Customer success story

Two days of work in 30 minutes for the donor due diligence team


Donor due diligence taken from two days to 30 minutes, powered by Artificial Intelligence.


Third-party donations are crucial for the University of Cambridge to fund essential facility upgrades and support students through scholarships and bursaries. However, the university needs to protect its reputation and avoid any connections with the wrong kind of donors. That's where the donor due diligence team comes in to conduct hundreds of reputational, ethical and financial assessments on potential donors and partners every year.  

The challenge

The donor due diligence process involves different teams collaborating. First, the prospect research team delves into a prospect's background, while the fundraising team examines and sends requests for additional investigation. Afterwards, the due diligence team carries out a personalised background check and risk assessment, which can take up to two days. But the real challenge starts when concerns arise after a relationship has been established. At that point, a significant amount of resources has already been invested in the process.  

Where Xapien steps in

Xapien's automated background reports provide a full picture of any person or organisation, anywhere in the world, in 5 to 10 minutes. The platform reads and analyses data from across the internet to deliver consolidated, insightful reports including flagged risks, wealth estimates, assets, and associates. By integrating due diligence with prospect research, the two processes work hand in hand instead of holding each other back. Armed with this knowledge, Cambridge University can confidently move forward with fundraising, knowing they have a solid understanding of their prospects 

Cambridge Case Study illustrations-25

“Two days of work can now be done in 30 minutes.”

Natalie Burles
Senior Due Diligence Specialist

“Xapien gives us the time and the opportunity to focus on what is genuinely productive.”

The fundraising process before Xapien​

Step 1Prospect research team research a prospect’s biography, personal and professional background, wealth, inclination, affinity and interests.

Step 2: Fundraising team review prospects and submit due diligence requests for certain prospects.

Step 3: Due diligence team perform a bespoke background check and risk assessment in accordance with the University’s donor acceptance policy to ensure that any past associations will not negatively impact Cambridge’s reputation amongst key stakeholders (students, academics, partners, staff, other prospects etc). Time commitment: from four hours to two days.

Step 4If risks are found, donations are either rejected or must pass through a series of rigorous ethics committees checks prior to funds being raised.

Step 5: If no risks are found, fundraising begins.

The challenges:

  • If issues emerged during the background check, then up to two days of work will not result in a donation.
  • If issues were discovered after the relationship was built, dozens of people would have wasted huge amounts of time working on the donation. Years could pass while the donation was discussed by ethics committees.
  • Prospects who would have been appropriate were occasionally overlooked due to resource constrains. For example, a historic problematic association may have caused a rejection that a more thorough background check would have revealed to no longer be an issue.

The fundraising process with Xapien​

Due diligence has become part of prospect research. The two processes, done at once, complement each other, rather than one limiting the other.

Xapien's automated background reports provide a full picture of any person or organisation, anywhere in the world, in 5–10 minutes. The platform reads and analyses data from across the internet to deliver consolidated, insightful reports including flagged risks, wealth estimates, assets, and associates. A report gives you valuable insights into prospects, as well as flagging any potential risks.

As a result, Cambridge can quickly proceed with fundraising on the basis of transparency and mutual understanding, confident that the prospect’s past won’t negatively affect the University’s future.

The results

Due diligence now aids the prospect research and fundraising process, rather than being a time-consuming gatekeeper.

Time savings

Reports that took up to two days to produce are now created in under 10 minutes. Rather than eliminating jobs, this has created more fundraising opportunities and empowered fundraisers to focus on approaching more, higher-value and higher-potential prospects.

Successful relationships

As due diligence now takes place before a potential donor is approached, the risk of having to turn down a donation later in the process has been eliminated.

““Fundraisers know that if they've been assigned to a potential donor they have met the due diligence standards and they don't need to worry about wasting anyone’s time.”

Successful, frictionless relationships have been built with donors who would previously have been overlooked because of past associations.

Stay tuned for next case study from Dartmouth College

“There's nothing more frustrating than multiple people being stuck in ethics committees for years, only to find out later that a donor isn’t suitable. There’s a real cost to that, which Xapien eliminates.”

Real-world scenario

A prospect who offered to make a five-figure donation was checked on Xapien. The search revealed that they worked for a firm that had in the past invested in fossil fuels, but that it had now closed that investment branch.

Without the depth of information and quality of risk analysis provided by Xapien, the prospect might have been been pulled into unnecessary ethics committees. This might even have led to the rejection of the donation.

It would have taken hours of manual research, or a year’s worth of ethics committees, to confirm that the donor’s past would not affect the University’s future.

The result

  • A positive relationship with the donor
  • A quick donation
  • The potential of a bigger donation in the near future

“Xapien is enabling fundraisers to focus their energy where they'll be most successful, raising more money for research, grants and facilities.”

When donors are being approached, extra biographical information is available to fundraisers which can be used for ice-breakers, and to develop meaningful, trust-based relationships.

Donor assurance

Donors can rest assured that the University maintains high ethical standards across the board. They know that they are amongst trusted peers and their donations can be put to good work, quickly, as they have already passed due diligence checks.

“Xapien is protecting academics, fundraisers and other donors from associating with people who are problematic.”

Key benefits

  • A quick, frictionless fundraising process

  • Research reduced from two days to 30 minutes

  • Fundraising teams can focus their efforts on productive outcomes

  • Fundraisers are provided with valuable donor information earlier in the process

Book a demo now to see how Xapien can provide you with the assurance you need in your research.

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Xapien streamlines 
due diligence

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