Tag Archives: high net worth

Net Worth: Nasty, Nice, or Neutral?

cash-1169650_1280There was a cry for help on the PRSPCT-L list-serv: “I’m a new researcher and my boss wants me to provide net worth on a prospect. He says it was the previous practice to do this and I can get what I need to calculate it from Dun & Bradstreet.” What would your response be?

To begin, a simple definition of net worth follows:

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

The Three Common Responses to Net Worth

If you mention “net worth” in the prospect research field, you will likely hear one of the following three responses:

  1. Don’t do it! Or you will be voted off the prospect research island!
    The argument against estimating net worth is usually this: If we cannot find or know the values of all assets and liabilities (which of course we cannot), then we have no business estimating net worth. This is often a strong, unequivocally held opinion.
  2. Hide that you are doing it by using another term or keep it behind the capacity rating calculation.
    This is the most common practice in our field. Instead of using the words “estimated net worth”, researchers rephrase with a term such as “estimated wealth”. Even more common is to use the results of wealth surveys, such as the chart on page 19 of the Capgemini 2016 World Wealth Report, to estimate net worth based on a known asset such as real estate and then take a percentage of estimated net worth as the gift capacity.
  3. Boldly present estimated net worth.
    There are researchers who feel comfortable presenting estimated net worth. Some provide disclaimers or educational explanations to communicate better generally or to clarify outlier situations.

Easy Formula, Tricky Calculation

Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth

The formula looks so simple, but this is deceptive. As prospect research professionals we know that we can’t discover and value all of a prospect’s assets or liabilities. It is the reason we use the word “estimated.”

Among the challenges in estimating net worth, there are two that jump out quickly:

  1. Many assets (and liabilities) are troublesome to value – none more than private company ownership.
    I have discussed the difficulty of private company valuation before. A common route to wealth is to start a private business, and many of these successful entrepreneurs want to “give back”, among other motivations for giving.
    And it brings us back to our fellow researcher’s list-serv plea. Dun & Bradstreet (DNB) sells data, including estimated values of a private companies. Assuming we know how much of that company our prospect owns, we could use the DNB dollar amount to estimate the prospect’s ownership value. Or could we? DNB uses its own formulas to estimate and can be very far off the mark.
  2. Are we talking about titled ownership such as a name on the deed, or influence over money, such as sitting on a grant-giving family foundation board?
    Our prospect could be a child of a wealthy family with very few public assets identified. And yet, we may find she has influence over millions of dollars in a family foundation. Estimated net worth and gift capacity clearly diverge at this point. You might estimate a low net worth, but still consider her to have a million dollar gift capacity because of her influence over grant giving.

Logic and Emotion – Let them Collaborate!

There is nothing simple about money. Money is one of the most emotionally volatile topics you can discuss, and those emotions flow into the workplace. Addressing your own emotions and biases about money is the first step.

You might want to seriously consider whether your difficulty imagining the wealth of multi-billionaires is affecting your ability to logically estimate net worth or gift capacity – and whether you have negative emotions attached to great wealth accumulation. Emotions are not your enemy. Ignoring them is.

Now you are ready to balance how you and your gift officers “feel” about your prospect’s potential wealth with the logical, quantifiable assets and liabilities found in the public domain.

Following are the most frequently used tools or ratings:

  • Estimated Net Worth
  • Gift Capacity Range
  • Affinity (how close they feel to your organization)
  • Philanthropic Inclination (do they give at all?)
  • Linkage (how are they connected to your organization)

When used responsibly, estimated net worth is one more tool prospect research professionals can provide to assist frontline fundraisers in creating major gift solicitation strategies. Don’t be afraid to use it!

More Resources You Might Like



Join the Resource Collections online community to access this handout. Use it to facilitate discussion with your gift officers and leadership.


3 Steps To Social Media Major Gift Prowess

Were you aware that social media is a competitive edge in major gift fundraising? You must have heard by now how organizations are leveraging giving days and crowdfunding as well as incorporating social media into annual fund drives – but what about major gifts?

