In addition to prayer and festive meals, the Jewish high holidays are a peak season of tzedakah – charity – where appeals are made, honors are auctioned off, and volunteer time is committed. At CCS, we believe in the power of the high holidays to position nonprofits for future success. Over the past month, members of the Jewish community worldwide dedicated themselves to introspection, assessing priorities, and connecting with one another. At this point, they are likely motivated, focused on community, and accessible for conversation.

Here are three steps to help you leverage the post-holiday feelings and set the table for a successful year ahead.

One: Go on a listening tour.

On Rosh Hashana, we make a blessing before blowing the symbolic shofar. It’s interesting to note that the blessing is not made on blowing the shofar but rather listening to the shofar. The shofar reminds us that listening is a critical element in personal growth and relationship building.

Schedule time to speak to your prospects – new and old – without an agenda to pitch an idea, sell something, or present information. Make an effort to actively listen and learn: What are their interests? What are their hopes for the new year? What motivates them to action?

A listening exercise will provide you with both micro- and macro-intelligence. On the micro-level, you will understand your prospects and how to activate their passions. On the macro-scale, you will be able to piece together trends from your conversations. What messages and types of programs resonate with donors? What opportunities lie before you and the organization in this new year?

Two: Provide value.

A new year often conjures up aspirational feelings and a desire to be better. As a nonprofit leader, you have the ability to support community members in this effort and provide them with meaningful opportunities. Once you have listened and determined individuals’ passions, it’s time to start connecting the dots. Ask yourself: how can I partner with donors to help them feel connected to the organization and actualize their aspirations? Identify or develop opportunities for involvement within the organization that are tailored to donors’ specific interests.

It’s key to note that the standard opportunities you have for engaging with your donors may not align with what you heard on your listening tour. Don’t be afraid to develop new ideas to provide the value that your prospects have indicated they are looking for.

Additionally, embrace virtual opportunities. With many people still shying away from traditional avenues of involvement due to the pandemic, leverage virtual technology to widen your audience and reach people during moments that were previously not feasible (for example, during work hours).

Three: Be persistent.

The repetitive nature of the high holiday prayers, in particular Selichot – The Prayers of Repentance – teaches us the need to try, try, and try again. It often takes more than one attempt to improve and excel, particularly when it comes to forming relationships.

Are there community members in your orbit that you have gently cultivated in the past, but nothing came of it? Or are there passive current volunteers or donors with the potential for greater engagement? Perhaps when you last connected the timing was not right. Now is the time to engage, especially as donors are thinking about their new year resolutions.

Successful fundraising certainly requires more than one touchpoint, so remain persistent. You can use the cadence of the Jewish holidays (Hanukkah is right around the corner!) as an opportunity to consistently follow up.

By following this playbook, next year, the high holiday season will ring in a culmination of a year-long concerted effort to better understand, connect, and provide value to your community!

A graphic of the cover image of the 2022 Philanthropic Landscape.

Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape, 11th Edition (2022)

In June 2022, Giving USA released their estimates that US charitable giving increased by 2.8% in inflation-adjusted dollars from 2020 to 2021, reaching $484.85 billion.

For the past 11 years, CCS’s Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape has compiled and analyzed industry research to provide a snapshot of the state of philanthropy today.

The 2022 Philanthropic Landscape report helps answer questions like…

  • How much do Americans donate to charity each year?
  • What motivates donors to give to a nonprofit?
  • Who are the best prospects for planned gifts?
  • What factors do corporations consider when making community investments?
  • How are foundation grants changing?
  • How are nonprofits integrating DEI into their fundraising programs?
  • How are nonprofits using cryptophilanthropy?

In this year’s report, we assess key areas that nonprofit leaders and fundraisers will want to monitor as part of planning and strategy. Particularly, we offer greater insight on gift planning, high net worth giving, and emerging digital fundraising trends that are becoming more prominent in the philanthropic ecosystem.

Philanthropic Landscape Co-Editors Tom Kissane, Principal & Managing Director, and Aashika Patel, Senior Vice President
Both an open 2022 Philanthropic Landscape and a closed one showing the front cover.


See all our Philanthropic Landscape reports throughout the years.

How can we help you?

CCS offers an array of services to help nonprofits grow their fundraising.

A graphic of the cover image of the 2022 Philanthropic Landscape.

CCS Fundraising is thrilled to share the eleventh edition Snapshot of Today’s Philanthropic Landscape. This report compiles and contextualizes research from across the field of philanthropy to help US-based nonprofits wade through the available data and create informed fundraising strategies.

