You can build models based on your top donors in order to find others who look like them! Overall, applying a model will help you identify especially promising individuals who most closely resemble your best supporters. This can be especially helpful when it comes to prioritizing large lists of non-donors, new leads, event participants or other groups of ‘unknowns.’




Recommendation 1: Focus on the Top 10%

Consider building a model on the top 10% of your donors, however you define that. For example, you might want to focus on:

  • Largest donors over past 3-5 years
  • Most frequent donors
  • Donors with highest total giving


This both allows you to learn more about them as a group, as well as enable you to find other people in your file who look like those top donors, though they themselves are not at that level – yet!

You can apply that model to brand new donors or low-level donors to uncover which of them have serious untapped potential. Alternatively, you can even use this with non-donors to uncover which of them may have a higher likelihood of becoming a contributor.



Recommendation 2: Model Event Attendees

Build a model based on the people who have attended your high-level events (e.g. Frequent Gala Attendees). You can then apply that model to other constituents in your database who have not attended a gala in order to find those who closely resemble your regular attendees. Modeling scores will help you target new potential leads for next year’s invitations.


If you want to get even more focused, you can build a model of event attendees who became regular or higher-level donors post-event. Discovering their common characteristics and using them as a model can help you prioritize other attendees for solicitation following the event.



Recommendation 3: Optimize your officers’ portfolios.

Let’s say that you have just hired a new Major Gift Officer or are re-configuring major gift officers' territories. How do current donors under management "measure up" with actual major gift donors to your organization? Build a model of your current major gift donors and score your MG officers' portfolio. This helps you prioritize the current major gift leads that look the 'most' like your recent major gift donors and provides you with evidence for review and possibly removal of low scoring major gift leads. You can also do this with Planned Gifts, Mid-Major, etc.



Recommendation 4: Prioritize New Leads

You just received a large list of brand-new potential leads, people you really don’t know. That’s a good thing, but if you have limited time and resources it can be hard to take full advantage! In this case, you can build a model of your top supporters (perhaps repeat, long-time donors) and apply it to your new leads. Model scoring will allow you quickly segment that file, identifying what level of outreach is truly appropriate for different groups. You won’t just save time, but with a better understanding of what asks you should be making, you’ll also likely see a much higher success rate.