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Leveraging People Data for Higher Education Fundraising

Katie Cohen

Colleges and universities have a long history of strong fundraising results, and yet the financial needs of higher education institutions continue to increase. Many administrations look to their Advancement offices to help close the funding gap. In fact, CASE’s VSE survey reports that philanthropic giving to higher education increased by a record-setting 12.5% between fiscal years 2021 and 2022.1

Raising more for campus priorities often means fundraising teams need to “work smarter” because the ever-increasing fundraising targets aren’t always paired with comparable budgetary increases. Leveraging high-quality data can help ensure your team is getting the most out of your limited resources while elevating philanthropic investment in your school.

Windfall’s products support the work of higher education development offices – from Annual Giving to Principal Gifts – by providing actionable insights that help target donors and prospects with the highest potential. The data application extends throughout the advancement enterprise, too, enhancing the people insights that fuel alumni engagement, volunteer recruitment, and targeted marketing.

Wealth Insights You Can Trust

Many campuses are fortunate to have a robust database with a variety of constituents connected with their school: alumni, parents, donors, staff, faculty, and members of the community. This valuable asset comes with its own unique challenges, namely: where do you focus your efforts?

Wealth screening has long been the primary answer to this question. Determining who has the capacity to make a gift – especially a transformative gift – is critical to ensure you are maximizing the return on investment of both time and resources. Yet, there are still a number of considerations when determining how, when, and who to screen.

Key Considerations for Actionable Wealth Screenings

1. Data Quality

Anchoring fundraising strategy in data-backed insights will lead to strong results. That said, you have to be confident the data you are analyzing is of good quality or you may be moving in the wrong direction. To put this in context: IBM estimated the yearly cost of poor-quality data in the U.S. alone totaled $3.1 trillion.2

Windfall uses deterministic matching methodologies to curb “fuzzy matching” and only return high-confidence matches and insights. Windfall customers know they can trust the data they receive which means they can put that information to work immediately – and not allocate precious time to re-validating screening results.

2. Precise Net Worth vs. Capacity Ratings

“Net worth” takes both assets (e.g., properties, stock ownership) and liabilities (e.g., mortgages) into account, offering a holistic picture of a household’s true financial ability to give philanthropically. Rather than providing a wide gift capacity range, Windfall provides a precise net worth figure for each household, enabling customers to easily prioritize and segment their constituents. Our advanced matching algorithm captures assets others may miss and leverages deterministic matching to maintain a Windfall-level of confidence.

3. Wealth Fluctuations

Wealth can change over time – or even overnight! You and your team need up-to-date information on your constituents’ net worth and wealth attributes. Windfall’s wealth dataset is rebuilt and refreshed on a weekly basis which means our customers receive the most up-to-date information when they screen. Be sure to maximize your time by knowing where supporters stand financially today.

4. Full Database Screenings

Windfall’s subscription model comes with unlimited screenings. We encourage our customers to screen everyone in their database on a regular basis to ensure they are 1) matching to new records, and 2) identifying potential “hidden gems,” or existing donors who could be targeted for an increased ask amount based on their net worth. This unlimited access enables prospecting at scale: there are no limits to which constituents you screen and how often. The refreshed wealth information can then be layered into your team’s workflows and reports to ensure the insights are leveraged right away.

To learn more about the benefits of screening with Windfall, hear how the University of Minnesota leverages Windfall’s wealth insights to gain a deeper understanding of their 1.5 million constituents on a monthly basis.

Sources & Footnotes:
 1) VSE 2022 Key Findings
 2) Flying Blind: How Bad Data Undermines Business

Windfall’s product offerings extend far beyond wealth insights but, at their core, all center around a foundation of quality, timeliness, and data access.  From Career Intelligence to bespoke propensity modeling to data-driven marketing, Windfall is here to help your campus do more and raise more with a foundation of high-quality people data. 


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