As a fundraiser who asks wealthy individuals to make gifts to your organization, deliberate and professional use of social media will not only separate you from the pack, it could put you in league with your prospects. It’s time to own your participation in social media!

Start with Prospect Research

If you have a prospect research professional on staff, it’s time to have a talk about social media. Agree on the social media sites you want to know about and ask your researcher if channel participation and user ID can be added to the profile, or better yet, put into a database field that can be pulled into a report.



To get on the same page with your colleagues, you could order copies of the Prospect Research Perspectives: On Social Media and have informal discussions about articles over lunch or coffee.


Every organization has a unique constituency. Global and national statistics on social media use may or may not apply to your donors. As your prospects get researched, you will begin to see which social media channels are preferred.

Audit Your Personal Social Media Presence

You are probably on social media already. It’s time to audit your presence. Accept that there is no privacy online, no matter how diligent you are with your privacy settings. Decide how you want to be perceived – what your personal brand is – and make that uniform across every platform from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond. Don’t underestimate the power of a professional head shot.

Consider what would happen if a seven-figure prospect invited you to connect on Facebook. What will your Facebook presence communicate to the prospect? You should also expect that prospects will explore your work history in places like LinkedIn.

You can get ahead of the requests and craft an action plan that will best demonstrate your personal brand and interests and your organization’s brand and giving priorities.

What does that mean? Take one channel at a time. Following are two easily accomplished examples that demonstrate channel-appropriate activity:

  • LinkedIn: Liz picks two days a week when she catches up on industry reading, posts about something she has read, and links to the article or commentary. Whenever she learns new information about a giving priority, she shares the related press release, video, or other content. She decides to write a short article this year about integrity in major gift fundraising to post on Pulse and have it show on her profile page.
  • Facebook: Liz uses Facebook to connect with friends and family, but colleagues and donors have requested to friend her. She’s a foodie and a country music fan so she decides that each time she goes out to eat or hear music she will find something unusual about the experience to share on Facebook. She also shares related articles, videos, and pictures on those topics. She still shares things like family and vacation items, but she’s careful not to share deeply personal information, saving that for offline. She posts occasional pictures from work events and office fun, too.

Now Get Your Edge On!

Once you know which social media channels have a critical mass of your prospects and donors, make sure you have an account on those social media sites. You can’t be everywhere, so choose carefully based on the data.

Now you are poised to use social media for cultivation. Many fundraisers successfully reach prospects through LinkedIn, but you could do much more.

When you discover a prospect is very active on one or more social media channels, connect with him or her there and regularly post content that is of interest to the prospect, as well as engage the prospect by sharing his or her content and making comments. This builds trust and rapport through genuine interactions – and all from your laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

Social media isn’t the way to reach out to every prospect, but if you polish your online brand and use prospect research to guide your social media activity you can sharpen your major gift edge.

5 Reasons Public Company Insiders are Great Prospects

Unless you are fundraising for a prestigious business school, you probably don’t come across a whole lot of private company insiders as prospects. Maybe you wonder what all the excitement is about. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings are complex. Why bother understanding that world if you have those prospects so infrequently?
Apart from the noble pursuit of continual learning, following are five reasons public company insiders make such good prospects.

1. The wealthy get and keep great wealth through capital, not income.

Have you heard about technology companies like Yahoo! or Oracle paying their CEOs a symbolic salary of $1? It’s true! Earned income – the salary or cash paychecks you and I take home – is taxed at a much higher rate than capital gains.
Capital gain is the “income” or value received when you sell capital, such as stock, at a profit. If I am awarded stock at the market price of $10 and it is $25 when I sell it, I have made a capital gain of $15 on that share of stock.
Any self-respecting public company CEO would much prefer to have the bulk of their compensation subject to lower capital gain tax rates AND have it grow in value. Wouldn’t you choose to lower your taxes and watch your paycheck rise in value? Especially if your million+ cash income covered your living expenses?
If you have been reading about rising income equality, this article in The Economist magazine helps to put the rise of capital into historical perspective:  To those that have shall be given.

