Helping fundraisers close major gifts with professional prospect research
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Mar 2013 ENews Story:
Warning! Did You Recognize Your
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.
Among these elite, Knight Frank finds the following:
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.
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