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Delaware program uses text messages to combat summer melt

May 14th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Texting

Delaware is using teenagers’ love of texting to help reduce “summer melt.” The state offered each of its nearly 9,000 high school seniors the chance to opt-in to a program that would send them text messages a few times a month. The messages would vary depending on how far along students were in the application process. More than 4,000 students enrolled, as well as nearly 400 parents. A computer sends the text message, but the state has assigned a team of 10 people at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration to field replies. The team there reports that many students asked for help dealing with confusing scholarship applications and financial aid forms. “Even after students apply to college there are many time-sensitive tasks they need to keep up with. Really the goal is to say, ‘Hey, don’t forget you need to do this thing. Do you have questions about doing this?’” said University of Pittsburgh researcher Lindsay Page, who is publishing a paper on the value of text messages for reducing summer melt. Delaware isn’t the only jurisdiction to use text messages in this way, but it will be the first to launch such an initiative state-wide.

Can a text message get Delaware students to college?


Delaware’s latest college readiness initiative begins at the nexus of two pretty convincing assumptions:

1.) Teenagers like to text.
2.) Applying to college is difficult.

The first assumption borders on hard fact. A 2012 Pew survey found that the average teenager sends 60 texts a day, and that texting is far and away the most common way teens communicate.

The second assumption likely rings true for anyone who has either applied to college in the last decade or tried to coax a teenager through the process.

It’s also the subject of considerable academic study.

University of Pittsburgh researcher Lindsay Page’s work focuses in particular on “summer melt,” the theory that many students, particularly low-income students, fail to enroll in college specifically because of the financial and logistical challenges they encounter between graduating high school in spring and matriculating the next fall. Along with her colleague, University of Virginia professor Benjamin Castleman, Page has tested a number of interventions aimed at easing this transition.

“We started out very low-tech, having counselors or college advisors basically receive a caseload of students,” Page said. “And it was the responsibility of the counselor or advisor to use all of the modes of communication at their disposal to reach out to the students. So it would be calling and emailing.”

The initial results were uninspiring. So Page and Castleman turned to the device teenagers use most — their phones — and the thing they’re most likely to do on that device — text.

“It’s a deceptively simple idea,” Page said.

In the summer of 2012, Page and Castleman set up an experiment. They started with groups of recent high school graduates in Texas and Massachusetts. Some received periodic reminders, ten in all, reminding them to complete paperwork, fill out housing forms, and take placement tests. Others received nothing.

In certain populations, the text messages led to a seven percent bump in college enrollment. In others, the effect was minimal. Overall, though, the results, which will be published later this year in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, convinced Page and Castleman that their deceptively simple solution could have real world application.

“This is definitely something that is very promising,” Page said.

Delaware is the first to take the texting program statewide — and beyond the contours of a carefully-designed experiment. Each of Delaware’s 8,726 high school seniors were eligible to receive the messages, which began in January rather than over the summer. More than 4,000 students have enrolled and 363 of their parents.

A computer program sends out a batch of approximately 400 texts over the course of two hours about three times a month.  They are tailored based on where the students are in the application process. Students who have completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may receive different notices, for example, than those who haven’t. As students pick their schools, some will receive notices specific to their future plans.

As cell phones across the state buzz and ping, a team of about ten from University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration fields responses.

“A lot of pop culture references come up,” said Shana Payne, director of the Delaware Department of Education’s Higher Education Office, with a laugh.

Yes, there are thousands of teens on the receiving end of these messages — which means responses may be curse words, texts intended for other recipients, and weird adolescent brags.

“The guy was asking if I wanted to see him do burnouts on his four-wheeler,” said Laura Wisniewski, a student at the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration.

Most responses, though, seem born of simple confusion. Stumped seniors ask about scholarship applications or half-completed FAFSA forms. If left unanswered, these questions could become missed deadlines or dead ends in the quest for an affordable college education.

“Even after students apply to college there are many time-sensitive tasks they need to keep up with,” Page said. “Really the goal is to say hey, don’t forget you need to do this thing. Do you have questions about doing this?”

