Each and every interaction your nonprofit has with supporters comes with a data point. Whether that’s an opened email newsletter, a social media comment, or the many digital donations made during your year-end fundraiser, these interactions provide a wealth of information.
If you’re not leveraging this data for more efficient fundraising, you’re missing out.
Donor data is essentially a free resource providing insight into your supporters’ lives. Their interests, their preferences, their giving abilities— all of this can be gleaned from donor data.
Not only does this data allow you to fundraise more effectively (providing a guide for your efforts), but it also allows you to provide more opportunities to best suit your supporters. From informing them of ways to give more without actually paying more out of their own pockets, to crafting events that might interest them, a deep-dive in donor data positively impacts your supporters as well as your nonprofit.
Looking at your raw donor data and pulling any actionable insights from it might seem overwhelming! However, don’t fret! We’ve collected five data tips to improve your fundraising:
- Collect donor data points relevant to your organization.
- Store data in the right CRM for you.
- Establish clear data hygiene practices.
- Segment your donor data for heightened insights.
- Make the most of your data insights.
Collect donor data points relevant to your organization.
There’s no denying that the ability to easily and conveniently collect and review donor data is game-changing for nonprofits of all sizes. There’s an unprecedented amount of information at your fingertips that you can’t help but wonder— is it possible to have too much of a good thing?
The answer? Yes! It’s possible to collect information on virtually every interaction your organization has with its supporters, but some of that information is simply irrelevant. When the irrelevant information is tossed in with the helpful, it’s significantly harder to glean relevant, actionable information.
Narrow down the data you’re collecting to make sure each point is useful, rather than cluttering your supporter database. A few great examples are:
- Basic personal information, such as name, age, email address, workplace, and location.
- Advanced personal information, such as hobbies, interests, and giving preferences.
- Previous nonprofit engagement, including donations, volunteer efforts, event attendance, and participation in advocacy campaigns.
- Business involvement, such as employment information and business ownership or other considerable investments.
- Political giving, such as candidates and causes supported publicly in the past.
Ultimately, you should collect the data that best informs your nonprofit’s efforts. For example, information on event attendance is particularly valuable for nonprofits that host many experiences throughout the year. As you read, however, you’ll find areas where each of the above data types are generally helpful for all nonprofits.
Store data in the right CRM for you.
For a quick refresher— nonprofit data is stored in a constituent relationship management (CRM) system. This software is the ultimate donor database, storing information on every interaction you have with supporters, whether an email response or a major gift.
If you’re an enterprise-sized nonprofit, you may be considering a Blackbaud vs. Salesforce comparison. However, even though those large-scale platforms are marketed as be-all-end-all solutions (and they are for some organizations), they might not be the right fit for every— or even the average— nonprofit.
Luckily, there are CRM systems designed for nonprofits of all sizes, and with some research, you can find the perfect solution for your organization. Whether you’re simply looking to update your services or are on the market for the first time, make sure your CRM has the following features:
- Donor dashboard that’s easy to navigate, comprehend, and customize.
- Comprehensive donor profiles with constituent timelines and other engagement metrics.
- Multi-platform communications tools, such as email distribution and even direct mailings.
- Data hygiene tools, to handle duplicates and entry inconsistencies.
- Comprehensive fundraising tools or the ability to integrate with your other solutions (ex: online fundraising software, payment processor, email marketing tool, website).
Donor data is a powerful asset to build real relationships with your supporters, but only if it’s securely stored and easily accessible. Taking time to research the right CRM solution for your organization is the first step to that.
Establish clear data hygiene practices.
Data hygiene refers to the continuous practices your nonprofit takes to keep your data “clean,” or with as few errors as possible.
With any transfer of information, inaccuracies can be introduced at any point in the process. Just think of the game “Telephone!” This holds true for information flowing into your donor database. Names, numbers, addresses— one slip of a typing hand can lead to inaccurate information in your database.
Because your nonprofit is making decisions and soliciting support based on this information, it’s important that it’s accurate. Create ongoing practices for handling:
- Duplicate entries, such as one donor recorded twice in your database.
- Inaccurate entries, such as when a donor’s phone number or email address is recorded incorrectly.
- Outdated entries, such as when a donor relocates and their address changes.
- Abbreviations and common terms, such as standardizing the entry of addresses (“Street” vs. “St.”) and titles (“Mr” vs. “Mr.”).
Once you set these standards, communicate them clearly to your staff. The goal is to continuously use best practices when handling donor data to prevent the need for major clean-up efforts in the future.
Remember: There are a few things you can do before the data even enters your CRM to keep it as clean as possible. For example, one donation page best practice (check out the top tips here) is to only ask for as much information as you need. This is convenient for your staff, as they have less information to comb through later— plus, your donors will appreciate the quick giving process!
Segment your donor data for heightened insights.
After you’ve collected, stored, and cleaned your donor data, it’s time to start inspecting it for actionable insights! However, your raw data alone will simply look like a jumble of names, dates, and numbers.
The easiest way to glean actionable insights from your data is to segment it. Segmentation is the process of identifying characteristics shared by some of your donors and grouping them accordingly. This separates your data into digestible chunks to work with, guiding how you interact with those supporters.
Common segments include:
- Gift size and frequency.
- Preferred contact method.
- Event participation.
As with the data points you collect, segment your donor data according to what your organization is working toward. For example, if your goal is to identify major donor prospects, you’ll want to contact segments with a financial ability to give in high amounts and a demonstrated loyalty to your nonprofit.
This is called identifying a donor’s capacity and affinity to give. Check out this DonorSearch article to learn more.
Make the most of your data insights.
Finally, you should act on the insights your data revealed. Let’s look at a few data-fueled, efficient ways you can raise more for your nonprofit:
- Make the perfect ask. Asking for money is stressful for some fundraisers! Asking for the perfect amount, one that reflects the amount supporters have given in the past, can alleviate some of that stress.
- Begin the major giving process. Identify those supporters who are most likely to make a major gift and begin stewarding them accordingly. One-on-one conversations and informational meetings are a great place to start!
- Suggest recurring gifts. If you notice some supporters are giving multiple times throughout the year, mention your recurring giving program to them. Supporters who enroll in recurring giving programs tend to give more overall, and they provide a regular flow of support to your organization!
- Seek corporate philanthropy programs. Matching gift and volunteer grant programs are powerful ways to increase the funding coming into your organization with no extra spending on behalf of your supporters. If you know some donors might be eligible, you should proactively promote these opportunities to them! Learn about corporate giving programs through this Double the Donation guide.
- Identify planned gifts opportunities. Planned gifts are those scheduled for a later date, most commonly after a supporter has passed away. If you notice an incredibly loyal supporter looking for more ways to give back, consider starting this conversation.
- Plan events to success. This one is pretty straightforward. If you notice a lot of your volunteers and event attendees are located in similar areas, plan an event for them to engage with.
When you truly understand your donors, you can tailor your fundraising strategy to fit their interests and abilities. Donor data is key to fundraising that is more efficient for your staff and more accessible for supporters.
With a bit of data hygiene and a watchful eye, your donor data can make fundraising a better experience for your staffers and donors alike.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be a stressful process, even if you’re not a data-minded individual! Use these five tips and organize your way to more efficient fundraising today.