How Nonprofits Can Develop More Targeted Fundraising Programs
Fundraising challenges are part of the package for nonprofit marketers: Attrition, converting small donors into major gift donors, growing the donor base and not to mention factors beyond our control that affect giving trends (e.g. economic conditions, the unemployment rate).
The short answer to these challenges is basic and two-fold:
- Run strong stewardship programs to retain current donors and convert small donors into major gift donors.
- Grow your donor base with campaigns that capture the attention of prospective supporters.
Neither are exactly easy tasks. But there’s a way to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of both of these efforts, and every nonprofit organization should be doing it.
Engage and Inspire With Targeted, Data-Driven Outreach
Nonprofit marketers could improve their fundraising programs significantly with targeted, segmented campaigns and personalized content that triggers response based on likes, interests, past behaviors and giving motivation.
Most nonprofit fundraisers already do this in some form as part of stewardship efforts—you most likely have implemented campaigns that segment donors according to past given amounts.
Personalized content is key to engaging new supporters, as well as cultivating relationships with current donors. Information on donor habits and motivations for giving can translate to valuable data that will allow you to group donors with similar characteristics and tailor content and calls-to-action accordingly.
However, many organizations struggle with insufficient data quality or could benefit from data partners and software tools that can affect superior data integration and optimization.
Poor data practices not only limit the effectiveness of fundraising campaigns, they can jeopardize stewardship efforts. What happens when a $500 donor receives an appeal asking for $50? At the least, you’re sabotaging a potentially major gift. At the worst, you’re alienating a valuable constituent by indicating that you don’t know or appreciate them.
Optimize Your Data, Optimize Your Results
The ability to craft truly segmented, targeted campaigns rests on having complete, accurate data. So, assess your data practices and prioritize areas for improvement. Here are a few guiding principles:
Commit to capturing as much information as possible about your existing and prospective donors.
If your donor data files don’t go much beyond geographic information and past amounts given, it’s time to build out your database. Include fields for demographic information, such as birthday, gender, marital status, income and occupation.
Psychographic data, such as beliefs and interests, might be gathered through email or other survey methods. Dig deeper for specifics related to your area. For example, for university programs, can you identify a major? For hospital foundations, can you segment by area of philanthropic interest (which service donors have supported in the past), such as breast cancer care or pediatrics? What about preferred methods of contact, or which channels are most effective?
A word of caution: Stay away from cluttering donation forms (print or online) with extraneous questions. While it’s important to gather accurate, updated contact information, the donation process must be as simple as possible. Save deeper demographic and psychographic questions for other primary data-gathering methods.
Investigate data partners that improve efficiency and accuracy.
There’s no question that implementing segmented appeal campaigns requires a significant investment of time and resources, which are in short supply at many nonprofits. It may be well worth it to partner with a company that specializes in data and fundraising campaign execution. They have the right tools and expertise to analyze and leverage donor data. The right partner can organize data instantly (e.g. connecting a file that includes columns for donors’ previous amounts given with the ask string formula to create a final data file that can accurately populate a variable print run). The entire process can then be automated to save time and resources.
Ensure that data entry is complete and accurate.
It may seem elementary, but avoidable data file errors can definitely compromise the quality of your database. Standard data entry procedures (and adequate staff training on those procedures) should be established and reviewed regularly.
Mark believes in the often-untapped power of data and testing for more effective fundraising. For over 15 years, Frisina has been at the forefront of delivering highly targeted, data-driven direct response programs for a wide array of organizations. As VP of Strata Company, his efforts have helped numerous clients reach more of the right people the right way, generating higher response rates and a greater return on investment. Mark received an MBA in marketing from Villanova University and when he’s not in the office, you can find him out on the golf course or cheering on his favorite sports teams.