All posts by Aspire Research Group

How Prospect Research Brings Confidence to Your Prospect Meetings

How Prospect Research Brings Confidence to Your Prospect Meetings

We know that the best way to raise money for our organizations is through face-to-face relationships with our prospects. Like any relationship, we must put in time and effort. But sometimes, you need more than a company biography or what is in your organization’s database to establish that connection and maintain it. Knowing how to find the right information can be a struggle.

That is where prospect research comes in. Using public information and internal information from your organization (if available), prospect research can help figure out how to better cultivate the person. Research will help you learn more about the prospect and give you the confidence to deepen that relationship.

Continue reading How Prospect Research Brings Confidence to Your Prospect Meetings
Warning! Check your Fuel Gauge BEFORE Campaign Launch.

Warning! Check your Fuel Gauge BEFORE Campaign Launch.

Imagine that you board a plane and just when you have reached altitude, the pilot comes on over the microphone and tells you that although you are scheduled to land in two hours, there is no fuel gauge. The pilot tells you they are optimistic and determined to arrive on time anyway. Would you believe me if I told you this is the way many organizations start their capital campaigns? It’s true!

Knowing how much fuel is in the tank is critical before flying an airplane. Similarly, knowing the gift potential in your donor database is critical information before launching a campaign.

Continue reading Warning! Check your Fuel Gauge BEFORE Campaign Launch.
Fishing for Prospects The Promise of Validations

Fishing for Prospects: The Promise of Validations

By Elisa Shoenberger

Finding new prospects is often compared to fishing. You throw out a proverbial net and hopefully get an incredible number of fish in return. Some are going to be bigger than others; hopefully, you’ll throw the smaller fish back into the water to grow and thrive.

Continue reading Fishing for Prospects: The Promise of Validations

Review Capgemini World Wealth Report series 2023 Wealth Management

What is this Report?

The report is the 27th annual world wealth report by Capgemini Research Institute. The report analyzes the state of wealth and wealth management across the world in the prior calendar year. The report focuses on High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) defined as individuals with assets of $1M+ and over.

What are key findings from the article?

  • The global economy showed signs of slowing compared to prior years. Notably, the global economy grew 3.2% in 2022, compared to 6% in 2021.  North America saw a steep decline in HNWI wealth of 7.4% and HNWI population in 6.9% but North America remains number 1 in wealth amount and total population. Asia-Pacific and Europe saw declines in both wealth and population of HNWI. Africa, Latin America, and Middle East saw growth.
Continue reading Review Capgemini World Wealth Report series 2023 Wealth Management

Review of Fidelity Charitable Giving Report 2023

What is this Report

The report is an annual report of Fidelity Charitable donor advised giving for the prior year. It explores both giving to Fidelity Charitable donor advised accounts as well as giving from donor advised funds to charities.

Continue reading Review of Fidelity Charitable Giving Report 2023

Reviewing the World Ultra Wealth Report 2022

What is this Report?

Reviewing the World Ultra Wealth Report 2022

The report is the first World Ultra Wealth Report that is published by Altrata. It’s the tenth such report using Wealth-X data. The report looks at the global ultra-high net worth (UNHW) population in the first half of 2022.

UHNW individuals are defined as individuals who have a net worth over $30 million. High net worth population is defined as individuals with net worth over $1M.

What are key findings from the article?

  • The Ultra High Net Worth population fell by 6% and the combined value of wealth dropped 11% in the first half of 2022. The report points to the war in the Ukraine and global economic volatility (including inflation) as causes of the drop.The population of UHNW individuals totals 392K and they have combined net worth of $41.8trn. “The ultra-wealthy account for just 1.2% of the global HNW population, yet hold over 31% of this group’s total wealth.”
  • North America reported the biggest drop in total UHNW individuals at 10%. China was the only major wealth market that saw a rise of 2.3% in total number of UHNW. In the US, the report believes the drop is due to policy changes at the Federal Reserve, rising interest rates, “slump in capital markets.”However, the US is still number one with 121,465 UHNW individuals, followed by China with 51,145 individuals. Germany, Japan, and Hong Kong are the next three respectively. Hong Kong is the #1 city of UHNW individuals followed by New York and Los Angeles.
  • While women are only 11% of UHNW population, their numbers are rising. The average age of UHNW women is 64 and more than half inherited some or all of their wealth.
  • However, the number of UHNW women who are self-made is not evenly distributed in all regions. US is close to the average at 51.1% whereas China has a whopping 81% of UHNW women who made their wealth. Other countries like Germany are lower, at 16.5%.
  • The majority of UHNW women work in the non-profit and social organizations sector. In comparison, the majority of UHNW men work in banking and finance. The report ascribes the higher percentage of women in nonprofits due to greater amounts of inherited wealth.
  • Asset distribution is similar for both UHNW women and men except with real estate. UHNW women tend to invest a higher percentage of their wealth in real estate and luxury assets compared to men. UHNW women tend to prefer jewelry and art as luxury assets compared to men. Notably the report found, “Women account for 70 of every 100 UHNW owners of luxury watches and jewelry, assuming an equal number across genders. In contrast, UHNW men prefer jets and yachts.
  • Given that nonprofits are the number one industry for UNHW women, it’s not surprising that philanthropy is the biggest hobby of the population. For UHNW men, sports are first, then followed by philanthropy. Both UHNW men and women prioritize giving to education, followed by arts & culture, then social services.
  • In the US, UHNW women make larger political gifts on average: $134K compared to $125K. They donate more frequently, but men tend to give bigger donations from companies.

