Making the Most of Donor Data in Current Campaigns

As a fundraising professional, you know your nonprofit has a sizable amount of donor data stored in your constituent relationship management (CRM) database. From demographic information to donors’ giving histories, you’ve been keeping track of your donors and diligently logging their information throughout past fundraising efforts. 

But to improve your organization’s current fundraising campaigns, you have to do more than just stash away donor data. By assessing and analyzing archived donor data, you reveal opportunities to improve your fundraising strategy moving forward. 

Chances are, with the disruptions brought on by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or more urgent daily tasks on your plate, you’ve let your data management strategies fall by the wayside. We’ve compiled four top tips to revamp your strategy, make the most of your donor data, and improve your fundraising efforts. We’ll explore how to: 

Here at DNL Omnimedia, we work with nonprofits every day to help streamline and improve their data management practices for more effective fundraising. By taking a refreshed approach to data management and prioritizing donor relationships, we’ve seen organizations successfully turn their fundraising efforts around and raise more for their missions. Let’s take a closer look at each tip!

Foster donor relationships more effectively using segmentation

If you’ve ever attempted to look at your donor data as a whole and pick out trends or insights, you probably realized that doesn’t get you very far. Spending hours parsing through a massive database is a frustrating, inefficient experience that probably just left you with a headache, rather than the actionable steps you desired. 

Therefore, it’s important to practice donor segmentation. Donor segmentation is the process of grouping donors based on shared characteristics to adjust your fundraising strategy to appeal to their preferences. 

To get started, there are a few different ways you can choose to segment your donor data. DNL OmniMedia’s donor segmentation guide offers the following segment ideas to make sense of your data:

  • Engagement type: Your donors don’t all engage with your organization in the same way. Perhaps one group gives to peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaigns, another group prefers annual giving events, and a third group contributes to your monthly giving program. Segmenting donors by engagement type unveils the best avenues to engage each set going forward. For instance, you can focus event promotion efforts on a segment of donors who have previously given at annual giving events.
  • Demographics: There’s likely some variety in your donor demographics, such as donor ages, locations, and genders. Creating donor groups based on shared demographics allows you to appeal to each group with communications that match their interests. For instance, younger donors may prefer communicating with your nonprofit via social media, while older donors may prefer phone or email messages.
  • Social and business relationships: Your nonprofit CRM can track donors’ social relationships as well as employment status. You may have several donors from the same family, and creating these segments helps you identify other family members or their friends to reach out to who may also be interested in giving to your mission. Additionally, by gathering donors’ employment information, you can identify their eligibility for corporate matching gift programs. Match-eligible donors can begin the matching gift process and maximize the impact of their singular donations.

Reflect on your goals to decide how you’d like to segment your donors. Ask yourself, what groups will be most effective for your current campaigns? 

Perhaps your current campaign involves online fundraising efforts, and you want to use your data to identify the best virtual channels to connect with donors. Or, you may want to reengage lapsed donors to boost current campaigns and use your data to reference their giving history in your communications with them. 

For whatever type of campaign you’re presently involved in, align your donor segments to your fundraising goals to make the most of the data you already have at your fingertips.

Strengthen donor stewardship to improve retention

Your donor data can be used for more than fundraising purposes. By staying in touch with donors year-round, you strengthen relationships with those donors. This process is called donor stewardship, and it can improve the effectiveness of current and future campaigns alike.

Qgiv’s guide to donor stewardship defines the concept as “the relationship-building and communications that take place after [a] gift has been received.” When you clearly demonstrate the impact of donor contributions and frequently express your gratitude, donors are more likely to stick with your nonprofit because they’re more deeply invested in your organization’s success. This process leads to longer-lasting support from donors when compared to if you were to only contact them when seeking donations.