The Federal Communications Commission prohibiting texting people without their explicit permission. That means Delaware students must opt into program. But it also means the department’s texts don’t compete with dozens of spam emails, robo phone calls, or Facebook ads.

This direct communication tactic can be a boon.

In 2008, the Obama campaign famously announced it’s Vice Presidential nominee via text, and used text messaging to great acclaim as a fundraising and voter-turnout tool. Text messages have been used to promote HIV/AIDS awareness in the developing world, help smokers quit, and encourage weight loss.

The intervention, in other words, is not new. The application, however, is.

When Page and Castleman tested their college texting program, it produced mixed results. Students in Lawrence and Springfield, Massachusetts, for instance, were about seven percent more likely to enroll in college after receiving the texts. Dallas produced a more modest enrollment bump of 2.4 percent. Students in Boston were a tad less likely to enroll after the text-message deluge.

The researchers attributed this range of results to the fact that Boston students already had access to an abundance of college readiness programs. Students elsewhere were more isolated, and thus more likely to benefit from a digital nudge.

It’ll be a while before Delaware officials can surmise the overall impact of their pilot campaign. So far, 42 percent of students have responded to at least one text message, according to the Department of Education’s Higher Education Office. That number response rate is higher than those in Dallas (31 percent), Springfield (34 percent), and Boston (37 percent), but lower than Lawrence (48 percent).

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is covering the $80,000 tab for this year’s campaign. Given the number of participants, the cost per person comes out to about $18. Page says that number is a bit high because the state had to sign a contract before it knew how many parents and students would enroll. In an experimental setting, she and Castleman were able to deliver the same product for $7 a head.

It’s tricky, at this juncture, to do a cost-benefit analysis of the entire program. Page doesn’t know, for example, if those extra seven percent will complete college or drop out when their next FAFSA form comes due. And if students do drop out, the texts will have been little more than a vehicle for debt.

On the sunnier side, it’s possible the texts can help students who were already college-bound secure extra scholarship money and more favorable loans. The research has not yet attempted to measure this impact, but there’s anecdotal evidence to support it.

Take the case of Pierce Armstrong, a senior at Hodgson Vo-Tech School in Newark, Delaware.

Armstrong was likely college bound before he ever received a text from Shana Payne and the Higher Education Office. But he knew little about financial aid, and realized his parents — one of whom didn’t attend college and one of whom went to a local university — couldn’t offer much help.

“They were able to give me the push and a little bit of insight into things, but overall they didn’t understand the process,” Armstrong said.

After botching a couple of scholarship applications, Armstrong realized he was adrift.

“It’s the senior year and I was kind of on that fence, like, what do I do? How do I do it,” Armstrong said. “I needed help.”

After a few text exchanges he’s now filled out a couple of scholarships, completed his FAFSA, and applied to three colleges. As of now, he’s planning to attend Kutztown University in Pennsylvania this fall.

Armstrong already spends, by his estimate, about two-to-two-and-a-half hours a day texting. A few minutes more chatting about college hardly seemed an intrusion.





Best of the best – development officer traits

May 13th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

One of my brilliant colleagues shared this gem with me recently.  We’re all aware of the crucial impact of talented fundraisers to an organization’s bottom line.  And as my daddy always used to say:  the best indicator of the number of major gifts coming in tomorrow is the number of asks that occurred today.

Development officers have to be knowledgeable, driven and strategic.  Recently the Education Advisory Board completed a little research to determine those professional traits that the absolute best development officers possess.

Click on the image above to read more about the EAB’s research methodology.

It makes me pause to consider how we in Development Services can better contribute to development officer success by being the best of the best in our own domain?


Diane Korb
APRA Greater Houston
April 1, 2015

So you think you want to crowdfund? Ask yourself these six questions first!

May 12th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Crowdfunding, Fundraising

You have probably heard that one about the guy who crowdfunded over $50,000 for potato salad. If not the potato salad story, you’ve surely heard of the gut-wrenching, community togetherness story of the crowdfunding campaign for Toronto’s Elijah Marsh.

These examples are outliers.

