Prospect research in continental Europe is tough. You spend your life saying ‘if only we had [fill in name of favourite source]’.
There are rays of light, as Europe gradually opens up to transparency, but they are rarely truly illuminating.
The hardest part is to try to estimate Gift Capacity. At Factary we define Gift Capacity as ‘the largest gift that an individual could give to any cause in ideal circumstances, over three years.’ By defining it that way we are saying, as objectively as one can in the murky world of money, that this is the best of the best, the biggest possible gift. Not ‘how much she will give to my charity‘, but how much she can give. And not ‘how much can she give this year?‘, but an amount spread over a period of three years.
How much she actually donates to your cause depends on many factors, including the strength of the connection to her, her positive and negative feelings about your organisation and, of course, how much you ask for.
But here in Catalonia and Spain, even the starting point for Gift Capacity research is difficult. So it is a Red Letter Day when some data on wealth appears.
In part the interest is vicarious. Learning that the Executive Chairs of Ibex-35 companies are now earning an average of €3.45 million is galling when you are a prospect researcher in Spain (average salary unknown but unlikely to be more than €25,000, and mostly under €20k); those Chairs earn more in three days than you earn in a year of labour.
But the data – the full report is here – does help us. Non-Exec directors are now earning an average of €763,000, up a staggering 48% on the previous year (clearly these are hard-working men and women), and the average across all quoted company directors is €344,000, up a mere 8.2% on the previous year.
So now you have an idea of how much she is earning, can you reliably calculate gift capacity?
Unfortunately, there is very little data to help you do that.
A 2006 study of tax returns  showed that people earning more than €600,000 per annum were giving an average of €3,268 – meaning 0.54% of their income. This was their declared giving on their declared income, and both figures are likely to be conservative.
So at your most cautious you could say that the Executive Chair of an Ibex-35 company might give 0.54% of €3.45 million, which would be €18,760.
That’s a start!
1. Sánchez Pérez, Elisa. ‘Evolución y situación actual de la filantropía en España’. In La Filantropía: Tendencias y Perspectivas, 125–46. Papeles de la Fundación de Estudios Financieros 26. Madrid, 2008. http://www.fef.es/new/publicaciones/papeles-de-la-fundacion/item/189-26-la-filantrop%C3%ADa-tendencias-y-perspectivas.html.