We’re delighted to highlight Jennifer Fry in this month’s blog post. Jennifer is Director of Prospect Discovery and Information at Northwestern University and our May 8th ShareTraining faculty member.
In preparing to present a ShareTraining seminar on Making the Most of Your Wealth Screening, I’ve been trolling listservs, blogs and other online discussions, as well as talking to colleagues and reading best practices and other literature, with a few questions running through my mind:
- What do people know about wealth screenings?
- What are the most mysterious aspects of wealth screening for someone who’s looking to do one for the first time? What about for those who are screening veterans?
- What part(s) of the screening process elicit the most questions?
And then I start to wonder: Are wealth screenings sooo 2008? 2005? Are analytics scores a de rigueur part of any screening these days? Do most people even know what “analytics” is? It’s funny to think about anything associated with prospect research being “old-fashioned” (which for me conjures up images of butter churns, Conestoga wagons and other things à la Little House on the Prairie). But with companies like WealthEngine, Blackbaud’s WealthPoint and their predecessors providing wealth and asset screening services for almost 20 years now — and given the trends and buzzwords that regularly ripple through the prospect research community (data mining, social media, analytics) — it’s fair to wonder if wealth screenings are still a relevant fundraising tool, or a fad whose effectiveness has been eclipsed by other more of-the-moment solutions.
Finally, what fresh ideas are out there for using wealth data generated by screenings — and using those results in conjunction with analytics, prospect management, and other prospect development techniques and systems to maximize a screening investment?
So, where did all these questions lead?
I learned that wealth and asset screening is still a core tool for prospect identification and research, and for good reason. According to organizational survey data gathered for WealthEngine’s recent Best Practices reports, the return on the average wealth screening is more than 400 times the investment. With proper planning and timely implementation, wealth screening remains one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways for any organization to identify high-capacity prospects.
I also learned that the prospect researchers and other fundraising professionals who are discussing and considering wealth screening understand its potential. They’re asking great, intelligent questions, as well as sharing inventive ideas about new ways to use and maximize screening results. The questions, especially, center around verifying and reporting on results; I hope the examples and tips in the May 8th ShareTraining presentation will contribute to the conversation.
Incidentally, I also learned that Helen Brown herself likes a seminar with “meaty takeaways” (see her November 23, 2011 blog post on ShareTraining’s Helen Brown Group sister site). So, if you’re interested in delving beyond the “whats” and “whys” to the “hows” of wealth and asset screening, with some meaty takeaways, I hope you’ll join me on May 8th for Making the Most of Your Wealth Screening: Strategies for Planning, Implementation and Beyond.