Transcript: How to Thrive in an Uncertain Fundraising Environment

On September 19, WealthEngine and Heller Consulting teamed up to present How to Thrive in an Uncertain Fundraising Environment. This session covered some of the challenges nonprofit organizations are currently facing, and how to use tried and true fundraising tactics along with efficient technology to overcome those challenges

Below is the transcript of the webinar. Click here to get the full context of the presentation, download the slides, and view the recording.

Bryan: Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us today for a webinar on How to Thrive in an Uncertain Fundraising Environment. Our presenters today will be Sandi Reinardy, Account Executive at Heller Consulting and JB Rauch, Vice President of Strategic Alliances at WealthEngine. If you have any questions during this session, please put them in the question section in the GoToWebinar panel and we will answer them during the Q&A section after the presentation. We will be recording this session and we’ll email a link to the recording and the slides afterwards. Sandi, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and Heller Consulting?

Sandi: Great. Thank you, Bryan. I am Sandi Reinardy, Account Executive for Heller Consulting. I have worked for Heller for about 10 years in total with a little break in the middle there where I worked for the University of Wisconsin Foundation as they developed an enterprise CRM system. Now, I’m back with folks I love and happy to be back working with our clients. JB?

JB: Thank you, Sandi. My name is JB Rauch and I was, at one point, head of development for the Urban Land Institute where we used WealthEngine. I also spent some time at Abila, which is a CRM entity, and then also with the fundraising platform, Salsa Labs, formerly Democracy in Action. Today, I run our Strategic Alliances. WealthEngine integrates with 33 platforms and I’m excited about this topic because there do seem to be winners and losers when we talk about fundraising dollars that are available given all of the challenges that we face today. So thank you very much. Back to you, Sandi.

Sandi:  Thank you. Yes, I am also excited to be talking with you today. Let’s kick us off with just a little bit about Heller Consulting as a firm. We are a professional services firm of about 35 people based in San Francisco and staff all across the country, been around about 20 years, 1,500 clients with over 3,000 projects. In those projects, we worked with non-profit organizations to help them use technology to not only work more efficiently but also to be more effective in their mission delivery. We do this through services that range from initial planning and business case development for technology solutions all the way through the implementation, user adoption guidance, and optimization in practice. So that’s the Heller snapshot, and JB can tell us a bit about WealthEngine.

JB: Yeah, WealthEngine has been at this for almost 20 years now, and we really specialized in mass affluence here in the United States. We serve our data up through our SaaS platform and through the integrations we have with 33 CRMs and through an API infrastructure. I look forward to speaking today about how WealthEngine can help you no matter your political perspective. There are, as I said, winners and losers in today’s environment, and you want to hang on to the donors that you have or capitalize on the opportunities to gain new ones. So, I’m going to share a little bit about how you can use our Wealth intelligence to do that, and that’s a little bit about WealthEngine.

In terms of our market leading clients, we have over 3,000 clients. We’ve worked with over 10,000. This is a small snapshot, and really the interesting thing is we get a chance to see across of the various verticals and learn from customers that are seeing an uptick in donations or members and those that are struggling to retain members. So that’s why I think this topic is really relevant because no matter your perspective, you want to either hang on to your donor base or capitalize on the opportunity that presents itself. If you could move forward for me, Sandi. Sandi, thank you.

From WealthEngine’s perspective, the data that we serve up to our customers, it’s really critical, and it’s imperative to separate yourself by using that data, that interest and behavioral data to its maximum so that you can find and capitalize on the interests of the donor base that you have today or uncover those nuggets, those folks that could be the next major donor. So we’re going to talk a little bit later about how you can use that wealth and that behavioral, that interest data to tease out and find the next major gift, segment more effectively, engage with the audience in a way that they stay connected with you or find that next new donor who can make a real, significant contribution to carry your mission forward. The WealthEngine platform, 65 data sources, think of this as 240 million dossiers. You access that either through the CRM integration or through our SaaS platform, and I’ll be talking a little bit more about that. WealthEngine covers about 90% of the US, and you can do a basic search or prospect and some analytics. Next slide for me. Thanks. Could you advance for me?

JB: In terms of the underlying data platform which is what I’m speaking to, WealthEngine’s functionality is served up, as I said, through the core platform, and the core platform– Sorry, I was sort of jumbled here on the slide, my apologies. The core platform is how you do the search, the screen, and the prospects. So with WealthEngine, by name and address, I can look up any individual in the US whether they are current donor or prospective donor, I can send my file, i.e. name and address from my CRM, and WealthEngine can do a screening of a large percentage of your audience and then share with you about the wealth intel, push that back into the CRM, do analytics on that, and find those potential major donors. We also offer services that allow you to do model and analytics engagement as well. So it’s how do you use that data today, how do you find and glean those nuggets so that you’re more effective. That’s a little bit about us. So moving forward, Sandi.

