All posts by Aspire Research Group

3 Strategies to Improve Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

Guest post by CharityEngine

According to the Capgemini 2020 report1, wealth in North America grew by 11% in 2019. Then, when 2020 hit, COVID-19 took everyone by surprise. No one could’ve predicted the immense economic downturn that the virus brought about. In fact, according to the same report, global markets dropped by $18 trillion during the first quarter of the year as a result of coronavirus.

Nobody was exempt from the virus’s impact, including nonprofits. It’s made fundraising especially difficult as many supporters struggle to give during tough economic times. Not to mention, many nonprofits may feel awkward or out of touch when asking for funding when the economy is down.

That’s no reason to stop fundraising though! In fact, now is the perfect time for nonprofits to optimize fundraising strategies. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, to help your organization maximize its fundraising potential. Let’s dive into these top tips!

1. Develop New and Unique Ideas

When you craft or revitalize your fundraising strategy, it’s incredibly important that you fully engage supporters. Overall, this engagement will lead to a higher return on current fundraising and increased retention rates.

An engaging fundraiser will incorporate new and unique campaign ideas. During the age of COVID, this means experimenting with virtual fundraising events. CharityEngine’s virtual event guide2 provides examples of different engaging events you can employ during these tough times, including:

  • Music Nights
  • Cooking Nights
  • Virtual Galas
  • Toastmaster-Style Discussions
  • Online Training and Classes
  • Ask-Me-Anything Events

The only limit on your virtual event plan is your own creativity. If you’re new to virtual events, we recommend looking at the events others have conducted for inspiration. This can help with your planning process as you learn what aspects of the campaign will suit your audience.

2. Save on Payment Processing

Essentially, payment processing is everything that occurs between the time your supporter submits a gift online, and when that gift is deposited in your bank account. However, this is also when you’re liable to lose some of those donations to processing fees.

That’s why your organization needs to carefully select a donation processor. While most online donation software partners with a specific payment processor, there are some that offer their own. When you invest in a solution that offers its own, you don’t have to pay the donation software and processing fees separately, which helps save money3.

No matter what, security should be your number one priority4.

3. Use Data to Reach Donors

If you’ve ever received an email addressed “to whom it may concern,” you understand it’s easy to ignore those types of messages. The solution is leveraging donor data. Using donor data, you can deliver highly-personalized communications that are relevant to supporters’ interests.

With data, you can design a multi-channel fundraising strategy with messaging that resonates with supporters. According to CharityEngine’s multichannel fundraising guide5, this strategy helps “spread the word about [your nonprofit’s] fundraising campaign to a vast variety of people through the use of multiple communication and fundraising channels.”

Data in your CRM helps determine which channels to use, how to address supporters, the type of content that will interest supporters, the types of campaigns supporters may get involved with, and more. Creating donor segments and using them to reach different audiences within your donor database will help increase engagement and boost your fundraising.


  1. Capgemini 2020 Report: Wealth Grew in 2019 but Future Uncertain
  2. CharityEngine – Virtual Fundraising Events: A How-To Guide
  3. CharityEngine – Nonprofit Payment Processing: Understanding the Basics
  4. What Can You do About Data Security at your Nonprofit? Plenty!
  5. CharityEngine – Multi-Channel Fundraising: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

Be Prepared! 3 Key Fundraising Resources for 2020

3 Key Fundraising Resources for 2020

Here at Aspire, September is all about: back to school (whatever that might look and feel like in your world); COVID-19, which continues to assault us around the globe; and the U.S. presidential election looming large in November. To keep up, we have created three resources this year. 

As fundraising prospect research professionals, summarizing, analyzing, and synthesizing data is our core skillset. We’ve put those skills to work for you with the following three resources that we would like to share with you, too!

Prospect Research Resource Page

This collection of resources is designed with the fundraising professional in mind. Working like a syllabus for fundraising research in action, it now boasts nine topic sections, with A.I. and Machine Learning being the newest collection being built. You definitely want to bookmark this webpage: 

Whether you want to know about the latest in the world of corporate fundraising or need to understand cryptocurrencies better, you know have a comprehensive, curated collection of resources with one quick click of the mouse!