2. There are so few public company insiders, and they keep good company.

In 2015 there were 3,700 public companies traded on a major stock exchange in the U.S. Compare that to nearly six million private U.S. companies in 2012 according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Publicly traded companies are an exclusive club. To be listed on the NYSE or the NASDAQ you need revenue in the multi-millions. This means there are fewer top executive and board positions. Not just anyone gets asked to serve on a public company board!
And if your prospect does sit on a public company board, who else might s/he introduce you to?

3. You can find out if they have gifted stock in the past.

What a wonderful philanthropic indicator this is! You might not know who was the beneficiary of your prospect’s goodwill, but when you view your prospect’s insider transactions in MarketWatch, it clearly indicates when stock was gifted.
Watch this 2-minute video to learn how to find whether your prospect has a history of gifting stock.

4. All compensation is public, which can help with strategy.

When you have a well-trained prospect research professional on staff, she will know how to tease out all of the important bits of an insider’s compensation. Ask your researcher for her suggestions on gift timing and she can tell you when the prospect is likely to receive stock awards, have stock options in the money, or receive cash awards from derivatives (such as performance stock units (PSUs) based on the stock price, but which are not actual shares of stock).
Combined with the rest of the prospect’s wealth and philanthropy picture, this information goes a long way toward informing your cultivation and solicitation strategy.

5. Even retired public company executives are public.

Whether your prospect retires, gets merged out of a job, or gets fired, if it is a public company you can know everything about the financial and other benefits the prospect received from any separation package – even many years later. It can often be difficult to assess a retired prospect’s capacity to give, but with public company data you have some actual numbers from which to begin estimating.

Success is Preparation Meeting Opportunity

Those words of wisdom have been spoken many times by many people and I couldn’t agree more. If you ever doubted the value of a well-educated and well-trained prospect research professional, find yourself a public company prospect and you will doubt no more!
The Wall Street world of high finance is complex and opaque. It is also an extremely exclusive club of individuals capable of making transformative gifts to your organization. Whether you are hiring a prospect research consultant or considering continuing education for your in-house professional, make sure an understanding of the world of public companies is on the skill list.

Top Secret! How to Bulk up your Prospect Pool

HappyKeySMIn this article I’m going to share the secrets of finding great prospects. Maybe you’re one of those fundraisers who is always reading the Business Journal scouting for a lead, but they don’t pan out. Do you wonder how those other organizations pull in the big gifts? Or maybe you’re new and all the best prospects are assigned to senior fundraisers. You can get great prospects too!

If you read a lot of blogs (like I do) now is where you get skeptical. Is she just going to give me theory I already know (and hasn’t yet helped me find good prospects) or will I get at least a couple of nuggets I can actually use? I’m aiming for the latter. The “trick” is that you still have to work hard!

Fundraising research theory tells us that you need to know who you are looking for so you can spot them. We use jargon like linkage, ability and affinity. And there are tools that give you a competitive edge with that. But you can do it even without bright, shiny tools.

The First Thing…

The first thing any good fundraiser (and prospect researcher) needs to do is learn what it looks like to be wealthy. Watching soap operas may seem like a good education here, but much better is reading through some of the wealth reports like the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2014. You’ll find links for other reports in the sidebar on your right.

And the second first-thing-any-good-fundraiser-needs -to-do is get in front of people, especially donors. You should read and get in front of donors at the same time. Start with known donors because they are the most likely to give (again) and it’s always better to get a gift, right?

Call, visit, and read.

When you are reading about the wealthy at the same time as you visit prospects you’ll start making the connections. When the prospect talks about how he and his wife are taking classes in gemology and he has a watch collection, you’ll remember what you read about this being an investment hobby for the very wealthy. And when a different prospect brags about taking regular trips to Europe on mileage points you’ll recognize that what you thought were luxury vacations probably aren’t.

You can do that without any tools except your eyes and ears. Well, I guess you need to use your mouth to place the phone call…and, okay, guide the conversation. But you get it, right? Recognizing the wealthy – the truly wealthy – takes an education.