The idea of crowdfunding is being tossed around at a lot of nonprofits and charities these days. As we hear about success stories, it’s easy to think “Hey, that could be me!” If you think your organization is ready for crowdfunding, it is important to stop right now and take a good hard critical look at whether crowdfunding will actually work for your organization. Here are some important questions to ask yourself before launching a campaign:

What’s the money for?

The best kind of project for a crowdfunding campaign is one that is compelling and has a great story behind it. Do you have a great story with great assets (photos and video) to back it up? These are essential pieces to the crowdfunding puzzle.

Your story needs to make a human connection. The typical supporter on a crowdfunding campaign need to see a benefit they can connect to.

Trying to raise capital/general purpose funds? You are going to want to re-think that strategy. While all of us who work in or support the nonprofit sector know it’s important to keep the lights on, crowdfunding platforms are typically fickle about this kind of funding.

How much are you trying to raise?

The average crowdfunding campaign raises $5000 to $7000. A similar amount to a lot of those grant applications you’ve probably been applying to.  You must set a reasonable goal for your crowdfunding campaign.

Which brings us to the next question…

Who will seed?

Successful campaigns are those that have a well-networked community behind them (in addition to being a super awesome project). Trustworthiness is key to a successful crowdfunding campaign. The best way to look trustworthy is to have funding rolling in right as you launch. How do you do this? You line up donations before the campaign launches.

That’s right! You need to approach some of your current donors, preferably those who are the best fit to support your project, and ask them to donate on campaign launch day.

Are you well connected?

When you look at the successful crowdfunding campaigns, and not just the outliers, a trend emerges: connections.

If you want to have a successful crowdfunding campaign, you can’t expect strangers to fund it – at least not entirely. The majority of successful crowdfunding campaigns are funded by people you already know. This means you’re going to have to tap your existing donors for more cash.

This stat from Fundable outlines the need for connectedness:

“Social Media is a critical factor in crowdfunding success: for every order of magnitude increase in Facebook friends (10, 100, 1000), the probability of success increases drastically (from 9%-, 20%, to 40%).”

Do you have the capacity for follow-up and long-term stewardship?

You are going to be pouring time and effort into planning and launching this campaign. A smart nonprofit (like yours) knows that long-term success is about building friendships in your community.

Even though a lot of your funders will already be long-time supporters, a crowdfunding campaign is full of opportunities to lay the foundation for new relationships. What kind of ongoing donor communication and stewardship program does your nonprofit have? If you’re relying on paper-only communications, your new online donors might not migrate over to the offline world. At least not at first, so if you don’t have an online (this includes email)  communications plan, crowdfunding is probably not for you.

How will you deliver what you promised?

It is important to establish trust with your funders. Between your perks and your actual project, you’re going to have several deliverables that you must follow through on.  Can you do it?

Let’s talk perks: Can you get them donated to you? Are they meaningful to the context of your project or organization? Are they tangible or intangible? How will you deliver them? Have you budgeted for delivery costs?

Hot tip: If you have to purchase your perks, they should cost at least 50% less than the amount donated. (If someone donates $100, the associated perk should be $50 or less…and I recommend erring on the side of way less). The best possible scenario for a nonprofit is to have perks donated.

In addition to the perks, you need to deliver on your project. If you raise $5000 to build a new playground at the women’s shelter, you better build that playground. Your funders have trusted you to do as you say. Use that capacity for long-term follow up to update your funders on progress. Maybe even send an invite to the public opening, launch, or celebration party.

Crowdfunding is hard. Really hard.

Crowdfunding doesn’t happen by magic. You need to spend some serious time (1-2 months) prior to your campaign launch getting your ducks in a row. You need to write compelling copy, record (and edit) your campaign videos, find your seed funding, develop a communications strategy for your online and offline activities, get traditional PR activities underway, and you need to wrangle your amplifiers to help spread the word.

Once the campaign starts, you will basically be doubling your workload. You will be thanking everyone who contributes, sending messages out on all your channels, connecting with individual amplifiers, and pushing as hard as you can to reach your campaign’s tipping point.

Then the campaign ends (deep breath) but you don’t want to take too long before you start on your follow up. Send your thank you notes, send your perks, publish your post-campaign blog, and write your follow up media release.