Sandi: All right. Great. Thank you. So the agenda for today for the main part of our presentation here is we’re going to do a little bit of upfront. We just want to kind of acknowledge some of the core challenges in today’s fundraising landscape. It’s a lot of things that either you or I probably can’t do a lot to fix some of the bigger picture. But then we’re going to go in to the things that we can do and how can you navigate the environment that sells it that we’re all operating in. We’re going to do that through presentation from JB: “Leveraging wealth data in these challenging times.” He’s got some really excellent tools and approaches that WealthEngine utilizes with their clients to maximize their fundraising opportunities. Then, I’m going to follow it up with talking about how CRM and establishing a stable foundation for your operations in your use of technology and the data that you’re leveraging through things like WealthEngine, and other activities can really help you to stay stable and keep going as things change around us. Then, we’ll have a Q&A at the end of that.

So challenge, big challenge, first up — shifting demographics. We heard a lot about this one. We’ve got various things all the time about maximizing your fundraising from millennials and baby boomers and what does that mean, engaging people from both generations. As a Gen Xer myself, I usually like to also point out it’s not a tiny number of Gen X-ers that are out there that are going to be hitting their peak giving times as well pretty soon, and so we see, going forward, things are going to start to diverge a little bit. That certainly impacts the way that you plan and strategize your fundraising approaches and engagement strategies. It takes a lot of thought and intentional engagement to navigate the demographics today that are involved in fundraising.

Big challenge — it’s been a wild year, and there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. There’s donations for organizations that are on either end of the political spectrum, have seen some real influxes. In some cases, really struggled to even know like how it’s been overwhelmed with the amount of responses that they’ve gotten and need to figure out how exactly to leverage those to keep going and make sure they’re able to keep operating at their best when also managing expectations and relationships with the big influx of people. It also raises the question of how long will that continue. Is that a blip or is that going to be for a long term? How do you really sustain and keep those people along the way? What about all those organizations who are not experiencing those bumps? So we’re wondering if those things are going to take away, if it’s going to be competitive and mean that they might have a dip in their fundraising as we approach year-end. That’s a tough spot to be in as well, and the answers aren’t there. It would remain to be seen, so it’s important that everybody is able to keep up with putting their very best shot forward and keep focused. Also, that similar impact can happen in years with major natural disasters, as unfortunately we’ve been seeing and are continuing to see happening this year.

In general, the economic outlook is a bit uncertain. There’s potential changes to the tax code that I know the nonprofit community is really paying a lot of attention to in figuring out how to respond to, should there be any change in the charitable deduction situation, and general uncertainty about the markets in the backdrop of all of this. So it’s a tough time. We want to take a moment, acknowledge that, and say we’re all here and moving forward together experiencing these things.

The other thing that’s sort of happening in the background of all of this is technology transformation. Technology is evolving faster than it ever had before. We’ve got a lot of cloud-based systems that are available for easy distribution, pop-up startups for various fundraising systems that can come up with as something becomes trendy. It’s hard to know which of those things are going to stick and become a new normal in fundraising and which are going to be really hot for a couple of years and then sort of fade away. So how do you decide whether or not to invest in that giving day software or that peer-to-peer piece? How do you decide how much to invest in specific social engagement tool of one over another when the platforms keep changing? So that’s a tricky spot to be.

Technology planning is definitely becoming a way of life from now on that having regular ways of evaluating what you’re doing, where you’re going, and how you obtain and procure solutions, implement them, how to use staff support, etc., things like that. So, there’s a lot going on.

There’s a lot of things to juggle if you are trying to raise money these days, but regardless of that, not only are we all experiencing this array of things, the underlying basics really still do remain. I’m a little over this, but I’m going to say it anyway — keep calm and keep fundraising. You still need to welcome new donors and make them feel a part of your organization. They need to recognize that that first gift is something that they’re going to want to continue with and repeat. Engaging your existing supporters, nurturing those relationships and identifying how to increase their support, making the most of your year-end campaign and extending that support all beyond that by leveraging the data that you get as response rates and the analysis of how your year-end campaigns go. So these things are probably very familiar, and that’s good because there are still things that can be done. We’re going to spend the rest of our presentation talking about how we continue to do those things given the other uncertainties around us. JB is up first to take us through some of the cool things that WealthEngine has to offer.

JB: Thanks, Sandi. So I’m going to talk up to integration and how WealthEngine integrates with 33 CRMs. Much of the discussion today will be around Salesforce as Heller does Salesforce implementation. I’ll also talk about our analyzed platform and how we have helped organizations model their best donors and then find more just like their best with very similar wealth and interest characteristics. Then, I will talk about the future of screening, which Wealth Append is a term that many of you are familiar with, a name and address will return for you, a full Wealth Append. You now can do that through our API in real time. So I will talk to how that can help you, particularly in this environment as people make perhaps a small contribution to your organization as a result of a natural disaster or as a result of the challenges we see in the market. If you could move my slide for me, Sandi. Thank you.

