An abundance of moving parts comes into play each time you plan fundraising campaigns for your nonprofit. You must figure out your goals, determine which tools and solutions you’ll leverage, reach out to the right people, and push your campaign across the finish line. All in all, these campaigns can be tricky to plan and execute successfully.
If you don’t know where to start when planning your next fundraising campaign, you already have access to a valuable resource that can reveal a lot about how you should carry out future initiatives: your donor data.
The data you’ve collected on donors over the years runs the gamut, from their communication preferences to their giving frequency and history of involvement. Don’t just stuff this information in a dusty attic, never to be seen again! Take what you’ve learned and apply it to future campaigns to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
Here are several effective ways to use donor data to improve your fundraising campaigns:
- Collect donor data using your online giving page.
- Use your nonprofit CRM to centralize and sort donor data.
- Practice audience segmentation.
- Reach out to prospective major donors.
To make the most of your donor data, your organization needs access to a variety of tools — a constituent relationship management (CRM) system, marketing platform, and online fundraising platform are just a few. As we walk through each tip, we’ll dive more into how these tools can support a data-driven fundraising strategy.
Proper data collection is the first step in harnessing the power of your data to improve your campaigns. One of your organization’s most important tools to capture supporter information is your digital fundraising platform.
If your organization doesn’t already have an online fundraising platform, Donately recommends finding a solution that allows you to gather donor data using your digital donation forms. Robust fundraising platforms allow you to funnel data from your giving form to a centralized dashboard where you can view donor insights about your entire supporter base.
This feature grants you access to readily available donor information such as:
- Who your most active donors are
- What the most popular donation amount is
- The effectiveness of a specific fundraising or marketing campaign
- The most popular times of the day or days of the week for donating
Then, you can use this information to plan your fundraising efforts. For example, let’s say your most popular giving amount is $20. For your next fundraising campaign, offer suggested giving amounts of $20, $50, and $100 to give supporters a benchmark for how much they should give.
Or, perhaps you discover your most popular days for donations are Thursdays. For your next campaign, you should publish your most important or informative social media posts on Thursdays.
Once people land on your giving page, inspire them to follow through and share their information by ensuring your donation page offers a secure giving process with the help of a powerful donation processing tool. Be sure to look for an online donation tool that’s built with nonprofits in mind and can accept a variety of payment methods to make the giving process as convenient as possible.
With a comprehensive online fundraising platform, you’ll not only be able to efficiently gather donor data, but you’ll also be able to offer supporters a secure, professional donation process.
Your nonprofit’s CRM is another essential tool for centralizing and reviewing donor data. This system allows you to record interactions with supporters, plan outreach campaigns, and review your fundraising progress through detailed reports.
As Bloomerang’s nonprofit CRM overview states, your CRM will record data such as:
- Basic donor information like contact information, addresses, and names.
- Information on donors’ past involvement with your organization, including donation history, volunteer experience, and event attendance.
You can gather this information using website forms such as your digital donation page, volunteer registration page, or email newsletter sign-up form.
As you accumulate these data points, you’ll need a way to keep them organized in your CRM system. Using proper data hygiene practices upfront ensures that when it comes time to plan future campaigns, your donor data is updated and readily available. These practices include:
- Regularly auditing your database to determine inconsistencies, such as misspelled names or outdated addresses.
- Eliminating errors, like duplicate entries.
- Standardizing data entry procedures, such as determining guidelines for abbreviations and street addresses.
With these data management procedures in place, your team will be able to confidently craft a fundraising plan for future campaigns because they will know that your data is clean and accurate. You’ll also be able to see a greater return on your investment because you’ll only reach out to active and accurate email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses.
Your donor data reveals valuable insights about your donors’ interests, values, and preferences. Through website forms, surveys, and personal interactions, your organization gathers information on its donors all the time. When you store these details in your CRM, you can then use this information to group donors based on shared characteristics in a process called donor segmentation.