“In this year’s report, we assess key areas that nonprofit leaders and fundraisers will want to monitor as part of planning and strategy,” said Aashika Patel, CCS Senior Vice President and Report Co-Chair. “Particularly, we offer greater insight on gift planning, high net worth giving, and emerging digital fundraising trends that are becoming more prominent in the philanthropic ecosystem.”

Even without accounting for the spike in giving in 2020, Americans are increasingly generous when we assess multi-year trends. Overall, charitable giving increased by 7.1% from 2019 to 2021. In June 2022, Giving USA released their estimates that US charitable giving remained relatively flat from 2020 to 2021, settling at $484.85 billion.

Tom Kissane, CCS Vice Chairman and Report Co-Chair, remarked on important considerations for fundraising professionals. “As fundraising practitioners, we remain inspired and grateful for the unprecedented generosity of Americans, our foundation partners, and corporate supporters. Despite an extremely challenging period, nonprofits sustained their extraordinary missions and, in many ways, advanced compelling aspirations. We applaud our clients, partners, development colleagues, and nonprofit leaders for the tremendous resilience and determination to strengthen their organizations to fulfill the promise of their respective missions.”

The report discusses essential findings from across the field of philanthropic research, including:

Great record keeping in your customer relationship management (CRM) software streamlines the donor journey, enables metrics, bolsters accountability, and drives momentum in moves management. However, teams who aren’t used to intensive data entry can feel intimidated and quickly get behind.

Any new habit takes some getting used to, which is why we are offering eight suggestions for frontline fundraisers on how to keep from getting behind and stay on top of action entries.

Note: we recommend that fundraisers enter all “meaningful contacts” into the CRM. This includes communications or interactions that would be important or helpful for others to know in order to best cultivate the donor towards a gift request and steward them throughout the donor journey.

1. Review your calendar at the beginning of each week and enter upcoming actions, such as meetings or calls, into your database.

Having a list of open/incomplete actions in the CRM creates your to-do-list for you. It also makes things easier in the future; for example, you will simply have to confirm the details, add any notes, and hit complete.

2. Open the constituent or opportunity record prior to any call and leave it open until you’ve added the action.

That way, if you need to immediately jump on another call, you will have a reminder on your screen to enter the action details before you close the tab. It also promotes treating the CRM as a system of record where you can take notes directly into the associated records as often as possible.

3. Leverage technology to take advantage of shortcuts such as:

  • Integrate your CRM into your email so that outcoming emails to constituents are automatically added to the CRM and incoming emails can be added with the click of a button.
  • Some CRMs, such as the RENXT App, allow you to dictate your notes. If using this feature, just make sure to review them later to ensure everything transcribed correctly.
  • Other CRM’s, such as Salesforce, allow you to send chat messages to your colleagues from a constituent, opportunity, or action. Tag applicable colleagues on an action record after adding meeting notes as an FYI or on an opportunity to indicate a status change such as “pledged” or “received.” This both saves time (as you will not have to send an extra email) and keeps you aligned with CRM best practices as any follow-up discussion will automatically be in the CRM.
  • If available, utilize your systems or development operations teams to create templates for bulk uploads of actions.

4. Group similar tasks together to reduce friction.

If you have a few opportunities or constituents on similar tracks, enter or plan actions for them all at once. Reducing the need to open your CRM and enter one-off interactions will save you time.

5. When you enter a completed action, plan one or two steps ahead.

It will be much easier to think of your next touchpoint and create a reminder for yourself to take action later while your mind is already on the cultivation and servicing of the relationship.

6. Find your own regular use for accurate actions.

If you are only entering actions to meet expectations or serve someone else’s job function, you will not be as likely to keep up with it. Some suggestions are to use future actions and deadlines to remind yourself to get things done, or to check in with all open actions at the start of each day. Looking at actions over the last two weeks can help you spot who is missing out on your attention.

7. Launch a summary report or dashboard that is available to you and shared with your manager.

If actions feel as though they disappear into the ether, it is not compelling to keep up with them. With updated action entry and a dashboard, you can experience the motivation that comes from seeing your actions add up in real time.

8. If you are still running behind on entering actions, block off one or two hours at the end of the week to do so.

Having this recurring time in your calendar will help you make sure all actions and notes from the week are in the database. If you have a few minutes left over in your time block, use them to get ahead on future activity entry, and make the next week a little easier.