You can use your donor database to improve your stewardship efforts in a few different ways. For example, be sure to:

  • Use donors’ preferred names in all communications. Ensure this information is updated in your CRM to use in all current and future communications. The more you get to know your donors, the stronger your relationship will be and the more willing donors will be to stay involved in your fundraising campaigns. 
  • Express gratitude to donors. Each time a donor makes a contribution, they must receive a thank-you message from your organization. This guide has templates for all types of organizations to use to thank their donors. But beyond thank-you letters, use your donor data to go above and beyond with appreciation efforts. For example, segment your data to identify major donors and create special outreach initiatives for these donors, such as a virtual appreciation event or a personal phone or video call. 
  • Focus communications on impact. Once donors give to a campaign, they want and deserve to know how their contributions made a difference in helping to reach your goal. Use your donor database to identify different donor groups to send specific project updates. For instance, let’s say your nonprofit is focused on bringing clean water to underserved populations. Create a segment for communications to your monthly donors and share with them how their recurring donations allow your nonprofit to provide clean water to a different town or village each month. 

With specific stewardship efforts for each of your donor segments, you foster better relationships with donors and help your nonprofit improve its retention rates for current and future campaigns. Think of opportunities to connect with your donors year-round to improve your long-term strategy.

Identify prospective major donors

Another way to maximize your donor data is to identify past donors with characteristics that signify potential willingness and ability to donate a major gift. By pinpointing prospective major donors with these characteristics, you can reach out to secure support for your current fundraising goals. 

Parse through your donor data to identify:

  • Wealth indicators: These indicators include information about real estate holdings, business affiliations, and other wealth-related markers that provide clues about a donor’s capacity to give a more substantial gift. 
  • Philanthropic affiliations: Identify prospective donors’ past giving history to see if your mission or cause is aligned with their values. If donors have made several contributions to nonprofits like yours in the past, it’s a good indicator of their affinity for your cause. 

Major donors play a vital role in helping you meet and even exceed your current fundraising goals. Create a segment for prospective major donors to start the process of asking for a substantial gift, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Use accurate information to make the right ask

As a fundraising professional, you know that asking for gifts is a delicate process that requires a deliberate and strategic approach. You don’t want to confuse donors who make regular $100 gifts to your organization by asking them for $10,000. On the other hand, you don’t want to insult a donor who just contributed $10,000 to your organization by asking for a $100 donation immediately after they gave this sizable gift to your organization. 

When it comes to major gifts especially, it’s important to be strategic in communications with prospective donors. Their gifts make up the bulk of your organization’s fundraising, and without a strategy in place, you’ll miss out on critical funding opportunities. 

Your donor database can help by refining your approach to moves management. The moves management process involves tracking every touchpoint with a major gift prospect, from the time you first make contact with them to when your organization eventually receives a gift from them, for strategic relationship-building.

Your donor database assists in this process by letting you:

  • Keep track of where each prospective donor is in the donor lifecycle. Organize your communications with major donors in your database to thoughtfully introduce them to your cause and gently guide them toward your eventual ask. It would be a major faux-pas to lose track of where a donor is in the process and accidentally send your gift request before they’ve expressed adequate interest.
  • Identify the right gift amount to request from each donor. Use wealth indicators and past giving history to pin down specific donation requests for each prospective major donor. For example, let’s say you have a donor who’s given frequently to your organization over the years. This donor has major real estate holdings in the area and you know they’re the CEO of a very successful corporation. Additionally, they’ve given to similar organizations in the past. This donor is a key candidate to become a major donor at your nonprofit, so be sure to look into their past giving history to identify the right amount to request. Ensure your ask isn’t outrageously higher than their previous donations but reflects their greater capacity to give. 

The information stashed away in your donor database can identify these new opportunities and allow you to approach your current campaigns with renewed vigor. Your donor database allows you to be prepared while crafting communications with major donors, giving you a greater chance for fundraising success. 

Your database of valuable donor information is one of your most effective tools available to reach your fundraising goals for current and future campaigns. 

These tips are a great place to start, but if your organization has a messy backlog of data or your fundraising team is swamped with other tasks, you may want to consider bringing a nonprofit tech consultant on board. These experts have the background and skills needed to help refine your data management process and train your team on best practices. Good luck!

About the Author: Carl Diesing, Managing Director at DNL OmniMedia

Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.

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