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Case Study

Phi Delta Theta: Securing an Unforeseen Major Gift

For Phi Delta Theta, finding a major gift prospect in any given city used to feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. But now, with the GivingDNA platform, Phi Delta Theta can find local prospective donors in any city within five minutes.


The Challenge

Phi Delta Theta is a fraternity that has been in existence for 175 years. It’s active on 187 campuses, and has 80 alumni clubs across the United States and Canada. With approximately 178,000 living alumni, there are many people who credit Phi Delta Theta with helping them exceed their expectations and become a greater version of themselves. Some of them are prospective major donors, ready to give so future generations can have the same Phi Delta Theta experience. 

The challenge for Phi Delta Theta was to identify who those prospective donors were. Identifying and qualifying prospective major donors can be arduous. 

When planning a trip to Salt Lake City, a Major Gift Officer faced a twofold challenge. First, Phi Delta Theta did not have a large donor community in Salt Lake City, so he could not rely on introductions from existing donors or a cultivation event to meet new prospects organically. Secondly, the prospective donors he was looking for had never given to Phi Delta Theta before, so would need to be converted from nondonors into donors, a significant challenge on its own.

The Potential

As Phi Delta Theta’s Major Gift Officer prepared for his trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, he knew his organization didn’t have many donors there. Instead of seeing that as a negative, he focused on the opportunity. This was a chance to broaden Phi Delta Theta’s major gift prospect pool and identify new individuals who weren’t on his radar, yet, but might be interested in supporting the cause.

Previously, Phi Delta Theta used Salesforce alone to store their data, and sometimes found it time-consuming and frustrating to segment based on specific data points, like location or giving capacity. But now that they were using GivingDNA in addition to Salesforce, things were different. They had the potential to broaden their outreach and ensure that they were speaking to the right people, who have the potential to make a significant impact on their mission.

On this trip to Salt Lake City, instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, the Major Gift Officer could be strategic, prepared, and effective. 



We knew our database contained undiscovered major gift prospects, but wrestling the data was time-consuming and frustrating. GivingDNA makes it easy and efficient to find the right people to approach.


The Solution

To plan his trip, the Major Gift Officer logged into the GivingDNA platform, and used its new opportunity alert segment, “Philanthropic Nondonors.” This segment identifies all the individuals in an organization’s database who have never made a donation to the organization and are actively supporting other nonprofits. These people have some kind of connection to the organization, but aren’t donors, yet.

Then, he used the mapping feature within GivingDNA to focus on Philanthropic Nondonors in the state of Utah, then narrowed down further to Salt Lake and Summit Counties. He also wanted to make sure he was identifying people with the capacity to make a major gift, so he isolated individuals with over $25,000 in predicted discretionary spending in GivingDNA. 

This quickly led him to one prospect, a Philanthropic Nondonor in the area with the appropriate giving capacity. GivingDNA identified that the prospect was phone responsive, so the Major Gift Officer picked up the phone and invited the prospect to have coffee while he was in Utah.



Before GivingDNA, identifying major gift prospects in new areas seemed almost impossible. Now, with GivingDNA, it takes less than five minutes.

The Results

Thanks to the powerful capabilities of the GivingDNA platform, the Major Gift Officer was able to identify and engage his most promising prospect for his trip. While the donor had not previously given to Phi Delta Theta, GivingDNA’s analysis revealed that the individual had donated elsewhere, which suggested that Phi Delta Theta had not effectively engaged them in the past. 

Armed with this knowledge, the Major Gift Officer conducted a review of their engagement strategy and identified ways to improve their approach to this individual. They needed to establish a more personal connection and engage them more deeply in Phi Delta Theta’s mission. 

The meeting was a meaningful personal connection with immediate results: During the meeting the Major Gift Officer secured a generous $10,000 first-time gift, an opportunity that would have been missed without GivingDNA.



The single $10,000 donation could have covered the entire cost of GivingDNA by itself, but the platform has already helped secure multiple times that amount.