Additional Resources

The Trend That Keeps Trending: Cryptocurrency

The Trend That Keeps Trending: Cryptocurrency

The funny thing about trends is that they can take quite a long time to become boring and traditional. If you are living through a major trend – the way we are living through the birth and widespread adoption of cryptocurrency – it can begin to look tawdry.

It’s as if we went from a neon-lit, live music infused dive bar blowout and instead of letting sleeping dogs happily lie, we went back in the bright light of the afternoon to witness just how grimy and gross that dive bar really is.

Cryptocurrency had its debut glamour party – but has hung around and tried to keep up the hype, leaving many people like me feeling ambivalent about it.

That is, until Aspire Research Group researcher and writer extraordinaire, Elisa Shoenberger, pointed me to the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, What Skeptics Get Wrong About Crypto’s Volatility.

Elisa has been known to quote John Taylor, a fundraising operations consultant, who can talk about how he had to coax reluctant nonprofits that credit cards were safe and that they really needed to accept credit card donations. Now we are coaxing reluctant nonprofits to accept cryptocurrency. Given the volatility, is that wise?

The HBR article talks about how cryptocurrency is a young industry and how its liquidity and transparency act as bright sunlight does in that dark and grimy dive bar. It also describes investor mentality in startup ventures. Most early investors recognize that usually a small percentage of those startup investments will yield a return, although hopefully there will be at least one with a BIG return.

When we begin to view cryptocurrency through the lens of a startup investor, all that volatility and wild west behavior begins to feel less chaotic and more like a toddler tantrum. It’s unpleasant and can cause some damage but is easy to put into a box (or a playpen) to control the damage.

As Elisa likes to say, don’t invest more than you can afford to lose. (It’s gambling folks!)

And don’t forget why and how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was created. There was a time when the industry of publicly company trading had extreme volatility and fraud. The SEC was created to regulate and protect the public.

Public company trading is definitely boring and traditional compared to cryptocurrency!

Is Cryptocurrency property, a security, or a commodity?

Will there be a new agency created to regulate cryptocurrency and protect the public? I doubt it. The scuffle for regulatory control is likely to happen between the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has already ruled that it considers cryptocurrency to be property. This matters when a cryptocurrency is gifted, for example.

But what about whether it is a security or a commodity?

A security produces a return from an entity or company. A commodity is a “basic good” that you can buy, trade, or exchange – like food or electricity.

People have certainly been trading cryptocurrency for return, but is it really a security? Currency might be considered a commodity, but does cryptocurrency qualify as a “basic good”?

The scuffle has indeed begun! And that’s just part and parcel of a young industry.

This constant tussling over definitions, uses, and abuses is also what makes it difficult to keep up with what is trending in cryptocurrency and philanthropy.

Lucky for you, Elisa Shoenberger has compiled and kept current a well-curated list of resources related to cryptocurrency and fundraising!

Aspire Research Bookmark Page

Bookmark the webpage and you instantly have a library of relevant cryptocurrency resources at your mouse click:

https://www.protopage.com/prospectresearch#Cryptocurrencies

Find out if the “crypto winter” forecasts the end of cryptocurrency for philanthropy.

Get Personal and Deliver Impact: Reviewing Capgemini 2022 World Wealth Report

By Elisa Shoenberger

What is this report?

Get Personal and Deliver Impact: Reviewing Capgemini 2022 World Wealth Report

The World Wealth Report is an annual report about the wealth of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and the economic conditions in the Wealth Management industry. This year’s report is based on responses from over 2,973 HNWIs in 24 wealth markets, administered in January 2022.

Capgemini defines HNWI as those who have “investable assets of US$1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables.”

What are key findings from the article?