We see over and over again that investing time into good record-keeping is worth the growing pains. Dynamic data insights, and seamless transfer from one fundraiser to the next, are just a few of the benefits. Take the time to try these tips and you will find action entry becomes part of your regular routine and your best way to deliver great relationship management.

CCS Fundraising is a strategic fundraising consulting firm that partners with nonprofits for transformational change. We plan and implement fundraising initiatives to help nonprofit organizations make a bigger impact, including Systems projects to help organizations use their CRMs to drive strategic fundraising activity. To learn more about our Systems work, contact Allison Willner, Vice President of Data Strategy, at

More Insights


CCS Philanthropy Pulse

February 16, 2023

CCS’s annual Philanthropy Pulse report provides nonprofits with helpful data to navigate the ever-evolving philanthropic space.


“If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It” – Using Metrics to Strengthen Your Fundraising Program

September 19, 2022

Growing your fundraising program is not just about feeding your prospect pipeline or hiring more fundraisers. In today’s uncertain economy, a hospital foundation’s use of metrics is the key to increasing success.

SEE ALL IN: Systems

Leadership transitions, especially at the independent school Head level, have been unprecedented in recent years. In March 2022, NAIS conducted a Snapshot Survey on Head Turnover where they found that over two-thirds of schools have had one or two new heads in the last ten years. With new leadership comes the opportunity to chart a new strategic course, and when done right, the process gives new leaders unparalleled opportunity to convene and engage the school community to develop a shared vision.

As the end of summer approaches (far too fast), independent school teams are putting the finishing touches on their fundraising plans for the coming year. Whether they have a new Head of School or are working with a long-term leader, in addition to designing the FY23 strategy for annual giving, major and planned gifts, and alumni and parent engagement over the summer, many will also begin developing a long-range plan and preparing for a significant campaign. Establishing clear strategic priorities with broad community support is imperative to translating a nascent vision into campaign success.

Recently, CCS partnered with The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW), an independent coeducational day and boarding high school in Weston, MA, to conduct a school-wide strategic priority development process that united the community around a compelling vision for the school’s future. CSW’s Head of School, Lise Charlier, stepped into her role in 2019 and skillfully led the school through the Covid-19 pandemic. As students returned to campus and restrictions loosened, Charlier and CSW’s Board of Trustees began thinking about the school’s next steps. In a multi-pronged approach, CCS worked with CSW to create comprehensive buy-in for the school’s strategic priorities and build the framework for a compelling campaign case for support.

Vision & Case Development Task Force

To help Charlier and school leadership further develop a cohesive vision and case for support for CSW, CCS convened a Vision & Case Development Task Force of 12 trustees, current parents, past parents, and alumni three times over the course of two months. First, this group participated in generative breakout group discussions about CSW’s future:

  • “What is important for CSW to achieve in five years?”
  • “Why is this important?”
  • “How will this strengthen the student experience?”

From these discussions, four key long-term priorities and themes rose to the top: access, sustainability, community, and innovation. The group then zoomed in on each priority and answered the following questions:

  • “Why is this theme critical?”
  • “What philanthropic initiatives would be required to achieve this vision?”
  • “What collateral does CSW need to tell the story of this priority?”

The Task Force was instrumental in building an initial framework for long-term planning and outlining the steps needed to achieve success.

Board of Trustees Visioning Session

Following the completion of the Task Force’s work, we presented the key takeaways and themes from the group’s discussions to the Board of Trustees to frame a discussion around developing CSW’s strategic priorities for the next five years. In small groups, trustees discussed CSW’s strengths and opportunities for growth and improvement. They also each shared their vision for CSW five years from now, what is needed to achieve this vision, and the impact this vision would have on the student experience. The full group reconvened to share takeaways and noted that many themes aligned with the Task Force’s findings.

Faculty and Staff Visioning Session

We convened CSW’s full faculty and staff to share about the work to date, provide an overview of campaign planning and execution, and outline the steps needed for campaign success. We explained the importance of input from CSW’s faculty and staff when developing strategic priorities and a strong campaign plan. In breakout groups, teachers and administrators discussed the same questions the trustees addressed in their visioning session. When each group shared about their vision for CSW’s future, there was broad consensus with the Trustees and Task Force.

The strategic conversations between CCS and CSW are exactly what schools need to achieve their long-term goals. While it’s difficult to set aside time to garner community buy-in and support, it’s essential to the success of both a strategic vision and a campaign. Schools must engage in the difficult, but essential work of building support ahead of major initiatives to maximize engagement amongst key stakeholders.