Crowdfunding is not impossible

You have probably read through to this point thinking, “Gosh, this isn’t what I thought it would be.” That’s ok! If you can answer these questions and you feel like your project is a great fit then take on a crowdfunding campaign (and tweet me @alliekosela so I can cheer you on). It takes a lot of work to do a successful crowdfunding campaign. If you plan ahead, understand the challenges, and leverage your existing networks, you’ll have a good chance of funding that awesome project!

Mar 26, 2015
author/source: Allie Kosela
Hilborn Charity Info

10 behaviours of genuine people

May 11th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Whether you’re building a business, a network, or friendships, you always want to look for people who are genuine. After all, nobody wants to work or hang out with a phony. On the flipside, that goes for you, as well. Bet you never considered that.

In case you’re wondering, genuine means actual, real, sincere, honest. Genuine people are more or less the same on the inside as their behavior is on the outside. Unfortunately, it’s a tough quality to discern. The problem is that all human interactions are relative. They’re all a function of how we perceive each other through our own subjective lenses.

Being genuine is also a rare quality. In a world full of phony fads, media hype, virtual personas, positive thinkers, and personal brands – where everyone wants what they don’t have, nobody’s content to be who they are, and, more importantly, nobody’s willing to admit to any of that – it’s becoming more and more rare all the time.

To help you identify this rare breed — in yourself, as well — this is how genuine people behave.

They don’t seek attention. They don’t need constant reinforcement of their own ego. Where attention seekers have a hole that constantly needs to be filled, genuine people are already filled with self-confidence and self-awareness.

Related: Want to Be Successful? Quit Wasting Your Brain.

They’re not concerned with being liked. The need to be liked is born of insecurity and narcissism. It creates a need to manipulate your own and other’s emotions. Confident and authentic people are simply themselves. If you like them, fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

They can tell when others are full of it. Perhaps naïve folks can be easily fooled, but genuine people are not naïve. They’re grounded in reality and that gives them a baseline from which they can tell when things don’t add up. There’s a big difference.

They are comfortable in their own skin. In his late 70s, actor Leonard Nimoy said he was closer than ever to being as comfortable with himself as Spock appeared to be. Most of us struggle with that. As Henry David Thoreau observed, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”

They do what they say and say what they mean. They don’t tend to overreach or exaggerate. They meet their commitments. And they don’t parse their words or sugarcoat the truth. If you need to hear it, they’ll tell you … even if it’s tough for them to say and for you to hear.

Related: The Truth About ‘Fake It ‘Til You Make It’

They don’t need a lot of stuff. When you’re comfortable with whom you are, you don’t need a lot of external stuff to be happy. You know where to find happiness – inside yourself, your loved ones, and your work. You find happiness in the simple things.

They’re not thin-skinned. They don’t take themselves too seriously so they don’t take offense when none is intended.

They’re not overly modest or boastful. Since they’re confident of their strengths, they don’t need to brag about them. Likewise, they don’t exhibit false modesty. Humility is a positive trait but it’s even better to just be straightforward.

They’re consistent. You might describe genuine people as being weighty, solid, or substantial. Since they know themselves well and are in touch with their genuine emotions, they’re more or less predictable … in a good way.

They practice what they preach. They’re not likely to advise people to do something they wouldn’t do themselves. After all, genuine people know they’re no better than anyone else so it’s not in their nature to be self-righteous.

All those seemingly different behaviors have the same thing at their core: self-awareness that’s consistent with reality. Genuine people see themselves as others would if they were objective observers. There’s not a lot of processing, manipulating, or controlling going on between what’s in their head and what people see and hear.

Once you get to know them, genuine people turn out to be more or less consistent with the way they initially hold themselves out to be. What you see is what you get. It’s sad that, in today’s world, such a positive quality is at risk of becoming endangered. Not only is it harder to find in others, it’s becoming harder to be genuine ourselves.

Steve Tobak
March 16, 2015


Bookmark this – constituent scoring methodology

May 8th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

We’re familiar with the basic RFM score.  There’s the blackjack score.  But the other day I stumbled across a Salsa scoring case study.