Get Your Toolbox Dirty

Getting an education on spotting the wealthy still isn’t likely to fill your prospect pool with GREAT donors – those with linkage, ability and affinity. If you have tools that assign ratings to the prospects in your database, use them! Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out perfectly the first few times.

For example, you might pull a report of people who rate high for ability and likelihood to make a gift, but find most won’t take your phone call. You may need to add additional criteria depending on your organization. Maybe it’s “donor within the past two years” or “attended an event in the past two years” or some other criteria that makes it more likely they will let you visit with them.

Keep track of your efforts so you can repeat what works best. And, yes, this does mean you will have to make a lot of phone calls that end in “no thank you I don’t want a visit”.

It’s the same even if you don’t have tools that provide ratings. Without tools you have to get more of an education. You might use a free tool like the Washington Post’s interactive map** of the nation’s super zips to identify wealthy zip codes to search for in your donor database and combine that with “donor within the past two years” or other criteria that suggest a “warmness” toward your organization.

The Secret Weapon

If you are really lucky, you have a trained prospect researcher on staff. Use all your fundraising powers of relationship building to get this prospect research wizard on your side!

HOT TIP: your researcher is likely to get the most excited about searching out top prospects if you reward her with feedback from your calls and face-to-face visits.

With a prospect researcher on your team you are more likely to out-produce even seasoned professionals in the race for fundraised dollars. Really, really!

…and if you can’t support a trained prospect researcher full-time, you can always outsource. Just sayin’!

**Julie, Prospect Research Analyst in Pennsylvania and Groundbreaking Student at the Prospect Research Institute, shared this fantastic resource with the class!

Did you get a nugget or two?

I hope you found a useful tip you can apply in your office. Maybe you have great suggestions you’d like to share with others. Please comment and share!

Jenz Favorite Wealth Reports

Warning! Did You Recognize Your Million-Dollar Donor?

You are launching a campaign or pushing forward with a major gift initiative and finally have the budget to order some profiles. Yay! You pick the first name – a prospect you’ve met who comes across as wealthy – only to discover the capacity of the prospect falls under $100,000. So disappointing. What went wrong?

Even when an organization has performed a wealth screening, sometimes gift officers still gravitate toward lower-capacity prospects. Many times this is because they are not aware of the lifestyle and asset differences between affluent and high net worth. High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) do not look like the typical fundraiser – you or me. They are different. And sometimes that can make us feel uncomfortable.

HNWI According to Knight Frank

The recently released Knight Frank annual Wealth Report helps to illuminate some of those differences. Many groups define a HNWI as someone with $1 million in net assets, but Knight Frank cranks it up to an individual with $30 million or more in net assets. Let’s give those numbers some context. Suppose your prospect is passionate about your mission and wants to donate 5% of her net assets.

  • At $30 million, she gives you $1.5 million.
  • At $1 million, she gives you $50,000.

Among these elite, Knight Frank finds the following:

  • London and New York are the top destinations in the world.
  • HNWI’s in North America own an average of 3.6 homes.
  • The top 3 most popular investments of passion in North America: Fine art, wine and classic cars

Affluent vs. HNW – Some Examples

One prospect I researched was so interested in wine that he founded a vineyard and winery – as a hobby! His capacity was very different from his partner’s, who also invested in the winery and ran the operations. The partner invested his savings and was earning his living. The prospect was a HNWI and his partner was affluent.

Another finding by Knight Frank was that 25% of HNWI’s net worth is accounted for by their main residence and second homes that are not owned purely as an investment. I researched a prospect who owned four condos on the beach in Florida. One of them was his home and the others, some in the same building, he held as investments and rented them to vacationers.

That is a very different picture from a prospect who owns a few condos on the beach, all but one purchased during an economic downturn, as well as home and a New York City condo. The prospect living in the beach condo appeared to manage his properties personally and likely earned income of around $100,000 – that’s affluent. The prospect with the New York City condo is a top executive who saw an opportunity to own valuable beach-front real estate near his favorite vacation spot and used cash to purchase when the prices were low – that’s a HNWI.

