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The Factary Screening Revolution

In early 2017 Factary took the bold step to revolutionise the way we undertake Wealth Screenings. We launched our new Screening product in December 2017 and now, 16 months later, we have been able to reflect on the highs and lows of this process, and analyse the pros and cons of our new system. We thought we’d share our experiences here as they may prove useful to those who may be thinking of undertaking a Screening now or in the future.

Why did we change our approach to Screening?

To carry out our Screenings we used to hold a dataset of wealthy and philanthropic individuals (including data such as name, address, wealth analysis and data on professional / philanthropic interests for each individual). In 2017, in preparation for GDPR, like most other organisations we undertook full Privacy Impact Assessments (PIAs) on all of our products and services that made use of personal data. The PIA for Screening identified that, as the individuals held on our database were not aware that we were processing their data, and as some of the data would be deemed ‘intrusive’ (e.g. wealth analysis), our Screening posed clear risks to the individuals on the dataset (and, also, to us as an organisation and to our clients).

Ultimately, the PIA showed we had three choices: contact the individuals to ask for consent; attempt to justify the use of data under legitimate interests (and provide privacy notices to all the individuals on th/e dataset), or; stop Screening using this dataset entirely. We did not feel the first two options fully mitigated the risks involved to individuals, to Factary or to our clients, so (with the knowledge of the ICO) we decided to delete our dataset of wealthy and philanthropic individuals and start from scratch with a new Screening method.

Our new method

Full details on our new approach can be obtained by contacting us directly or reading more on Factary Screenings elsewhere on our website, but essentially we now make use of a number of data points to analyse a client dataset and identify those individuals likely to be major gift prospects. These data points include socio and geo-demographic data pertaining to 1.3m UK postcodes, bespoke and anonymised in-house wealth data points compiled from past Factary research, philanthropy data (to identify potential links to grant-makers & charities), and professional / business data (to identify links to top companies). None of this data is classified as personal data. We also make use of some datasets which hold names only, such as data from Factary Phi and some data from published Rich Lists. Alongside this, we make use of client data denoting connection or affinity (such as donation history, membership details, event attendance, ongoing relationships and much more) as our Screening approach doesn’t just focus on identifying the wealthiest amongst a support base but also those prospects likely to be warm to the cause or organisation.

So, does our new approach work?

We admit that this whole process was a bit of a gamble – it was a bit of a scary leap into the unknown and we had no real idea as to whether or not it would work (and we are very thankful to the small number of clients who helped us run pilot Screenings on their data in 2017 to allow us to review the outputs and efficacy of the new approach).

Thankfully, we are happy to report that the new process not only works, but is proving to be even more effective than our old approach. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, we are no longer relying on a static database of well-known individuals. We are now drawing from a variety of in-house datasets which has massively broadened the potential pool from which we can identify prospects and has naturally resulted in an increase in identified major donor potential.

Example output from Factary's new Screening report
Example output from Factary’s new Screening report (showing results by ‘Capacity’)

Secondly, due to the new focus on demographic and occupational analysis we are able to identify wealthy individuals that would have previously been difficult to identify. This expanded focus, which is not reliant on prospects who are likely to be identified from static sources such as Companies House, has shown that we also now have a higher chance of being able to identify the very wealthiest prospects from professional sectors that were hugely underrepresented in our old approach (e.g. prospects with affiliations to investment firms or hedge funds).

Ultimately, this new approach to identifying prospects is more rounded and multi-layered which, when coupled with our bespoke analysis of giving history and affinity data, identifies a much wider range of wealthy and philanthropic individuals who can be prioritised not only by capacity to give but also by warmth/motivation towards the organisation or cause.

Example output from Factary's new Screening report
Example output from Factary’s new Screening report (showing potential philanthropy matches against Factary Phi)

The cons

Of course, as with any process, it’s not fool proof. The new approach has its cons, too. For example, as one of the main drivers of our Screening is postcode data we are very reliant on clean address information in order to achieve successful results. Clients with out of date address data are unlikely to obtain the same results as those with clean data. That said, under GDPR we have found that many organisations have worked hard to ensure the data they hold is clean and accurate, so this is less of an issue than it might have been a few years ago.

Another slight downside is that not all individuals indicated as wealthy at the initial Screening stage can subsequently be identified from manual research in the public domain at the reporting stage, and for some we cannot confirm wealth. This means that a small percentage (around 17%) of identified prospects can ultimately not be included in the final reports. This does, however, highlight that our Screening involves a very careful process whereby an individual researcher reviews the results to ensure only relevant and verified major gift level prospects are included in the eventual pool (from a GDPR perspective this is important due to the process of justifying the type of individual that might ‘reasonably expect’ to be researched).

So, what are the typical results you can expect?

Given the pros and cons listed above, what are the typical results you can expect from the new Screening process?

The overall breakdown of results (by wealth band) so far is shown below. This includes the percentage of prospects we have researched and verified at various wealth levels, after removing those prospects who cannot be identified in the public domain or who are not relevant for a major donor programme.

As can be seen, the results show a spread across levels of estimated wealth, with £1m-£5m being the most predominant (as expected) and then a more or less equal split between those with wealth of £5m-£10m, and those HNWIs at £10m+. As can be seen, our new approach also includes prospects with wealth of £500k-£1m (as, according to research, these prospects would have an annual gift capacity in the region of £5k-£10k, which easily puts them into a major giving category for the majority of our clients).

Unfortunately, it is difficult to use the data we have so far to provide an estimated breakdown of likely major donor potential (by wealth category) that can be identified from a ‘typical’ dataset as, predictably, the results do depend on the type of organisation we are working with, and the quality of the data we receive. For example, for one independent school we identified that 41% of the database had major donor potential (wealth >£1m), but as these types of datasets are likely to have an unusually high percentage of wealthy individuals it is not indicative of potential results more broadly.