Fundraising Prospect Research Support in a Crisis

Organized around three of the most common fundraising questions being asked in the first few months of the crisis, this resource outlines how you can leverage prospect research to achieve the shifts you might make in your fundraising strategies as a result of the pandemic. 

It’s never too late to communicate with your donors. Prospect research can help keep you efficient and effective.

Prospect Research and Political Contribution Data

The U.S. presidential race is heating up and so is the political fundraising. As a matter of public record, political contributions indicate wealth, and are correlated with philanthropic giving. However, like most things that involve people and money, it’s never a simple matter! 

This resource demystifies the world of political giving and public record, as well as the ways in which it affects fundraising and research.

Need more help? Please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consult!

Comprehensive List of Philanthropic Resources is Available

June 2020 | Tampa FL | The Aspire Research Group’s Prospect Research Page is a comprehensive list of resources that provide top news and insights in philanthropy. The Prospect Research page has information on specialized categories including Arts & Culture, Black Philanthropy, Covid-19, and Women’s Philanthropy.

Each section contains news sources, relevant news articles, subsections of content to help researchers and fundraisers stay informed on the topics. Aspire Research Group will continue updating the sections as new reports and information are released and found.

“We want to help our colleagues and clients stay informed about philanthropy,” indicates Jen Filla.

“There’s so much information out there that we wanted to digest it down into the hot topics of philanthropy,” says Shoenberger.

In addition to the above mentioned, sections of resources include the following:

  • Corporations and Foundations
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Science

Check it out here:

About the Authors

Jennifer J. Filla, president and founder of Aspire Research Group, leads a group of talented researchers from around the United States. She recently founded Prospect Research Institute, which offers the first-ever, rigorous online courses in prospect research in the industry. She is co-author with Helen Brown of the popular book, Prospect Research for Fundraisers: The Essential Handbook, part of the Wiley/AFP Fund Development Series.

Jen is a member of the Association of Professional Researchers for Advancement (APRA) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). She previously served as president of APRA-FL, and as past director of AFP-FL Suncoast, Habitat for Humanity of Delaware County, and The Center Foundation. She received a B.S. from Neumann University.

Read more about Jen.

Elisa Shoenberger is a researcher and writer in Chicago. She has over seven 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 writes regularly for Book Riot, Loop News, and Sixty Inches from Center. She has written about philanthropy for Inside Philanthropy, the Daily Dot, and others. She has published with the Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Deadspin, Business Insider, and many others.

2017 BNP Paribas Individual Philanthropy Report

By Elizabeth Eck

“Unlike many older philanthropists, this globally connected and tech-savvy cohort is not content with just writing a charitable cheque. They see their skills, networks and for-profit investments as part of how they make an impact with philanthropy.”  -The Economist Intelligence Unit


Based on interviews conducted between November 2016 and January 2017 with affluent millennials and experts, the report assesses the shift in the approach to philanthropy by the next generation of affluent families, focusing on millennials engaged in family foundations. The report explores the millennial mindset, their investment tools and strategies, and the balance struck between family legacy and philanthropic innovation. The report defines millennials as those born between 1980 and 2000.

What are key findings from the article?

