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Data management can optimize your fundraising

How Donor Data Management Can Optimize Your Fundraising

As every nonprofit professional knows, effective fundraising is key to the success of your organization. That said, there are several factors that contribute to a successful fundraising strategy, and one of them is effective donor data management.

Within your nonprofit CRM, you have a wealth of data on your donors. Why not use it to your advantage to boost your fundraising efforts? By keeping a detailed record of your donors and prospects, you’ll be in a better spot to create tailored appeals, retain supporters, and much more.

We’ll cover four ways donor data can enhance your fundraising by:

  1. Revealing potential donors through prospect research.
  2. Identifying opportunities to level up donor contributions.
  3. Segmenting your database to improve your communications.
  4. Marketing corporate giving opportunities.

Keep reading as we walk you through these effective strategies!

1. Reveal potential donors through prospect research

Nonprofits shouldn’t just look at existing donors when thinking about fundraising. It’s important that organizations continually widen their pool of supporters through prospect research.

Generally, nonprofits will use charitable giving databases (a type of donor database) that contains data culled from various sources. The information in charitable giving databases includes details on major donations, including the donor’s name, donation amount, type of contribution, the year the gift was given, and the nonprofit that received the gift.

[Related article: 4 Essential Tips to Find New Donors]

Once you’ve filled out your prospect profiles, you can put your donor database to use. An up-to-date donor database comes in handy when looking for prospects because you can see if any current donors have connections with prospects with whom you’re looking to build relationships.

Look for potential connections through your prospects’:

  • Places of work. Do you have any donors that work for the same company?
  • Interests or hobbies. Is there are a board member or major donor that is a member of the same association or club as your prospect?
  • Past philanthropic activities. Did any of your supporters serve on a nonprofit board with a prospect?

Ideally, you should look toward your major supporters, board members, and donors that are leaders in your community to see if they have any connections with your list of prospects. Working within your donor database to find potential connections to prospective donors can help set up your relationship for success.

Think about it: You’d be much more susceptible and willing to listen to an organization’s appeal if a friend, coworker, or family member recommended the nonprofit beforehand.

Asking your current supporters to help you bring in new donors is an effective way to use your donor database. Plus, existing donors will appreciate you coming to them for help; it’s a way they can get involved with your organization without dipping into their wallets.

2. Identify opportunities to level up donor contributions

The beauty of an effective donor management system is that data from all areas of your nonprofit can be pulled into one centralized location, giving you a full picture of your supporters.

As a nonprofit, it’s important to not only track a donor’s personal information (i.e., name and contact information) but also their giving behaviors. Knowing how much a donor gives annually and to what types of campaigns can help determine if there is an opportunity to encourage supporters to contribute more.

By looking at your existing supporters’ giving behaviors, you may discover some contributors that would make good major donors. Instead of just looking at outside prospects to find major donors, you can also look to your existing supporters.

Since you’ve already developed a relationship with these donors and they know your key causes, they’re more likely to give when you ask, especially if you can make a strong case. In addition to major donors, you can also look at supporters at every stage of your giving funnel to find other opportunities to increase their donations.

Here are two examples of ways you can level up your donors’ contributions:

  • Consider inviting recurring donors to join your membership program. Since these donors are already giving regularly, they’ll be more comfortable with the idea of becoming a member, especially if members-only benefits are included.
  • For donors that donate sporadically throughout the year, recommend they set up a recurring donation. Look at your these donors’ total annual contributions and ask them to donate a portion of that amount every month. Your donors won’t have to remember to donate and you’ll get a consistent stream of donations.

You should also look at the types of donations that your donors make and what causes they’re most interested in, as this information can help you create more targeted appeals.

Encouraging donors to get involved in different ways is about more than just raising funds. Your nonprofit is more likely to retain donors if they’re given more opportunities outside of their normal contributions.

3. Segment your database to improve your communications

Another way to optimize your fundraising is to reconsider how you ask supporters for money. When you create a new campaign, do you send a mass email to every donor in your database asking them to contribute?

We hope your answer is “no,” but if not, there are ways you can create more personalized appeals. Targeted fundraising letters are extremely effective because they show donors you’re considering their interests when sending out communications. Donors are more likely to open an email if it’s for a cause about which they’re passionate.

Use your donor database to improve your donor communications. By segmenting donors based on different categories, you can reach out to these groups with relevant information. For example, you could segment your supporters based on their preferred online donation method. That way, when you start a new crowdfunding campaign, you can let your mobile donors know that fundraising page is optimized for mobile, allowing them to give on any device.

You can segment your donors using other factors, such as:

  • Location. When sending out location-based events, send invitations to donors that live in the area.
  • Type of donor. Think about your donors and what events or campaigns make the most sense for their giving level. For instance, it might be too early to ask a first-time donor to be a fundraiser in your peer-to-peer campaign.
  • Preferred communication method. You don’t want to send a carefully conceived appeal to a donor via direct mail if they prefer email and text message. Increase the chances of a donor opening your message by sending it via their preferred communication method.

When you organize your groups by defined criteria that matter most to your organization’s outreach, you end up with clusters of donors that you can understand. This makes it much easier to form custom communication strategies rather than sending the same communication to every donor.

What’s more, your segmented lists don’t have to be static, unchanging groups. Use what you learn from your donors’ behaviors and the responses to your outreach to determine if they need to be moved to a different group or if the entire group’s strategy needs to be adjusted.

Use strategies for direct marketing, like analyzing open rates and experimenting with A/B testing to determine the most effective ways to reach out to each group.

4. Marketing corporate giving opportunities

Finally, you can use your donor data to market corporate giving opportunities. You probably have a record of where most of your donors work, and you can use this to encourage donors to participate in corporate giving programs.

Corporate giving programs like matching gifts and volunteer grants are some of the easiest ways organizations can raise money. Donors can have their eligible donations doubled just by submitting a request to their employers. But, one of the biggest challenges of raising more funds through corporate giving is that many donors don’t know that these programs exist, and if they do, they don’t know how to submit a request or if their donation is qualified.

If you make the process of learning about matching gifts and volunteer grants easier for your donors, you increase the chance that they’ll submit a request.

Nonprofits have several ways they can promote corporate giving programs to their donors:

  • On your website. Create a page or dedicate space on your ways to talk about corporate giving programs. Mention common guidelines and include links to where donors can learn more.
  • On your donation forms. Embed a corporate giving search tool on your donation forms. That way, before a donor gives, they can search for their company to see if they have a matching gift program and learn what donations qualify for a match.
  • In targeted emails. If you know where your donors work, send them emails with specific information about their company’s corporate giving programs. For instance, after a donor contributes, let them know their gift is eligible to be matched and provide instructions on how to submit a request.

[For more ways you can promote matching gifts, check out Double the Donation’s guide]

Use the information in your donor database to identify your donor’s corporate giving programs and the best ways to make them aware of how to participate. You’ll be surprised how much money you can raise through corporate giving programs!

The takeaway

There you have it, four ways you can use your donor data to improve your fundraising initiatives. With every best practice on our list, it’s important that your nonprofit CRM is up to date and organized. This way, your team will be able to utilize the information in the best way possible.

Now, all you have to do is get started!

*Editor’s note: The above article is a contribution from Sarah Tedesco, executive vice president at Maryland-based DonorSearch.


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