However, results from numerous other charities (working in health, international development, arts etc.) so far show that the identification rate for >£1m prospects has been typically 3% – 5%. This is heartening as research undertaken in 2017 by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showed that approximately 3% of UK households are millionaires. This indicates that our results mirror the wealth demographic in the UK but are also reflective of the fact that our clients typically segment their datasets to send us those prospects who are most likely to ‘reasonably expect’ to be researched (so their segmentations are likely to include a higher percentage of wealthy and philanthropic individuals than their wider datasets as a whole, meaning we may often identify >3% with major gift potential). Alongside this, because we also identify a relatively robust number of prospects at £500k – £1m, the eventual pool of potential prospects is typically quite broad for all of our clients.

These typical results also represent an increase in identified major gift potential when compared to our previous Screening results, which would, on average, identify 2.88% of a donor dataset (as was outlined in our ‘Guide to a Compliant Wealth Screening’ which can be accessed here).

TL;DR? It does work!

Ultimately, what this data has shown us is that our new process does actually work in identifying a broad range of potential major donor prospects for our clients, which is something of a relief for us! To have taken the bold move to stop using our in-house dataset was a daunting prospect for us, but to have found that not only could we continue to provide clients with a GDPR-compliant service to identify major donor prospects, but that it was actually even more effective than our old system has been very exciting. We are not resting on our laurels though – we are constantly reviewing and revising our processes to tighten up results so, hopefully, our Screenings will continue to improve in the coming months. Do please get in touch if you’d like to talk about the average results from your particular sector so you can see what the ROI from a Screening might be when translated into major gift potential for your organisation.

The GDPR bit…

…because what blog post about Screening would be complete without a GDPR section?

There are still a number of organisations in the sector who still ask if wealth screening is legal. The short answer is yes, it is. The longer answer is yes…as long as your organisation has met a number of requirements, which include:

Identify a condition for processing

You need to choose whether to rely on ‘consent‘ or ‘legitimate interests‘ to process data for wealth screening (you may find our previous papers on Legitimate Interest and Prospect Research and Factary’s Guide to a GDPR Compliant Screening useful in this regard).

Analyse your legitimate interests

If relying on legitimate interest (as, for example, 97% of higher education institutions are reported to be doing), the ICO outline that there are three elements to review, which are:

1. Identify a legitimate interest – what are the purposes for processing the data?

  • Your organisation will need to be able to identify and demonstrate the reasons or purpose of undertaking a Screening. For example, you may outline that Screenings are used to identify those individuals from amongst a wider existing supporter base who may be able to offer financial support at a significantly higher level and to prioritise those who should be approached for a major giving programme
  • It may also help to review the results of this academic study which provides evidence to support the use of research as an integral process in fundraising. For example, the paper shows that:
    • 95% of fundraisers state that research enables them to identify relevant prospects
    • 100% state that research is necessary for understanding prospects’ capacity to give
    • 100% state prospect research enables their organisations to prioritise the prospect pool
  • Of course, Screening also ensures that individuals who are not able to support you at a significant level do not receive irrelevant approaches from your organisation, which is another clear purpose of doing it. As evidence for this, the study cited above shows that 82% of fundraisers agree that research processes minimise the chance that inappropriate approaches are made to potential donors.

2. Show that the processing is necessary to achieve the purposes identified

  • The ICO outline that data processing must be necessary and further state that if you can reasonably achieve the same results in a way that does not use personal data, then legitimate interests will not apply. Whilst our Screening does not use personal data we would still be processing the personal data held by your organisation, so this aspect of GDPR still needs to be analysed before a Screening is undertaken.
  • The necessity of Screening can be evidenced by understanding how important major gift fundraising is to the continued success and operation of your organisation, including that major donors not only provide financial support but also contribute in other, less tangible ways, such as bringing expertise, skills and their professional or personal networks to provide support and guidance to non-profits (Eberhardt S & Madden M (2017) Major Donor Giving Research Report. London: NPC).
  • Screening is typically the first step in major gift fundraising as it enables you to identify relevant prospects for a programme in an efficient, cost-effective and accurate way.
  • Other methods for identifying relevant major gift prospects were reviewed in the academic study outlined above, including data mining / segmentation (such as analysing a donor or alumni database to identify those who are making abnormally large or out-of-pattern gifts, or from modelling their dataset to identify individuals with similar characteristic to their major donors), or from sending questionnaires to constituents on a database and asking for details on salary / professional info etc. Results from the study (see page 22 onwards) showed that the vast majority of fundraisers felt that, even if organisations undertake other methods then prospect research processes would still be required in order to, for example, identify sufficient numbers of major gift prospects.
  • Using the type of evidence and arguments outlined above, you can prove that Screening is necessary and that the results from Screenings cannot be achieved by using other methods.

3. Balance the processing against the individual’s interests, rights and freedoms

The ICO state that you must balance your need to undertake processes such as Screening against individuals’ interests. If the individuals would not reasonably expect the processing, or if it would cause unjustified harm, their interests are likely to override your legitimate interests.

  • It is important, therefore, to be able to explain / evidence that activities such as Screening do not have a disproportionate impact on individuals. Our paper on Legitimate Interest and Prospect Research contains an overview of the type of processes to go through, the questions to ask and the evidence that can ultimately be gathered in order to do this (see page 15 onwards).
  • Additionally, we recently conducted a study into privacy notices which can be accessed via our blog. This provided very clear evidence that, when individuals are contacted to be informed that organisations are undertaking Screening (by receiving a privacy notice), very (very) few of them react negatively. For example, as the blog shows, only 0.0000411% of (almost 2.5m) individuals chose to opt out of their data being used in prospect research when given the opportunity. This, as we outline in the blog, “…provides an evidence base that can be used to argue that the balancing exercise carried out by non-profit organisations to review individuals’ interests, rights and freedoms was fairly judged because, if it hadn’t been, then presumably the number of individuals complaining about or opting out of prospect research would be significantly higher”.

4. Transparency:

One of the 7 principles of the GDPR is ‘lawfulness, fairness and transparency’. Some of the processes outlined above will ensure you are meeting the standards of lawfulness and fairness required for this principle, but adhering to ‘transparency’ is vital – particularly when it comes to Screening as a lack of transparency formed the basis of the ICO fines to charities for Screening in 2016.

