Introduction: Are you Making the Most of Your Nonprofit Gift Data?
In the nonprofit world, November and December can be particularly busy months. Not only are teams working to close out one year and make plans for the year ahead, but they may also be handling an influx of gifts due to the holiday season. According to Blackbaud’s 2021 Charitable Giving Report, December is the largest month for giving, with 20.1% of charitable gifts coming in during this time.
Of course, an increase in gifts is good for organizations. However, teams that already operate with constrained resources may find this time of year particularly challenging. And that means they likely aren’t able to make the most of those gifts. For example, how quickly are gifts acknowledged? Are donations recorded in an organization’s CRM, so communication with supporters can reflect them?
Consider an Example:
An organization hosts a turkey trot 5k on Thanksgiving morning. A supporter registers for the event a month ahead of time and creates a peer-to-peer fundraising page. In addition to the $350 she raises through her friends and family, she gives the organization a check for $150 at the event to meet her fundraising goal of $500.
Due to the high volume of activity during this time of year, it takes the organization several weeks to record offline donations, as well as to import data from its event platform into its main CRM. During that time, the organization launches an online giving campaign. Without receiving acknowledgement for her turkey trot donations, the supporter now receives an email requesting an additional gift.
Imagine how the donor feels – unappreciated, perhaps? With so many options for where people can give, acknowledgement and personalization matter. And while the particularly busy holiday season exacerbates the challenge described in the previous example, the need remains throughout the year.
The Imperative: Data Integration for Nonprofits
Nonprofit organizations need to find ways to save time. They need to gain efficiency to better steward donor dollars. But they can’t afford to sacrifice quality, and they can’t sacrifice their ability to personalize supporter experiences. They need a way to do it all. And data integration is the answer!
Keep reading for an insight-driven discussion of why nonprofits need a data strategy – not only during the busy holiday season, but throughout the entire year. In this blog, we’ll explore factors contributing to the need, including competition, data sprawl, and economic uncertainty.
Competition for Supporters and Funds
According to CauseIQ, there are over 1.8 million nonprofit organizations in the United States, with religious organizations, schools, and foundations comprising about 40%. The sheer number of nonprofits means organizations compete for supporters and funds.
And nonprofits aren’t just competing with each other. Platforms such as GoFundMe have made it easy for anyone to launch a fundraiser, often in response to personal events, for example, illness or job loss.
With so many options, how do individuals choose where to spend their donor dollars? A lot of it comes down to the donor experience. For example, is your organization communicating with donors through their preferred channels? Do you personalize communication based on past activity?
Nonprofit Tech for Good’s Global Trends in Giving Report highlights the variability in donor preferences. According to the report, 33% of US and Canadian donors say that email is the “communication tool that most inspires them to give.” Print, social media, and website come in next at 19%, 18%, and 16%, respectively, with smaller numbers preferring TV and radio ads, phone calls, or text messages.
It is generally agreed upon that a more personalized donor experience increases a supporter’s likelihood of giving – and even the donation amount. However, most nonprofits don’t believe their organization is providing the experience donors expect. According to Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Trends Report (5th Edition), 60% of organizations agree that “donors expect a better experience than our current technology provides.”
Data Sprawl: More Systems House More Data.
To support their fundraising activities as well as the varied preferences of supporters, organizations often implement specialized nonprofit technology, of which there is no shortage of options. According to research conducted by Raymond James in 2022, the number of nonprofit technology platforms have nearly tripled since 2010. Supporting activities such as online donations, email marketing, matching gifts, peer-to-peer fundraising, and volunteer management, examples of these systems include Classy, DonorDrive, Double the Donation, Engaging Networks, EveryAction, FundraiseUp, HubSpot, MailChimp and VolunteerHub.
Research not only highlights the proliferation of these systems, but also their use. A 2021 survey conducted by Omatic revealed that over 80% of nonprofits use four or more systems to collect, manage, and store their data. Unfortunately, these systems are often implemented without a full understanding of the requirements for integration with an organization’s main CRM.
