Okay, time to deliver on my promise to divulge the top 15 predictor variables for propensity to enter a Planned Giving commitment.
Recall the caveat about predictors that I gave for Annual Giving: These variables are specific to the model I created for our institution. Your most powerful predictors will differ. Try to extract these variables from your database for testing, by all means, but don’t limit yourself to what you see here.
In Part 2, I talked about a couple of variables based on patterns of giving. The field of potential variables available in giving history is rich. Keep in mind, however, that these variables will be strongly correlated with each other. If you’re using a simple-score method (adding 1 to an individual’s score for each positively-correlated predictor variable), be careful about using too many of them and exaggerating the importance of past giving. On the other hand, if you use a multiple regression analysis, these related variables will interact with each other – this is fine, but be aware that some of your hard-won variables may be reduced to complete insignificance.
Just another reason to look beyond giving history!
For this year’s Planned Giving propensity model, the predicted value (‘Y’) was a 0/1 binary value: “1” for our existing commitments, “0” for everyone else. (Actually, it was more complicated than that, but I will explain why some other time.)
The population was composed of all living alumni Class of 1990 and older.
The most predictive variables (roughly in order of influence) are listed below. Variables that have a negative correlation are noted N. Note that very few of these variables can be considered continuous (eg. Class Year) or ordinal (survey scale responses). Most are binary (0/1). But ALL are numeric, as required for regression.
- Total lifetime giving
- Number of Homecomings attended
- Response to alumni survey scale question, regarding event attendance
- Number of President’s Receptions attended
- Class Year (N)
- Recency: Gave in the past 3 years
- Holds another degree from another university (from survey)
- Marital status ‘married’
- Prefix is Religious (Rev., etc.) or Justice
- Alumni Survey Engagement score
- Business phone present
- Number of children under 18 (from survey) (N)
Like my list of Annual Giving predictors, this isn’t a full list (and it isn’t 15 either!). These are the most significant predictors which don’t require a lot of explanation.
Note how few of these variables are based on giving – ‘Years of giving’ and ‘Frequency of giving’ don’t even rate. (‘Lifetime giving’ seems to take care of most of the correlation between giving and Planned Giving commitment.) And note how many variables don’t even come from our database: They come from our participation in a national survey for benchmarking of alumni engagement (conducted in March 2009).