08.14.23 3 min

Data: the superpower you need to build a donor-centric marketing program

Richard Geiger

Richard Geiger

SVP, Strategy and Innovation

When it comes to fundraising, relationship building, and donor mix diversification, data is your secret weapon. Nonprofits require a wealth of relevant donor data to draw from in order to achieve their mission goals.

What kind of data do you need?

Organizations are facing challenges in locating and involving donors due to an excessively saturated marketplace, prompting nonprofits to seek methods for optimizing their investment in acquiring donors and cultivating their donor base. Easy-to-segment data points can give nonprofits the insights they need into their best potential donor audiences. Some important insights you want to know about your audience include:

Having a target-ready model lets you know which of your potential and current donors are more likely to become sustainers, planned donors, donor advised funds, major gift givers, etc. This data allows you to craft relevant, personalized campaigns that will engage and resonate with existing and prospective donors. Using this data, you can convert one-time givers into sustainers or sporadic givers into planned givers. As well as attract the donors you need to keep your donor mix healthy and your fundraising campaigns stable.

Target-ready models in action – Donor Advised Funds

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are becoming more and more popular and it’s desirable for you to add DAFs to your donor mix. In 2021, grants from DAFs to qualified charities totaled an estimated $34.67 billion, representing a 27.0 percent increase compared to 2019.1 Target ready models will help you identify which of your current donors are more likely to have a DAF and make it easier for you to personalize your messaging towards these donors to persuade them to include your organization in their giving plan.

Recently Data Axle analyzed one of our clients, for instance, and found that potentially 2.4% of their current donors had DAF accounts. That allowed our client to move those donors to a different audience type, focus their efforts and achieve a higher ROI. Vanguard suggests that donors with DAFs give an average of 12k every time, and that sustaining membership is more likely. So, when we talk about a higher ROI, the possible gain is appreciable. If our client converted just 1% of their possible DAF holders, they could see a return of around 145k in donations.

Why taking a donor-centric approach works

  1. Fundraising: Understanding donors’ preferences, giving history, and capacity to donate helps nonprofits tailor their fundraising efforts. By knowing what causes or projects resonate with individual donors, nonprofits can make more targeted and personalized appeals, increasing the likelihood of receiving donations.
  2. Relationship building: Knowing more about donors enables nonprofits to build strong and lasting relationships with them. Personalized interactions, acknowledgement of past contributions, and regular updates on the impact of their donations can foster a sense of trust and loyalty.
  3. Stewardship: Nonprofits have a responsibility to use donor funds efficiently and effectively. Understanding causes or projects that resonate with individual donors allows nonprofits to create more targeted and personalized appeals.
  4. Tailored communication: Different donors may have different communication preferences. Some may prefer emails, while others prefer phone calls or in-person meetings. Knowing this information allows nonprofits to communicate with donors in ways that they find most comfortable and engaging.
  5. Donor retention: Acquiring new donors can be challenging and costly. Understanding existing donors helps nonprofits identify strategies to retain them. Recognizing their contributions, showing gratitude, and involving them in the organization’s activities can increase donor retention rates.
  6. Prospect research: Nonprofits may conduct prospect research to identify potential major donors or foundations with a strong alignment to their mission. This involves gathering information on individuals’ or organizations’ philanthropic history, interests, and financial capacity to support the cause.
  7. Personalized giving opportunities: Some donors may wish to support specific projects or programs within a nonprofit. Knowing their interests allows nonprofits to offer tailored giving opportunities that match donors’ passions.
  8. Impact assessment: Donor data can assist nonprofits in measuring the impact of their fundraising efforts. By analyzing donation patterns and tracking contributions over time, organizations can refine their fundraising strategies and improve overall performance.

Make data actionable with house file indicators

To act on these insights, you need this data readily accessible in your house file. Tools such as Apogee’s and DonorBase’s Audience Indicators can easily be appended to your house file or appended post-merge for additional acquisition selection, segmentation, retention and reactivation of lapsed donors.

Data Axle Nonprofit recently worked with a nonprofit to strengthen their telemarketing acquisition program. The prospective donors called that had an audience indicator for sustainers, had a 4.4% sustainer pledge rate with an average gift of $17.50.

Overall, understanding donors plays a vital role in the success and sustainability of a nonprofit organization. It allows them to build meaningful connections, maximize fundraising efforts, and ensure that donor contributions are utilized effectively to advance their mission and goals.

Richard Geiger

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Written by Richard Geiger, SVP, Strategy and Innovation

Richard brings a wealth of experience and leadership in selling and delivering strategy, analytics, business process and technology to large complex nonprofit organizations.