6 Steps to Increase Donor Response Through Offer Optimization

As every fundraiser knows, there is no “one size fits all” model for donor communications. This is true of donors to different organizations and just as true of different levels and types of donors to the same nonprofit.

That’s why targeting and optimizing the offer to specific donor segments is so vital. At the DMA Nonprofit Federation’s 2013 Washington Nonprofit Conference last week, three fundraising professionals provided a step-by-step approach to make your data work for you to help send more targeted messages in the session “Donor-Message Matching: Increasing Response Through Offer Optimization.” Here are the six steps provided by presenters Amy Barriale, membership and product manager at the African Wildlife Foundation; John Graves, vice president of Eidolon Communications; and Rebecca Shapalis, client services manager at Production Solutions.

1. Know who your donors are
To create personalized communications you need to know who your donors are, what the fundamental influencers are that encouraged them to join or donate, and what the drivers are for them to remain loyal donors, Barriale said.

Let your data do the work for you. It’s one of the most important factors in the equation. Use your data to segment and unearth who exactly your donors are and what motivates them to give.

2. Prepare your data
Barriale said your database structure needs to support general contact information and giving history, information on key influencing triggers and actions, and organizational interest areas and preferences of your donors. She suggested asking yourself the following:

  • What are the key data points for the organization?
  • How can organizational interest preferences be codified and simplified?
  • By what means should data be collected for the necessary segmentation?
  • How can the data collection process be automated for ease of us and scalability?

Barriale said the African Wildlife Foundation had discrepancies and inconsistencies with its database — everything from struggling to differentiate between online vs. offline donors to communication preferences to a lack of collecting or tracking data on donors and their interests. So AWF embarked on a data restructure by creating standard coding and attributes across the entire organization, and created an online portal for individual management of communication and interest preferences. The result has been better targeted messages and better tracking mechanisms, and AWF plans to refine the process even further.

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