So WealthEngine integration, they’re pretty much all the same. We integrate in three specific ways. So most all of our integrations support a get current rating and score right on the contact record. So if I’m in Salesforce on a contact record or if I’m in Ellucian or Tessitura or any other CRM, the majority players we support, you can see that wealth data right there on that constituent record. That’s very easy to get and to view so that you can understand the propensity to give, the net worth, the annual donations of the total assets, the cash on hand of your donors. You want to really cultivate those. That could make a significant gift, so get those current ratings and scores right in the CRM so that you aren’t maintaining disparate datasets. Next slide for me.

The second aspect of most of our integrations is this concept of, “Okay, so I’ve got the current ratings and scores, but I want to see the full dossier. I want to see the full profile on George Rubin.” There’s a button in Salesforce to go out and see that dossier, and that single sign on HTML allows you to view and run through his total assets net worth, get very granular if you want going to the research details to understand his charitable contributions, who he’s donating to and how much he’s donating to so that you can understand that, perhaps as an animal race cause or whatnot, your group might be… he might be a great candidate for you. So WealthEngine works with groups like the Red Cross, Jewish Agency for Israel, National Aquarium, Planned Parenthood, wonderful groups that take advantage of this integration in Salesforce and in the other platforms. If you could move forward, that would be great, Sandi. Thanks.

Now, when you do a screening today, which is you send WealthEngine name and address for a batch of files, most of the CRM integrations we have have between 52 and 82 fields to accept the wealth data. So there’s a landing place for the data so it can be pushed right into Salesforce. So there’s field in Salesforce to accept cash on hand, net worth, all the gift data, etc. So it’s really incredibly helpful to then be able to use the native CRM tools to develop reports. Show me everyone who gave a certain amount, attended this event, has this amount in net worth, has this affinity so that you’re able to segment, slice and dice, and pull out specific groups so that you can send a uniquely-tailored messages to those groups and make your appeal as we’re getting the yearend very specific. Next slide, if you could.

Then, the analytics — so this is relatively new, this idea of online analytics, on-the-fly analytics that WealthEngine has pioneered with our analytics platform. I’ll call out Multiple Myeloma Foundation that has done a really wonderful job of modeling of the 250 characteristics of their best donors. They used that as a trigger. As donations come in, they use that model to determine whether or not… how close somebody is. So if somebody is 85% to 90% on the characteristics of a best donor, they will push that over as a lead to a gift officer so that they, right from the start, have a different touch with that individual. So rather than just getting a formal letter, they’re going to get call. They’re going to get an email from a person, a live person, looking to understand more about that individual and what about Multiple Myeloma kind of triggered their interest so they can perhaps cultivate that further. So this idea of using analytics, this idea of being able to segment on-the-fly and in real time is something that I think is really helpful given the climate that we faced today. So the idea is as a donor comes in, you have to push that donor up against the model, and then you score that, and then you’re able to determine what kind of engagement you should have with that individual based on their score and their closeness to your best current donors. Next slide, if you could.

Then, on demand screening — so WealthEngine has traditionally… as I said, you send us a file, name and address, call it a million records in the case of Sierra Club. We did a custom modeling and analytics project for them. We helped them find 6700 specific individuals that met a certain criteria. We do that everybody, and it’s wonderful business for us and it’s wonderful for them. We’ve now launched an API infrastructure so that you can screen on demand. It’s very easy today to, as somebody makes their donation in real-time, instantly pull out wealth score, that data, that propensity to give, gift capacity, net worth, total assets, investable assets so that you can take that and right away take an action, make your message back to that individual very personal so that you can get engaged at that time that that individual is making a contribution to you. Because what better time than to engage with a very specific marketing automation outreach so that it’s not just a standard message but you can create, if you will, certain dates and certain people will get this message, that message, the next based on their wealth ratings and scores in real time as they make a donation. Next, if you could, Sandi. Thanks.

Then, the next step for us is what if knowing now that net worth and that gift capacity, you could serve up a custom asked amount. So today, it’s possible with WealthEngine that if an individual puts in to your online donation for name and address and then prompt them to hit next, you can then pull in real time those wealth ratings and scores and then have triggered and ready to fly a custom asked string so that if someone’s gift capacity is $20,000, you serve up and ask 100, 200, 500. If they have a really high gift capacity, $200,000, $300,000 served up 500 to 1000, 2000. Let’s not serve up the same asked amount for everybody. Let’s customize it base on their wealth scores. This is all today possible with WealthEngine’s API. Next slide, if you could.

