This article will walk you through the process of reading and customizing WealthEngine’s Donor Pyramid feature.  

  • Note: For instructions on building the pyramid, see our How-To Guide.

This article will cover: The Purpose of the Donor Pyramid

  • 1: Familiarize yourself with the 5 tiers
  • 2: Review the tiered goal
  • 3: Try the What-If Analysis
  • 4: Segment a screened list
  • 5: Review the new Summary fields
  • 6: Identify individuals
  • 7: Fill in the gap using Prospect
  • 8: Keep updating

The Purpose of the Donor Pyramid

A Donor Pyramid or gift calculator is a common thing to use when beginning a large campaign. To put it simply, it is a mathematical tool that helps you identify ratios and totals needed to meet your goal. 

The WealthEngine Donor Pyramid does precisely that, while also harnessing the platform’s sophisticated insights to segment your prospects based on their true potential. After all, if you’ve had almost no contact with someone who could afford to make a large donation, they might only have given you $300. If you treat them like a major gift prospect however, that could transform your campaign. The same might also be true of someone who has made a single one-time donation, but who you should really be targeting for Planned Giving. 

In this way, the Donor Pyramid provides a clear path for you to move donors from lower levels of giving to greater commitment. At the same time, you will be able to use it as direction for when and where you will need to use Prospect to find brand-new people. 

Recommendation 1: Familiarize yourself with the five tiers

The Donor Pyramid is broken down into five tiers of gift giving. These are critical, as each group should be approached differently. 

Lead Gifts: A lead gift is usually from a donor who contributes a significant amount to get your campaign started.

Planned Giving: A planned gift is a bequest or beneficiary designation from an estate. 

Major Gifts: A major gift is a single large gift that can be realized over a 5 year period.

Mid-Level Gifts: A mid-level gift is an amount below your major gift threshold but above your typical annual gift. 

Annual Fund: An annual fund gift is your average or target amount for your annual fund campaign, often generated from direct mail or other mass appeal fundraising programs. 

Recommendation 2: Review the tiered goals you need to meet

Each tier is assigned the following:

Contribution %: The percentage of your total goal that this tier will cover. The total of the tiers should add up to 100%

Tier Goal: The dollar amount you need to meet your goal. This will correspond to the contribution %

Min. Gift Threshold: The dollar amount for the smallest gift that is still considered of this tier.

Gifts Goal: The number of gifts you need to meet your goal. This is the result of dividing the Tier Goal by the Min. Gift Threshold. 

Prospects Goal: The number of prospects you should approach in order to reach your goal, assuming that 25% of those individuals will give the minimum gift.

Recommendation 3: Try out the “What-If Analysis”

The Donor Pyramid makes a number of assumptions based on national averages and industry standards, such as the size of a major gift and the statistical likelihood you have of convincing individuals to meet your ask. Every organization and every campaign is different, however – so you should take some time to think about whether or not it would make sense to customize those fields.

The What-If Analysis page is where you can make such adjustments:

Specifically, you can customize the Tier Contribution %, the Minimum Gift Threshold, and the Prospect Conversion Rate %. Each has different reasons for adjustment.

Tier Contribution %

The Donor Pyramid expects each tier to contribute a certain amount towards your end goal. However, there may be times when you have special insights into your constituents or campaign that should alter this calculation. For example, some organizations do not expect to receive many lead gifts and instead rely more heavily on annual fund donations. If that is the case, they may then reduce the Lead Gift Tier's Contribution by 5% - and then add that 5% to the Annual Fund Tier. 

If you do make adjustments, you should be mindful that the sum total of each tier's Contribution % still adds up to 100%. That 100% represents your end goal, so if the final number is different that means everything else in the Donor Pyramid is either over or under-calculating. That said, occasionally clients actually do this intentionally. For example, let's say that your campaign will be taking place over 5 years but for this first year you are only aiming to achieve 50% of your end goal. You can alter the Tier Contribution %'s to reflect that and get a better idea of what your actions for this year should be. 

Minimum Gift Threshold

While WealthEngine can work off of industry standards and national averages, the reality is that many organizations have different definitions of what constitutes a "major gift" or a "mid-level gift." The point of the Donor Pyramid is that it will address your specific needs - so if that is the case, it is critical to make this adjustment. After all, it has the potential to impact nearly every other field.