  • Transparency is achieved through the provision of a clear and concise privacy notice. Plenty has been written about how to write a good privacy notice and what to include but there are now some great examples of privacy notices which include Screening in their scope (see here and here).
  • If you do not provide individuals with a privacy notice your organisation cannot claim that it has upheld the rights of individuals (as required under the GDPR), specifically those such as the right to be informed, the right to restrict processing or the right to object to processing.
  • Incidentally, this principle formed the basis of Factary’s decision to delete our database of wealthy individuals that we used to hold for Screening as our PIA showed that we did not allow individuals to exercise their rights (as they had not received a privacy notice from us outlining the reasons for which we used their personal data).

The four elements described above that need to be reviewed/worked through in order to undertake a compliant Screening may feel slightly onerous, but they are imperative if your organisation wants to move forward with any type of data processing for fundraising.

Further discussion

If you’d like to chat about Screenings, or how to approach undertaking a DPIA or analysing the GDPR requirements around Screening then please do get in touch.

The role of prospect research in major donor fundraising

As part of an MA in Philanthropic Studies (undertaken at the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent) I completed a study which aimed to identify the role that prospect research plays in major donor fundraising. The study involved a survey, undertaken in 2018, of major donor fundraisers and prospect researchers working in higher education institutions in the UK. I’m pleased to say that the results of the study are now available to download.

Download report:
The role of prospect research in major donor fundraising

As a quick summary the results of the study cover a number of areas, such as:

  • The activities commonly undertaken by prospect researchers
  • The purposes or reasons for which fundraisers use prospect research
  • How necessary fundraisers feel research is to their work
  • The ways in which prospect research contributes to fundraising
  • Prospect research metrics (i.e. what data is being gathered on the output or impact of prospect research)

In particular, the results can be used by non-profit organisations when analysing the use of personal data for prospect research purposes under the GDPR. Until now, the non-profit sector did not have a reliable evidence base which outlined the purpose or necessity of prospect research, nor which identified if the purposes of prospect research could reasonably be achieved by other methods (which do not use personal data) – all important areas to analyse, particularly for those organisations relying on their Legitimate Interests to process personal data for prospect research. In practical terms, the data and evidence presented in the paper can now be used by any non-profit organisation when completing, for example, a Legitimate Interest Assessment or a Data Privacy Impact Assessment.

Beyond GDPR, the paper highlights that, on the whole, the prospect research community is not particularly good at gathering evidence which illustrates the impact (or the ROI) of prospect research. That said, it does also show that the vast majority of major donor fundraisers are overwhelmingly positive about the ways in which prospect research supports them in their work.

If you think it might be useful for you or your organisation, please do download the paper and (when sufficiently caffeinated) have a read. I’d be more than happy to answer any questions or chat about the data/paper in more detail if you’d like to get in touch.

Nicola Williams

The New & Improved New Trust Update Archive

Factary’s New Trust Update was first launched in 1993. It was the first service of its kind, allowing subscribers to become aware of any relevant grant-makers in the weeks following their registration, before they get swamped by applications or listed on any other directory.

Since then we have published over 285 issues – and sought to constantly improve the service, providing even more value for our non-profit subscribers. In 2015 we launched our new online Archive database, utilising our extensive back catalogue by making all past issues since 2005 available online and all featured trusts searchable by charitable area of interests, keywords or trustee name. As of February 2019, the number of trusts on the database is over 3,200 and growing every month.

Now, we have made yet another development that radically improves the functionality and utility of this already valuable resource. Using data from the Charity Commission, we have been able to add the latest total charitable expenditure figures to all trusts on the Archive. This means the data is no longer just a historical snapshot from the original time of research, but now contains up-to-date financial information allowing subscribers to have a ready indication of the size of each trust and likely grant capacity.

So now, as a subscriber to New Trust Update you receive:

  • a monthly publication with around 20 newly registered grant-makers – 1 in 4 of which are set up by HNW individuals
  • access to all back issues dating back to 2005
  • access to the special Foundations of Wealth reports that were produced in 2012, 2013 and 2014
  • full access to our searchable database of over 3,200 grant-makers where you can filter and search by charitable areas of interest, financial expenditure, keywords and trustee names

As well as adding expenditure figures, we have been able to update the status of all the trusts and foundations on the Archive register. This allows subscribers to see whether a trust is active, recently registered, not financially active (no accounts submitted for the past five years) or whether it has been removed from the Charity Commission register.

Overall we found that only 13% of the entire dataset has been removed from the Charity Commission register, and a further 2% are classified as financially inactive. As you would expect, as time goes on more and more trusts are removed from the register and within 9 years this reaches a rate of around 1 in 5. By 14 years it is up to around 1 in 4 that have been removed from the Charity Commission. What is also interesting is that some trusts and foundations appear to be removed within two years of registration. The reasons for these early removals is not clear, but by having these classifications available in the Archive database, subscribers are able to see which trusts are active and which are not, and exclude them from their search results.

Analysing the new expenditure data shows some very positive statistics, highlighting the enormous value New Trust Update subscribers can gain by having access to this database:

  • Excluding those that have been removed from the register, over 30% of the trusts and foundations on the database had a total expenditure of over £100,000 in the last financial year.
  • There are a total of 160 trusts and foundations on the database with a recorded expenditure in excess of £1m in the last financial year.
  • Over 85% of the trusts and foundations on the database are still registered and financially active.

When we look at the recorded activity types for those with an expenditure of over £100,000, we see that there is a high proportion of those supporting Health, Education and Welfare & Poverty, as well as a substantial number listed with general charitable purposes at the time of registration. All activity types are represented in this high-value dataset, meaning it will be of use to non-profits working in all sectors.

What’s even more interesting, is when we compared our dataset to the trusts and foundations held on the Directory of Social Change’s Trustfunding resource. What we found was that only 20% of the trusts and foundations on our Archive database are listed on Trustfunding – so the New Trust Update Archive holds details of over 2,500 trusts and foundations that are not on the leading directory, including nearly 500 that have a latest expenditure of over £100,000.

