Did you know that, according to fundraising research, more than 69% of the population gives to nonprofit causes?
That’s great! But as a fundraising professional, you want those donor dollars to be directed toward your organization—not the other charity down the road or even the organization working halfway across the world. There’s no doubt that those nonprofits are doing great work as well, but you’re going to be partial to your own mission and programming.
And that’s not even mentioning the for-profit businesses that are also vying for your same supporters’ attention (and wallets).
So how can you ensure your organization stands out from the crowd and captures your audience’s attention? Utilizing your donor data effectively can make a big difference in each of the following four practices:
- Getting in touch with donors
- Identifying workplace giving eligibility
- Customizing fundraising requests
- Building long-term relationships
When you incorporate the above strategies into your overall nonprofit fundraising plan, you’ll be sure to reap the benefits of elevated donor engagement.
In this guide, we’ll explore the tips you can follow to gain a larger portion of your audience’s share of mind, along with the essential data points you’ll need to put the practice into action.
1. Get in touch with donors.
First and foremost, it’s important that you have a way (or, preferably, many ways) to get in contact with your donors. Otherwise, you won’t be able to reach out to share your gratitude for their contributions, share additional engagement opportunities, and more.
Donor Data You’ll Need: Contact Information
This is where a donor’s contact information comes into play! Luckily, you collect a ton of these data points about your donors within your online donation form. This might include:
- Name (including preferred name or nickname)
- Phone number(s)
- Mailing or home address
Keep in mind that it can help to know your donors’ communication preferences! For example, would a particular individual rather receive a phone call or a text message? Text message versus email? Email versus physical letter in the mail?
Make a note of the ways donors are most responsive to your outreach, and prioritize those methods in the future to increase response levels and grab your recipients’ attention. Or, you can even ask your supporters how they’d like to be reached!
You also might look into collecting some “nice to know” information that can help direct your engagement strategy but is likely to have less of an impact on your communications. For example, consider tracking your donors’ social media handles if you have access to them. Although you’re not likely to utilize social media direct messages as a main method of contact, recording this information can help you develop a more accurate, well-rounded vision of your donors. And keep in mind that professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, can even provide valuable insights into the individual’s employment status.
2. Identify workplace giving eligibility.
Workplace giving programs are a popular form of corporate philanthropy in which companies essentially empower their employees to direct company dollars toward their favorite causes. More than likely, a significant number of your donors are eligible to participate in these initiatives, although neither party might know it.
And when they do know about the programs, donors love participating because workplace giving enables them to make a larger impact on a nonprofit they care about. In order to make the most of these corporate giving opportunities, you must be able to identify eligible donors within your network of support.
Donor Data You’ll Need: Employment Details
To determine workplace giving program eligibility, the most important piece of information to locate is the company an individual works for. To locate this information, consider screening for corporate email domains (e.g., email@example.com) or collecting employer information directly within your donation form. By incorporating an optional field in your online form, you can easily gather data on tons of donors.
And for those whose information you don’t have, you might look into third-party data-seeking strategies such as employer appends. Data appending companies typically provide the employer names for many of an organization’s donors and may produce additional data points such as the person’s role at the company and length of time at the job as well.
Once you have this information, you can look into a corporation’s workplace giving programs either through manual online searches or by leveraging a matching gift company database.
Note: Some donors will work for companies that don’t currently offer workplace giving programs. But don’t fret: you can still use their employment data to help inform your corporate partnerships strategy and more. For example, consider asking a dedicated donor to pitch the idea of a Custom Matching Gift Program (i.e., matching gifts just to your organization) to company leadership on your behalf.
3. Customize fundraising requests.
When faced with suggested gift amounts, many donors opt to select one of the included choices. Nonprofits often use this idea to gently encourage larger donation sizes overall.
But not every person should receive the same fundraising requests—and that’s where you can use your donor data to adjust your ask according to how much you think the donor would be able to give.
If you ask for too much, you run the risk of a donor shutting down the request altogether. Yet if you ask too little, you risk a donor simply checking a box when they had the ability to give much more—which essentially leaves dollars on the table. Not to mention, a historic major donor would clearly be able to tell a donation request of $10 was not meant just for them.
Donor Data You’ll Need: Wealth Level
To know how much you should ask of a donor, it’s a good idea to start with a general knowledge of how much a donor could give—and that means understanding their level of wealth. Many nonprofits determine an individual’s wealth level based on factors such as:
- Estimated salary
- Real estate ownership
- Stock holdings
- Previous nonprofit donations
- Political giving
While you might be able to locate some of the above information on your own, nonprofit wealth screening tools can help speed up the process and ensure you receive accurate and up-to-date donor data.
4. Build long-term relationships.
Developing long-term relationships with donors allows your supporters to feel as if they’re a critical part of your nonprofit’s team—which they are. Treating your donors as such also allows your communications and appeals to stand out from other requests an individual might receive.
For example, you might send a donor a birthday card or a letter of gratitude on the anniversary of their first gift. These items can go to show that the recipient is more than just a wallet or a data point in your CRM.
Donor Data You’ll Need: Engagement History
The way you engage following a first-time donor’s initial gift should be different than your response to an established supporter’s recurring monthly donation. In order to adjust your communication strategy accordingly, make sure to keep track of your nonprofit supporters’ engagement history, including:
- Previous donation sizes
- Most recent donation made
- Average gift size
- Average time between donations
- Campaigns participated in
- Volunteer involvement
Collecting this information enables you to use your donor data to develop strengthened relationships with key supporters. They’ll feel more connected to your cause and will be more likely to get involved time and time again.
Luckily, a donor database or CRM typically makes the processes involved with communication and engagement-tracking as simple as possible.
Donor information plays a huge role in effective nonprofit fundraising. This is particularly true in terms of an organization’s donor engagement strategy. And this list includes just a few of the powerful ways to use donor data—the possibilities are endless.
Just keep in mind that the better you know your donors, the better you’ll be able to relate to them as real people who support your mission. Good luck!