While Salsa has a particular focus on email delivery and online calls-to-action, the overarching methodology is impressive.  Here’s how it works:  first it defines groups of variables that can receive a numeric score for demonstrated constituent involvement.  Then it identifies a timeframe for each.  The algorithm degrades score value by half after the timeframe expires.  In this way, the most recently interacting constituents have higher scores than constituents whose interaction has lapsed.




The case study outlines the scoring variables for email opens/clicks, donations, and other non-monetary participation actions.  It’s genius!  Click the image above to read the full case study.


Diane Korb
APRA Greater Houston
March 20, 2015

3 Benefits of Deleting Subscribers From Your Email List

May 7th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Email, Fundraising

Email marketing isn’t for the faint at heart. Building an audience takes guts and requires a real commitment before reaching the glory of a healthy and engaged email list. Once you’ve got a solid group of subscribers, the mere thought of losing a single one of them probably makes you twitch a little. Yet, there are several upsides to removing inactive subscribers.

Inactive email subscribers are those who have consistently shown a lack of interest in the emails you’re sending them. The reasons for disengagement vary — change of heart about receiving your content; no time to dig through the amount of emails crammed into their inboxes; they signed up for your list just based on an incentive you offered; etc. Whatever the reason may be, subscribers express their disinterest by not opening your emails over an extended period of time. By doing this, they’re inevitably causing more harm than good to your email list.

However, if you still find yourself afraid of removing subscribers, consider these three benefits:

1. Improves your list health: If you’re keeping inactive subscribers on your list, you’re doing a disservice to your subscriber statistics. Delete those who continuously let your emails go unopened and watch your rate of engagement go up. Opens, clicks and deliverability will yield higher percentages when you weed out the inactive audience and hone in on those who do want your content.

2. Enhances your content strategy: There’s some key intelligence to be gained from keeping an eye on active versus inactive subscribers. When you identify inactive subscribers, do some analysis to see if you can identify commonalities. What are the differences between subscribers who are engaged and those who are not? What content is working and what isn’t? When you identify active subscribers, use this knowledge to inform and improve the content you send to them going forward.

3. Saves money: Especially for business owners, this is a key benefit. Removing inactive subscribers can put hard-earned dollars back into your pocket or enable you to allocate those dollars elsewhere. If you work with an email service provider that charges on a per subscriber basis, removing subscribers who aren’t opening your messages will lower your subscriber count and save you money.

To be an email marketing champion means you’ve got to face your fears. Start with a reactivation campaignOpens in a new window to identify your inactive subscribers and entice them to re-engage. If they don’t take the bait to reconfirm their interest in your content, it’s time to bid farewell. It’s the best way to ensure your email marketing list is in tip-top shape.

By Josh Smith
March 18, 2015
Emarketing and Commerce weekly

Josh Smith is a customer solutions specialist and email marketing best practices expert at AWeberOpens in a new window, a provider of small business email marketing software.

The top five most promising trends in philanthropy

May 6th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

1. Impact investing is seen as the most promising trend by most philanthropists, 52%, worldwide, according to the BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index 2015. While not strictly philanthropy, impact investing, which prioritizes social and environmental returns before financial returns, is exciting to many people who care about philanthropy and social change. It offers the potential of unleashing a huge base of capital to fund sustainable market solutions. By investing in companies that actively contribute to society, impact investing is contrasted with socially responsible investing, which aims to avoid certain companies, sectors or regions.

One of the most vocal evangelists of impact investing is Austrian-born U.S. technology entrepreneur, Charly Kleissner. He stresses that financial returns vary by mission: currently, for instance, it’s more difficult to make money investing in projects promoting social justice than it is investing in ecological ventures. He also points out that impact investing is not an asset class but an approach that can be carried through many different classes, such as impact bonds.

Kleissner and his wife Lisa created the KL Felicitas Foundation, which blends grant making with impact investing. The Kleissners are also tirelessly traveling the world, rallying investors to impact investing. “We are not the only ones anymore, It’s a global groundswell,” says Kleissner.They now have some 50 asset owners committed to their 100% Impact Network, which demands that investors make a commitment to put 100% of the investable assets of one of their leading invest- ment vehicles into impact investments. The total amount of money committed by the 100% Impact Network members is around $4 billion. The Kleissners’ goal for the next decade: to get from $4 billion to $400 billion.