This new development makes the New Trust Update Archive database an invaluable resource for non-profits seeking to raise income from trusts and foundations. It contains records on a wealth of trusts and foundations that do not appear on any other major directory and is now searchable by both activity type and expenditure level, making it a brilliant resource for building lists of potential donors.

So as a subscriber to New Trust Update, not only do you get the opportunity to start building relationships with new philanthropic vehicles before anyone else, you also get to draw on the vast pool of grant-makers, not widely known to other non-profits.

If you would like to find out more about New Trust Update please contact Nicola Williams or call 0117 9166740.

Factary’s Privacy Notice Project

For the past few months we have been engaged in a project to understand the reaction of donors, supporters and alumni when they receive a privacy notice from a non-profit organisation or university which is relying on its legitimate interest to process data for prospect research purposes.

We undertook the project because, under GDPR, in order to be able to rely on legitimate interest as a basis to process personal data for prospect research purposes (and therefore not obtain consent), non-profits must ensure they have fulfilled certain criteria – including undertaking a balancing exercise to ensure that the legitimate interests of the organisation do not override individuals’ interests, rights & freedoms and to ensure that the data processing does not have a disproportionate impact on data subjects.

Whilst many non-profits and universities feel they have successfully carried out balancing exercises and provided fair and transparent privacy notices detailing prospect research activities, the decision they have taken to rely on their legitimate interests is not without its risks. The opinion of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in early 2017 was that “millions of people” would “be upset to discover that charities [would] target them for even more money” by undertaking activities such as prospect research. If it is indeed the case that millions of people would feel this way then it could be argued that prospect research activities do have a disproportionate impact on data subjects.

However, so far the ICO have provided no evidence that “millions of people” would be upset to discover that non-profit organisations undertake prospect research. In fact, in a recent ongoing correspondence in relation to a Freedom of Information request, the ICO state they have “no specific evidence” to support their assertion that donors, supporters or alumni would not reasonably expect non-profits to undertake prospect research, much less that people would be upset about it.

That said, the non-profit sector itself cannot currently provide any empirical evidence that millions of people would not feel this way. The lack of evidence to support some aspects of the decision many non-profits have taken to rely on the legitimate interest condition is something that concerns us at Factary and for this reason we decided to try and understand the reaction of donors, supporters and alumni when they are told about prospect research via a privacy notice.

The project

This project aimed to capture data on the reactions of data subjects when they received a privacy notice containing information about prospect research activities. To do this, a questionnaire was sent only to non-profits which:

  • undertake prospect research activities (such as profiling and screening)
  • have decided to rely on legitimate interests for prospect research purposes
  • have included specific information about prospect research activities in their privacy notice
  • have provided the privacy notice to their constituents (not just made it available on their website)
  • told recipients how they could opt out of their data being used for prospect research and how they could complain about data being used in this way

Results

To date, 17 non-profits organisations (a mixture of charities and universities) have completed the questionnaire.

In total 2,433,901 privacy notices have been provided by the 17 organisations.

Privacy notices (or links to privacy notices) have been provided using the following methods:

  • 1,174,930 sent by email
  • 947,791 sent by post
  • 307,180 sent by SMS
  • 4,000 provided face to face (by one higher education institution at an alumni event)
Graph comparing the methods by which organisations have provided privacy notices to data subjects.

From the 2.4m privacy notices that were provided by the 17 different organisations, we asked:

  • How many recipients contacted the non-profit to opt-out of their data being used for prospect research purposes?
  • How many recipients contacted the non-profit to complain about the use of personal data for prospect research purposes?

The results show:

  • Overall 0.0000411% of recipients complained about prospect research
  • Overall 0.00825% of recipients opted out of prospect research

What do these results mean?

As is shown, the number of individuals complaining about prospect research, or requesting to ‘opt out’ of their data being used in prospect research, is infinitesimal.

This data therefore provides an evidence base that can be used to argue that the balancing exercise carried out by non-profit organisations to review individuals’ interests, rights and freedoms was fairly judged because, if it hadn’t been, then presumably the number of individuals complaining about or opting out of prospect research would be significantly higher.

Whilst we do not necessarily feel the results of the project can be used to argue that people ‘reasonably expect’ to be researched, the data can be used to argue that prospect research activities do not appear to have a disproportionate impact on data subjects. The ICO state that

You should avoid using legitimate interests if you are using personal data in ways … you think some people would object [to] if you explained it to them.

This data shows that the rate of objection is negligible which makes the legitimate interests condition an entirely viable option for non-profits.

Of course, one of the limitations of this data is that it is difficult to know how many individuals have actually read the privacy notices that they were sent in various formats (our research shows that, on average, around 30% of individuals who received privacy notices via email clicked to open the email but we have no way of knowing how many people read the copies that were posted to them or that were given to them face to face). However, we do not believe that this invalidates the results. In fact, given the widespread negative publicity afforded to the use of personal data in fundraising by charities and universities over the past few years in the national press, it would be difficult to state that there is a total lack of awareness amongst donors, supporters and alumni of how personal data is used in fundraising. It could be argued that the open rate indicates that, despite negative press reports about wealth screening and research, people trust their chosen charities and universities to use their data responsibly.

Of course, more can be done to ensure donors, supporters and alumni are engaged in matters of data privacy over and above just sending a privacy notice – for example, many organisations are speaking directly with donors about data privacy matters to make sure individuals have a thorough understanding of what happens with their data and to gauge reasonable expectations. That said, each organisation that completed our questionnaire provided a clear privacy notice to data subjects to enable them to exercise their rights (to be informed, to object the processing, to minimise processing, to access their data etc.) and so they have met the standards of transparency required under the legitimate interests condition, regardless of how many recipients found it necessary to read the privacy notice.

What next?

We would like to continue to add to this evidence base if possible so if your organisation is relying on legitimate interests to process data for prospect research and you would like to share your data on privacy notices, please do contact us at the details below. If we do receive more data on this, we’ll update this blog with fresh results.

