Marketing Analytics: Putting More Than a Face on Your Donors
I used to love playing with Mr. Potato Head. With every new nose, lips or eyes, hair and ears, hands or feet, I seemingly created a new character—each one a bit different than the others. But behind all those interchangeable features, he was still just a potato.
In some strange way I feel that a lot of direct response fundraisers have a similar view of the individuals who make contributions to their organizations. Direct response fundraisers, by and large, are still creating personas for donors based on basic elements of their giving (amount of their gift, number of gifts, and the date of the last gift), and when there is a change to one of those elements, they put a new face on the individual—but beneath it all, it’s still just a donor.
But unlike Mr. Potato Head, who will sadly always be a potato (not saying anything is wrong with that), people who support charitable organizations have the potential to become far more than just a donor. Thanks to the evolution of digital philanthropy and the rise of marketing intelligence and advanced analytics in fundraising, far greater insights into consumer giving behavior, interests, attitudes and preferences can be harvested. Fundraisers can now become more acquainted with the diverse characteristics of individuals who support their organizations, rather than simply lumping them into the category of “donors.”
Escalating fundraising costs, eroding performance metrics, increasing competition—for external market share and/or for internal investment dollars—and changing behaviors of donors are forcing organizations to change business strategies. Chief development officers, who are managing diverse portfolios of giving programs, are challenged to not only tune each program individually, but to deliver a more effective solution to optimize budgets and deploy depleting resources across the entire program portfolio to meet revenue growth goals.
To achieve these objectives they are demanding:
- Improved fundraising efficiency: doing more with the same or, too often, doing more with less.
- More relevant engagements: understanding more about your prospects and donors so to help establish an improved connection/relationship.
- A more effective contact management solution: determining the right number of contacts per donor, frequency of contacts, and how to balance long-term cultivation with short-term fundraising needs.
- Greater understanding and management of donor preferences: which channels do your prospects and donors prefer, how do they wish to be engaged, what does their ideal engagement look like?
The velocity at which data is being created, coupled with the ability to capture, store and utilize that information (more data crosses the Internet every second than was stored on the entire internet 20 years ago), gives fundraisers more access to pertinent information at the individual level than ever before. In the past, it would have been nearly impossible for fundraisers to imagine amassing such information at the donor level, much less at the prospect level.
Thanks to the growing use of digital and the continued evolution of technology, we can now methodically sift through large volumes of demographic, engagement and donor behavior data to make decisions about specific donor segments and, where possible, about individually named donors. Marketing analytics is used to support these activities, and is therefore playing a lead role in how nonprofits measure, predict, attribute and optimize their solutions to maximize the impact of all this information on their fundraising expenditures across multiple channels.
From a practical standpoint, this means as direct response fundraisers we now have the:
- Ability to better understand a person’s connection or affinity to the organization and/or cause and an understanding of the type of experience/relationship they are seeking
- Insights necessary to better align fundraising offers and presentation of needs to the specific interests and preferences of individual donors and prospects
- Framework by which to develop a more effective contact management solution—timing, frequency, method of contacts, preferred media and better insight into when to ask for money or when to cultivate for larger gifts
- Ability to create, develop and deliver the most rewarding experience for the donors, which in turn leads to an increased overall satisfaction with the organization, ultimately manifesting into greater overall giving to the organization
Take it from Mr. Potato Head, and remember that beneath all those gifts is more than just a donor. They are individual people that have chosen to support your organization for one reason or another. Take time to find out why and get to know them, directly or indirectly, and it will be a more rewarding experience for you both!