Ann Snyder, Senior Director of Communities Engagement, Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

Following these sessions, we assembled and reviewed all discussion notes and confirmed the clear alignment on CSW’s vision and priorities among the Task Force, trustees, and faculty and staff. This led to the creation of three strategic priorities and funding opportunities for a significant comprehensive campaign:

  • Support and grow CSW’s community through increased financial aid, faculty development, and innovative partnerships
  • Enhance CSW’s campus to fuel student and faculty work through increased environmental sustainability, greater physical accessibility, and enhanced buildings and community spaces
  • Secure CSW’s future and impact through growing the endowment to ensure financial sustainability and flexibility

CCS and CSW are now partnering on a Campaign Planning Study to gather feedback from 50+ community members about these priorities and the proposed campaign plans. So far, there has been widespread support for these priorities. We will continue these conversations over the coming weeks and present our recommendations for next steps to the Board of Trustees in September.

Lessons Learned

  • Community buy-in is essential. Asking for input from different constituencies was essential to build trust and comprehensive understanding of the vision for CSW’s future. Each group’s feedback also helped build out the nuanced details for each strategic priority.
  • Strategic priority development takes time. This multi-stepped approach required careful planning and dedicated time to be successful. Planning ahead and building in extra time for priority development is essential for a strong campaign design.
  • Early faculty and staff involvement builds strong partnerships. In our Campaign Planning Study conversations with faculty and staff, they have all expressed strong support for the proposed tenets of the campaign and have enthusiastically volunteered to help in donor cultivation and solicitation. Involving faculty and staff early in the campaign planning process creates buy-in and a willingness to help achieve campaign success.

We look forward to continuing our partnership with CSW to design a strong, phased, comprehensive campaign to help achieve the school’s vision and long-term goals.

More Insights


Perspectives on Philanthropy | Giving USA 2023

June 20, 2023 | 12PM ET / 9AM PT

Join CCS Fundraising, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, for Perspectives on Philanthropy 2023, a webinar marking the release of Giving USA 2023: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.


Revolutionizing Fundraising Part I: Six Ways AI is Transforming the Nonprofit Sector

April 24, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making waves across industries, and the world of fundraising is no exception. So how can you leverage the power of data to raise dollars?

Case Studies

Georgetown Day School

Mid-Atlantic and Southeast U.S.

Georgetown Day School (GDS) has embarked on a comprehensive campaign to unify its campus, bolster its financial aid program, and enhance programs through the Annual Fund. GDS has partnered with CCS to conduct a development assessment, planning study, and campaign. The campaign is on target to exceed the $50 million goal.

Thomas Jefferson School

Central U.S.

CCS partnered with Thomas Jefferson School to launch the school’s first major fundraising campaign. As the COVID-19 pandemic struck, CCS advised Thomas Jefferson on how to address immediate needs, evolve its campaign strategy, and maintain fundraising.

Cultural institutions have long relied on membership programs as the cornerstone of their fundraising efforts. A recent CCS study of nearly 20 cultural membership programs throughout the Midwest found that, on average, membership programs were generating $1.8M per year. This year’s Giving USA Annual Report revealed an increase of 27.5% in giving to Arts and Cultural organizations in 2021. Now, more than ever, is the right time to ensure that your program is optimized to retain these members, maintain increased giving levels, and maximize your institution’s mission.

Prioritizing, or even establishing, a membership program is dependent on the long-term strategy of your development department—and sometimes the organization at large. A membership program may be great for acquisition purposes and rebounding after disruption to your fundraising goals, but a donor circle or giving society may be more effective in cultivating donors towards renewed and larger commitments to your organization. Through a recent partnership with a leading cultural organization in Chicago, CCS helped to evaluate and develop a potential new membership structure. This process identified three questions for cultural organizations to consider when evaluating membership programs, and donor engagement overall.

Question 1: Do you have the right program for your needs?

The impact of recent national and worldwide events has positioned organizations to explore and assess the effectiveness and sustainability of their donor engagement strategies. CCS’s recent membership study included a cultural institution with over 20,000 members contributing $4 million annually, but with a base that was predominantly focused on their visitation benefits. COVID-19 closures caused a roughly 50% drop in this revenue line in 2020. Organizations can learn from these disruptions to enhance their existing strategies. As you think about the program you have in place, consider running an analysis of your program looking at:

• How has your program grown in total donors?
• How has your program grown in total revenue?
• How has your average gift for this population changed?
• Through what channel are these donors giving?
• Which donors are renewing?
• Which donors are not renewing?