2 & 3 Collaborative philanthropy (51%) and Sharing of data, best practices, needs and skills (51%) closely follow impact investing as promising trends. This is understandable considering the large number of organizations and the resulting fragmentation of the sector. Collaboration is one way to make it effective. “I don’t have a problem with the large number of organizations as long as they talk to each other,” says Gerry Salole, chief executive of the European Foundation Centre.

Although many philanthropists see this area as important, the ability to collaborate is an Achilles heel for many foundations, according to Salole. As autonomous and independent entities, they are not naturally designed to collaborate. Fortunately, many in the sector are beginning to see the light, as several consortia (e.g., On Disability, Historical Cities Alliance and the Accessible Cities Alliance) have begun to work together more regularly as part of the Network of European Foundations.

Many of the philanthropists Forbes Insights spoke with point to collaboration with governments as the ultimate scaling up of their activities. They are hoping to incubate innovative ideas and get state funding.

4. Addressing root causes of social problems rather than treating the symptoms of those problems, is the fourth most promising trend (48%). As an example, a philanthropist who is concerned about homelessness might provide direct services, such as contributing to shelters and food programs. In contrast, a systems change approach would look at what’s causing people to become homeless in the first place and how to impact social systems so that that does not happen.

Interestingly, the Middle East stands out by giving the highest ranking to philanthropy aimed at eliminating the root cause of a problem instead of alleviating symptoms. This may be due to the long-term and patient approach that Middle Easterners display toward philanthropy. The 2014 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Index revealed that philanthropists from the Middle East are willing to wait the longest to see the results of their philanthropy.

Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, believes that many philanthropists underinvest in the highly leveraged strategies of advocacy, civic engagement and systems-change work. NCRP conducted a series of studies to help show the return on investment for funding of those strategies, and found a return of 115 to 1, which is far higher than for funding direct services.

While systems-change philanthropy is growing in popularity, Dorfman thinks that the sector is still underfunded, a state of affairs that he attributes to an inability to show direct impact. “Our research was designed to add clarity and counteract that fuzziness. But I think that still persists to some degree,” he says.

5. Venture philanthropy, the type of giving that melds philanthropy with a venture capital structure, is ranked as the fifth most promising trend worlwide (45%). It is ranked the highest in the United States (53%) where it comes in second. This type of philanthropy can be very effective in certain areas, such as highly capital intensive medical research. It is allowing Debra Miller, founder of CureDuchenne, to accelerate medical research and clinical trials, and to bring to market medication to cure a terminal illness that afflicts her son and 300,000 other boys worldwide.

By Kasia Moreno
Forbes magazine

What role has employer data played in your major gift fundraising?

May 5th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

Prospect Research and Matching Gifts go hand in hand. Encourage donors with high giving capacity to submit matching gifts as a way to double the impact of their donations.

If prospect research is the eyes that spot the prospects then matching gifts are the hands that grab the donations. Of course, you can receive gifts without doubled donations, but you shouldn’t let easy money slip through your grasp. Prospect research can unveil a world of new prospects, and matching gifts allow you to maximize those generous gifts.

Matching Gift Basics

Matching gift programs are charitable giving programs run by corporations in which the companies match employee donations to eligible nonprofit organizations.

For example, if a donor works for Bank of America and donates $250 to a K-12 school, university, or 501(c)(3) organization, Bank of America will “double the donation” by writing a check for $250 to the same nonprofit.

Learn more about the basics of matching gifts >

Prospect Research Basics

Prospect research educates your organization about donors and potential donors, so you may evaluate an individual’s potential to support a specific nonprofit. Data is the key to allocating your limited resources such that you generate the largest ROI for your nonprofit organization.