  • Wealth increased with a rise in global High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) of 7.8% and global wealth totals of 8.0%.
  • Following the trend in 2020, North America leads the world on HNWI individuals with 13.2% growth and 13.8% wealth in 2021. Europe comes second, then Asia-Pacific. The report credits the strong performance of the technology sector, specifically Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple, Tesla and Nvidia. US real estate also grew 11%.
  • However, with rising inflation and interest rate hikes, Capgemini estimates that global HNWI wealth declined by 4% from 12/31/2021 to 4/30/2022. North America would be the most impacted followed by Europe.
  • Globally, 55% of HNWI want to make more investments with ESGs (environmental, social, and government). Interestingly, HNWIs in Asia-Pacific (except Japan), Latin America and Europe are most interested in sustainable investments, followed by North America. But millennials are the most interested age group in these types of investments.
  • Cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are still popular. The report noted: “71% of HNWIs globally have invested in digital assets and 91% of HNWIs younger than 40 have investments in digital assets.” Cryptocurrency is their first digital asset, then exchanged-traded funds and the metaverse are next. Morgan Stanley has three funds that allow investors with at least $2M into bitcoin. (Of course, the report was written before the recent extreme volatility of cryptocurrencies and NFTs).
  • Family offices are popular for HNWI. The 10,000 or so family offices manage 8% of the global HNWI wealth, which is about $7 trillion. That is up from $5.9 trillion with 7,300 family offices in the prior year. Even more striking is that HNWIs prefer them to large banks or wealth management firms – by 63%! They prefer them due to “one-stop-shop convenience and personalized services” as well as “reduced service costs.” Emotional connection is also key, something hard to build with banks and wealth management firms.
  • Demographics keep changing. Women, millennials, tech-wealth HNWIs are emerging. The reported noted, “Women across all wealth brackets will inherit 70% of global wealth over the next two generations and will likely manage two-thirds of household wealth by 2030.” But there’s a disconnect with women and wealth management firms.

What can I do as a result?

  • Pay attention to prospects who have family offices or participate in multi-family offices. Family offices are a huge wealth indicator. Family offices deliver investment and wealth management for the family, generally where the family has over $100 million in investable assets. Families with $25M+ in assets are more likely to participate in multi-family offices.
  • Keep in mind rising demographics of wealth. The report noted: ““Women want firms to earn their trust and confidence and support their unique needs,” including returns on their investments and purpose.” The same could be said about women and philanthropy. Women may not want to have transactional relationship with a nonprofit.
  • With the rise in popularity of ESGs, people may see impact investing as a means of giving back. For some prospects, your organization may have to approach them with the general framework of ESGs to “meet them where they are.”
  • Cryptocurrency has had some rough months but there may still be opportunity for philanthropy. Fidelity Charitable reported that in 2021, $331 million in cryptocurrencies was donated to donor advised funds. It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months. As with stock gifts, it is prudent to convert cryptocurrencies into cash as well as be more mindful of what donations your organization will take. Also, it may be worth looking at other digital assets including digital currencies, exchanged-traded funds and the metaverse.

Additional Resources

How to Unlock the Major Gift Magic in Profiles and Capacity Ratings

It happens. You get that profile and say to yourself, “Well, I knew all THAT,” or you take one look at that capacity rating and say, “In my DREAMS they’ll give that much!” — or worse, you say, “They could give so MUCH MORE than that!”

Where do profiles and capacity ratings go wrong and how can you unlock the major gift magic for you and your organization?

At Aspire Research Group, we prepare a lot of profiles, and we spend a lot of time fretting over capacity ratings. We also spend a lot of time with our clients, asking and listening to what information serves them best.

Following are three things we’ve learned that anyone can implement to unlock major gift potential in your prospect research efforts:

1 – Say “Yes!” to prospect strategy reviews with your researcher

Every new client at Aspire gets a brief follow-up profile review after the first delivery. This is a critical juncture in making sure we are delivering the right information. When we get a request, we know you trust us to sort through a treasure trove of data and deliver the right bits to you. But how do we know which bits are the best?

Some of it is standard, but if you want major gift magic, we have to talk to you and learn more about what matters most to you and your organization. That first conversation leads to more conversations. Sometimes we have questions at the time of your request, or right in the middle of doing the work!

Making the time for periodic prospect strategy review meetings pays off with better information being delivered in the profiles. But if you really want to up your major gift game, you have to do more to get the most out of prospect research.

You have to push back, question, and – dare I say it – complain. We recently had a client get frustrated with the way we’re delivering information he found critical to his success. What if he had kept quiet? Grumbled to himself and spent twice the time finding it on his own?

Now we are back on track, supporting him on the research path he has discovered works really, REALLY well for his campaign. At Aspire we WANT our clients to be successful!

2 – More is better – but more of what?

Aspire clients are probably a lot like you. Fundraising operations that do not have a prospect researcher on staff, but are either raising millions every year or on track to cross into 7-figure territory. What we’ve learned over the years is that confident fundraisers are BOLD.

Research is expensive. But NOT getting research is devastating. It means no new building. No programs for people who are suffering.

