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5 Tips to Make the Most Out of Your Donor Data

March 20, 2019

Prospect-research-ds-pngYour nonprofit understands the value of a personalized approach when it comes to communicating with donors. When its collects and uses donor data effectively, it's able to tailor its outreach strategy to individual donors and strengthen its relationships with them.

Your data becomes especially useful when you're able to see and use it to develop an outreach strategy that acknowledges donors' reasons for supporting your organization. In this post, we’ll take a look at how you can use donor data to help your organization:

  1. automate parts of the data collection process;
  2. reach out to donors more effectively;
  3. identify opportunities for matching gifts;
  4. create and distribute an effective annual report; and
  5. thank your donors personally.

For your fundraising efforts to succeed, your outreach strategy needs to be both personalized to your donors and efficient in terms of organizational resources. It's easier to strike this balance when you've automated parts of the process.

1. Automate parts of the data collection process. Prospect research is key to unlocking effective nonprofit fundraising. And the data you collect is especially valuable as you create outreach strategies for different groups of donors. That's why you need to automate prospect research data collection wherever possible.

One way to automate the process is to integrate your prospect research software with the CRM in which you store donor data. Whether they're newly minted or a long-time donor, you'll learn:

  • Who has a history of giving. Good prospect research will include a donor’s history of giving to your organization as well as their history of giving to other nonprofits.
  • Who is capable of making a major gift. If your current lower or mid-level donors have made major gifts to other organizations, your prospect research software should be able to capture this information and store it in your CRM.
  • Who you need to reach out. The data captured by your prospect research software can help your team prioritize your outreach to certain donors who have positive indicators for potential giving.

After your organization has supplemented the donor information already stored in your CRM with prospect research data, you should have plenty of data you can use to connect with donors. If you're using Salesforce, you can even integrate prospect research software from vendors like DonorSearch to further automate the data collection process.

2. Reach out to donors more effectively. Personalized communications are key to creating and maintaining lasting relationships with your donors. Which is why it's important to use the information you've collected, stored, and organized in your CRM to develop communications that appeal to different types of donors.

Making good use of donor data is an important component of an effective nonprofit marketing strategy, so your organization will want to develop a strategy for segmenting your donors and creating communications that appeal to the different segments. Consider trying categories based on information such as:

  • History of engagement with your organization. Create different messages and communications that recognize loyal donors for their commitment and that answer the questions newer supporters are likely to have.
  • Age, location, and other demographic data. To personalize your approach to different types of donors, segment them according to demographic information and develop communications that relate to their specific reasons for supporting your cause or organization.
  • Activities, hobbies, and interests. Your supporters' activities and interests can help you tailor your communications as well as inform your strategy for reaching out.

The effectiveness of your communications improves when you avoid a generic, one-size-fits-all approach toward your donors and address the various individual reasons they have for supporting your cause or organization.

3. Identify opportunities for matching gifts. People are more likely to give if they know they are eligible for a matching gift from their employer. Corporate matching gift programs are also a great way to maximize donation revenue. Be sure to encourage eligible donors to participate in their employers' matching gift programs.

Often, employees don’t know about these programs — or don't know how to submit the required matching gift request documents to their employer. With the help of donor data, your organization can make the most of matching gift opportunities by:

  • Identifying donors who work for companies that match gifts. Collecting information about your donors' employers becomes especially important when your donors work for corporations known to have generous matching gift programs.
  • Making donors aware of matching gift opportunities. You can include reminders in your communications to all donors or use matching gift software on your website that makes it easy for donors to identify these opportunities when they are ready to make a gift.
  • Reminding donors to complete their matching gift request. Eligible donors must complete and submit a matching gift request in order for their employer to match their gift. You can help by reminding them to complete the process.

Matching gifts can be a great way to build lasting relationships with donors. Check out 360MatchPro's guide to matching gifts to learn more about this valuable means of increasing contributions to your organization.

4. Create and distribute an effective annual report. Your annual report is an opportunity to address your donors' concerns and interests, demonstrating how you've used their donations and gifts to benefit the cause or community.

An annual report that effectively showcases the work your organization is doing is one that puts your donors' support front and center, illustrating their centrality to that work and your reliance on their generosity and passion for your cause. Don't forget to use your annual report to acknowledge:

  • Your donors' support of your fundraising campaigns. Include information about each of the fundraising campaigns donors have supported throughout the year.
  • Your volunteers' hard work. Your annual report provides an opportunity to recognize the essential work your organization's volunteers do throughout the year.
  • Your supporters' feedback. Show that you value your donors' and volunteers' efforts as you gather the information you’re planning to include in your annual report. When you reach out to supporters this way, you can also pick up more information about why they value and support your organization.

As you're creating your report, don't shy away from emotion. Be sure to show your donors just how essential their donations and gifts have been, and how much you value their continuing support.

5. Thank your donors personally. While you may think of prospect research and donor data primarily as a means to identify new donors and encourage them to support your organization, they're also important when it comes time to thanking your donors. In fact, your organization can use donor data to create personalized thank-you notes that help build and foster long-term relationships with individual donors.

Your organization should strive to be donor-centric throughout the giving process, from cultivating potential and new donors to thanking your most loyal supporters. Address their reasons for supporting your organization and remind them of their individual significance to your work.

Providing personalized thank-yous and acknowledgments is an important component of any strategy to motivate donors and transition them from first-time to recurring giving.

Collecting, organizing, and analyzing donor data might seem like a steep hill to climb, but the more you know about your donors, the better you'll be able to connect with them and demonstrate the importance of your organization's work. And the stronger that connection, the more likely they'll be to provide you with support — today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Headshot_Bill-TedescoBill Tedesco is a well-known entrepreneur in the field of philanthropy and, since 2007, has been the CEO and managing partner of DonorSearch.

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