Once you have identified key metrics for improvement, we recommend studying best practices of your peer organizations. CCS often conducts peer benchmarking exercises to help shape our clients’ programs and strategies.

Question 2: Do you have an entry point for these donors?

Both giving societies and membership programs typically offer a compelling reason for investing in the mission through donor benefits. Benefits are a way to engage new members and donors as well as increase giving for current ones—and keep constituents moving through the pipeline. Typical member benefits include free admission and free or discounted parking, while giving societies might offer anything from the tangible (a show poster or tickets to opening night) to more access-oriented benefits (a VIP ticketing concierge or the ability to host a private event). Regardless of what you offer, make sure you are focused on two key points:

  1. These benefits are engaging donors in your mission
  2. These benefits are what donors want

We all know that the best donor to solicit is a past donor. While your membership program or giving society may have a few goals (like upgrading annual fund donors into mid-level giving constituents or creating a planned giving prospect pool), retention is key. And to retain, you must engage donors in your mission.

As stated in our national survey, one leading zoo in the Midwest reported that after acquiring members through more transactional benefits, they emphasized learning opportunities for engagement. By hooking the donor with the mission, this organization was able to increase giving and achieve a 70% renewal rate (the average for survey participants).

You can also think outside the box with your mission-oriented benefits…and be more cost-effective! Consider the observation from our recent Perspectives on Philanthropy webinar: it may be time to think of a fourth “T”—Time, Treasure, Talent, and now Testimony. Asking donors to speak up or act on your behalf can be an engaging (and affordable!) benefit. Consider creating a giving circle around signing petitions to advance your cause or empowering donors with the tools to take elements of your mission (like an eco-friendly picnic for a zoo or aquarium giving society) to their friends.

Finally, make sure the benefits that you offer are what your donors want. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to get stuck in your ways and not realize that what you’ve always offered isn’t cutting it anymore. Consider surveying your donor base, including current, lapsed, and prospective constituents, to get a full picture with the following questions:

  • Please rank your benefits in order of importance.
    • Followed by list of offerings
  • Have you used the following benefits in the past year?
    • Consider a conditional “No” follow-up of “Why have you not used this benefit?
  • Of the following potential new benefits to membership, rank the suggestions in order of importance.
    • Followed by list of benefits that you may offer in the future

Question 3: How are you managing your donors for your goals?

After your organization has created a membership program that best suits the organization’s needs and an appropriate entry point, the next step is to consider how you are managing your donors for institutional goals. In a conversation with a cultural institution in Chicago, we came across a surprising statistic: long-time members were less likely to upgrade their membership than newer members. The reason for this was clear – members become comfortable and accustomed to their yearly contribution, and without the active engagement and management of your membership, your organization will struggle to “move the needle” when it comes time to increase your request. Considering we saw an average membership of 30,000 across our study, ineffective membership management could result in a potential loss of philanthropic revenue for your organization.

A key element for the successful organizations we surveyed was utilizing their tools and systems effectively. There was an overwhelming consensus that there are more opportunities to leverage data and tools in more effective ways. The most frequently mentioned data analytics strategies included identifying prospects that have the potential to elevate future gifts or move up in membership levels, and conducting more analysis on philanthropic trends, instead of focusing purely on data entry.

While upgrades and renewals are key tenants of any great membership program, testing additional philanthropic messaging to your members can create new pathways to revenue. In particular, including gift planning messaging can lead to unexpected gifts to your organization. This year’s Giving USA data reports that over $46.1 billion was given to top organizations through deferred giving vehicles in 2021. Beyond your major gift program, long-time members are your best gift planning prospects. These donors who may not think they have high net worth can realize especially impactful giving to an organization they have a great affinity for through this vehicle. Even more important when considering that, according to the Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy in their 2009 study, between $45 to $150 trillion is set to be bequeathed over the next five decades, resulting in at least $21 trillion in new charitable gifts.


According to Giving USA, when accounting for bequests and family foundations, individuals represented 88% of all philanthropic revenue in the US in 2021. An internal audit, guided by the questions above, can support your institution in securing new members, retaining and upgrading current members, and creating new pathways of revenue to elevate the mission of your organization.

Interested in evaluating your membership program?

Our firm would be thrilled to partner with your organization.

More Insights


Perspectives on Philanthropy | Giving USA 2023

June 20, 2023 | 12PM ET / 9AM PT

Join CCS Fundraising, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, for Perspectives on Philanthropy 2023, a webinar marking the release of Giving USA 2023: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.


