My introduction to “wealth screening” was in 1997. I was providing in-depth prospect research to my second client in the business, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston. The chief development officer (CDO) was Mark Kostegan (now at Mount Sinai Health System). Mark and I worked out a plan where I would segment the best prospects from their wealth screening and provide in-depth research for cultivation.
Their screening vendor was CDA/Investnet. CDA screened MEEI’s prospects for stock holdings. That was it. No real estate, business ownership, boards, philanthropic ratings – or any of the stuff that we now take for granted and expect from any screening. The Boston rep for Thompson was Dave Manuel (now a partner at AlumiSync).
Fast forward four years and I was introduced to WealthEngineTM.
In 2001, Mark Kostegan (remember the guy at MEEI?) was the CDO at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Mark asked me to do a prospect research plan for Joslin. An core recommendation in the plan, was to begin wealth screening patients to help them build a stronger Grateful Patient Program (GPP).
There were a handful of screening vendors by that time — offering much more than stock matches. They were matching real estate, business ownership and other wealth and philanthropic data. Most important, they were offering ratings and scores for philanthropy.
WealthEngine had developed a “DM” (Direct Marketing) score – now known as P2G (Propensity to Give). They screened hundreds of thousands of donors, from across the country, who they knew the donors gave at the highest personal level to charity. They then ran analytics to find correlations with matches in WealthEngine databases. It was simple and brilliant. The cream rose to the top.
After comparing all the vendors, it was clear that this young startup – WealthEngineTM – was emerging as the top vendor in a fledgling industry.
I then looked at two ways to purchase WealthEngineTM for Joslin. Directly from WealthEngineTM, or through a partner in Chicago, Grenzebach Glier & Associates. My final recommendation was to go with the GGA partnership. GGA was a well-respected development consulting firm with a long track record. WealthEngineTM was a start-up, with about a year under its belt. We went with the established partner.
Dan Lowman was “the guy’ at GG&A and Bill Tedesco was CEO, and “the guy”, at WealthEngineTM. Dan could not make it to Boston for delivery of Joslin’s test file and final sales presentation, because he had a delivery in Chicago (his wife was having a baby). Bill Tedesco hopped on a plane and gave an award-winning presentation to the Joslin team and myself. The deal was sealed before Bill left for the airport.
I submitted Joslin’s first screening to WealthEngine and was eager to dive into the results, weeks later. Today, the turnaround time is a few minutes! The deliverable was a Microsoft Access database file, with a template called Access Manager. Being a big fan of Access, I loved it and still kind of miss it.
The first thing that I did, was filter by DM scores and sort the results by estimated giving capacity. That brought three guys named Thomas Lee to the top of the pile. I knew there was a strong probability that one of them was the billionaire venture capitalist, Thomas H. Lee, but unlikely that all three were.
This was my introduction to the – now commonplace – world of screening validation.
After getting rid of bad matches, I had validated my first records – but had no way to mark these records as validated (which Bill and I called “cleared” at the time). I asked Bill if WealthEngine could add a button to allow me to mark records as cleared, so that we could easily filter those records. A few days later, a new Access Manger arrived – with the shiny new “Cleared” button. Things were much simpler in those days and WealthEngine had only six employees. Thus, began a long and enduring friendship with Bill Tedesco and my entry into the WealthEngine family.
The biggest thing that I have learned on this journey, is that relationships matter.
Mark Kostegan has gone on to be one of the top fundraisers in the country. As the head of philanthropy at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, he and his team have raised billions for an incredible institution. Mark remains a good friend and client. I was honored to assist Mark with prospect research planning at Mount Sinai and helped him recruit a top-notch head of prospect research to revitalize the department.
Bill Tedesco mentored me and became a good friend during my early years with WealthEngine. He taught me how to get into the “back end” of the Access Manager (screening delivery MS Access template) and do some game changing stuff for my clients.
I began making product improvement suggestions to Bill and have remained very active in product discussions through the years. Today, I participate in the product council at WealthEngine and passionately advocate for improvements to better serve the needs of our non-profit clients. I consider this a unique honor because I am not an executive with WealthEngine – but everyone (I think) values our partnership and my input.
During my early years, working with WealthEngine, I developed a strong working relationship with Tony Glowacki, the CEO until 2015. Tony was a real nuts and bolts CEO. He dug into both the geek” side and the marketing side of the company. We bonded over a mutual love for sailing.
In 2004, Bill asked me to become a partner (reseller of WealthEngine).
Three years later, he left the company and started a competing firm, DonorSearch. We compete now – but I consider Bill a good friend and a mentor, who taught me so much about the world of wealth screening. He is also one of the best salesmen I have ever met. Which makes competing a challenge!
Bill and I are known to share some top shelf Scotch together, while competing for clients at various conferences.
Dave Manuel worked at Blackbaud for a while, after CDA. He joined WealthEngine as Director of Sales before co-founding AlumniFinder.
Dan Lowman is still a mainstay at GG&A in Chicago.
Tony Glowacki has retired from day to day operation of WealthEngine. He continues to manage his private investments and has spent time traveling in Europe recently.
Bill, Dave, Dan and Tony are icons and pioneers in the wealth data industry. Mark is a super star in the fundraising industry. I have learned from each of them and am incredibly fortunate and honored to count them among my good friends on this journey. We have all rowed together and I, for one, have enjoyed the ride! – Dave Chase, CEO