  • Millennials are taking the reins. Though the bulk of wealth and charitable giving remains in the hands of older generations at this point, millennials are increasingly being given the reins of family businesses and foundations and becoming the decision-makers.
  • Millennials believe in social entrepreneurship and are thus willing to support or invest in social enterprises and for-profit organizations, sometimes setting up their own. The sectors in which they invest include FinTech, EdTech, food/agriculture, and energy, and they are looking for sustainability – such as job creation and lifting individuals out of poverty. Meanwhile, traditional beneficiaries such as arts institutions are of less interest.
  • Social media has inspired a global perspective. Social media, online news publications, and ease of travel have led millennials to take a more global, dispersed approach to philanthropy. And there’s a sense of urgency to their giving – they want to tackle problems now.
  • Millennials are digitally social. Unlike previous generations, millennials like to use social media to announce the family foundation’s initiatives and achievements and to draw attention to their work. They are also open to collaborative approaches, often using social media to identify strategic partners.
  • Impact investing is interesting. While family foundations often invest endowments in conventional instruments such as stocks and bonds, millennials are increasingly interested in innovative financing tools and impact investing. Impact investments are those made to organizations and funds with the intention of generating social and environmental impact alongside financial return.
  • Millennials are unlikely to abandon traditional grant-making altogether. The report also notes that traditional grant-making and charitable giving is not expected to end as not all issues can be addressed through market-based solutions. Human trafficking and domestic abuse are cited as two examples. Moreover, social entrepreneurs require seed funding in early development.
  • Millennials view legacy more in terms of actions than institutions. As for the balance between family legacy and philanthropic innovation, in general, millennials are less concerned with the formalities of passing a legacy onto the next generation than their elders; however, they are instilling an appreciation for philanthropy in their own children. Rather than family legacy, they think in terms of a legacy of giving where there is less constraint and more incentive to turn ideals into action.

What can I do as a result?

  • Millennials care about being heard and being involved in good causes. Ask millennials for feedback. Even if the older generation is still the decision maker in a family foundation, engage the younger generation as they will be inheriting the reins before long. Ask for their feedback in terms of where they see the foundation going and what issues are important to them. Ask for feedback on how your institution might make improvements. Ask the millennials to volunteer for your organization.
  • Millennials want to tackle causes they care about – now. Learn to utilize all forms of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Establish your presence and contribute meaningful content that tells your story with a sense of urgency.
  • In social media, find and follow foundations tackling the issues in your field. Comment on their posts so they begin to become familiar with your name and organization.
  • Learn to use digital assessment tools to track your impact and then share that information. Again, you want to tell your story and your successes.
  • If you’re in a traditional non-profit organization that doesn’t fall within the realm of social or environmental work, don’t despair. Think in terms of what might appeal to a millennial. Many arts and educational institutions, for example, offer programs for underserved youth. Trumpet the work you’re doing with those populations. You may find the funders following you on social media.

Additional Resources


The World’s Uber Wealthy, at a Glance

“Philanthropic activity is now cited regularly as one of the main interests of the global ultra-wealthy population.”  -World Ultra Wealth Report 2018

What is this Report?

The World’s Uber Wealthy, at a GlanceAuthored by Wealth-X, a provider of global wealth intelligence, this report relies on 2017 data to analyze the ultra high net worth (UHNW) population and its share of global wealth. The report comments on the development of the ultra-wealthy segment and examines political and market drivers, regional trends, and wealth distribution. It further illuminates asset holdings, sources of wealth, and philanthropic interests. Wealth-X defines UNHW individuals as those with a net worth of $30MM or more, who represent 1.1% of the total world population.

What are key findings from the article?

  • The number of ultra-wealthy in 2017 grew by 12.9% to 255,810, with total wealth growing 16.3% to $31.5 trillion. It represents a distinct increase from 3.5% growth in 2016, and low market volatility is primarily credited. North America leads the ultra-wealthy at 35%, followed by Europe at 28% and Asia at 27%. The North American ultra-wealthy population grew by 9.5% to 90,440 individuals in 2017.
  • The United States leads the world’s ultra-wealthy, with a population of 79,595 and total wealth of $9.8 trillion.
  • The top ten UHNW cities are as follows: 1) Hong Kong; 2) New York; 3) Tokyo; 4) Los Angeles; 5) Paris; 6) London; 7) Chicago; 8) San Francisco; 9) Washington, DC; and 10) Osaka.
  • Among UHNW individuals, the fastest growing tier is billionaires, which increased to a record high of 2,754 individuals (1.1% of the UHNW population) and demonstrates a significant increase in extreme wealth creation, particularly in Asia.
  • For UHNW portfolios, liquid assets (primarily cash) accounted for the largest portion at 34.9% of the total, followed by holdings in privately owned companies at 32.2% and stock market listed equities at 26.3%. Holdings in real estate and other luxury assets was 6.6%, or about $8MM per individual.
  • As for the sources of wealth, 67.4% of UHNW individuals are self-made (entrepreneurs), with 21.7% a combination of self-made and inherited wealth, and 10.9% inherited wealth.
  • The proportion of women in the UHNW population has risen gradually with 34,944 individuals representing 13.7% of the global wealth. Traditionally, UHNW women have inherited their wealth; however, the number of self-made entrepreneurs is on the rise, with the U.S. being home to more than half this group.
  • Initiatives such as the Giving Pledge are spurring UHNW individuals to give back, and there is growing popularity of alternative giving vehicles, such as donor-advised funds and impact investing. Among charitable causes, education ranks top, with approximately one third of UHNW individuals donating to such causes. Education is followed by social services, healthcare, arts and cultural causes, children and youth, the environment and animals, and museums and libraries (in descending order).
  • Individuals gifting in excess of $5MM are generally found among the very top tiers of the UHNW wealth pyramid, and they hold substantial levels of liquidity. The U.S. is home to more than 75% of the major donor group, and their average net worth is $484MM. UHNW major donors tend to be an average of 6 years older than the global UHNW population, and a larger share of them have inherited wealth.