So use cases — any time, you’ve got donors hitting your website, for example, to register for an event, hit our API and return back the basic wealth scores on that person, so you know in advance and you can pull out certain individuals and say, “Ah, I want to be sure that Bobby had a chance to meet with Sally – he’s a big donor of ours – and have a chance to meet the executive director.” Use marketing automation, drive specific messages based on affluent propensity to give, gift capacity. Same thing for ticketing sales, for those groups you sell tickets to things, or online donations as I’ve talked about before, or even something as simple as a newsletter signup. Have a trigger so that if somebody has a net worth over 25 million, obviously, you select what those triggers would be that they get a different touch based on their affluence. So these are all ways that you can help to be more effective given this current climate. So for example, on demand screening, we have organizations like Marathon Kids and CatholicVote and Michael J. Fox Foundation. They’re using the API today to do exactly this, and it’s really helped them to take that donor and cultivate them in real time. So for example, Sierra Club, they’ve seen a huge uptick in donations. We’ve seen as a result of the current administration an uptick in human rights organizations getting additional funds. We’ve seen an uptick in environmental causes, so Sierra Club has seen more than 350,000 new donors, really new members. Now, if I’ve got that many coming in, if you hit the WealthEngine API, you can begin to call out those that you might want to engage with in real time. So the API helps you. We’ve seen some groups see this big bump, right, in donations, and then like all of us… I mean, I have a certain pool of dollars that I distribute out to causes that are important to me, but given that we’ve got all the hurricanes and we’ve got all the challenges, my dollars are going out differently this year than they might have in the past. So it’s incumbent upon you and your organization to take a close look. Are you seeing an uptick in your donations or you’re seeing a trend down? Hang on to the donors you have by being very targeted. Those of you out there that are seeing more donations, let’s get real thoughtful about really quickly engaging with people that can be real meaningful major gift donors, going forward. So use the technology available. Use WealthEngine analytics coupled with our new API to pull in that data in real time. Next slide. I think that’s it for me. You there, Sandi?

JB: Okay. Yeah, I talked about. I talked about it. It’s all about triggering automated action and setting up those automated actions based on the analytics, based on the API data so that you can get more targeted. If you treat somebody as an individual and they feel special, they’re more likely to be engaged with you in a more meaningful way. They’re more likely to give more. They’re likely to give more often. So definitely take the time to research the technologies that are in the market so that you can be as effective as possible. Thanks. I hope this was helpful. Sandi, back to you.

Sandi:  Excellent. Thank you. I think those are some really excellent points and tools that people can really use to keep their work going forward. So how else? How else do we keep it all together through the challenges? Well, the big thing, I think, is taking control of the things that you can control. A lot of that means pursuing good ideas, being aggressive on the ways that you’re approaching your fundraising strategies to make sure that you’re not… it requires focus. Then, the other way is by making sure that your customer experience and your back office is set up in such a way that serves both your customer experience and helps to strengthen the organization as a whole in these environments. So constituent experience, they need to see and know that you’re engaging with them in ways that’s going to keep their attention. CRM technology can really help you to keep both, as I mentioned, both maximize efficiency and help be more effective because some of the analytics associated can stretch the gamut from your fundraising to your mission delivery and back again. That means leveraging your data for sound decision-making so as an organization, being able to really move toward the culture of data driven decision-making and utilizing metrics to plan strategically for forward movement.

So on the donor experience front, you are going to be asking yourself a lot of these things. Are you? This is a real key in there. They’re not… some of them are maybe newer or more important today than they have been in the past given the current technology available, but they’re also here. Thanking donors in a timely manner, tailoring content and fundraising appeals to match your donor’s interests, utilizing social media to understand what’s top of mind, really listening to what they’re saying, managing communications to avoid over-engaging. This is the one we hear all the time. People are concerned that different departments are all flooding their constituents with emails at the same time without considering each other’s calendars, and that’s real. I know I do. I don’t hesitate to opt out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or inundated. Managing communications… I’m sorry. That’s what I just said. Intentionally guiding your donors through prolonged engagement journey with your organization, thinking through and planning what it is that you want your donors to experience based on listening, based on hearing what they’re thinking. Thinking about how, what happens the first time that they engaged, how did they move through if their interests might be volunteering versus to say gave and maybe gave it a higher level than first time donors usually do or they’re utilizing services. How do people move through the various ways they interact and leverage that for your fundraising efforts?

So one of the ways that you’d manage all of these is through the CRM technology. CRM stands for, of course, Constituent Relationship Management tool. What we’ve kind of defined that as flexible solutions that empower both your daily work and long-term data capture for strategic analysis. It’s a little bit about how this is working, where CRM technology fits into today’s market, and some of what we’ve learned is the bad news is for many nonprofits, their systems are 10 plus years old. They’re operating on technology that is getting outdated, getting a little bit stale and may not empower them to do all the things that we’ve talked about. The good news is the contemporary choices, stuff that’s available today is better than ever before and more affordable. So a lot of this technology really has come a long way in the last 10 years or so where, at that point, it might have been only the very largest organizations, the very big-for-profit operations that could afford and utilize this stuff. That also meant they worked out the kinks and the bumps and the bugs. So over time, additional people joined the market, things get worked out, prices come down, it becomes more accessible, and becomes a little bit more stable for non-profits to join in, so there’s never been a better time than there is right now. So when planned appropriately, even small orgs can leverage powerful tools. We worked a lot with which, if you want to plan for it and configure it appropriately and examine what’s going to work best and which pieces, that can be powerful even for very small organizations, so that’s exciting I think.