Revolutionizing Fundraising Part I: Six Ways AI is Transforming the Nonprofit Sector

April 24, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making waves across industries, and the world of fundraising is no exception. So how can you leverage the power of data to raise dollars?

SEE ALL IN: Arts & Culture
A banner image that includes the CCS logo and ICSC logo.

A lead gift can be the single most impactful tool to help advance your institutional goals. Securing a lead gift might not be easy, but there is a clear path to success if you lock in your strategy, have the right support, and follow your plan. Tune in to this webinar to follow the story of how a Catholic parish, diocese, and school identified the right gift amount, donor engagement, and case language to transform their vision into reality with a lead gift.


Shawn Trahan Taylor

Shawn Trahan Taylor

Assistant Vice President

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle

Mission Advancement Officer

Diocese of Toledo
Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Executive Director

Sarah Sochacki

Sarah Sochacki

Managing Director

Brad Patterson

Brad Patterson

Executive Vice President

Thomas Kissane

Thomas Kissane

Vice Chairman

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The CCS Philanthropy Pulse: What Does the Data Say and What Does it Mean for Religious Institutions?

Spring 2022

How are religious institutions approaching fundraising this year? And how does it differ from years past? View this webinar recording to discover key findings from a recent survey of nearly 100 religious organizations.


Catholic Fundraising Video Series: Perspectives on Stewardship in a Digital World

June 10, 2021

Tune in to CCS Fundraising and #iGiveCatholic’s three-part video series featuring engaging conversations with dioceses, parishes, and schools to hear firsthand how these organizations have navigated stewardship in a digital world.

Want to start a conversation?

We’d love to help you plan your next chapter!

NEW YORK, NY – Today, CCS Fundraising, the world’s leading fundraising consulting firm, announced the arrival of Ashutosh Nandeshwar, the firm’s new Senior Vice President of Data Science & Analytics.

Nandeshwar joins CCS with extensive experience and expertise in systems engineering, artificial intelligence, and design thinking, and has built solutions to improve fundraising results at the world’s top higher education institutions, including the University of Michigan, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Southern California. He is the author of multiple books, including a co-authored book titled Data Science for Fundraising, which has been lauded as an “invaluable addition to any serious data scientist’s library” by fellow data scientist, Bala Deshpande, Ph.D.

Nandeshwar will lead CCS’s Data Science & Analytics Practice, which helps nonprofit clients maximize their fundraising success by pairing critical technical capabilities – including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Design Thinking – with deep expertise in fundraising strategy and implementation. Nandeshwar’s leadership will deepen CCS’s ability to provide data science & analytics solutions for its clients, and over the next several months the firm will announce plans for expanding its service offerings to nonprofit partners.

Speaking about the impact that data science & analytics can have on CCS’s clients, Nandeshwar said, “CCS works with many of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations, and a data-driven approach is critical to their ongoing fundraising success. I am excited to have the opportunity to work closely with CCS’s Data Science & Analytics Practice to build on their excellent work and help expand our offerings so that we can continue to deliver high-value, data-driven insights for our partners.”

“We are delighted to have Ashutosh join our team of leading fundraising professionals,” said Jon Kane, CCS President & CEO. “In our increasingly data-oriented world, it is critical that we keep building our unique expertise and cutting-edge offerings in this space to ensure we’re delivering the best possible results for our clients. I look forward to working closely alongside Ashutosh to ensure CCS remains at the forefront of data science and analytics solutions for fundraising.”

About CCS Fundraising 

CCS Fundraising is a strategic consulting firm that has partnered with nonprofits for transformational change for 75 years. CCS provides a wide range of services that support and strengthen nonprofit fundraising programs, including campaign management, strategic planning, data analytics, and major gift strategy. The firm’s experts, skilled in campaign and development strategy, work closely with organizations of all sizes across nonprofit sectors and geographies.

Having a robust and up-to-date database can make a world of a difference in fundraising and stewardship. In an industry where fundraisers and development staff are competing for over $390 billion in philanthropic dollars, the opportunity is immense, and so too must be your attention to your donors.

Of the ten sub-sectors reported on by Giving USA 2022, 27% of those dollars were donated in support of religious causes, including Episcopal parishes.