If you know how to build relationships with your donors and ask for larger gifts, what is holding you back from asking for more profiles? Why wouldn’t you want to know exactly what your experience indicates will lead to a deeper relationship faster?

Yes, information on prospects does go stale over time — but not if you are out there cultivating and asking for gifts. Bold and confident fundraisers make the investment – and generate the return they need to fund their mission.

3 – Capacity ratings are like weather forecasts

There are so many types of gift capacity ratings or ways in which to calculate them, that it’s no surprise when development officers throw up their hands and give up on them altogether!

The primary purpose for a capacity rating is to help you prioritize and segment donor prospects. Does that surprise you? If this is true, then why are they on every profile?

When you see the capacity rating on your profile, think of it more like a weather forecast. You know it has a high level of unreliability, but it is correct often enough that you bring your umbrella when there is a high chance of rain.

If you have a relationship with your researcher, make sure you understand something about how they are creating, verifying, or updating the capacity rating. This will go a long way to helping you unlock some major gift magic from them.

Once you have some confidence in the gift capacity rating, you will have more confidence in using it as an important consideration when crafting your major gift proposal amounts. At this point, the gift capacity rating might validate what you were already thinking, or it might give you the confidence to ask for even more.

Fundraising is hard work.

Major gift fundraising is even more hard work. It’s not your fault that you are pressed for time and struggling to pay attention to yet another thing – prospect research. We get it.

That’s why we created a new 30-min webinar series this year – Research Rocks!

In 30-minutes you get the “why” of profiles and capacity ratings and tips on how you can implement better practices easily and immediately. If you show up live, you get to interact and connect with others. But there’s always the replay.

WARNING: At Aspire we really do LOVE prospect research and by the end of 30 minutes, you might get hooked, too.

1 – Can you really trust gift capacity ratings? | 8/9/2022 from 2-3pm ET | $49

Gift capacity ratings are touted as one of the best ways to segment for major gift prospects, but just how reliable are they? And why are they based on a 5-year pledge? Veteran researcher, Jen Filla, tackles the topic, diving right into what works and what doesn’t for development officers responsible for major gifts. Walk away knowing the different types of capacity ratings, how to leverage them for maximum impact, and how gift capacity ratings are changing with emerging technology.

2 – Build better relationships – and ask for more – with profiles | 9/13/2022 from 2-3pm ET | $49

Not all donor prospect profiles are created equal – and that’s a good thing! In this session, prospect research professional, Jen Filla, demonstrates how you can navigate the prospect profile continuum to build faster, better relationships with your donors and feel confident asking for larger gifts. It all hinges on getting the right information at the right time – and using it.

If you have any questions about how you might use this training opportunity with your team or elsewhere in your organization, please contact us.

Disruptive Philanthropy: A Guide to Donor Advised Funds

July 2022 | Tampa FL

Disruptive-Philanthropy-Cover

Aspire Research Group LLC released Disruptive Philanthropy: A Guide to Donor Advised Funds written by Research Consultant, Elisa Shoenberger. This book was born out of a desire to examine both sides of the donor advised fund – the advantages and the disadvantages.

As one of the fastest growing areas of philanthropy in recent years, it is critical that organizations understand the legal structure of donor advised funds and that fundraisers position their organizations for successful donor acquisition and stewardship of this class of donors.

While Disruptive Philanthropy is not a definitive guide on these topics, it is meant to help you understand exactly what a donor advised fund is, how it is different from family foundations, and how your organization can succeed in stewarding these donors.

This 61-page e-book provides a holistic view of donor advised funds for fundraisers, whether you are a development officer or a prospect researcher. It explores what donor advised fund account holders look like as well as clearly outlining the benefits and disadvantages of donor advised funds. The report is broken up into seven chapters and two interviews including innovations in fundraising, how to be ready for donor advised funds, and ends with links and sources to help you access even more information on your own.

“Donor advised funds have been well-marketed to the general public and are clearly fulfilling donors’ needs. As fundraisers, we need to be better prepared to understand the motivations of donor advised fund account holders and manage these gifts in a legally compliant way,” indicates Aspire CEO, Jen Filla.

“Donor advised funds present such a big opportunity for nonprofits, if they know how to go about making connections,” says Shoenberger.

About the Author

elisa-shoenberger

Elisa Shoenberger is a Research Consultant at Aspire Research Group. She has over eight years of experience in the fundraising sector working as a prospect researcher at Loyola University Chicago and benchmarking analyst at Grenzebach Glier and Associates.

Elisa earned her MBA in marketing and operations management from Loyola, a MA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a BA in history from the University of Chicago.

She has written about philanthropy for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Inside Philanthropy, Brainfacts.org, the Daily Dot, Rewire (PBS affiliate), and others. She has also written for the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Slate, and Business Insider. She writes regularly for Book Riot and Murder & Mayhem. In her spare time, she plays alto saxophone.