What does CRM look like in real life? Well, this is slightly like this would be a… this is slightly more simplified than what we see at every organization, but sometimes it actually hit this far and get this far. Generally speaking, that central CRM bubble may be one system. It may be two, but as long as they are working in concert and they are leveraging the data from each other that they need to, that’s where a lot of the day-to-day work happens, where people are interacting, inputting data, getting data out, pulling profiles, getting information that they need to work on a day-to-day basis. Then, also, you always have separate accounting software and, often, separate online engagement systems. That may be one, maybe a few, but again, CRM technology today is such that integrating those systems in is way more accessible than it was in the past. It’s never a 100% totally perfect. There’s always going to be some care and feeding that has to happen, but it’s so much better than it used to be.

Then, finally, some organizations, depending on the level of their goals for strategic decision-making and developing metrics and keep performance indicator type things in their organization, may also add in reporting and business intelligence tools that layer in a more sophisticated level than what some of the CRM systems offer in terms of just their internal reporting and dash boarding features, so that may be the thing. This is what a really great setup looks like and can kind of simplify and keep that data where it needs to be.

How do we get there? So if you’re thinking our setup at our organization doesn’t look anything like that, we’ve got bubbles all over the place and there’s no linkages and some things are square and others are wherever, you’re not alone. That is something we see a lot also. Our recommendation is that you need a real road map. When you’re starting from there, you need to be able to figure out what is going to make sense, how do you grasp a hold of all those moving pieces and the goals that your organization has, and map out how you move toward a simplified, more nimble, more effective solution for your organization. That work comes in by starting with evaluating the big picture for your organization.

So in the wider context of some of the stuff we described before or just in general where your organization fits, what are the key challenges that you have and how long term might they be? Are you trying to leverage influxes of donors or are you may be trying to keep donors’ attention and make sure that you’re not letting people slip away? Are you trying to make sure that your organization from a mission standpoint needs to show its relevance and make sure that it’s got a voice out there? Based on those things, based on some of your key challenges, what are the main needs for you? Do you have outdated tools? Are they hampering you from being able to do things? Sometimes, it’s not. You may have new tools. You may have things in place and that’s not your issue. You may have stuff that’s there but not operating efficiently. You might feel like you’ve got excellent tools, but nobody knows how to use it or we have staff turned over for the last four years and everything is goofed up and I can’t get the data I need, etc. So that might be a matter of streamlining and maximizing what you already have.

Breaking down silos and collaborating within and across departments. These two things can be… those are maybe one more strongly-worded two sides of the same coin, breaking down silos. Some organizations have a culture where there may be competition for resources, proprietary, territorial myths around data and require working through some change management efforts to get to a place where things are working better across the board. I don’t think it’s ever true that an organization is more successful by operating that way than it is by getting us better insights into these donors and being able to acknowledge through that donor experience that you donors have multi-faceted interactions with the organization. The other side may be collaborating within and across departments. Some people are totally open and they all agree that they would like to have that information flowing through, they would like to have these tools working and be collaborating and thinking through these engagement journeys, etc., but they just don’t have the time. They’re doing…they’re running around everyday, just each trying to get their own goals done.

So all of those things have to be kind of considered when you’re mapping out what needs you have because those things step backwards into do we need to do some really… are there human resources stuff that needs to happen or do we need to think about what tasks we have. We’re planning for next year so that we can create more time to step back and do a little bit more thinking about how we become more strategic over the long term. All that kind of stuff have to start somewhere.

The other kind of last point for your big picture that we recommend is really try to look toward the future and not to the past. Look at your strategies and where you need to go, and then think about your processes. What processes and needs would support that vision as opposed to just trying to carve out things out of your current situation to meet those and say, “Well, what if we just… we can just keep doing this,” but then expecting a different outcome from past approaches.

A little bit more on this aspect is knowing thyself as an organization. Culture always wins. In our projects that we do, organizational culture and understanding what things are important and what mindset flows through an organization is huge indicator of whether or not a project is going to be successful. So when thinking about the need, have these operations working in order to compete in today’s fundraising climate. It’s important to step back and say, “Okay, let’s assess ourselves. How does our organization feel about technology? Do we have people that feel like it’s just in the way, it hampers things? Are we wanting to really be out there on the bleeding edge? If we are, is that going to help us with our goal or is it something that we get caught up by shiny objects and things?” Do you have internal resources to support your systems or do you need to look at models that are more geared toward outsourced support and less kind of having places that you customize less as long as you can keep moving because we’re not going to invest in the internal administration and support of our technology tool? How risk tolerant? Do you– that goes back to the bleeding edge question. Where do you see yourselves? How does that line up to what the goals are for your organization and what the stakes are at any given moment? Also, in terms of scale and scope, are you an organization that needs to flip everything over and start fresh? And really, we just need to complete fresh start. Everything goes. Everything gets replaced and we’re making a whole new day or is incremental phasing, pilot projects, one department at a time, different aspects — is that more realistic both from a budget standpoint and from a tolerance of change so what’s the appetite for change at your organization?