In Your Own Backyard

You don’t have to be an expert on how wealth and assets are accumulated and managed, but you do need to be a student of wealth to begin recognizing the difference between a prospect capable of a $1 million gift and a prospect capable of a $50,000 gift. If you are in a mid-west rural community your HNWI is going to look different from someone in New York. It’s up to you to know your community – although a skilled prospect researcher can always help you out.

As a frontline fundraiser, recognizing and embracing HNWIs is a valuable skill that could make a tremendous difference for the cause you serve. You might be out of your comfort zone at first, but you can get through that with education, practice and a little help from your peers.

Other Wealth Reports You Might Like

2012 Bank of America Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy

2011 Capgemini-Merrill Lynch World Wealth Report

About the Author

Jen Filla is president of Aspire Research Group LLC where she works with organizations worried about finding their next big donor, concerned about what size gift to ask for, or frustrated that they aren’t meeting their major gift goals.

Fundraisers and the Family Limited Partnership

On July 6, 2012, The New York Times ran an article talking about the family limited partnership and how more families are looking at this wealth planning vehicle now that the tax break allowing up to $5.12 million to pass to heirs tax-free is set to expire at the end of 2012. What’s it to you, a front-line fundraiser or research fundraiser?

For me it was an “Aha!” …another indicator screaming “high net worth possibilities here!”  So when you see a prospect with a family limited partnership (e.g., Filla Family LP), you want to take a second look.

How do high net worth individuals use family limited partnerships to manage their wealth?

Whether it is a married couple or includes extended family members, a limited partnership allows family members to pool assets, typically for a business purpose, and these assets are now discounted because the assets are less liquid – that means a lower tax rate. The New York Times suggested that a 25 percent discount was usually acceptable to the IRS.

According to the CPA Journal (July, 1999), there are three main advantages:

  • The general partner of the limited partnership can retain control and direction of the assets;
  • It aids in business succession planning; and
  • The assets can be passed between generations at the lowest permissible cost in estate and gift taxes

Consider your highly philanthropic entrepreneurs. Mr. and Mrs. Prospect start what becomes a very profitable business. They have four children, two are involved in the business and two are not. By placing the business interests into a family limited partnership, the couple can maintain control over the business while planning for succession and transfer of assets to their children – all this at a reduced tax rate.

The New York Times article also suggested that some families might use a family limited partnership to pool assets to reach the higher investment requirements that hedge fund and private equity managers require.

It so happened that just after I read The New York Times article, I was researching a donor prospect who was a very successful entrepreneur. He created family limited partnership each time there was a substantial financial change in his life – selling a company or realizing value to a patented medical invention. The New York Times article suggested that $2 million was a very low investment. Based on this I estimated that the combined value of his three family limited partnerships might be $15 million to $30 million or more. He and his wife were the only partners.

Do you have a donor prospect story that involves a family limited partnership? Do you have more to add about how high net worth families might be using this investment vehicle? I hope you will share!

Feel free to comment or email Jen at aspire research group.com

Other Links You Might Like:

6 Family Limited Partnership Developments In 2011 (Forbes blog post-FLP stories)

Investopedia Definition of Family Limited Partnership-FLP (webpage)

Capacity and Ask Amount – Magic Numbers! (blog post)

Are you clinging to outdated myths about women’s giving?

Women with Spending Power = Rock Star Donors!

In just two decades there have been huge shifts in how women and men earn and give away their money. As responsible financial stewards, fundraisers need to be sure that their efforts reflect the needs of women as well as men. This post analyzes and highlights information primarily from a new study of high net worth women from The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Heck, I might just convince you to make it easy for women to give to you by creating a women-only giving group!

I say that in *just* two decades there have been huge shifts, because twenty years is a relatively short period of time. From the time I started working in 1988 until now a tsunami of changes have transformed how women are treated at university and at work. My first boss, who had porn tapes delivered to the office and carried around a loaded gun, would be considered an anachronism today – and a dangerous one! And that was only twenty-three years ago.