We also believe there is more work that can to be done to gather wider evidence to support the justification to rely on legitimate interests for prospect research. This includes gathering and disseminating data on the reasonable expectations of supporters (particularly major donors), the purposes of prospect research, how necessary research is to fundraising and the benefits of doing it. There is more to come from us on some of these issues, so keep an eye on the blog – but if you are engaging in any evidence gathering on these matters we’d love to hear from you!

And, last but not least, we’d like to thank the organisations and higher ed institutions that submitted data to us for this project.

If you have any questions about any of the above (or GDPR or research in general) please do get in touch with Nicola Williams, Research Director, at nicolaw@factary.com.

Factary New Trust Update 2018 Review

In 2018 Factary’s New Trust Update contained profiles of 224 newly-registered grant-making trusts and foundations. Our review of the year found that 62 of these were founded by individuals with an estimated wealth of at least £10m which equates to more than 1 out of every 4 trusts featured in our reports. This is an increase of 30% from last year. The combined wealth of these philanthropists is in excess of £25bn and includes a number of global philanthropists who have chosen to set up a foundation in the UK.

Our New Trust Update 2018 infographic report includes a range of useful analysis and statistics including the philanthropic areas of interest of the trusts and foundations featured throughout the year, the source of funds of the High Net Worth Individuals creating their own foundations and their geographical distribution. It also includes mini profiles on a handful of the most interesting and potentially major foundations and their settlors.

Whilst there are on average around 100 new organisations registered with the Charity Commission each month that state they make grants to other organisations, in practice the vast majority of these are not what would be considered grant-making trusts or foundations. We scrutinise and carefully select the organisations that are featured in New Trust Update, making it a vital resource for finding out about new sources of funding in the foundations market, particularly from High Net Worth families and corporates. With details on around 20 new grant-makers each month, including notes on the professional and philanthropic interests of the settlors and interview notes on the aims and objectives of the trusts and foundations, New Trust Update gives fundraisers a head-start on building relationships with these new philanthropic vehicles before they appear on any other directories.

Subscriber numbers for New Trust Update are limited to maintain exclusivity of the information contained. If you would like to find out more, or to receive a downloadable version of the report, then please contact Nicola Williams or call us on 0117 9166740.

Why 18?

Why do we say that strategic donor (‘major donor’) programmes take eighteen months to break even? It’s a number I have heard again and again, and that I repeat when I am teaching strategy at the Postgraduate in fundraising at the University of Barcelona, without having hard data to back up the claim.

To find an answer, I have been experimenting on myself. Since January 2017 I have been working a few days a week with Pallapupas, the healthcare clown organisation in Catalonia. I’m their strategic donor fundraiser. I thought, with the arrogance of years of experience as a consultant and researcher, that – ha! – this was going to be easy. In six months, I thought, we’ll fix this and I can sit back and watch the money roll in.

And here we are, almost eighteen months later and now, after a lot of blood, sweat and tears, now we can see the money starting to roll in.

So why? Why does it take eighteen months to get to the tipping point in a strategic donor programme? I have worked with many different programmes across Europe, but there are common threads in all of them:

You, and Me

Fundraising shines a bright light on your own character. So I have learned, in the last 18 months, that I am no blooming good at cold calling by phone (OK, I am doing it in my second language, but that’s no excuse); that I really enjoy building networks of people and sometimes focus more on that than on the money; and that I develop relationships with people over time, not at speed. All of these factors help explain why it takes me time to reach breakeven.

But this is not some embarrassing confessional. I’m illustrating the point that each of us who takes on a strategic fundraising role brings our character to play – and that affects how long it takes to reach the moment when the programme is up and running.

The Case

Many European NGOs are starting strategic donor programmes after years of running mass-marketing, mail- and email-driven, fundraising programmes. They have had years, therefore, of making offers to donors like ‘with €10 a month you can save a life.’

So the first challenge for the new strategic donor fundraiser is how to build a case for €10,000, or €100,000, or €10m. That is an enormous leap for many organisations. Some of them back out, building middle donor programmes with asks in the hundreds, not the thousands of Euros.

Making the case means putting together a budget, making a business plan, winning buy-in from colleagues and key staff, and producing a convincing elevator pitch. All of which takes time…and more, if you hit problems with the Project Pipeline, or the words.

The Project Pipeline

Does the organisation have €100,000 projects? Or €10m projects? Or dreams at these levels of funding? For many organisations this is a challenge. The project pipeline does not exist – there is no ‘deal flow’ in investment terms – so there is nothing for the fundraiser to propose to her prospects. Sometimes, in large, complex organisations, you can see the projects but they are distant and hazy, and there are 30 layers of stakeholders between you, the fundraiser, and the project. You know it is going to take an age to cut through the jungle.

Even when you can see the projects, you need permission to use them. In some organisations this can take a long time. In others, it’s a race to own a project before another colleague grabs it to pitch to her favourite donor.

The Words

When you join an organisation as a new fundraiser, you have to learn that organisation’s language. Some of this is technical language – of the type you would use in a medical research organisation for example – and some of it is an adaptation to the language of your end-users or beneficiaries, as happens when you shift from talking about ‘people with disabilities’ to ‘people with different abilities.’

Your choice of words is sensitive, and more so when you are working with strategic donors because you will be working alongside the board and the director, both highly tuned to the right words. Eighteen months in, and I am still learning how to paraphrase the mix of culture, theatre, humour and hospitalised kids that typifies clowns in healthcare.

The Data

Too many organisations in Europe have too little data. We know so little about our donors. Yes, data protection and privacy are key issues, but your local supermarket knows more about you, your interests, your attitudes and your wealth than the biggest organisation that you donate to. Many organisations don’t know what jobs their donors do, what age they are, or anything about their family situation. Without this data we are working in the dark.

Compare this to the private banks, who are increasingly entering the HNWI and UHNWI area to offer philanthropic services. I spoke with the head of philanthropy at a leading private bank (50,000 clients, 500 account managers) a few weeks ago; he told me that because he can see the banking account details of his clients he knows exactly which charities they are giving to, and can work out which causes the client is interested in. He can offer philanthropic services (including channelling money via the bank’s own foundation) precisely tailored to that client’s needs.