While there are many ways to increase your stewardship potential, it all starts with your data:

  • Who are your donors? (e.g., baptized members, community members, friends)
  • What programs or initiatives do your donors support? (e.g., annual fund, property)
  • How do your donors give? (e.g., online, plate collections, mail)
  • What inspires your donors to support you? (e.g., religious “duty,” ministry)

To track this type of information, many parishes invest in donor databases that help them manage their directories and information on individuals who have been visited or require further contact by their outreach or welcome teams.

To store and manage this information, parishes, like most nonprofit organizations, recognize the value of a system more elaborate and comprehensive than an excel spreadsheet. But after that initial investment, and maybe a few weeks of user training, it can just seem easier to use the database like a spreadsheet after all: linear and disconnected from the process of stewardship. Only using the system for its most basic functions defeats the purpose of the investment and can bring parishes back to square one in regard to data.

It’s easy to see why this cycle repeats. Producing good data takes time, a deep understanding of the system, and requires effective management to create a process that gets you closer to your desired objectives. The good news is that there are big opportunities and untapped potential with a database that can do so much more than store contact and donation information.  Most importantly, it can help you do your job of donor stewardship more efficiently. Those who expand their database usage see immediate results.

When your parish is focused on ministry, formation, and outreach, managing membership information is understandably not always a priority. Whether your parish is responding to a natural disaster, providing much needed support to a family who has lost a loved one, or celebrating the life and renewal of members and the community at large, you cannot justify substituting these priorities with minuscule administrative tasks.

In addition to the time investment issues that comes with learning a data management system, constraints could also be due to staff shortages or turnover, resulting in the frustrating loss of the investment your staff and vestry made to train users of the database. But despite any limitations, this institutional knowledge cannot be fully realized if you don’t know how to maximize the features in the database.

Identifying Preventable Errors

Many institutions within this sector invest in databases designed specifically for Episcopal parishes. While many parishes are effective at managing the basics such as contact and donation information, they do not always fully utilize the more robust features the databases have to offer. Because of this, common oversights emerge that can have detrimental results.

Something as simple as pulling (exporting) data from a system to create a capital campaign prospect list can quickly turn into a small headache. This occurs when appropriate filters are not applied, such as removing names of individuals who were under the age of eighteen or deceased. Imagine if during a leadership committee meeting, in a room with volunteers present, several individuals known to be deceased ended up on your donor list. These individuals are normally marked as deceased in a database, but if there is not a full understanding of how to use the query system, you leave yourself open to these kinds of vulnerabilities.

The solution can be as simple as checking a box: “Do not include individuals marked deceased.” This and other data mistakes are common with any database, but when your mission is that of a parish, these mistakes can be costly both financially and spiritually.

Another common example is the management of information on households and families. It is not unusual for spouses to donate separately or children to have separate accounts if they are baptized members when their parents are not. In one instance, an infant child ended up on a mailing list and this error was only noticed when the child’s grandmother approached the development team with mail addressed to her grandchild. It then became evident that there was no protocol for reviewing accounts that were missing date of birth or age, making it too difficult to filter out members under the age of eighteen.

Making Forward Progress

Recognizing the need for a checks and balance system, and protocols for how to manage information, many Episcopal parishes have expressed an eagerness to address these issues. In one example, a parish formed an informal group of church members to review the directory and mail lists. Hearing there was a need for something other than asking for money, volunteers began to stop by the office to review the prospective campaign and annual fund donor list, providing the type of information that fundraisers and development staff find invaluable when building an effective program:

“These individuals should be asked for more.”

“These families have to be approached by the Rector.”

“This family is my next-door neighbor, let me talk to them.”

This kind of collaboration will always lead to a healthier database and often more fully involved parish members. Beyond the membership directory and donor lists, other potential donors who are lapsed, or are not official “members,” could be identified as prospects who have a strong affinity to the work of the parish and could demonstrate a higher likelihood to support the mission.

If your parish is facing a similar issue, it’s important to know that it’s never too late to maximize your database. Trusting your own data, and how you use that data, can make a world of a difference so that you can continue outreach with confidence. Once you have a system established to review your data, you can begin to focus on maximizing features you are paying for in your chosen database.

Four Ways to Start Maximizing Your Database’s Potential

  1. Form a committee to review and audit the membership directory and contact lists annually. This can start with your welcome committee and be supported by your ministry programs and clergy.
  2. Take the time to learn about your database. What are the strengths and weaknesses? What features does the database have that could replace intensive and timely manual work your staff is doing? (e.g., producing mail lists, segmentation of annual fund donors, integration with online church directory systems).
  3. Invest in staff and volunteer training, and budget this training annually. Database features are always improving, sometimes because of scheduled maintenance and other times because you asked for a new feature.
  4. Document your best practices. If the features of the database don’t exactly meet your objectives, find a work around, and document those processes so in the case of turnover, nothing gets lost in the transition.

