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How To Use Prospect Research in Your Major Gift Fundraising

March 23, 2022

Major gifts are crucial for driving your nonprofit’s mission forward. With the help of these generous donors, you can launch large initiatives, expand your team, or even build new facilities. However, identifying potential major donors is a significant challenge facing nonprofits. So how can you improve your identification process and begin forming connections with major supporters?

The answer: prospect research.

By using publicly available information, prospect research can help you determine who in your constituency may be willing and able to give major gifts to your nonprofit. Commonly considered data points include both wealth indicators and previous philanthropic behavior. With smarter prospect research strategies, your major gifts officer has a better chance of securing those all-important donations with maximum efficiency.

Prospect research offers several valuable insights that can help you identify future major donors. In this guide, JGA asked Bill Tedesco, Founder & CEO of DonorSearch, to share his top five tips for using prospect research in your major gift fundraising efforts. Here are his strategies:

  1. Let your major gifts officer lead the charge.
  2. Use your research to create an RFM score.
  3. Cultivate prospects with both affinity and capacity.
  4. Supplement wealth/philanthropic indicators with personal information.
  5. Leverage business connections for corporate matching gifts.
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3 Philanthropic Trends to Watch in 2022: Giving and Connecting

January 06, 2022

Well, here we are – kicking off 2022 feeling uncertain about the world around us and the ongoing impact of the pandemic. Amidst this uncertainty, we look ahead with hope for a healthy and prosperous new year for those who share their generosity and those who receive. For those of us who have the privilege of working with both those who give and those who receive, here are a few trends to watch for in 2022.

1. Leadership gifts will continue to drive giving. In the most recent 2021 Bank of America Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households, 26% of affluent individuals reported increasing their giving in response to the pandemic to help with direct services to those in need. In addition, the majority of households reported no change in their charitable giving with 15.5% indicating that their giving increased and 21.5% saying they decreased their giving. Looking ahead, while we cannot predict future giving, 74% of affluent households indicated they would not change their long-term philanthropic priorities, 20% expect their charitable giving to be more directed to specific issues, while 5% expect to be less restrictive in their giving. More affluent households created a charitable provision in their will (13% in 2017 vs. 17% in 2020) and more utilized a donor advised fund (5% in 2013 vs. 7% in 2018).

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Donor Data: 4 Strategies to Maximize Your Fundraising

December 22, 2021

Data-driven fundraising is a vital tool that can help you maximize your development efforts. JGA asked Bill Tedesco with DonorSearch to share tips on using insights from your donor data to help you reach your donors effectively and efficiently.

Using the data you have about your supporters will not only improve your fundraising appeals, but it will also save you time and effort while crafting the best asks for your prospects. To help you maximize your fundraising, we’ll explore these four strategies in detail:

  1. Identify major donors.
  2. Establish personalized appeal strategies.
  3. Send effective appeals.
  4. Create a detailed stewardship plan.

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Useful Data on Giving Sources to Guide Your Fundraising

December 02, 2021

As we connect with our donors to inspire 2021 year-end giving and look ahead to 2022, it is smart to reflect on what we learned in 2020. What were the philanthropic trends in year one of the pandemic? What can we learn from these trends to maximize year-end giving and launch your plans for 2022?

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Stakeholder Feedback: The Key to Smart Decision-Making

October 27, 2021

Now more than ever due to the pandemic, nonprofits are faced with many questions about how to adapt and revise their services and extend their outreach to donors and constituents.

Taking the time to solicit feedback from stakeholders can help your organization be thoughtful and strategic as you make these decisions. This feedback can:

  • Help take the guesswork out of decision-making.
  • Impact your strategies for current and potential clients, audience members, program participants, donors, and partners.
  • Help you answer questions, understand real and perceived barriers, hear from new and underrepresented voices, and hone efforts around philanthropic support, services, inclusion, perceptions, and brand messaging and communications.
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Madam C.J. Walker and the AME Roots of her Gospel of Giving

December 10, 2020

We are pleased to offer this guest blog post by Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D. If you would like to learn more about Madam C.J. Walker and the tradition of Black philanthropy, listen to the webinar which we recently recorded with Dr. Freeman, Madam C.J. Walker's Gospel of Giving: Insights on the Past, Present, and Future of African American Generosity.

By Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D. 

In 1914, Walker told a local Indianapolis Freeman newspaper interviewer about the joy she experienced in giving to others. “She takes great stock in the theory that the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” observed the writer following their conversation. But Walker was not simply invoking II Corinthians 9:7, she was expressing deeply rooted convictions grounded in her faith commitment to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In fact, Walker’s religious identity had a significant impact on her philanthropy.

As I write in my book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois, 2020), the AME Church played a powerful role in the transformation story of how this Black woman rose from a southern cotton plantation to live a life of faith and generosity that continues to inspire 100 years later. Walker’s early experiences in the AME Church excited her moral imagination, and guided much of her philanthropy for the rest of her life.

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Utilizing Data to Guide Investments in your Fundraising Program

August 04, 2020

Data plays a vital role in the world of nonprofits. It is a critical tool that helps you make smarter decisions, and it can play a key role in supporting future investment in your efforts.

Your data tells a story that can help you identify key trends as you think towards the future. Sometimes determining what that story says can be a challenge, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by too much data. But with the right guidance, you can quickly gain clarity that can make decision making much easier. For more information on how others are using data in fundraising to achieve results, download our content collection,  How to Use Data to Improve Your Fundraising, produced by Chronicle Intelligence, a division of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in partnership with JGA.

Successful organizations know that it’s important to use the data you have to guide decisions that will help you build stronger and deeper relationships with your donors and friends in the most efficient and effective way possible. Many are using that data to guide future investments in fundraising.

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Giving USA Reports a Strong but Complex Year for 2018 Giving

June 18, 2019

Today, Giving USA released its annual estimate of charitable giving for 2018, showing that giving reached more than $427 billion amid a complex year in terms of economic conditions and a changing policy environment. Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for 2018 reports that Americans gave $427.71 billion in 2018, an increase of 0.7 percent in terms of current dollars but a decline of 1.7 percent from 2017, when adjusted for inflation. Even adjusted for inflation, charitable giving reached its second highest level ever in 2018, second only to 2017.

Published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute, Giving USA is the longest running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America. It is researched and created by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.adjusted for inflation. Even adjusted for inflation, charitable giving reached its second highest level ever in 2018, second only to 2017.

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High Net Worth Donors Have Increased Giving Amounts Since 2015

October 25, 2018

JGA is pleased to share with you news about the latest study on trends in high net worth philanthropy from U.S. Trust and the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. We were honored to host a webinar shortly after the release to discuss the report in detail with Dr. Una Osili, the report's author at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and William Jarvis, with U.S. Trust, Bank of America's Private Wealth Management.

The 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, published by U.S. Trust in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, finds that wealthy Americans continue to be generous with their time and money, increasing the amount they gave on average to charitable causes and organizations in 2017, including giving in the wake of natural disasters. The biennial study shows that 90 percent of high net worth (HNW) households gave to charity last year, and 48 percent volunteered time to nonprofit organizations and causes.

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Giving USA Reports U.S. Giving Tops $400 Billion in 2017

June 12, 2018

Giving USA released its annual estimates of U.S. charitable giving today, and the results show impressive growth despite a shifting national landscape. Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 reports that total charitable giving in our nation reached $410.02 billion in 2017, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2016. This total breaks the lofty $400 billion mark and is the highest in the history of Giving USA, which began tracking this data more than 40 years ago.

Published by Giving USA Foundation, a public service initiative of The Giving Institute, Giving USA is the longest running and most comprehensive report of its kind in America. It is researched and created by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

All but one of the nine major categories of charitable organizations realized growth in giving. (International affairs saw a decrease of 4.4%.) Amid new national leadership, numerous national disasters, and the uncertain impact of tax law changes in December, Americans gave. This positive growth trend was fueled by a strong economy and an increase in personal consumption (4.5%)—the strongest indicator of individual giving.

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