A variety of information is examined when conducting proper prospect research. This includes:

  • Previous donations to your nonprofit – Who has donated to your nonprofit? How often do these people donate? How much do they give?
  • Donations to other nonprofits – Where else does the prospect make philanthropic contributions?
  • Political giving – Does the prospect donate to political campaigns?
  • Nonprofit involvement – Is the prospect a board member for other nonprofits?
  • Real estate ownership – If the prospect owns real estate, what is the value of that property?
  • Business affiliations – What does the prospect do for a living? Is he involved in subsidiary ventures or corporate boards?
  • Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) insider stock transactions – In what companies and how heavily does the prospect invest?
  • Personal information – Hit the basics: contact information, marital status, and personal interests.

This prospect research data provides valuable fundraising benefits, such as:

  1. Refines major gift prospect outreach – Your hardworking staff only has so much time. With prospect screening, your organization can quickly prioritize outreach efforts to donors according to their affinities for your nonprofit and their capacities to give. This permits staff to focus more of their efforts on bonding with major donors.
  2. Converts annual fund donors into major gift prospects – With the time you’re not spending on prospect research, your team can focus on donors who can or have made large charitable donations.
  3. Identifies planned or deferred giving prospects – If planned giving is not one of your strong suits, prospect screening reveals solid candidates for bequests.
  4. Generates new prospects – Donation lists from other nonprofits and colleagues of your existing major gift donors are great places to discover new prospects.
  5. Analyzes donor giving patterns – Donors, as well as their families and foundations, support various causes. You can see what organizations they support and unearth donation patterns.
  6. Optimizes ongoing fundraising opportunities – Hospitals, universities, and similar organizations experience constant influxes of potential donors. Prospect screening enables your staff to pinpoint potential donors and individually tailor pitches.

Learn more about Prospect Research with DonorSearch’s ultimate guide to Prospect Research >

Multiply Prospects’ Potential with Matching Gifts:

With over 65% of Fortune 500 companies offering employee matching gift programs, there is potential to use matching gifts to turn even the smallest gifts into bigger donations. Major gift donors become even more important when they have the potential to give twice as much thanks to corporate matching gift programs.

A key insight of prospect research is the potential donors’ business affiliations, such as where they work and where their spouses work. Perhaps the individual’s spouse works for a company such as GE, which will match donations up to $50,000. If this spouse has the potential to give then she shoots to the top of the potential donors list.

Not only do matching gifts present the opportunity to increase gifts, but, when combined with prospect research, you can identify more sources of doubled donations.

Four Key Prospect Research & Matching Gift Statistics:

  1. More than 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs — Matching gifts represent an easy way for donors to multiply the impacts of their donations. The best part is that matching gifts don’t cost the prospect any additional money and they only take five minutes to submit. Many smaller employers offer matching gift programs, too, so use prospect screening to identify if prospects work for such companies and remind them of matching gift opportunities.
  2. Matching gift participation rates range from 3% to 65% depending on how widely a company promotes matching gifts to its employees — Companies must share vast amounts of business, personal, and charitable giving information with employees without overwhelming them. It should come as no surprise that many employees have no idea if their company offers a matching gift program or how to submit a match.
  3. An estimated $6-$10 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed per year — Because matching gift participation rates are low across companies and industries, nonprofits miss out on substantial amounts of donations. Incorporating matching gift information into your conversations with high quality prospects will help close the gap for your nonprofit.
  4. Mentioning matching gifts in fundraising appeals results in a 71% increase in the response rate and a 51% increase in the average donation amount (prior to receiving any matching gift funds) — Did you know that highlighting a prospect’s matching gift eligibility results in an increased likelihood that he or she will make a donation? Even better, when they do donate, they’ll likely give a larger amount than if there wasn’t a match available. Empower your prospect researchers to include matching gift information in their asks as a method for helping them to secure a major gift.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Go for the Green: Prepare for Year-End Fundraising Today

May 4th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Fundraising

It’s time for the green … No, not St. Patrick’s Day, but fundraising. It’s time to nail down your plans for that year-end green!

Is your direct mail producing enough green? Now is the time to check.

If you’re on a June/July fiscal year, you need to make plans now for a strong year’s end. That means updating your messaging that you decided last July was the best approach. It means confirming or lining up your interviews for those story-based letters. It means making sure that you’re still sending to the right segments.

What you get done now will make an impact two months from now … when “end of year” is staring you straight in the face, as is the difference between ending the year in the red or the black.