Because they have too little data, many organisations have to focus on the tiny handful of prospects whom they know directly, via personal contacts. So instead of broadening their strategic donor programme to reach the hundreds of existing donors who have the money, they rely on the tiny inner circle.

That means lower productivity, a limited focus, and slow programme growth – because growth is organic, person-to-person.

Systems

Our systems don’t just slow us up, they can clog us up. A simple system problem – when, for example, the donor database does not talk to the accounts system, or where the two use a slightly different coding system – can mean that we have to manually re-enter data. Or it can mean that searches for a donor’s history are a headache.

Sometimes it is the thank-you system. I have worked with organisations that have an automated process for sending out thank-yous of the ‘Dear Sir/Madam Thank you for your gift of €xxxx [fill in number]…’ type. So Madame LaRiche, who has just sent you half a million, gets a ‘Dear Sir/Madam…’ letter and there is nothing you can do to stop it. It takes time to persuade the I.T. team to change their ways.

These are stupid niggles in the system. But they slow us down. Or more likely, catch us out just when we think we have a programme ready to go.

Leadership

You have produced the case, sharpened your elevator pitch, identified potential donors and built a workplan. But you need the leadership to be engaged if this is going to work. You need their buy-in because you want to work with them and their contacts, but also because you and they are going to have to take some tough decisions (this ALWAYS happens with strategic donor programmes); should we work with that potential donor? What do we do when a prospect offers us a lot of money…to do the project he wants, not the one we want?

“Bring in leadership from the start.” Yes, that is what the textbooks say. But making that happen in real, busy lives where people have a load of other priorities, takes time.

Reporting, and donor stewardship

This is going to happen after you win the new donations and partnerships. But you simply have to get this sorted out before you meet your first prospect. Bench-test the process with your colleagues so that you understand every potential glitch on the way. Your donors and partners want to see the numbers, the stories, the videos and the pictures of ‘their’ project. So if that information is going to be hard to collect because your field office is hard to reach, because you need special permission to use this or that photo, or because the impact report is still being compiled, then either find alternatives, or wait until the material is sorted out.

So that’s why it takes 18 months

Because you need to get all of this moving at the same time, involving players right across your organisation, from the chair of the board to the lab technician or assistant field worker. In amongst all of these threads of action is a critical path, the line you must follow in order to achieve your goal. But when you are new to the organisation, you simply cannot know where that path lies, nor where the potholes are that are going to slow you down. You have to learn, to listen, to find all this out. And that takes time.

Inside, not Outside

None of this is the market, or the culture of philanthropy – the reasons most commonly cited for the time it takes to get a programme to maturity. These are all internal reasons – stuff inside the organisation, combined with your own character traits, that limit your speed of action.

Faster?

Are there shortcuts? Could we be working faster? In hindsight, you can see that there are. But the problem is that you can’t get to the hindsight until you have put time behind you. Getting leadership onside early certainly speeds up the process, in part because it opens doors to stakeholders in technical, financial and communications departments. Quick work with the case – especially, building and testing case documents internally to get buy-in – is also a help. But neither of these routes is going to shave a lot off your timescale.

So I have learned to set expectations, right from the start. To say ‘eighteen months’ in the knowledge that that is how long it will probably take, but also in the hope that the break-through will come sooner.

Chris Carnie is the author of ‘How Philanthropy is Changing in Europe’, published by Policy Press.

Factary New Trust Update 2017 Review

Download free report here

According to the Association of Charitable Foundation’s (ACF) Foundation Giving Trends 2017 grant making by the Top 300 foundations reached a record high for the second year in a row in 2017, with giving totalling £2.9bn. 64% of this grant-making (£1.87bn) comes from personal and family philanthropy through foundations. The report also states that the top 50 corporate foundations gave grants totalling £269m – up 9% on the previous year. According to the report these top foundations account for around 90% of all foundation giving.

In addition, The Coutts Million Pound Donor Report 2017 shows that the total value of £1m+ donations in the UK was £1.83bn from 310 donations. Foundations continued to be the main source of donations of £1m or more, representing 55% of the overall value, and corporate donors significantly increased their giving – accounting for nearly a third of the overall value.

These statistics highlight the importance of keeping abreast of new sources of funding in the foundations market, particularly from High Net Worth families and corporates. That is where Factary’s New Trust Update can be a vital resource for fundraisers. With details on around 20 new grant-makers each month, including notes on the professional and philanthropic interests of the settlors and interview notes on the aims and objectives of the trusts and foundations, New Trust Update gives fundraisers a head start on building relationships with these new philanthropic vehicles.

Whilst there are on average around 100 new organisations registered with the Charity Commission each month that state they make grants to other organisations, in practice the vast majority of these are not what would be considered grant-making trusts or foundations. We scrutinise and carefully select the organisations that are featured in New Trust Update and as a result, our review of 2017 found that 1 in 5 of the trusts and foundations featured had been created by a settlor with an estimated wealth of £10m or more. The combined estimated wealth of these 48 philanthropists was in excess of £12bn. Our review also found that we included details of 38 newly created corporate foundations in 2017 with the companies involved having a combined turnover in excess of £4.25bn in the past financial year.

Our infographic report, available to download here, includes a range of useful analysis and statistics including the philanthropic areas of interest of the trusts and foundations featured throughout the year, the source of funds of the High Net Worth Individuals creating their own foundations and their geographical distribution. It also includes mini profiles on a handful of the most interesting and potentially major foundations and their settlors.

Subscriber numbers for New Trust Update are limited to maintain exclusivity of the information contained. If you would like to find out more then please contact Nicola Williams or call us on 0117 9166740.

New power, new conversations: the IFC report

The International Fundraising Congress is – I declare my interest as a volunteer – the world’s best fundraising conference. Each year in October around 1,000 people from over 60 countries gather in a conference centre just back from the beaches of the North Sea, west of Amsterdam. It’s a buzzing, active gathering of leaders, new thinkers, experts and innovators…and runs the best end-of-conference dance party I’ve ever attended.

