What Can You Do With Your Data? Tips and Tricks to Increasing Satisfaction Using Donor Data
If you feel overwhelmed with too many people coming at you with too many new things to try, you’re not alone. This should help you decide what you really need and want … and what you don’t. Let’s go over a few guidelines.
More third-party data about your active donors is a good thing. Using more than one source to learn more about your donors is good. Regularly refreshing the information about your active donors is good.Your active donor file is your greatest asset for near- and long-term support. If all you know about your donors is limited to their interactions with you, you are missing the big picture of how important charitable giving really is to them and how you fit into that picture.
Cooperatives and third-party donor data providers can give you a real-time look at how these donors are contributing in the recent past—all giving within the last 24 months. Why is this important? These donors might have a 25-year lifetime of giving. But now a donor household might have only one living donor—not two—and that person could be infirmed and retired and living on a fixed income. Another donor household might be two people enjoying retirement after selling the family business.
Donors’ recent giving preferences are nicely packaged for you by Target Analytics’s Loyalty Insights and Abacus’ Donor Personas. Whether or not you are one of the donor’s favorite charities can be easily discovered.
Sharing Donor Information
Get over the concern and convince your leadership that sharing information about “your” donors is against donor privacy promises. That isn’t really what is happening here when you go to acquire donor data.
Providers of this data have invested a great deal of resources to qualify and validate the information they
update for every donor household. Anything you have to share is a small addition to what they already know. If you provide a donor household they haven’t already seen multiple times, they ignore it. What you get back about your donors allows you to practice better donor stewardship.
Increasing Donor Satisfaction
Embrace that learning more about your donors makes it possible for you to be a better fundraiser. You can begin to address donors who have different preferences for giving in a way that gives them the most donor satisfaction. I’m a big advocate of using data to direct your efforts to the donors who love you the most and let them decide how much they want to give you and how often they want to give.
Using good active donor data in addition to what you know they like to do with you, you can easily practice some of these tips:
• Plan the timing of your appeals based on which donors are most likely to give to them. You should always separate prior donors for “top treatment” to the appeal you are about to do. Repeat giving behavior can be achieved with the right messaging and ask.
• Suppose you are doing an appeal that is very popular, like a matching gift appeal or an annual fund, but at a different time of year. Subject matter can also be used to find prior responders of these offers. Timing doesn’t always have to coincide with prior appeals.
• Abacus has a Donor Persona called “Holiday Heroes.” Every organization has donors who give between October and December. Organizations, like Salvation Army, Food Banks, etc., understand this seasonal surge in giving. When the “Holiday Hero” tag is applied to your donors, it means these donor households only give at this time of year to everyone else, too. Maximize communications with them at this time of year to inspire the best possible outcome and save your money the rest of the year by sending them newsletters, but
• Recognize and celebrate with each donor on the anniversary of their first gift; it’s an easy thing to do and scores high marks for donor satisfaction and stewardship. An easy thing to personalize is that “today we’re celebrating the (X) years of love and support you’ve provided us!” Who wouldn’t feel special getting this notecard?
• Use your savings from bypassing unsuitable lapsed donors to mail the right lapsed donors more times. You’ll get a better return on the investment. Third-party donor data reveals even more useful information regarding your lapsed donors. While you know these donors haven’t given you a gift in awhile, you don’t know much more without gathering additional information.
The donor data available to you can indicate whether your lapsed donors are still actively giving to others or whether they have been unable to sustain their giving to anyone.
Regardless of last gift size, which influences your wishful thinking, some donors are not likely able to give to you any more (because they are not giving to anyone any more). A good use of this third-party data is to screen out unsuitable lapsed donors and to suppress them from future appeals.
The donor data might reinforce what you know—that a lot of the lapsed donors might be “Holiday Heroes” and that’s your best shot at getting them to give again. If they are still giving to others, it’s time to re-engage with them with mailings that they have responded to in the past and only at times of the year when they have given to you and others.
These tips are simple to follow and will help you yield more from the investments you make by directing communications to the donors willing and able to provide you with the revenues you seek when you need them.
Amergent is a user of third-party data, not a provider. These tips are provided to help everyone become better fundraisers.