The Prospect Conversion Rate

Prospect Conversion Rate is a field that, unlike the previous two, is not displayed in the Summary view. This is the percentage of prospects who convert into actual donors. In other words, the default Conversion Rate of 25% means that you get one donor out of every four prospects. If your success rate for a particular type of gift is higher or lower than the average, you can make that change.

In the context of the Donor Pyramid, it is important to remember that your goals are tier-based, and therefore so is your conversion. That means that if you speak with a Major Gift prospect and afterwards they give you a mid-level gift, that is someone you have lost from the Major Gifts tier. 

Once you have made any change, the entire Donor Pyramid will recalculate to reflect that alteration. If after returning to the Summary page and viewing your new goals you are pleased with those changes, you can hit the SAVE button to keep them. 

Recommendation 4: Segment a screened list

Thus far you have gotten a look at what your goals are and had the chance to make some adjustments. What you ultimately want, however, is to compare these goals to your current constituents. To do this, you will select one of the lists you have already screened.

The WE Platform will then analyze the file that you have chosen, calculating the total donations and estimated giving capacity of those individuals, as well as highlighting the gap between that potential and your end goal. All of the people in the list will be assigned to groups identifying the level or type of giving for which they should be targeted.

  • Note: These are not necessarily people who already are or have given you that kind of gift. However, based upon their profiles and WE's analysis, you should be targeting them for that type of giving.

Recommendation 5: Review the new fields in the Summary

Each tier is assigned three new fields based upon analysis of the people in your list.

Est. Giving Capacity: The combined Estimated Giving Capacity of your prospects. This is the totality of what they can afford to donate in five years to all of their interests. 

Prospects Found: The number of individuals in your existing list who we consider to be good prospects for this type of gift. You can click on the number itself to discover who those people are. 

Prospects Needed: The number of brand-new prospects you need to find in order to reach your goal. 

Recommendation 6: Identify individuals.

Now that the system has compared your goals to your file, the next step is to identify the individuals in each tier. 

Substep 1: Click on the "Prospects Found" number.

This will allow you to view the people in your existing list who were assigned to that level:

Substep 2: Select the profiles and click “ ADD TAGS” 

From there, you can attach a "tag" (i.e. a custom label) to their profile. You can either create a new tag or use an existing one. Once done, you will be able to view and utilize this outside of the Donor Pyramid. Most critically, you can do so with the Filters functionality in My Profiles. 

Substep 3: Go to My Profiles. 

The My Profiles section of the WE Platform is where you would normally view your screened list. 

Substep 4: Open the Filters functionality.  

The tag for that tier will be listed as one of many attributes in Filters; once selected, the system will show you the profiles that have that tag, allowing you to then further segment, analyze, and ultimately export that group.

Recommendation 7: Fill in the gap using Prospect.

One of the key contributions of the Donor Pyramid is that it shows you exactly where and when you need to find new people. If there are individuals in your database who you have not screened or lists that you did not include when building the pyramid, they may come from there. However, if you are running a large campaign, it is likely that you will actually need to find brand-new individuals. This is where the Prospecting section of the WealthEngine Platform comes in.  

Using Prospect you can tell the system what qualities and scores are important to you, and then pull lists of unknown profiles that match. After all, you know that there are people out there who have similar values and are philanthropically inclined, but whose names you don’t know – if only you could find them. That is precisely what Prospect is designed to do.

Recommendation 8: Keep yourself (and the Donor Pyramid) updated.

No campaign is static, so neither are your tiers! As your campaign progresses, you should be regularly comparing your current progress to the Donor Pyramid’s recommendations. If one tier is seriously over-performing, then you may want to adjust the conversion rate and contribution percentage to more accurately reflect that. The Donor Pyramid will then recalculate the rest of your goals based on that progress! With that additional knowledge, it will now give you new, better informed recommendations on where to focus your efforts.   

Rinse, Repeat, Success!

For further reading you can check out our blog post: How a Donor Pyramid Can Make or Break Your Capital Campaign