This year’s theme was ‘A New Conversation’. It was about linking fundraisers with the social and environmental causes they promote, about activism and about participation.

Participation, and the ‘new power’ were the themes of Jeremy Heimans’ opening plenary. Jeremy, one of the founders of Avaaz, compared ‘new power’ with ‘old power’ using the tools he describes in a joint paper with Henry Timms, founder of Giving Tuesday. In his view, organisations must adapt to a world in which people want to move from consumers to shapers and designers of ideas, to crowdfunders and eventually to co-creators and co-owners of ideas and product. People want to participate. That participation may be short term – he described the short life of the Occupy movement – and it is certainly not loyal: people switch in and out of their membership of social media groups.

Old power is characterised by hoarding and controlling power, influence and ideas. We buy a car, a frozen pizza or a magazine, but have very little say, often no say at all, in what they contain or how they are produced; we are merely the consumers, buying the product, or not. When we don’t, the old power business rethinks the product and offers us a new one, until they produce the car/pizza/magazine that people are willing to purchase.

New power is, in Jeremy’s words, a ‘current’, like electricity or a fast-flowing stream. We can’t hoard it, but maybe we can channel it. It’s the fast-flowing current of knowledge that is filling the encyclopaedic sea of Wikipedia. It’s the brains behind Linux and open-source software. It’s the million people on the streets of Barcelona to protest police brutality, or the signatories on a campaign website.

Great, Jeremy, but how can we use this in major donor fundraising?

The clue came in another session at the conference. Led by Dr Max Martin, Global Head of Philanthropy at Lombard Odier bank in Geneva (and one of the most brilliant people working in philanthropy in Europe), the session was about innovations in finance for Social Purpose Organisations (SPOs). During the session we heard from the CEO of the Womanity Foundation about a cleverly designed funding model involving UBS Optimus and CIFF in which Optimus provide initial funding for an educational project, with CIFF paying the foundation back for each measureable outcome from the project. And from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) about the first Humanitarian Bond, a CHF26m bond issued by ICRC in conjunction with Lombard Odier and including, amongst others, Fundació LaCaixa, the formerly Catalan banking foundation.

Developing the bond was a long and arduous process for ICRC. But it started with a clever move; before they had gone any further than having the idea of a bond, ICRC involved the bank. That meant persuading board members of ICRC, a very venerable organisation, to sit down with bankers and work out what they wanted to do, and how they would do it. The donor – in this case the leading financier – was involved right from the start of the project.

And that’s the connection with Jeremy Heimans. Because although ICRC and Lombard Odier are both, most definitely, ‘old power’ organisations, this CHF26m project worked in part because ICRC gave up their power, opened up to a donor and shared the process of development with them. Together they came to a bigger, better solution than each player could have managed on their own.

So although crowdsourcing and ‘new power’ sound like the antithesis of the kinds of understated high-level philanthropy that result from our relationships with strategic donors, the same underlying force occurs in both; involve your donors, your investors and your stakeholders RIGHT FROM THE START. Share your power of project- and programme-creation with them, and you could win, big-time.

The road to GDPR for prospect research

We recently undertook a survey of prospect research teams in the UK to find out how they are coping with GDPR preparations. We’d like to thank each of the 95 respondents – your answers have given us a real sense of the current situation for the prospect research community as we all work towards May 2018.

We thought it might be useful to share some of the responses as we know that many prospect researchers are struggling with GDPR and it may help to know that you are not alone! That said, it’s not all doom and gloom out there, as the answers to the survey reflect, and there are many positives that we can take from the results.

First, the not-so-good news

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overwhelming feeling from most of our respondents (77%) is that there is still a lack of clarity around GDPR – specifically around how prospect research can operate in a compliant fashion within the principles of GDPR.

There are also concerns with the practical aspects of GDPR preparation; over 34% of respondents would like more information on undertaking a privacy impact assessment and 38% of respondents are struggling with understanding how to integrate GDPR practices with their CRM system.

Frustratingly, almost 35% of prospect researchers reported that they have not been involved in the GDPR discussions at all in their organisations so they feel they have been unable to provide valuable input to the process.

Some of the other concerns highlighted by our survey are:

  • Misinformation or conflicting advice on GDPR issues is very confusing and unhelpful when it comes to planning
  • The lack of evidence that supports the need for prospect research which can be used to argue the case for continued prospect research with senior leadership
  • The difficulty of understanding and analysing donors’ reasonable expectations
  • The lack of support from leadership within organisations in preparing for GDPR, and the lack of communication between teams on this issue
  • The potential impact of GDPR on smaller organisations is worrying as they may not be able to fully prepare in time for May 2018 due to a lack of resources
  • PECR seems to be a particular concern for many, especially when it comes to consent for channels of communication and how this integrates with GDPR requirements
  • The overwhelming workload and resources required to prepare for GDPR

All that said, it wasn’t all bad news…

Readiness for GDPR

Whilst only 2% of respondents stated that they are ‘completely ready’ for GDPR, the vast majority of respondents, 91%, stated that, for prospect research at least, their organisations are ‘not quite ready, but getting there’. Only 4% of respondents felt that they are ‘not at all’ ready.

Consent or Legitimate Interest?

Most interesting to note from the results was that 54% of respondents stated that their organisation will be relying on legitimate interests as their basis to process data for prospect research purposes.

Only 3% noted that they will be relying on consent as their basis for processing whilst almost 35% of respondents stated their organisations were not yet to make a decision on this.

Privacy Notices

Only 16% of respondents felt that writing privacy notices / policies was an area of concern for their organisations – this is perhaps due in part to the specific guidance that does exist in this area.

Hearteningly, over 63% of organisations have updated their privacy notice to be GDPR compliant. Just over 26% have not yet done this, and 10% of respondents were not sure on the state of their organisation’s privacy notice.