What can I do as a result?

How do I identify and connect with UNHW individuals?

  • Keep an eye out for major donors from the top 10 UHNW cities. In the U.S., look for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC.
  • If you find a prospect with at least $8MM in real estate and other luxury items (yachts, airplanes, artwork, cars, etc.), that’s an indicator that you may be dealing with an UHNW individual, one who likely has high liquidity.
  • While you don’t want to ignore potential prospects in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and elsewhere, the vast majority of major gift donors live in the United States, so focus your primary efforts there.
  • Since DAFs are attractive giving vehicles to UHNW individuals, begin to build relationships with wealth advisors. As you cultivate the advisors, they may be more likely to recommend your organization to their clients.
  • UHNW individuals have an affinity for philanthropy, so don’t be afraid to court them. Many feel motivated to give back to society, so do your homework.  Can you find an article in which an individual discusses her philanthropic priorities or perhaps how she rose to such great heights or overcame adversity? Was there a particular organization that facilitated her advancement? Then be creative in your approach. How might your mission align with her priorities?  Remember, these are individuals with great liquidity who may be ripe for cultivation.

Additional Resources

Artificial Intelligence is here. Are you ready?

By Elizabeth Eck

“Leaders marvel at the opportunity to scour huge amounts of data for connections that would otherwise go unnoticed. But the specter of unseen algorithms deciding who gets services and the fear of bias-tainted data make the technological future seem more menacing than transformational.” -Nicole Wallace

Artificial Intelligence is here. Are you ready?What is this article?

Using examples from a number of nonprofits, this article explores the promise and the peril of artificial intelligence (A.I.). From the automation of repetitive tasks to real-time analysis, A.I. offers great promise.  However, many worry about “data science done badly. Analysts don’t always understand the data they work with, know what they can build with it, or grasp its limits.” And while scalability is a feature of A.I., empathy is not.

What are key findings from the article?

  • The number of nonprofits using A.I. is “miniscule.” However, many are learning that A.I. identifies patterns at scale, so interest is on the rise.
  • Just as the benefit of identifying patterns at scale can be quite large, so can the harm. Citing criminal justice data as an example, the article cautions that combining flawed or biased data with advanced analytics could not only replicate but magnify discrimination.
  • Others caution that by automating decision-making, the nonprofit will “lose that empathetic touch.” The article mentions Florida’s Feeding Children Everywhere as an example of a nonprofit that decided the benefits outweigh the costs. The nonprofit lets people apply for temporary food assistance through a mobile app, with half automatically qualifying for assistance. Of those who don’t qualify, an employee reviews the application. Rather than hiring more employees to keep up with the growing number of applications, the organization realized that A.I. could help, thereby reducing the number of applications needing human review. As a result, Feeding Children Everywhere will be able to provide 200,000 more meals in 2019.
  • The article concludes by stating that while machines will never be able to empathize, “humans can’t scale.” If used properly, A.I. offers great potential.

