Harnessing Data to Inform Fundraising Strategy

Data integrity is critical to successful fundraising. As nonprofits we consistently work towards this in order to make educated fundraising decisions. Once that initial hurdle of creating a reliable database has been cleared – what’s next? How do I find that person coded “BOTTOMLESS POCKETS AND LOVES US!”? A gal can dream, can’t she?!

So, where do we go from here? One option is to do wealth screening to determine someone’s capacity. While this is a hugely beneficial exercise, it’s not as easy as assuming those individuals with a lot of wealth will simply write you a check. Yes, you need to be asking for the right amount – but also in the right way, for the right purpose, and from the right people.

Fortunately, with the amount of information and data available today, along with sophisticated CRMs to track these details – we can use this additional data to strategically drive our knowledge and understanding of what someone’s actual affinity is to engage with your organization.

If you’re not already convinced, here are some points regarding the importance of defining different segments within your donor/prospect database:

1. Wealth should not be the only driver to ask someone for a gift.
Just because I have $10 million dollars in my bank account (ha!) does not mean I’m going to give you a gift. In fact, you are more likely to get $100 from someone you know has a vested interested in the mission of your organization than from someone who just has the capital.

2. Direct mail isn’t going away, but it’s not for everyone.
We are still a ways out from the demise of direct mail. Despite rising costs associated with fancy mailings – some donors will always respond best to physically holding something in their hands. Additionally, a lot of donors and prospects in today’s culture expect multi-channel communications. Understanding which way a constituent is most likely to respond increases the odds of your ask leading to a donation, and limits the expenses associated with mailing to those who will just toss it in the trash.

3. It is equally important to understand who ISN’T going to give you a gift.
So often we continue to spend valuable time and money on individuals who have given in the past, with the hope that they’ll someday give again. Is there any basis for this continued communication, or was the past gift just a one-off? Analyzing giving patterns and how we ask for donations is key to maximizing giving. Let’s not waste time, money, effort and staff focus on those that won’t provide a return on that investment.

4. As your organizational priorities shift, so should the population of donors you need to be stewarding.
Donor retention is at an all-time low today. Part of the reason is rapidly changing priorities, and the failure of nonprofits to shift who they ask based on the organization’s changing needs. A donor who is willing to help fund your new building may not be the same as the person who is happy to contribute on a monthly basis to the area of most need. Do you know the difference?

In today’s ever-changing nonprofit sector, we need to be flexible and multi-dimensional with our actions. You already have the information – start using it strategically! Not sure where to start? Let’s chat!

The Raiser’s Edge™ is a trademark of Blackbaud, Inc.