So these are all really critical questions when considering that CRM map. There are also questions that go toward long-term. I mean, what I’m talking about here are sort of these initial questions and things and thoughts that people need to consider in order to plan out how we get to that next stage, how to reach that more simplified environment, but I know you don’t want to do it right now. You’re thinking about this, that’s great, but between now and then, how are we going to make our best way in the world? The things I would say is first, do be proactive, so as much as the pull to push off the big picture things for later is strong as that can be, be proactive in engaging your colleagues in conversations like these and getting to know where these technologies can help you to be more efficient and effective. Gather information about what it would take to improve CRM capacity at your organization. That might be through a formal planning engagement to gather information. Often, people do engage with us to do this work, sometimes because it can be hard to ask those questions of your colleagues. It can be hard to actually know and to get sort of that higher-level view, so having a third-party assess and compare and also let you know where you may exist, based on experience across a lot of organizations, which areas of the organizations are going to present the biggest challenges and need to be planned for accordingly, and which are your strengths that can really be leveraged to move forward.

Also, advocate and plan for your next budget cycle. This is the other thing. If you don’t… if you want to be thinking if these investments are important for you to succeed at your fundraising goals, then that has to be worked into as a resource that’s needed toward that as people are considering their budget cycle. So identifying what is the scope of projects like this, what are we thinking about and how you make sure that that starts to get some attention so that it’s not something that’s just put off for too long or short-changed. So doing it poorly can be worse than not doing it all at times because you’ll end up with still having to deal with the new system and stuff but not actually reaching those goals and wasting money along the way.

Then, finally, use your 2017 year-end campaigns both as mechanism for grading your organization on that donor experience, what I described earlier in terms of how are we reaching them, what are we hearing. As hard as it can be, really making efforts to capture thoughts about that and to grade yourself, you can identify what areas are going to be most priority. Think about data gathering in terms of future benchmarking, and this is both that… let’s say you were going to start… you were hoping that by next year at this time, you are in a different situation. It’s really good to think ahead of time that what… I mean, I want want to compare what I’m doing now into how these tools helped us in what areas of the changes we made, what impact did those make on our fundraising success.

The other thing I’m going to add, just a thought about this, is not only data. It’s also just thinking about what you may, what questions you’re going to want to ask next year. Everybody is used to this year, last year, just straight dollar line comparisons, but I know that it’s often easy to let go of the detailed things that go in to those numbers and to be thinking about benchmarking in that way. I know we at UW did giving day every year right around this time, and I know that there were years where we would sit and look at the numbers and say, “This don’t look… this can’t be.” This either looks way too low. Yeah, it usually looked too low. You’ll say, “Well, how can that be that this is different?” I go, “Yeah, well, remember last year, we included that other segment of people. We did that last minute email, and we did this or that or we started counting it at 4:00 p.m. for this people but 8:00 p.m. for those people in that 24-hour giving day thing.” We’d look at each other and say, “We really need to write this all down for next year,” and often, we still didn’t achieve that. But it’s really important, and so that would be kind of my final thought is just focusing on your benchmarking and on what you’re doing this year. Use it as an opportunity to start establishing what you really need going forward. That’s what we’re going to… that’s the end of our core content. So we’ve got a little bit of time here for some questions.

Bryan: Great. Thank you, Sandi, and JB, you as well. Our first question that we have here came in back during your presentation, JB. You were showing a lot of the things that can be done on a donation page, and one of the questions that was asked is how do we get this integrated onto our donation page? What’s the name of the API? Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

JB: Sure. So WealthEngine has a developer’s community on our website. If you go to, you can explore that API developer’s community, and you can get access to a sandbox. We also, of course, have an API evangelist who can assist you, and we have sales resources that can get you engaged with that person. Please come back to me. Maybe, Sandi, if you advance the slide, you can have the contact information for myself and for Sandi, and we’d love to talk with you about that.

Bryan: That sounds great. Can you tell us a little bit more? What does WealthEngine screening actually do? How does it work?

JB: Sure. So when you screen with WealthEngine… I really should backtrack. So when I talked about those 65 different sources, curating, normalizing, and creating that dataset, those 240 million dossiers, when you give me a name and an address and let’s say you gave me a 100,000 or 10,000, you’re hitting that dataset and you’re accessing that 240 million dossiers, and then you’re returning the Wealth Append. You’re returning the investable assets, the real estate holding, the cash on hand, and then we’re applying our ratings and scores on top to create the net worth, the propensity to give, the gift capacity based on the underlying data. So those are algorithms. So we’re returning these to you, and then you are importing this into your CRM. So you’re essentially… when you give me a name and an address, whether it’s through the API, or if you give me a batch file of a thousands or millions of records, it hits the dataset and returns the Wealth Append up to 1500 data points for each individual, and then you push that back into your CRM so that you can use the native CRM tool to slice and dice that data.