This challenge, and the resulting frustration felt by nonprofit team members, is reflected in Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Trends Report. When asked their level of satisfaction with current technologies, only 34% of nonprofit professionals report being very satisfied with the integration of data sources and systems. The report highlights why this is problematic for organizations:
“Nonprofit leaders said they often have too many systems that don’t integrate with each other (or rely on spreadsheets and manual data entry). This can make it challenging to link donor data to fundraising data to financial data.”
The Costs of Disconnected Data
Disconnected data impacts an organization in both financial and non-financial ways. First, let’s look at the financial costs. NTEN reports:
“It costs an organization $1 to verify a record upon entry, $10 to dedupe and clean data AFTER input, and $100 per bad record if nothing is done.”
As organizations strive to properly steward donor dollars, data errors can hinder their efforts. Other costs are harder to quantify but just as detrimental. These include:
- Wasted time and lost productivity – Wasted time not only comes from manual processes for combining and fixing data, but also because disconnected systems inhibit nonprofit team members’ ability to quickly find the information they need.
- Ineffective decision making – Nonprofits use data strategically to drive a number of decisions, such as what campaigns to run or donors to target. But how are decisions made if nonprofit professionals can’t find the information they need to best inform those decisions? Worse, what happens when the information they do use is inaccurate, incomplete, or stale?
Ultimately, these costs result in missed opportunities for organizations and an erosion of team members’ trust in their organization’s data.
The Pressures of an Uncertain Economy
With inflation rates at their highest levels in ten years, an uncertain economic environment has nonprofits feeling pressure to save resources, increase productivity, and ensure they are making strategic decisions. Organizations can’t afford the financial costs of bad data – or the missed opportunities.
While disconnected data exacerbates the challenges of an uncertain economy, data integration addresses them. By accurately and efficiently integrating data from third-party applications into their main CRM, organizations create a single source of truth that increases productivity and enables strategic decision making.
The COVID-19 pandemic taught nonprofits and businesses alike to expect the unexpected, to make Plans A, B, and C, and to create processes that allow for quick pivots. Organizations need solutions that flex with their evolving needs and provide the data necessary to make decisions quickly and confidently.
Data Integration for Nonprofits: Choosing the Right Partner
While organizations have several options in data integration tools, such as data loaders or native integration capabilities, they should fully understand the capabilities and limitations of these tools. Unfortunately, many do not allow the required flexibility, instead resulting in duplicates and other errors.
In contrast, Omatic Software has helped nonprofits easily and accurately integrate their nonprofit data for over 20 years. With deep industry knowledge, Omatic focuses on nonprofits’ data needs, so organizations can focus on pursuing their missions.
Through multiple recessions, and even a global pandemic, Omatic has enabled nonprofit teams to do more with less. Here are a few examples of organizations who have experienced the time savings, increased productivity, and enhanced trust today’s nonprofit landscape requires.
- Mercy for Animals – “Omatic Cloud has automated a lot of our manual processes. We’re saving time, but more importantly, Omatic has helped us ensure we recognize and acknowledge our supporters in the timeliest manner.” – Global Salesforce Administrator
- Utah Food Bank – “Omatic exceeded our expectations and continues to be a game changer for our organization. Omatic’s Luminate Connector, took a frustrating, multiday gift entry procedure and made it into a 1-to-2-hour process.” – Database Specialist
- YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties – “Omatic has helped us by reducing the number of new records that we have to enter manually and making sure duplicates aren’t entered. This saves time, which translates to staff costs. And it allows us to do the work we need to do, which is fundraising to support our cause and mission.” – Administrative Assistant
- RWJBarnabas Health – “Feeling confident in the data we use is priceless when making strategic decisions regarding our fundraising efforts.” – Sr. Director of Database Management