The Planned Giving Blogger

The art and science of planned giving.

Audience selection redux: Part II

with 2 comments

Yesterday’s post revisited the question of transactional data (propensity) vs appended data (capacity) for identifying your best planned giving prospects.  Two acknowledged experts in the field, Chuck Longfield and Peter Wylie, both come down on the side of both/and.  But what transactional data are most powerful?

The answer is “it depends.”  It depends on your organization and the opportunities a donor has had to “transact” with you and it depends on whether you’ve captured those data so they can be leveraged.  Some organizations collect what is called “affinity” information, that is, information about the connection the donor has to the cause.  But even seemingly unimportant data can be powerful.  In the early days of Longfield’s Passion Index, he found that donors who call to tell the nonprofit of a change of address are better planned giving prospects.  I guess it makes sense that if a donor goes the extra mile to make sure you can find him or her, it means the donor is really committed.

Wylie, who has studied higher education institutions extensively, asserts that “You can get surprisingly good results from just these six variables: home phone, business phone, e-mail, marital status, class year, and whether the person was ever assigned to a gift officer. If you have a yes on each of those variables, you have a very good chance of success with that prospect.”

Both men suggest that analysis will show which data elements are meaningful for your organization.   Unfortunately, most organizations don’t do the analysis.  As Wylie notes, “It’s all commonsensical when you look at it, but many institutions don’t look at it.”



Written by Phyllis Freedman

February 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Phyllis: Oops, I commented on your previous post before I read the current one! You’ve addressed exactly what I had to say in that earlier comment. I recently posted a list of the top 12 or so most predictive variables for planned giving potential on my blog at – but as I say there, and as you note above, the question of whether such a list is of any use to one’s own program is answered with “it depends”. Each organization has to dive into its own store data to find the truth.


    February 10, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    • Hi Kevin

      Thanks for your comments. I appreciate you sharing information about data elements you have found to be powerful. And thanks, too, for letting me know about your blog. Look forward to staying in touch.


      Phyllis Freedman

      February 10, 2010 at 1:01 pm

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