Building Donor Profiles: An Adventure in Data Enhancement

Building Donor Profiles

So you’ve been told all about how your database is going to revolutionize your fundraising and overall organizational effectiveness. You’ve been tracking your donor activity and it’s a great place to look for contact information, but how exactly is it helping you grow your fundraising? You’ve heard the old phrase: garbage in, garbage out, but what about diamonds in, diamonds out? If you’re using your database effectively, then you have plenty of historical data on all of your contacts and know who your best donors are. But you can go one step further by adding new dimensions to your dataset such as personal wealth information, giving propensity, current address information, and other indicators you can use to help refine your fundraising.

There is a host of information available about most of us as a by-product of our increasingly digital lives. Several companies in the big data marketplace are clearinghouses for this aggregated information and can use full names, address, email, phone, and other key pieces of your constituents’ information to match to datasets from government agencies, credit unions, and so on to provide some insights into your existing and potential donors. You can use this information to guide your fundraising and help you concentrate efforts on those most likely to give and on those who might be able to give the most.

Here are the steps for building out your donor profiles:

  • Clean up the data you already have – Pretty much all data service vendors will try to match their information to yours. If you have bad address information you won’t get the best results that you could.
  • Merge duplicates – This goes without saying and should be part of your overall data hygiene practice.
  • Append new data – At the very least, you should try to get some basic wealth indicators such as household income, home value, net worth, and so on. Age, gender, education level, and other demographics can be useful as well.
  • Analyze and expand – Now you can start segmenting your lists along lines of potential giving based on wealth. If you want to go even further you can hire the services of a data enhancement vendor and have them create extensive profiles on top prospects, predictive models, prospect ranking, and even help you locate new potential donors you haven’t engaged with yet.

Here are some examples of good providers of enhanced data. Each has a fairly different pricing structure and service model so it’s best to contact them directly to get answers about your specific requirements:

Strike Iron w/DemandTools

A primary offering of StrikeIron is address verification and NCOA information, which is a great first step. Integration with DemandTools means you can make bulk updates to Salesforce with the push of a few buttons. You won’t have to deal with importing and exporting spreadsheets and with the StrikeIron subscription you can get updated information on demand.

Blackbaud Data Enhancement Services

Blackbaud is a longtime vendor in the nonprofit space and through various acquisitions over the years has some great data enhancement options to offer. If you have a high volume of contacts to manage (like 100,000 or more) you can opt for their Enterprise Data Quality service which is a suite of address standardization and update tools. For smaller orgs you can get data enhancement a la carte for not only address information but phone numbers, emails, age, and social media information. Unfortunately, none of this integrates with Salesforce but does with Blackbaud’s flagship fundraising database The Raiser’s Edge. Blackbaud also offers a service called Target Analytics which provides personal wealth data and predictive modeling for ranking donor prospects in your database.


Grenzebach Glier and Associates’ is the company behind DonorScape a powerful donor research tool. In addition they offers a wide range of data services from simple data cleansing to wealth screening and predictive modeling. You can have them do a one-time data enhancement job or sign up to use the proprietary tools within DonorScape for more in-depth research. Along with wealth information you can get segments of lifestyle indicators from the PRIZM model to better understand the demographic makeup of your constituents. The PRIZM model includes segments such as “Upper Crust”, “New Empty Nest” and “Heartlanders”. DonorScape does not appear to have a Salesforce integration.


WealthEngine is a powerful platform for prospecting and donor research which collects data on hundreds of attributes including giving history, professional and social connections, and stock liquidity. WealthEngine can be integrated with Salesforce to deliver many of these data points directly to your CRM. WealthEngine can also provide predictive modeling and tools to prospect for new donors not already in your database.

Experian Data Quality for Salesforce

Just like the name implies, Experian Data Quality offers a data cleansing tool with a Salesforce integration. The offering is designed to correct, validate, and standardize each address, email, and telephone number in six modes of validation. The idea is that information is verified at the point of data entry so you can get real-time corrections and prevent bad data from getting in at all. You can also run batch audits to validate existing data or perform regular maintenance.


RapLeaf offers a quick and dirty way to enhance your data using email address as the main data point for matching. It’s not nearly as accurate as having a full name and address but it’s inexpensive and probably a good place to start if you’re new to data enhancement. You can get information on income, home value, age, gender, and a few consumer behaviors such as Automative, Sports, and Travel as as well as a general “Charitable Donor” category. They present their offering as a tool for email marketers to use for better targeting of email solicitations but you could certainly import the data into your CRM for more general use. RapLeaf doesn’t have its own Salesforce integration (other developers have used the API to create their own) but it does integrate with many Email Service Providers.

Has your organization used these tools or others to aid data enhancement? Let us know your thoughts in comments below – and to learn more, register for Idealist Consulting’s webinar “One Small Step for Fundraising: Soliciting Major Donors with WealthEngine” on April 30.

Sam Knox

About Sam Knox

Sam has ten years experience in nonprofit consulting, including project management on website and CRM projects. He specializes in Salesforce administration, data analysis, email marketing, and end user training. He resides in Seattle, Washington.


  1. Ahh spring cleaning…it never end. Anyway, really appreciate the article, helped a bunch!

  2. Thanks for the advice! I do have to ask, what would you suggest for cleaning up my data? I feel like it wouldn’t be efficient to manually scan through all of it, so are there any tools you could suggest?

  3. Great post! There is a lot of very useful detail on how to enhance the data about your constituents here, and a couple of vendors I’m going to take a deeper look into.

    One thing I would add is that some of the detail you can gather about constituents can become less valuable over time, such as wealth screening data that may not be very accurate 4 or 5 years after it was gathered. I would recommend any time you are adding enhancement data to your constituents, you also establish a plan for reviewing and maintaining that data on an ongoing basis to determine if anything needs to be updated or cleared out of the system.

  4. Thanks, Sam! This a great information.

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