Bryan: How long does that process usually take?

JB: If less than 20,000 records, we’ll turn that around in two to four hours. If it’s a much larger file, it can take a day or two. If it’s a million records, it might be three or four days.

Bryan: Okay. Then, you were talking about bringing that back into your own CRM. Does WealthEngine integrate with Raiser’s Edge and other systems?

JB: Yes, so Raiser’s Edge… we actually work now with Omatic, and Omatic had the ImportOmatic capability. They’ve reached, written a connector to WealthEngine so that you’re able to import that data directly into Raiser’s Edge through an ImportOmatic module. Or we can do it. Our services group can help your database administrator import that data. You’re probably aware that Blackbaud has its own target analytics, its own proprietary system for wealth screening, and about 40% of our customers actually are Blackbaud customers and many of them use our integration today or are beginning to transition over and use the ImportOmatic function from Omatic.

Bryan: Okay. Then, Sandi, we have a question for you as well. You showed a lot about how to do a CRM project and starting with a roadmap in going through implementations. Do you have to do all of that at once? Do you have to replace your entire CRM all at once?

Sandi:  No. Absolutely not. It can… and depending on the size and scope and complexity of an organization’s current environment, sometimes, there’s real benefits to doing it in a phase approach. Sometimes, it can definitely bite off pieces that will make the most short-term impact. That can also be really useful from a change management standpoint if there are organization where maybe not everybody is interested in moving. It’s not a priority across the way. You can have pilot groups start out with certain tools. Then, by demonstrating the success that they’re having, carry that forward and influence their colleagues to take it, and they’ll start to say, “Wow, that’s really cool,” or, “This would be really useful to us in this way,” and we could be teaming up on gathering this data and engaging our donors more strategically accordingly. So there’s a lot of different ways that this can be approached depending off and on on some of those cultural aspects and the current technology environment as well as the resource constraints. It’s definitely part of it.

Bryan: Okay. Then another question, back to you, JB, is a bit more about the cost of WealthEngine and how’s that structured. We have a question, what is the yearly or one-time cost for searching for possibly like 5,000 to 20,000 donors? Is that something that we can get a little more detail on today?

JB: Sure, if you come back to me after the webinar, I’m more than happy to work with– get a sales rep engaged to work with you guys on a price. Typically, WealthEngine is a user license, and you’ll want to have the integration module as well. That’s an annual subscription for unlimited search, and then if you screen with us, there is an incremental charge for the number of records you’re screening. If you’re using the API, there’s an API call charge for each time you hit the API. So if I did Bob at 355 Willow Way, that’s an API call. We only charge if there’s a match. So if there isn’t a match, you are not charged. So hopefully that gives you a thumbnail sketch, and I’m more than happy to work with whomever had the question so that we can develop a proposal based on your requirements.

Bryan: Okay, great. We’ll make sure that everyone gets connected for that.

JB:       Okay.

Bryan: Another question for you, Sandi. You mentioned about culture and the importance of culture in a CRM project. Why is that so important?

Sandi:  It’s important because people all experience… the CRM projects represent, as a core, a way of changing the way that you work, changing the way that you approach your work. We all know that we, as humans, don’t love change although some people do. Some people really like to go after, and they get bored very easily and want to keep going. Well, that spectrum of how comfortable people are with change, whether they’re ready for it, whether they enjoy that process or dread it, pervades an organization. Everybody comes to it with their own stance of where they’re at, and that can also develop into an organizational culture as a whole. So this cultural background makes a big difference in how you choose the solutions and how you go about implementing them so that it maximizes user adoption and it becomes a worthwhile investment for everybody involved. If there’s statistics out there about the number of system implementation project that fail, and a lot of times, I think it’s because people tend to think that the technology is first and foremost and that technical requirements are the entirety of what needs to be considered and don’t take a broader look at what human experience is going to be for employees in the organization and how do we keep everybody involved and engaged in moving forward to make it a success. So those cultural aspects really do make a huge difference in how this works out for people as well as what solutions to pursue.

Bryan: Okay. Thank you. Then, back for you, JB. One of the questions is we currently use IATS, and would they need to change their software to be compatible? I know that WealthEngine is compatible with many, many different platforms.

JB:       Well, what’s the platform? Say the name of that again.

Bryan: IATS, I-A-T-S.

JB:       I’ve heard of it and we can push and pull data, but we don’t have an actual integration with that system. But you are able to still push and pull data. It’ll just be a matter of having our support organization get engaged with you. So yes, we can work with you, but it will require a very nominal service fee in order to pull and push data.

