How Affinity-Based Fundraising Is Changing Everything
Everyone knows the two main things you consider when you’re fundraising, right? Numbers and intent. You have to get your numbers up because such a small percentage of prospective donors convert and only 20% of first-time donors ever give again.
You also have to understand donor intent so you can know who is most likely to give right now.
This isn’t wrong, but it’s incomplete.
Don’t get me wrong, you can’t fundraise in an empty room, and you do need to understand how likely it is at any given moment that your donors and potential donors are going to be ready to give.
But there’s a crucial third leg to fundraising, and that’s affinity.
Where intent can give you a clear snapshot of someone’s thoughts and feelings in a given moment, affinity helps you see who they are and what they care about for the long haul. It’s a much more nuanced understanding of someone’s needs, wants, preferences and behaviors. Instead of looking at broad-strokes behaviors, like recent purchases, it considers the underlying profile and motivations of donors.
You determine affinity by looking much deeper into highly-detailed information than you do with intent. Instead of looking at individual actions that might indicate an intent to donate, you look at both demographics, and patterns of actions and habits that indicate what a person is likely to do over time and in many different situations.
It’s a completely unprecedented depth of dimensionality — the likes of which you really couldn’t ever do at scale before. While you might have a really fantastic fundraising director who knew some of your donors well enough to predict how they were likely to behave, there’s no way you could do that at the same scale as modern technology allows, much less with prospects you’ve never met.
With this new level of insight, you are allowed to get inside your donors’ heads — and hearts — so you can approach them with campaigns tailored to meet them where they are. And where it gets really fun is when you use affinity-based targeting to analyze your existing donors and develop profiles of your different givers, apply that to a pool of prospects, and see who has the highest degree of similarity with those profiles. Then you can focus your outreach on them, knowing what they’re most likely to respond to.
Now, when you have the ability to know your donors at this level, you can also take a much more proactive stance in nurturing them into higher giving tiers. After all, now you know what they care about, what motivates them, their capacity to give, and what behaviors they’re most likely to take before and after giving. So, you can tailor your stewardship to match that.
Long story short: Affinity-based targeting lets you get more donations out of fewer people (because you’re able to target your messaging to people who actually want to hear from you), while also increasing donor retention.
It’s really a win-win. But how do you actually implement this? With fundraising artificial intelligence (AI).
Fundraising AI allows you to meaningfully interact with the kinds of datasets that have both the size and dimensionality for determining affinity. Without it, it’s really tough to be able to extract this kind of deep understanding. (At least, not without a team of data scientists and a big chunk of time.)
Here’s the really cool part though: While fundraising AI might sound like a brand new innovation, it’s actually been around for a long time. However, up until recently, it was only accessible by the big players — those who had millions to spend on data collection and analysis.
Now, it’s completely shifting the nonprofit landscape. This incredibly powerful tool lets even the smallest organizations access the kinds of insights into their donors and potential donors that make hyper-targeted, highly aligned fundraising not only possible, but easy.
Affinity-focused, AI-driven fundraising is the future. And just like with Facebook ads and Google Analytics, those early adopters will reap the rewards.