So while you’re watching the flowers emerging from the warming soil after what you hope is the last snowstorm of the season, put yourself at the start of summer. You’ll want to get out of the office early to enjoy the soft grass and green leaves. Plan now and you can make it happen!

By Matt Hugg | Posted on March 17, 2015
Fundraising Success Magazine

Survey shows that half of Canadians who have not sought career advice wish that they had

May 1st, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Canada, Education

One in two Canadians who have not had career counselling say they would have sought professional career planning or employment advice if they could do it over again, a new survey has found.

“There is recognition that just like you need a financial planner and other professionals in your life, you also need professional advice to successfully manage your career,” said Jan Basso, chair of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC), which commissioned the survey along with The Counselling Foundation of Canada.

Basso, who is also director of co-operative education and career development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont., said the need for career guidance is particularly acute with ongoing skills and experience mismatches, and with rapid changes in the Canadian employment landscape, citing the oil and gas and retail sectors as examples.

The survey of 1,500 adult Canadians looks at how they use career and employment counselling services. Three groups emerge from the findings – those who define themselves as having a “career,” those who define themselves as having a “job” and students. Those with careers say their careers fit with their post-secondary background or required a degree, diploma or specific training. Those with jobs say no specific education was required or it was the best job they could find. At 55%, those working in careers make up the largest category of respondents.

More than half of those with a career (53%) said they had sought advice from a career professional. Those with a job accessed counselling services less than those with a career at just under four in 10 (38%). Among both those with careers and jobs who did not seek career or employment counselling, half agreed that they should have obtained more professional advice (47% and 50% respectively).

Canadians reported that when they were considering career options, they were most likely to have met with a:

  • High school guidance counsellor (55%)
  • Career counsellor at a post-secondary institution (40%)
  • Person involved in human resources or career management at their place of work (27%)
  • Specialist at a community-based employment centre (26%)
  • Recruiter or headhunter (21%)


Barriers to accessing career services mentioned in the survey include Canadians not believing they need career counselling since they already know their career goals and a lack of familiarity with the different career services available.

“Career professionals come in a variety of forms, from high school guidance counsellors to private career coaches,” said Riz Ibrahim, CERIC’s executive director. “Some can be accessed for free and for some, there is a cost. It’s understandable that people might need assistance to determine the right type of services for their needs.”

Canadians can access career professionals for far more than writing resumes, Ibrahim said. Career professionals provide guidance on career planning, advancing one’s career or making a career transition whether a student, mid-career changer or retiree. They also help people identify their interests and skills and to understand the job market as well as education or training opportunities. Career professionals also work with organizations to ensure they have the right people with the right skills through a range of human resources practices.

Students in the survey list parents, other family members and friends as individuals they have consulted about their career and employment ambitions. Teachers and professors also appear as important sources of advice around career options. A majority of current students (58%) report that they are likely to seek advice from career or employment counsellors.

Survey findings show that as age rises, the number of Canadians with careers seeking career counselling declines. Those 18–24 years of age are most likely to report that they have used career counselling services at 76%. More women (57%) than men (50%) report having accessed career services. In terms of location, more residents of Ontario (61%) sought advice from a career professional compared with residents of Quebec (49%), Atlantic Canada (46%) and BC (45%).

About the survey

Navigator Limited conducted the nationwide survey on behalf of the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling and The Counselling Foundation of Canada. The study was conducted among adult Canadians 18 years of age or older, and was in the field between November 16 and November 23, 2014. It used an online methodology among a national, proportionate sample of 1,500 respondents. A random sample of those 1,500 would yield a margin of error of +2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The complete report, Nationwide Survey: Accessing Career and Employment Counselling Services, is available online at


The Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling (CERIC) is a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and career development, in order to increase the economic and social well-being of Canadians. It funds projects to develop innovative resources that build the knowledge and skills of diverse career professionals. CERIC also annually hosts Cannexus, Canada’s largest bilingual career development conference, publishes the country’s only peer-reviewed journal, The Canadian Journal of Career Development and runs the free ContactPoint / OrientAction online communities, which provide learning and networking in the career field.