What can I do as a result?

Focus on A.I. as an assistant, not a human replacement and begin to imagine how A.I. could help you in your fundraising role.

  • What repetitive tasks could be automated? How about reviewing the weekly gift list, figuring out which individuals to write to, and then drafting the thank you. What if an algorithm could find those donors and then draft a personalized, editable email for you?
  • What decisions could A.I. help with? What about the timing or target amount of an ask? Wouldn’t it be great to have more data science to complement the art behind the ask? The computer will never be the one to make the ask, that’s where humanity will come into play. But the computer can do a better job of informing the decision making process.
  • What other areas could A.I. help? Trip planning, moves management? Who will make the next major gift? The possibilities seem boundless.
  • Check out Gravyty or Salesforce’s Einstein Prediction Builder for A.I. tools geared toward fundraising. Cognitive computing has already arrived at your door.  Maybe it’s time to take a peek and stay informed!

Additional Resources

What’s New in the 2018 Capgemini World Wealth Report

By Elizabeth Eck

“North America accounts for 31.3% of global HNWI population and 28.2% of wealth. The HNWI population in North America grew by 9.9% in 2017 as compared to 7.8% the previous year, while HNWI financial wealth grew at 10.3% to reach US$19.8 trillion. -Anirban Bose

Capgemini WWR 2018What is this article?

The 2018 World Wealth Report gleans data from more than 2,600 surveys from around the world to report on trends for high net worth individuals (HNWI) and ultra-HNWIs.  The report provides insights into asset allocations and investment preferences, such as working with wealth managers and the growing interest in cryptocurrencies.

Capgemini defines HNWIs as those having investable assets of US$1 million or more, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables.

What are key findings from the article?

  • Global HNWI wealth grew 10.6% to surpass the US$70 trillion mark and remains on course to reach US$100 trillion by 2025, with the Asia-Pacific region leading the way.
  • Asia-Pacific and North America fueled the 2017 growth in HNWI population and wealth, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 42.4% of the rise in HNWI wealth and North America accounting for 27.4%.
  • The US, Japan, Germany, and China are the four largest markets for HNWIs, with the US leading at 5.3 million in 2017, a 10% increase over 2016.  Guidestar estimates the number of active US nonprofits courting these individuals at more than 1.8 million, so there is great competition to secure funding from these individuals.
  • Though asset allocation remained fairly stable, real estate saw a significant increase in HNWI asset allocation in 2017, with an increase of 2.8 percent globally to 16.8%, becoming the third-largest asset class, behind equities and cash.
  • In North America, real estate represents 12.4% of HNWI assets, with residential real estate dominating the class at 52.3% – followed by 16.1% in commercial real estate (excluding hotels), 10.2% in land, 7.0% in farmland, and 5.6% in hotels.
  • HNWIs are becoming interested in investing in cryptocurrencies though the wealth management industry remains cautious because of regulatory uncertainty.
  • Wealth management firms are preparing for the entry of BigTech, which Capgemini defines as data-driven tech firms not traditionally present in financial services such as Amazon, Google/Alphabet, Alibaba, Apple, and Facebook.  Leading wealth management firms are investing in intelligent automation and artificial intelligence to prepare for the greater role that BigTech firms will play.

What can I do as a result?

  • Except in cases of public company insiders, the two biggest asset classes, equities and cash, are not readily transparent to a prospect researcher. Real estate, on the other hand, remains the most often used asset in determining gift capacity because of its transparency in the US. Capgemini estimates US real estate at 12.4% of a HNWI’s total assets, so this number can be very useful for estimating net worth.
  • The US leads the pack in the number of HNWIs – 5.3 million. For those prospecting in the US, there is a vast pool of wealth to tap into.  There is also great competition though, with 1.8 million active nonprofits vying for gifts from those individuals.
  • With the burgeoning interest of HNWIs in cryptocurrency and BigTech, there will be a need for prospect researchers and fundraisers to understand better how wealth management firms will be leveraging these vehicles.