Because such dramatic change has occurred in such a short amount of time, many of us fundraisers may still be clinging to outdated myths about women’s giving potential. These myths could cost your organization, but worse, they could cost the people who rely upon your organization to serve them.

*Women are Earning More Money*
You probably know this, but remember that women did not enter the workforce in significant numbers until about forty years ago in the 1970s. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2011), women were 40% of the labor force in the 1970s and are now at about 60%. But how do those numbers translate into earning power?

The Pew Research Center published a study in 2010 that may surprise you. It demonstrated that the percentage of working women earning more than their working husbands has grown from 8% to 26% in the past two decades. A quarter of working women in a two income household are the primary breadwinner. Nice. And that is in the face of the fact that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010), women earn about 80% of what men earn.

But the real eye-popping news is that in nearly 90% of high net worth individuals surveyed in a study by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University (2011), women are either the sole decision-maker or at least an equal partner in charitable decision-making. In non-research language that translates to: women decide how to give away the household dollars. How’s that for a myth-buster? Ignore women at your peril!

*Women are (Finally) Leveraging Networks*
When I was in Prague in 2009 I was invited to a lunch by another business woman. What I found was a long-standing network of women who encourage and help build each other’s success in what can still be a hostile environment for women. These women were the movers and shakers, creating new institutions and fantastic business success. It was women helping women. I have not found this kind of tight-knit camaraderie here in the U.S. But I know it exists as can be attested to by the rise of women’s giving networks.

The recently released study by The Center on Philanthropy added a layer of data to its 2010 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy. They surveyed high net worth women from The Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross who give $10,000 or more annually, added this data to their previous study, and published the 2011 Study of High Net Worth Women’s Philanthropy and the Impact of Women’s Giving Networks.

What I find so interesting about their choice to use The Tiffany Circle of the American Red Cross is that this giving network was created by the American Red Cross. In the past I have read numerous articles about women creating their own giving circles, but clearly some nonprofits have seen the “dollars written on the wall” and proactively created environments where women can thrive in philanthropy. Yes, you can do this too!

*What do Women in Giving Networks Expect Most?*
Before we go into what The Center on Philanthropy found out when questioning these high net worth networked givers (try saying that quickly!), I feel it is very important to note that in their 2010 study they discovered that 60.2% of women and 55.7% of men gave for general operating support. Really, really. In fact, only 15.9% of men and 10.8% of women were likely to donate for capital, construction or equipment. So it’s safe to say that at least HALF of high net worth donors will give general operating dollars. That’s HUGE! Living up to their expectations now takes on a whole new level of importance, doesn’t it?

The Center on Philanthropy found gender differences in these top indicators of donor expectations:

W=women  M=men  WIN=women in a network

  • Honor request for use of gift:  W-80.4%  M-68.4% WIN-89.3%
  • Send thank you note: W-60.4%   M-52.1%  WIN-66.1%
  • Communicate the impact of the gift: W-45.3  M-26.4% WIN-55.6%
  • Provide ongoing communication: W-45.1%  M-34.5%  WIN-49.6

Notice that men differ dramatically in two of these expectations (underlined for emphasis) and that women in a network have higher expectations for these items across the board. If you are going to create a woman’s giving network at your nonprofit, these are key items to take note of as you plan how to communicate with your new group.

*What Motivates Women in Giving Networks to Give*
We know from the Center on Philanthropy’s 2010 study that the more high net worth donors volunteered, the more they gave. However, personal experiences with an organization are more important to women. In the world of statistics this number is a big one: 90.8% of The Tiffany Circle women reported that they volunteered.

The study doesn’t attempt to find causes for this behavior, but it is reassuring to hear that women are more likely to have confidence in the ability of nonprofits to solve domestic or global problems (50.4% of women vs. 33.8% of men).

