth screening.
Primarily, it’s important to keep in mind the ethics of screening; give donors a chance to opt-out of this practice and make them aware that you will be viewing their financial information to avoid harm or negative exposure. It’s also crucial that donor financial data be kept in a secure place and treated as confidential out of respect for their privacy.
Organizations should work to verify their sources as well. If MGOs are not working with a vetted vendor, it is imperative to crosscheck information from various sources to ensure you aren’t believing incorrect statistics. Even when using a third-party tool, it’s important to be wary of data and not place too much trust in specific numbers that might be erroneous.
With those best practices in mind, here is an overview of the different types of tools:
A great deal of financial data is available publicly, and many don’t realize just how much information is easily accessible. For instance, SEC filings are available via the government tool EDGAR. “All companies, foreign and domestic, are required to file registration statements, periodic reports, and other forms electronically through EDGAR,” the SEC site states.
Similarly, property records are visible, as are stock trading records for C-suite employees. MGOs can search the public pages, like FinViz and local commercial property sale announcements to see major financial events for their donors.
While these sources are readily accessible, they also come with challenges. For one, the wealth of data available online makes it difficult to streamline the prospect research process for just the key points—for instance, a minor stock trade might not actually be worth noting, and MGOs could miss major events due to an overwhelming amount of information. Also, there are many important factors not accounted for in public records, and it’s not uncommon for these free net worth calculators to be very far off from the real number.
MORE: How nonprofits can do more with research
Because of the challenges noted with publicly available sources, you may want to consider using third-party archives and tools that do much of the prospect research work for you and offer extra benefits and insight. This includes the Nexis Wealth Navigator and Nexis for Development Professionals, which use AI to pull from their stored database of 250 Million Household profiles and apply that to a unique search, with criteria categories such as personal, professional and financial requirements.
Databases like the Nexis tool have the capability to map out pathways to potential donors by also looking at sources like LinkedIn to see who else might possibly be connected to the institution. They can also show the history of one’s charitable donations to see if they are interested in the overall mission of a particular organization.
While there are many benefits to commercial databases—such as accessing a larger set of stored information that’s more easily searchable and more fine-tuned than most search engine results—there are also some challenges. For instance, affording the upfront cost of a third-party tool can be difficult when a company is used to mining information for free. That said, these tools are often much more accurate than free systems.
Software systems like Bloomerang and Network For Good fall under the “Donor Management” section because they help non-profits organize their donor records and communicate with their contact lists. These programs are primarily used for more than just screening, and some don’t include screening or data analysis at all—they rely on organizations to input their own data.
The disadvantage of this is, of course, the need to perform wealth screening separately. However, once that data is added, these platforms offer unique ways to interact with donors that are not available in wealth screening-only software options. For instance, with a tool like Kindful, organizations can create event landing pages for upcoming fundraiser that have built-in donation pop-ups and easy ways for donors to connect with each other and the institution.
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Within all of those options, the most complete route is using a commercial database paired with a research validation tool. This way, MGOs can gather all the key data points and then test their accuracy, so that pivotal information is not incorrect. This also avoids possible issues with donors; a contact who’s being reached out to because the institution thinks they acquired new assets when, in reality, they didn’t, might be frustrated by that inaccurate assumption.
While the process of screening for hidden wealth can seem daunting, there are a myriad of software programs and manual data-pulling options to turn to. Leaning on an all-in-one system that combines the tasks of gathering, analyzing, synthesizing, and verifying information is the best way to streamline wealth screening, but is of course not the only route.
Luckily, these steps do not need to happen separately. You can merge the processes with a subscription to a service like Nexis Wealth Navigator and Nexis for Development Professionals, which combines both the donor data opportunities and the donor validation backing. As these two programs work in tandem, your research will be sped up exponentially, leaving you more time to secure a mission-achieving donation.
Interested in learning more about how Nexis Wealth Navigator and Nexis for Development Professionals work together? Visit our website or schedule a free demo today.