As you evaluate your organization’s donor data, look for patterns and trends. For instance, you might create audience segments based on donors’:
- Demographics: Creating groups based on demographic characteristics such as age or geographic location allows you to speak to each group in ways that are relevant to them. For instance, you might send an email or direct mail appeal to your older audience members, while younger supporters may likely be more receptive to social media outreach.
- Engagement type: Many of your donors aren’t just monetary supporters. They’re also volunteers, peer-to-peer fundraisers, board members, and advocates for your cause. By dividing supporters based on engagement type, you can send each group appeals that they’re more likely to engage with. For example, you can send volunteer opportunities to your volunteer group and lobbying opportunities to your advocates.
- Engagement frequency: Not all donors give regularly, or even more than once. Your organization likely has donors that run the frequency gamut, including monthly, yearly, occasional, and one-time donors. By segmenting supporters based on engagement frequency, you can send more personalized messages to each group.
- Matching gift eligibility: When you store information about audience members’ business affiliations, you can also gain access to crucial information about their eligibility for matching gifts. In corporate matching gift programs, businesses match donations that their employees make to nonprofits and other charitable organizations. You can use a matching gift database to determine your match-eligible audience members, create a segment of these individuals, and reach out to them with information on the impact of matching gifts.
Consider your goals for your next marketing or fundraising campaign. How can you create supporter segments that best align with your campaign goals?
For example, perhaps you’re hosting a local fundraising event and planning to send out invitations to audience members. You can create a segment of local donors and send out the invites and driving directions to your event. Then, you can create a segment of donors who live further away and send them the link to your event’s livestream.
With these segmentation techniques, you can craft more personalized, relevant communications for donors. Your supporters will appreciate your efforts to appeal to their interests and take their preferences into account. This can lead to greater engagement with your marketing and fundraising efforts.
Data can also reveal information about individuals who don’t already have an established relationship with your organization. You can use data to get in touch with prospective major donors who have the capacity and willingness to contribute a larger gift to your cause. This process, called prospect research, can give your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts an extra boost with the help of high-impact donations.
To conduct prospect research, your organization can use its internal supporter database along with external sources such as government financial records, nonprofit databases, and social media. As you browse through these sources, look for individuals who exhibit a combination of wealth and affinity indicators:
- Wealth indicators include factors such as stock ownership, real estate ownership, and business affiliations. These characteristics all reveal information about an individual’s wealth, which lets you know if they can contribute a larger gift.
- Affinity indicators are factors that demonstrate that an audience member has a personal connection to your cause and a strong willingness to give. These indicators include having a strong existing relationship with your cause or a history of supporting similar organizations.
Once you’ve identified prospective major donors through the prospect research process, you can start developing relationships with them using deliberate, consistent outreach efforts. Introduce them to your organization and mission, invite them to participate in volunteer events or your annual fundraising auction, and show them how their support can make a major difference for your cause.
Having the support of major donors gives your organization a leg up when it comes time to launch a major fundraising campaign like a capital campaign. Using your data to identify major donor prospects allows you to build these relationships in a natural, genuine way.
As you can see, the supporter data you collect over the years can magnify your future fundraising campaigns. You can assess your most and least effective strategies and move forward with what you know works best for your organization.
Remember, you’ll need a variety of software tools, such as an online fundraising platform, CRM, and matching gift database, to make the most of your donor data research. Be sure to assess your current tools and strategies to determine if you’re using them effectively, and conduct thorough research before investing in any new solutions.
I strive to make every step of our customer journey as enjoyable as possible. My goal is to turn everyone that trusts Donately into a raving fan! Raising funds can be daunting, but we know that with the right tools, it can and should be easy. Throughout my career, I’ve been able to help sales and success teams tackle new markets, grow and expand. Leading with empathy, listening to actually solve problems, and remembering that we are all human are the key elements to growing any business in a meaningful way. When I’m not working you can find me spending time with my wife, 2 boys and our Border Collie, Abbie. Family>Everything.