The Center on Philanthropy found gender differences in these top indicators of donor motivations:

W=women  M=men  WIN=women in a network

  • Moved at how gift can make a difference*: W-81.7%   M-70.9%   WIN-86.9%
  • Can give back to the community: W-78.2%  M-63.3%  WIN-87%
  • When a nonprofit is efficient in its use of donations: W-80.5%  M-69.2% WIN-86%
  • Volunteer at an organization: W-65.7  M-49.8%  WIN-73.1%

(*This was THE top motivator for men and women. Yes, we all know this, but validation from a study feels good too.)

Here we notice that men differ dramatically in one of these expectations (underlined for emphasis) and that again women in a network are more motivated by these items across the board. If you are going to create a woman’s giving network at your nonprofit, all of the above motivators should be emphasized.

Remember to bury those entrenched donor myths! Yes, these donors are motivated when you demonstrate efficient use of funds. And YES, they will give to general operating too. This study says at least half will. Make a strong case for general operating and they will give.

*Why do Women in Giving Networks STOP Giving?*
The top reason for women and men to stop giving is because they were solicited too frequently or were asked for an inappropriate amount. The big news? It’s not as important to women as it is to men. Only 49.3% of women cite this reason, but 61.2% of men do.

This is where I get to emphasize how important it is to methodically approach your annual fund appeals and test to discover the right message and the right number of appeals. And if you are going to ask one of your close donor friends to step up and make a stretch gift, it is only respectful to get an in-depth, researched donor profile. Nearly half of your women donors and more than half of your male donors are offended when you don’t care enough to do your homework before asking for a gift.

*Summing it All Up*
More women are working, more of these women are earning more, and women are organizing together to give. The big myth busters?

  • A quarter of working women in a two income household are the primary breadwinner.
  • Women are either the sole or equal decision maker on how to give away household dollars.
  • At least HALF of high net worth donors (female and male) will give general operating dollars.

Key takeaways from the Center on Philanthropy study:

  • Honoring your donor’s request for use of a gift is important for women and men, but much more important for women.
  • Women and men are most likely to be moved by how a gift can make a difference, but it is more important for women.
  • Volunteering and other personal experiences of a nonprofit are more important to women than men.
  • Nearly half of your women donors and more than half of your male donors are offended when you don’t care enough to do your homework before asking for a gift. Asking for an inappropriate size gift could cost you a donor.

Women are steadily becoming a financial force to be reckoned with and even more than men they like to be strategic and collaborative in their giving. Providing women with a way to organize their giving to you that recognizes their needs and preferences will help your organization gain access to this growing population of high net worth individuals. Don’t the people you serve deserve this?

*About Aspire Research Group*
Aspire Research Group was founded so that every development office could have the benefits of professional prospect research. We analyze donor databases to help fundraisers understand their donors better, create systems to help them reach major gift and campaign goals, and provide comprehensive profiles to empower fundraisers to qualify and ask donors for the “right” gift. We use our direct fundraising experience to craft research solutions that answer the questions that lead to more and higher gifts, guiding fundraisers comfortably every step of the way. Contact us for more information or visit us at www.AspireResearchGroup.com

*About the Study*
The 2011 Study of High Net Worth Women’s Philanthropy and the Impact of Women’s Giving Networks was written and researched by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. It can be accessed online here:

Summer Reading from Helen Brown

It might not be “light” reading, but I still think you should go poolside with the suggestions from Helen Brown in her recent blog post Summer Reading: Wealth and Philanthropy.

All of the reports she mentions give great insight into donor motivations and capacity. But I can hear you moaning now: “I want to RELAX at the pool!”

All I can say to that is that I do my best philanthropy reading poolside. Sure beats being in my office. Get a blue or colored pen and circle the most important bits as you go along. When you are back at your computer, cut and paste the important bits into one document.

I went so far as to create a table with characteristics (inherited wealth, real estate wealth, etc.) in one column and the quote in the other. That way I have a quick reference guide when I’m doing my donor research profiles. Yes, it’s a little go-getter geeky, but it saves me a lot of time…

Happy reading!