Information is always changing, but having a plan in place to review and update your data, and investing the time to learn your database can be the difference between meeting fundraising goals and exceeding them. While the data doesn’t update itself, allow your database to help you reach your full potential.

More Insights


Perspectives on Philanthropy | Giving USA 2023

June 20, 2023 | 12PM ET / 9AM PT

Join CCS Fundraising, in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, for Perspectives on Philanthropy 2023, a webinar marking the release of Giving USA 2023: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.


Revolutionizing Fundraising Part I: Six Ways AI is Transforming the Nonprofit Sector

April 24, 2023

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making waves across industries, and the world of fundraising is no exception. So how can you leverage the power of data to raise dollars?

SEE ALL IN: Episcopal

How do you make the best decisions on how to prioritize your team’s valuable (and limited) time and resources to maximize your effectiveness in cultivating and closing major gifts?

Sharpen your focus on those who have the greatest capacity to give and make sure you are working with your top and most obvious donors first when prioritizing your valuable time. While a seven-figure prospect who has not responded to repeated outreach may still be a long-term relationship to pursue for many reasons, a consistent five-figure donor who is not yet giving at their seven-figure capacity may be a higher current priority for your organization.

Fortunately, data can inform how to segment donors into short, medium, and long-term focus. Examining the intersection between Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value (“RFM”) and wealth screening is the simplest way to start narrowing your prospect pool to focus on those who are both closest to you and have capacity. When those very basic results are combined with relationship mapping and engagement analysis, they form the foundation of a strong plan to increase major gifts.

RFM: What is it and why would we do it?

A Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value (“RFM”) analysis is the scoring of current donors to rank and prioritize your database through three attributes: recency, frequency, and volume of giving. It can help you answer many questions, including: Who has given recently and is with you right now? Who has given over time and demonstrated loyalty to your cause? Who are your top lifetime givers?

Questions to Answer

Before getting started on your analysis, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would I like to measure total lifetime giving or total giving within the past certain number of years (e.g. the last 10 years)? This will inform how you set up your RFM key, described in the guide.
  • Do I have enough information about each donor to complete the analysis? You will need name, database ID, the date of their last gift, the number of times that they have given (lifetime or within the time frame you decided), and the amount of their giving (lifetime or within the time frame you decided). 
  • Who will I use to screen my data? There are many vendors; which one you use is less important than knowing that you are aiming to focus on those closest to you with identified capacity and knowing that using publicly available data is one helpful tool to inform that decision.

How to Perform an RFM Analysis

You have followed along and may be wondering, how exactly does one perform an RFM analysis? Jessica Roberts, Assistant Vice President of Data Analytics at CCS, can help! Jessica has used advanced analytics to advance nonprofit fundraising for over 15 years and has put together a step-by-step guide here: How to Perform an RFM Analysis. For questions about the process or donor analytics more broadly, contact Jessica and CCS’s Data Analytics Team at

Wealth Screening: Another Tool in the Quiver

There are many vendors who can screen your data for pennies per name, and many organizations already have access to built-in screening through database subscriptions. While wealth screening is not perfect (every screening turns up a million-dollar donor with low identified giving capacity), it can be very directionally important. The consistent $1,000 donor who gave last year with a capacity to give $1M+ that you never thought about is one ideal outcome of this exercise for short-term focus. Those who screen as high capacity but have limited giving history or are currently unassigned to a portfolio can be reviewed for relationship mapping or discovery meetings to advance long-term goals.

Other Recommendations

  • Whether you have 50 front-line fundraisers or are a one-person show, there is some number of people that you can realistically connect with each quarter. Determine your unique number, and create filters in an excel spreadsheet that contains your RFM and wealth screening results to exclude lower capacity and lower RFM scores until you get there.
  • We have found that the most robust results of an RFM analysis occur when they are used to inform community engagement and donor request strategies.
  • Having clean data is important. Performing an RFM analysis could be an excellent opportunity to organize and update your data to maximize the accuracy of your results.
  • Harness the power of your data by asking yourself, “What do I want to know about donor behavior?” Your questions can likely be answered by increasing data gathering and exploring advanced tools for data-driven fundraising solutions.

How can we help you?

CCS offers an array of Data Analytics services to help nonprofit organizations reach their full fundraising potential.