The go-to donor research tools are subscription services like DonorSearch, and Wealth Engine. They are the best tool you have – until they are not. We all have many examples of wealth estimates being wildly off, high, and low.
Why it matters: There is no substitute for what I call street research. Find out all you can about the donor from people who know them. Remember, the wealthy have many ways to account for and stash their wealth, where the screening services cannot find it. This includes cash into a bank account, stocks, and real estate investment trusts.
Work it: Don’t take the subscription service or contracted wealth research at face value. Your volunteer who knows the donor may have game-changing information. I once paid for a deep dive on a family, and the recommendation was to ask for $5M. A board member who knew them shared with me the nature of the donor’s wealth. We got $50M!