Bryan: Okay. Great. Thank you. Then, a little bit more, so when you do get you data dossiers, how do you ensure accuracy for the information that you get?

JB: Sure. So actually, this is one of the differentiators between WealthEngine and our competition. One of the things, really the chief difference, WealthEngine updates our core datasets, our core masterfile, this 240,000 dossiers, we update that every quarter, and we do that because we’re looking for false positives. So we’re throwing out. We’re looking across the dataset, this 65 different sources, return Jeff at Willow Way and 10% returned a different address. We’re not going to use those in our ratings and scores. We’re not going to serve that data up because that data is probably wrong. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to do everything we can to cleanse, update, curate on a quarterly basis rather than just push everything out to you if the 65 sources surfaced up. So our approach is very different and unique so that you get pure false positive. Now, the data, I like to say, the wealth data from any of us is directionally accurate, right? So the real estate values are based on the tax assessed value of a property. So if someone is 75 years old and is in their home for 35 years, the tax assessed value might be a third of its market value, so that will of course influence the net worth of that individual. So the data is publicly available, so what we return is only as good as what’s publicly available. But that’s better than nothing and I want to say directionally accurate, meaning 90% of the time, we’re going to have a really good match. 90% to 95% of the time, with name and address, we’re going to have a really good match. Sometimes, folks will hide their assets and trusts. This is a trend, as we all know. The baby boomers aging, a fair number have done that. But you can also use WealthEngine if you find the trust, it’s where you have to do prospect research, you can find the name of the trust and surface the data in WealthEngine, go ahead and we can pull the data on the trust as well. You also can use it as a search business data. So you can find more about the individual. So the net of it is the data should be accurate. We do everything we can to ensure its accuracy. Sometimes, you do do some additional prospect research, and there you have it.

Bryan: Well, that sounds great. That sounds great. Thank you. Then, one last question here before we close everything out for today. We’ve gone over a lot of information today, and this one is more about kind of the size of the organizations that can take advantage of WealthEngine and even a CRM system like we’ve described in here. Is it feasible for a small non-profit to use these services? How do you start from a smaller, like a shoe-string budget and know that you’re ready to use this to their full advantage?

JB: Absolutely. Sandi even chime in as well. Salesforce has a P10 programs, so your first 10 licenses are free. With WealthEngine, you can get involved for as little as just a few thousand dollars a year for a complete package. So it’s just a matter of tailoring our package to you, and many others here in place have low cost point of entry. Sandi, your thoughts?

Sandi:  Yeah. Absolutely, like you mentioned Salesforce is something that’s available at a decent discount for free licensing for the first 10 licenses for nonprofits. So depending on how small you are, sometimes, you can get that baseline service at no cost. There may be some additional things that you would need to think about investing in and in terms of managing the system overall, but it can definitely be done. It also is… I think, the benefit if you’re a new organization is also just to be thinking about these things from the beginning. I would recommend paying a lot of attention to things up there that are describing these organizational questions and strategies and trying to stay focused. I know it can be really tricky, but keeping that big picture in mind as you’re going forward really helps you to decide where you put your attention when you’re paying a lot of… well, I’m sure you’re wearing a lot of different hats as well, different stuff.

JB: I totally agree. So if you’re a small organization today and you’re growing, take a look at what your needs might be long term, and invest in technology platform, wealth intelligence that can grow with you. So there are CRM plays out there. You can get very low in CRMs, but it’s sort of a dead end and you’re going to have to migrate off of that system once you reached your certain threshold of sophistication. So my advice would be to look long term – where do you want to be in five or 10 years – and invest upfront in something that can grow with you rather than make a short-term, short-sighted – sorry to say it – investment that, long term, just doesn’t work, and then you got to migrate off of that onto something else, and then there’s a whole learning to it. Just my thoughts. Sandi?

Sandi:  Yeah. I agree, and it’s a matter of keeping those as you’re growing your list and your donors that you’re retaining and engaging and retaining as you grow, making sure that from the beginning, you’re always in organization who engages with them in a way that they’re noticing and continuing to pay attention. So I think it’s definitely some accessible on-ramps for a small organization, and then also the same foundational kind of ways of thinking about it remain true no matter what size.

Bryan: Okay. Well, thank you very much. We are at the top of the hour here. So we’re going to end this webinar for everyone. Thank you all for joining us today. If there are any questions that you submitted that we haven’t spoken to live today, then we will definitely follow up with you afterwards to answer your questions. A couple had asked to be contacted, so we will definitely follow up with you after this. But again, thank you all for joining us. JB, Sandi, thank you for all the information that you’ve provided for us today, and we look forward to talking with you all again.

JB:       Thank you.

Sandi:  Okay. Thank you.



About the author

Team Heller

Heller Consulting has been helping nonprofits establish and improve their communications, fundraising and mission management systems since 1996. Our distinctive methodology comes from our hands-on experience with the technology AND strategies utilized by today’s successful nonprofits to build rewarding constituent relationships.

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