Additional Resources

Midlevel Donors: Often Overlooked Gems

By Elizabeth Eck

“Midlevel contributors are usually a relatively small portion of a nonprofit’s donors, but they give an outsize amount of money and tend to be more loyal than small-dollar donors.”

Mark Rovner, Principal at Sea Change Strategies

What is this article?

This article offers valuable insight into the importance of targeting midlevel donors so as not to leave money on the table.  At many institutions, midlevel donors have fallen through the cracks because they were thought to be worth too much for a direct mail campaign but not enough for a major gift focus.  They warrant more attention.  The author gives examples from veteran fundraisers of how to engage midlevel donors and the return on the efforts.

What are key findings from the article?

Focusing on midlevel donors will pay dividends if executed properly.

  • Rovner states that multiyear retention rates of “70 to 75 percent are not unusual.”  The author cites Best Friends Animal Society as an organization that is reaping the rewards of inspiring midlevel donors.  Constituents who give $1,000 to $25,000 annually to the organization account for 2% of donors; however, they also account for 30% of gifts to the annual fund.
  • Good customer service is the first step in attracting these donors.  If they don’t feel well cared, they might not wish to contribute further.
  • Future data collection planning is key when setting up a midlevel-giving program since it is difficult to go back and re-define processes when a program grows in size.  Doing so while the program is small and manageable will ease the burden.  Think about data points such as interests and behavior.  What might you need to collect in order to connect with these donors?
  • Effective segmentation of the database is important for targeting donors who might warrant more specialized attention.
  • Talking with midlevel donors via phone or email gives a more accurate picture of what donors want, one of which is to understand how their giving has impacted the organization.  It feels good to be in the know, especially when you’re being told that you’re making a difference.
  • It’s important to build a sense of community and to let donors experience the mission.  This relates to letting the donors feel good about the contributions they make.

What can I do as a result?

  • Identify: Look for affinity first, even if you only have past giving behavior. Try pulling a list of individual donors who have given recently, frequently, over a long period of time, and who fall within your mid-range of annual giving amount. If you don’t know what your mid-range of giving is you can run a quick mean, median, and mode calculation on total cumulative giving per donor in your last fiscal year to begin figuring it out.
  • Cultivation: Is there a simple way you help your donors “experience the mission?” Host (and video-tape) a one-hour talk by the CEO or a subject matter expert during which the problem the organization is trying to solve and the organization’s successes are discussed. Deepen engagement with your volunteers and donors by asking them to host this “punch-and-cookies” event.
  • Stewardship: Are you sending handwritten gift thank you notes? Deepen engagement with your board members and volunteers by asking them to write thank you notes to your mid-level donors. You might even consider giving them a script and asking them to make thank you calls, especially for higher gift amounts.
  • Staffing: Mid-level donors are perfect training grounds for future major gift officers. Are you hiring your first major gift officer? Start with calls and visits to mid-level donors. Or you can hire a dedicated mid-level donor officer and create a career path.
  • For specifics on how to plan for a midlevel donor program, see Advancing Philanthropy’s “A Strong Middle Promotes a Healthy Fundraising Program” (link below). The article offers insights on how to define what constitutes midlevel for your particular institution, how to do data analysis and use data appends, and how to take action.

Additional Resources


The Wealth Report | Frank Knight | 2018

“It is therefore a fairly safe bet that the next decade will not see a repeat of the double or even triple digit property price growth we have seen in leading markets over the past ten years.”


What is the Report?

The Wealth Report is a global perspective on prime property and investment published by Knight Frank, a global real estate consultancy firm. The report defines prime property as the most desirable and most expensive property in a given location, generally the top 5% of each market by value. The report emphasizes ultra-wealthy individuals, defined as US$50 million or more in net assets

What Are Key Findings From The Report?

2017 was a banner year for the real estate markets and for the ultra-wealthy. Where are those wealthy individuals and what do they look like?

