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Are You Worthy of Being Adopted?

Why Loyal Prospects Are Important

The plain, unvarnished truth is that traditional wealth screening tools simply do not work in planned giving.

Wealth screening looks for stock ownership, real estate, boats and luxury items, board memberships, and swanky addresses as indicators of wealth. They are extremely useful as a way to screen for major donors for capital campaigns, but wealth has little to do with identifying planned giving prospects. In fact, I would argue that it is a contra-indicator.

Net worth, age, geography, etc. have almost no predictive value alone. The only indicator worth anything at all is loyalty to the organization. Why? Because only people who are truly and consistently loyal to an organization will be willing to make the organization a “member of their family” in the long run by including them in their wealth transfer plans.

A planned gift is not a gift from income. It is a gift from principal. It is an asset transfer. When someone makes a planned gift, it is equivalent to making the organization a member of their family. That’s the level of loyalty required.

And here is the bottom line: The best indicator of loyalty is consistent patterns of giving in the annual fund. Nothing else matters. Not volunteer time. Not wealth. Not past capital gifts. Once this loyalty pattern is identified, all other factors — such as demographic information, wealth indicators, long-term volunteers — can be folded back in as additional factors that have incremental value in predicting whether someone is going to be a planned giving donor. But alone, these factors are worthless. They only have predictive value when placed against a loyal giving screen.

That is why our approach has a 91% predictive value. No one else uses this approach. Yes, some are beginning to see the importance of consistent giving, but they do not analyze these patterns to the extent we do. If you produce a consecutive years giving report, it will only produce about 40% of our proprietary software that produces your list. That is because our analysis of giving patterns is much more sophisticated. And why is this predictive value so important? Because, once you identify your planned giving prospects with that degree of accuracy, then you can market to them consistently over time and maximize your results through visits and calls.


I’ve read your article “Planned Giving Newsletters That Work” in the summer issue of “Planned Giving Tomorrow.” It mentions identifying donors who have given at least 8-12 times in the last 15 years, regardless of amount. Is this what you are referring to when you mention PGFinder here? Are you recommending analyzing a donor database even further? I’m mainly interested in refining our newsletter mail list for loyal donors.

Thank you.

Patti, 8-12 times over the past 15 years would be fine. But if you wish to get more accurate, yes, PGFinder is a great tool. Worth reading again…

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