Engage, Empower, Excel: How To Use Donor Data For Action

Thursday, October 12, 2023

In the digital age of nonprofit fundraising, data is an invaluable asset that holds the key to a world of possibilities. Not only is effective data management vital for allocating money and filing taxes, but it’s also crucial for driving greater fundraising results and stewarding meaningful donor relationships.

If your data is just sitting in your CRM, you’re probably missing out on valuable engagement opportunities. When your nonprofit starts focusing on donor engagement, your plan must include both how you’ll track donor data and put it to work to make educated decisions.

It’s time to take control of your donor data and use it to your advantage! This article will share actionable ways your team can leverage donor data to push your mission forward. Now, let’s illuminate your path toward meaningful donor interactions.

Understand what donor engagement data to track.

Before we jump into how to track engagement, let's take a look at what makes up each component of a donor profile. Think of a donor profile as a 360-degree view of each supporter’s current relationship with your organization.

Maybe your donor profiles are filled with so much data that you don’t know where to start. Or, maybe you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum — you don’t have enough donor data to make educated decisions. Here are the key pieces of nonprofit data to collect:

  • Biographical and contact information: This includes donors’ names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and any relevant affiliations. Biographical information helps nonprofits identify and differentiate donors, while contact information enables effective communication.
  • Event attendance: This type of data tracks which events a donor participated in, giving insight into their engagement level beyond financial contributions.
  • Volunteer hours: This indicates the amount of time a supporter has devoted to furthering your nonprofit’s initiatives.
  • Communication history: This is a log of all interactions between the donor and your nonprofit. You’ll want to keep track of emails, phone calls, meetings, and other communication, ensuring consistent communication.

How are you currently tracking this information? Are you tracking it consistently? A reliable donor management system like Charityproud can help streamline your data collection and keep data clean.

If you notice you’re missing any donor-provided information, reach out to these individuals. You might need to append missing information if you don't hear back, though. With this approach, you’ll use a service that will procure information from external resources to fill in gaps in your database.

Beyond keeping complete and consistent supporter records, take it a step further by collecting other information like satisfaction surveys, too. This will help you make data-informed decisions on everything from communication to new initiatives.

Break donors into segments.

Once your CRM is filled with valuable donor data, put that information to work! GivingDNA’s guide to data analytics for nonprofits explains, “Segmenting donors by shared characteristics (like demographic details or household income) can help you target your most valuable donors more effectively.”

Look for naturally occurring groups, such as:

  • First-time donors:: New donors typically need extra cultivation to secure a second “golden” donation. You’ll want to share more information about your nonprofit’s mission with them.
  • Recurring donors:These donors have committed to giving regular donations at specified intervals, often monthly or quarterly. Established givers may appreciate updates on the impact of their contributions.
  • Major gift prospects:These existing donors have the potential to make significant financial contributions. You’ll know to focus on cultivating these relationships by sending personalized appeals for significant projects.
  • Volunteers: Whether they’ve donated or not, these supporters dedicate their time to assist your nonprofit. Identifying volunteers allows you to acknowledge their contributions and consider them for future fundraising initiatives.
  • Event attendees:These individuals participate in your nonprofit’s events like fundraisers and workshops. Knowing who regularly attends allows you to promote upcoming events to likely participants.
  • Irregular donors:These contributors donate sporadically. Tracking irregular donors can help nonprofits estimate and plan for unpredictable revenue streams.

From here, conduct a communication audit for each segment, so you can pinpoint any trends and develop a tailored strategy to boost their engagement. Examples include developing a donor cultivation cycle that naturally sets your major gift prospects up for a large ask or creating an action plan for reengaging lapsed donors.

Use donor data to enhance your communications.

We’ve already shared a few ways your donor data can enhance your fundraising strategies. Let’s take a closer look at how you can use your donor data and segments to inform your outreach specifically.

Stick to their preferred communication channels.

When launching a new fundraising campaign, carefully consider how you’ll contact donors. Choosing the right marketing channels can mean the difference between meeting your fundraising goals and falling short.

For example, donors may have indicated their communication preferences via a survey or chat with your team. Not only does adhering to their preferences ensure they’ll see your messages, but it also shows that you pay attention and care about reaching them.

Here’s another likely scenario: You’re analyzing your data and notice that certain channels see higher engagement rates among different segments. For example, your major gift prospects tend to respond well to personal phone calls. Now you’ll know to reach out to your prospective major donors over the phone to increase their likelihood of giving to your latest campaign.

Increase deliverability.

Your donor data should include accurate contact information, ensuring you can connect with donors. You'll decrease the chances of messages bouncing back by maintaining accurate emails, phone numbers, and postal addresses.

Let’s say your email deliverability is low, though. That might indicate that you should conduct email appends for donors since you have outdated or inaccurate contact information.

Deliver personalized outreach.

The power of personalization shouldn’t be underestimated. Your donor data enables you to easily add a touch of customization to each message you deliver. A few common ways data can help create tailored outreach include:

  • Using names and preferred titles. While this is a minor change, it can make a major difference in your outreach. You’ll start every message with a salutation, and getting that first impression right matters.
  • Deliver tailored engagement opportunities. Keep donors’ motivations in mind and deliver relevant appeals they’ll likely engage with by looking at past engagement history. For instance, send upcoming volunteer opportunities to past volunteers, or make appeals for specific initiatives to those who have donated to similar ones.
  • Reference past contributions in acknowledgment letters. Show you’re paying attention to each individual’s support. In your donor thank-you letters, thank them for recent donations and reference other past contributions.

Your supporters want to feel special, like they’re uniquely impacting your beneficiaries. Leveraging donor data to customize your outreach will help fulfill that desire.

Pay attention to your KPIs.

Beyond the biographical, demographical, and personal engagement data, you’ll want to track larger key performance indicators (KPIs). To do this, write a list of items you wish to measure your performance on. Common KPIs nonprofits track include:

  • Donor retention rates: This is the percentage of donors who continue supporting your organization annually. A high donor retention rate indicates strong relationships.
  • Average donation amount: This is the average dollar amount of each donor’s contribution. Monitoring changes in this metric can reveal trends in donor giving behavior and your fundraising appeals’ effectiveness.
  • Donor acquisition cost: This KPI indicates the average cost of acquiring a new donor. Calculating this can help your nonprofit determine the efficiency of your fundraising efforts and the ROI for acquiring new donors.

Consider developing an engagement score system that helps you quickly identify supporters' engagement and add that to your list of KPIs, too. With CharityProud’s intuitive donor management system, an engagement scoring system is already built-in, making it easy to track engagement.

After reviewing your data and developing KPIs, establish your baseline for your KPIs. Then, develop SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) on how you would like to move the needle forward in the right direction.

Donor Data: The Secret To Unlocking Engagement

Your donor data can be a powerful force for thoughtful stewardship and acknowledgment. As the heartbeat of modern philanthropy, this data offers a roadmap to personalized engagement, impactful campaigns, and lasting relationships. Implement the tips we’ve shared, so you can start enhancing the donor experience through data-informed interactions!