  • Leading with the most ultra-wealthy individuals, North America takes the top spot with 44,000; Asia overtakes the second spot with 35,880; and Europe narrowly finds itself third with 35,180.
  • Recent changes in U.S. tax law favor a continued upswing in wealth accumulation. Interestingly, while New York tops the list of ultra-wealthy residents now and predicted into the future, London out-performs for where the ultra-wealthy invest in real estate and have preferred lifestyle elements such as quality universities and luxury hotels, shopping, and restaurants.
  • While the majority of the ultra-wealthy have their primary residences in the country from where their wealth is derived, a significant number are globally mobile.
  • Top three reasons for luxury investments: (1) joy of ownership, (2) capital appreciation, and (3) safe haven for capital.
  • Two key trends in 2017 for luxury residential markets were a big slowdown in China’s top-tier cities: Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai; and growth in Europe, including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris and Madrid.
  • The top three priciest cities for luxury residential real estate, relative to square meters, were Monaco, Hong Kong, and New York.

What Can I Do As A Result?

  • If the ultra-wealthy are not in your database or on your radar, you still have some takeaways from this report: Owning a second home is a reliable indicator of someone who has wealth. For those that do own multiple properties, consider the top three reasons. Use conversation to help you identify whether the second home purchase is purely out of joy and stretches the purse strings, or if your prospects considers it a good investment, which suggests smart financial planning.
  • New York and London remain the global hotspots for the ultra-wealthy and in the U.S., real estate ownership and sales are public pieces of information. If you have US$1 million gift prospects, consider these addresses as key indicators of wealth worth verifying.
  • While Asia is vying with Europe for the most ultra-wealthy individuals, if your prospects are in China you will want to keep current with government decisions that impact wealth accumulation.

Additional Resources

Aspire Introduces Wealth Tiers and Asset Allocation Model

By Erica Sauer

Wealth Tiers and Asset Allocation Models Aid Research

This year in 2018, Aspire introduced its Tactical Briefings and Strategic Assessments. These profiles estimate net worth, assign a wealth tier, and project asset allocations.

The thread tying everything together is estimated net worth. Net worth is defined as assets minus liabilities. Because liabilities such as debts are private and not all assets are public, we can only estimate net worth. Although estimated, it’s still a helpful tool because the visibility of public assets tends to diminish with wealth.

Wealth Tiers

Wealth Tier Net Worth Low Net Worth High
Working $1 $199,999
Affluent $200,000 $999,999
HNW $1,000,000 $4,999,999
VHNW (very HNW) $5,000,000 $29,999,999
UHNW (ultra HNW) $30,000,000 $99,999,999
Elite $100,000,000 $999,999,999
Billionaire $1,000,000,000 And up

Aspire created its wealth tiers to make our research more efficient by understanding what’s typical. We estimate a prospect’s net worth and place him or her in the appropriate wealth tier. In its World Wealth Report, Capgemini defines high net worth (HNW) as US$1 million or more. We felt that further classification better represented differences in wealth and giving behavior at various levels of wealth.

At the Working, Affluent and HNW Tiers, real estate serves as the key asset. At VHNW, UHNW, Elite and Billionaire Tiers, the key asset shifts to business interests. Additionally, data from the 2016 Federal Reserve Survey of Consumer Finances describes Working and Affluent tiers, where a personal vehicle and residence represent most of the assets.

HNW Asset Allocation Model

Aspire adds asset allocation projections directly from Capgemini’s report, where it provides a breakdown of financial assets. Once we estimate net worth at the HNW or above wealth tiers, we apply the asset allocation model to reveal a prospect’s liquidity. Although imperfect, this asset allocation model meets the demands of fundraisers to have a better understanding of a prospect’s likely ability to make an immediate gift.

What Can I Do With the Result?

  • If you are an Aspire client, you can now understand at a glance how your prospect sits relative to her wealthy peers. You can use the wealth tiers and asset allocation model as guides. How does what you know about the prospect fit neatly into or deviate from what you know about a wealth tier or the typical asset allocation?
  • As you seek to differentiate the VHNW and above wealth tiers, recognize that you are looking to identify additional income and assets beyond earned income and real estate as well as different giving behaviors. You might identify multiple business interests, exclusive private banks (always check the bank name on the check), private foundations and other sophisticated giving vehicles, among other indicators.

Additional Resources