Of the 63% which have updated their notice, over half (58%) have now uploaded this to their website. Only 14% have taken the step to post or email this updated notice to their supporters but this number will inevitably grow at a pace as we work towards May 2018.

Impact on prospect research activity

We also wanted to find out whether researchers have been able to continue providing prospect research services in recent months as the answer to this may help us to understand the likely long-term impact of the ICO fines and GDPR preparation.

The results below show the 5 main areas of prospect research activity and the % of respondents who stated they have either a) stopped doing this activity altogether, b) paused this activity whilst they prepare for GDPR, c) have continued to do this activity or, d) were unable to answer or didn’t do this activity in the first place.

Type of researchStoppedPausedContinuingD/K or N/A
Database (Wealth) Screening31%41%7%21%
Individual research/profiling4%21%68%7%
New prospects identification4%18%69%9%
Due diligence research1%3%78%18%
Network research4%13%57%25%

We have followed up specifically with those individuals who stated they have ‘stopped’ or ‘paused’ Database Screening to obtain more details on these decisions, and we will be able to provide more insight into this at our session with Prospecting for Gold at the RiF Conference on November 6th. For those unable to be at the conference we will follow up with a blog about this shortly afterwards.

For now, it is heartening to see that, aside from Screening, the majority of prospect research activities have continued, although some have fared better than others.

Due diligence in particular seems to have continued, with only 1% of respondents stopping this activity and 3% pausing it. Individual research (i.e. profiling), which was previously undertaken by over 92% of respondents, has stopped or paused in a quarter of organisations as GDPR preparation is undertaken.

Network research was highlighted in the open questions as a particular area of concern, with many unclear how to balance GDPR requirements with the need to identify relevant contacts of key supporters, although of the 50% of respondents who previously undertook this type of research, 86% are continuing to do so, so it is unclear how much this has been affected in reality.

It will be interesting to review the long-term consequences of organisations stopping or pausing these activities as we look in particular at major donor income in 2018 and beyond. Many respondents in the open questions highlighted their concerns that their particular organisations and institutions are losing opportunities to identify and engage potential supporters for fundraising during the process of preparing for GDPR.

The future

Whilst this is a worrying time, there was a view from many respondents that GDPR will ultimately have a positive impact on prospect research…in the end.

This is because despite being, as one respondent put it, “painful”, four of the main benefits highlighted were:

  • GDPR will help to promote prospect research within organisations and institutions (as one respondent put it, “We are no longer a dark art!”)
  • It will make prospect research more efficient and effective
  • The process will educate supporters, donors and the public in how non-profits operate/fundraise, which is a good and positive thing
  • The situation so far has shown researchers to be resilient – working hard and standing up for themselves and the sector

So, the future seems bright but, in the present, if you are one of the many researchers who would like more clarity on specific issues, we know that the IoF are working to produce some specific GDPR guidance for prospect research. We don’t yet know when this will be available, but it will hopefully provide some much needed insight into how we can better prepare for GDPR.

Whilst you wait for that, you may want to download our paper on legitimate interests and prospect research, as it signposts to other useful pieces of guidance and gives a basic overview of the GDPR situation.

If you’d like more details on the survey or would like to chat about prospect research and/or GDPR, please do get in touch with me.

Prospect Research and Legitimate Interests

Something quite remarkable happened a few weeks ago. I went to a conference on GDPR (the CASE Regulation and Compliance Conference) and, by the end of the day, I was actually feeling upbeat, hopeful and – even – vaguely excited about the future of prospect research. This was not at all how I was expecting to feel after a GDPR conference, based on the countless other GDPR conferences and events that I have attended over the past 18 months which have mostly left me feeling a mixture of despondency and frustration.

So, why the sudden shift? Well, a few things. Firstly, the brilliant presentations were, for the first time, practical, focusing on what people are working on and achieving as they build towards compliancy for GDPR. To be at a GDPR event which was about positive action in regards to things like privacy notices or data analysis, and not just about all the things we can’t or mustn’t do, felt like progress.

Secondly, there was a real focus on analysing the ‘legitimate interest’ condition for processing data for prospect research. This is a huge step forwards. For too long now ‘legitimate interest’ has been viewed as a second-best option, a condition for processing that non-profits can maybe use, which is kind of OK, but probably just not quite as good or as ‘safe’ as consent. Obviously, this is due in no small part to the Regulator and ICO’s view that non-profits should probably get consent for wealth screening (by which they seem to imply most forms of prospect research). Alongside this, as Adrian Salmon’s recent blogpost highlights, one of the problems of principles’ based regulation is that, whilst it should encourage flexibility, it tends to lead to a “very conservative compliance mind-set”. So, it was great to see the all the relevant conditions for processing being analysed in an informed and practical way at the conference.

And lastly, many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are actively choosing legitimate interests (after careful analysis) as their condition for processing data for prospect research. This is another good, positive step.

All that said…

There is still confusion and misinformation. In the past two weeks alone I have received a number of emails from researchers who are still asking if wealth screening is illegal or if they need to get consent from all their donors before doing research. I also speak to many organisations that have suspended some or all forms of prospect research whilst they try to work out their next steps. Occasionally, I speak to smaller charities who have no idea that any of this is even happening.

So, despite great advances in the HE sector and with some charities, it is clear that there is still a long way to go for prospect research before we reach May 2018, when GDPR becomes law.

The main aspect which seems to be paralysing many organisations is the question of whether to rely on consent or legitimate interests as the condition for processing for prospect research. Many researchers have been tasked with coming up with a plan for assessing this and making recommendations, which is a tall order. Much has already been written about consent (see, for example, The Fundraising Regulator’s Guidance on Consent) and we thought, therefore, that it might be useful to add some thoughts around legitimate interests, specifically in relation to prospect research.

Please click here to download our paper on this, which is a meander around the topic (you’ll be asked to subcribe to Factary Updates, so you’ll receive other reports and updates like this in the future). We hope the report is useful. Please do come back to us with any questions or comments. Also, remember that we are not data protection lawyers, so don’t make any decisions based solely on the information we provide!