Make the Most Out of Your Donor Data: 4 Tips
As a nonprofit professional, you understand that donors are the most important people to your organization. Throughout it all, without the support of your donors, you wouldn’t have the influence and funds necessary to make an impact for your cause.
In order to stay in donors’ good graces and keep them giving to your organization, you have to actively engage them and work hard to develop positive relationships. The easiest way to do this is simply getting to know your donors.
However, it isn’t enough to just keep a mental note of who is who. A growing nonprofit needs to invest in online donation software that can record relevant donor data. The better you know your constituents, the better your relationships will become. Once you have this database, you can personalize the giving process for each donor, making them feel truly valued and appreciated.
A solid, dependable donor for your cause is crucial and provides consistent support for the long run. Make a conscious effort to know your donors better and use this information to create more meaningful engagements. To get the most out of your database, learn to leverage your donor data by following these practices:
- Centralize your data between fundraising tools.
- Make the right fundraising ask to the right donors.
- Personalize donor communications.
- Identify potential donors.
Donors give for many reasons, so it’s smart to take the time to understand why. It’s common knowledge in the fundraising world now that retaining donors is more effective than attracting new ones. Develop those donor relationships and keep up that consistent support with our tips. Let’s begin.
Centralize Data Between Fundraising Tools
The first step in leveraging your donor data is to integrate your tools. You already know that having a dedicated donor database is necessary for a growing nonprofit. This is also called your constituent relationship (CRM) system, a centralized location where you can create donor profiles, compile reports and more.
But what does integration mean anyway? As you expand your nonprofit tech toolkit, you’ll soon realize that you need more fundraising tools as your donor pool and processes expand. How can your team juggle all the data from your online donation form, your event registration page and your email marketing strategy?
Some CRM systems have wide integration capabilities and can connect with a multitude of different online fundraising solutions. For example, Salesforce is one of the most popular CRM systems that nonprofits use because of their well-established list of integration opportunities with other commonly used donation tools in their Salesforce AppExchange. If your nonprofit uses Salesforce, DonorSearch can walk you through some top apps with integration capability.
Once you integrate your various tools with your CRM, all the data from the various fundraising processes will centralize in your donor database. This way, you have fully established donor profiles for each of your constituents, containing recent donation details, event attendance metrics, communication preferences and more. With all your of your fundraising data in one place, you:
- Reduce the risk of errors and duplication.
- Can easily access data wherever you are.
- Automate customized reports to gauge your processes.
Here’s a hot tip: Make sure your fundraising tools and CRM system have integration capabilities. If not, you risk your team wasting time on a lengthy data transfer process.
Personalize Donor Communications
With your fundraising tools integrated, leverage your donor data for your nonprofit’s campaigns and strategies. Specifically, marketing strategies can be immensely elevated when your communications tools are integrated with your CRM system.
Donors don’t usually put too much thought into emails and letters that aren’t talking directly to them. Most nonprofits will at least include the donor’s names, but with your CRM integrated with your email tool, you can pull other relevant details from your donor database. For example, include the donor’s specific gift amount when thanking them!
Additionally, you can segment your audience based on their donor details for more targeted, individualized communication. This way you can focus in on a specific audience and only send that audience relevant emails.
Check out Doubleknot’s donor segmentation cheat sheet or, for a quick reference, here are some common ways to segment your donors:
- Basic demographics. Using your CRM, segment your donors based on demographics like location, age or gender. For example, say you’re hosting a fundraising event in a specific city targeted to younger donors. Send out your marketing materials to those only living in that area and to your more youthful supporters.
- Giving preferences. Say you want to send gift reminders to supporters who are recurring donors. Segment your donors by giving preference and only send relevant reminder emails to those who are consistent givers.
- Communication preferences. Many donors may not want to get certain emails or other communications. Make sure your CRM has each donor’s communication preferences so that you aren’t sending them things they actively don’t want.
- Engagement history. Depending on your tools, you can track a donor’s engagement like how often they volunteer, attend events and so on. You can use this information to learn more about your donors and use that in your communications. For example, if they are a regular volunteer, maybe send them other volunteer opportunities that are similar!
All your fundraising communications should feel like they’re speaking to a specific donor. With your communications tool and CRM system integrated, you can automate this process and send out more personalized content and help develop positive relationships.
Make the Right Fundraising Ask to the Right Donors
With a robust and comprehensive database of donor data, you can identify high impact donors. High impact donors usually refer to those who make major gifts. Major gifts are the largest gifts that a nonprofit will receive. Over 88% of donation revenue comes from just 12% of donors — your major donors.
Major donors are incredibly valuable to nonprofits and can be identified using prospect research. Prospect research is a fundraising technique of gathering relevant information about potential high-impact donors, involving personal backgrounds, past giving histories, wealth markers and philanthropic indicators.
Using this research, you can then evaluate a donor’s giving affinity (how likely they are to donate) and a donor’s giving ability (how likely they have the funds to give). Invest in prospect research tools to understand your donors:
- Giving affinity: To figure out a donor’s giving affinity, prospect research tools look at the donor’s philanthropic indicators. This includes previous donations to your nonprofit, donations to other nonprofits and involvement in other charitable organizations.
- Giving ability: To figure out a donor’s giving ability, prospect research tools look at the donor’s wealth markers. This includes real estate ownership, business affiliations, political giving habits and SEC transactions.
Prospect research tools are becoming more advanced than ever, integrating with your CRM system, so you can automate some of these processes using existing donor data. Some prospect research tools will even take advantage of artificial intelligence nonprofit software to help determine donors with high potential.
With capable prospect research tools, you can solicit donations from donors who have a large chance of making a meaningful impact on your nonprofit. Know which donors to focus your major gift marketing strategy on and ensure you’re making the right fundraising ask to the right donors.
Identify and Attract Potential Donors
Using your existing donor data, you can also identify and attract potential donors. This can take some time, but the more you learn about your current supporters, the better you can figure out the type of donors who tend to support your mission.
Take a step back and look at your most engaging donors in your CRM. The more fleshed out your donor profiles are, the better you can get a sense of where to find new donors. For example, ask yourself these questions:
- What social media platforms are your current donors most active? If your donors are extremely active on Twitter, it might make sense to focus on developing your nonprofit’s Twitter profile and start engaging with your constituents there.
- Do you have a large volunteer base? Comb through your current volunteers and see if any of them aren’t also active donors. They already support you, so it might make sense to also do a fundraising ask!
- Are a lot of your donors working for the same employer? This could lead to many potential opportunities involving corporate giving programs, as well as finding other supporters with similar values. If you don’t know what corporate giving programs entail, read this.
Asking questions like this gives you a sense of where you might find potential supporters with similar values. These are the people who are most likely to become donors.
Where would your nonprofit be without your donors and dedicated supporters? Make sure you have the resources to store your fundraising data and take time getting to know your donors. With dependable fundraising tools, there are a number of ways to use this donor data to not only develop donor relationships, but identify potential donors.
Sarah Tedesco is the EVP of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.