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Donor due diligence:

What nonprofits should consider when formalizing donor due diligence

Template Blog covers (16)

This blog explores effective donor due diligence, and how it ensures donations align with your nonprofit’s values. It explains the importance of a gift acceptance policy as a decision-making framework, the role of comprehensive due diligence in safeguarding reputation, and how AI technologies like Xapien enable efficient donor assessment.

It starts with a transparent gift acceptance policy

A gift acceptance policy, also known as a donor acceptance policy, serves as a guide for philanthropic organizations when accepting or declining donations. When a nonprofit’s gift acceptance policy is unclear, understanding institutional risks and finding the right balance when accepting a gift becomes challenging.

A robust policy removes any grey areas. It clearly defines who is responsible for making donor decisions, outlines the principles that donations must align with, and sets criteria for rejecting donations. Most importantly, this policy defines an organization’s standards for donor due diligence and guides decision-making based on the findings.

Why do you need a gift acceptance policy?

The court of public opinion has a strong influence that nonprofits need to be aware of when considering a potential donor. In today’s digital age, bad publicity can quickly and severely impact donor confidence, leading to potential funding problems. Rebuilding trust with existing and future donors is difficult once it’s lost.

A real-life example is a cancer charity that faced a significant drop in revenue, plummeting from $47 million to less than $17 million in just three months following a brand ambassador scandal. When incorporating donor due diligence into your gift acceptance strategy, approach it as deep background research and not a quick checkbox exercise.

Should thresholds determine donor due diligence?

Organizations aim to find the right threshold for their gift policy to manage resources while ensuring fundraising integrity. Thresholds act as benchmarks, determining the level of due diligence needed for donations based on their value.

A quick scan of publicly available information may be enough for a £10,000 gift, while a £100,000 gift might require comprehensive investigation which can take a few hours or even an entire day. 

Nonprofits with limited resources are cautious about the depth of their due diligence process. However, imposing time or page limits on a Google search can lead to missed information, exposing organizations to risks.

This is where technology solutions step in. By automating due diligence and enhancing efficiency for research teams, the threshold for conducting due diligence naturally goes down. This allows organizations to protect their reputation by ensuring due diligence on every donor.

Introducing AI to your donor acceptance strategy

AI is making donor due diligence more integrated, efficient, and strategic, allowing nonprofits to optimize their fundraising efforts without the added costs and complexities of expanding their teams or overloading their current staff.

It does this in a few, really impactful ways:

1. Integration with existing processes

AI allows donor due diligence to be seamlessly incorporated into broader research activities. This means that teams can conduct due diligence in parallel with prospect research, making the process more efficient and less disruptive.

2. Reducing manual workload

Automating the legwork minimizes the manual effort needed from research teams. This automation frees up staff to focus on more strategic tasks so they can provide more value to their organisation.

3. Enhancing decision making

AI-powered due diligence searches, analyses and summarises online information much faster than a human researcher. This accelerates the decision-making process so that fundraising efforts are focused on prospects with the highest potential.

4. Improving conversations with donors

AI-generated due diligence reports offer fundraisers better insights into the backgrounds and interests of potential donors upfront. Empowered by this knowledge, fundraisers can engage in more meaningful conversations, customizing their approaches based on the findings from due diligence.

Eight hours of research in eight minutes at Dartmouth College

Previously, Dartmouth College’s due diligence strategy involved about one hour of research per prospect, a method that often resulted in only superficial assessments due to the sheer number of prospects, the size of the donor database, and time constraints. 

This approach sometimes led to uncomfortable situations later in the solicitation process if a deeper due diligence check uncovered problematic information.

Dartmouth College now uses Xapien right at the start of the evaluation phase. Xapien quickly analyzes a prospect’s background and generates a detailed, fully sourced report in just ten minutes. 

These reports offer comprehensive insights into the prospect’s business affiliations, achievements, philanthropic interests, wealth markers, and risk profile, all presented in a clear and concise report that’s easily accessible to analysts and decision-makers. 

This not only accelerates due diligence but also ensures that potential issues are identified early, enabling more strategic and informed interactions with your donor base.

Why use Xapien’s AI for your organization?

Xapien is the golden path to comprehensive due diligence for every donor, no matter the gift size or value. Integrating it into your donor acceptance strategy results in a more efficient process.

Read more: Why nonprofits should use open source intelligence for prospect research

Xapien was first adopted by the University of Cambridge. Today, its capabilities have been recognized and adopted by several academic institutions across the UK and the US, including Dartmouth College, other Ivy League universities, and state universities such as Michigan, North Carolina, and Illinois.

What makes Xapien different from other due diligence tools?

Xapien is a sophisticated AI tool that goes beyond risk identification. It provides in-depth profiles covering philanthropy, personal networks, family connections, and professional achievements. It enables nonprofits to conduct thorough research at the outset, preventing time-consuming and unproductive discussions later in the process.

Xapien meticulously analyzes data from millions of registries and screens trillions of web pages to gather and interpret relevant information about subjects. These findings are compiled into a fully-sourced, summarized report that is easily shareable among team members, trustees, and other key stakeholders.

All that’s required is the subject’s name and some contextual information, which you enter into a web-based browser. Book a call with our expert team to learn more.

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