Avoid Missing Fundraising Insights: 3 Ways to Use Data

Avoid Missing Fundraising Insights: 3 Ways to Use Data

Data-driven marketing and fundraising are the future. After all, using data allows organizations like yours to personalize your donation appeals and marketing tactics, making supporters feel like a crucial piece of your social good puzzle.

However, 87% of marketers say that their organization is underutilizing its data, leading to missed opportunities to engage supporters, inspire donations, recruit volunteers, and more. To help you use your data to its full potential, we’ll explore some best practices for collecting and analyzing data and outline the top ways to use your data in this guide.

Fundraising Data Best Practices

Before you can extract insights from your fundraising data, start by making sure your database is clean, comprehensive, and up-to-date. To prepare and understand your data, follow these best practices:

  • Eliminate or solve for data silos. Data silos occur when information is collected and stored across multiple different systems. It’s best to use a constituent relationship management (CRM) system to aggregate your data. Set up integrations between your CRM and other fundraising tools to consolidate the information.
  • Establish standardized data entry practices. Reduce potential errors by outlining standard conventions for entering donor data. For example, clarify whether you will spell out or abbreviate street names or if you’ll include hyphens in phone numbers (e.g., 123-456-7890 versus 1234567890).
  • Audit and clean your data. Clean data is free of errors, duplicates, outdated information, and nonstandard formatting. Auditing your data and correcting these issues is critical. As NPOInfo’s guide to data hygiene explains, skipping this step could lead to missing opportunities to engage your supporters, overspending on outreach initiatives, and lapsed donors.
  • Segment your donors. Segmenting donors involves grouping them based on shared characteristics, such as demographics, giving behavior, engagement level, communication preferences, and more. These segments will allow you to spot more granular trends among smaller audiences within your supporter base. Plus, you can use them to send targeted marketing messages.
  • Track the donor lifecycle. The donor lifecycle illustrates a supporter’s journey with your organization, from acquisition to retention or reactivation. Following this journey will help you identify gaps that may be causing donors to lapse. For example, you may not be sending personal, timely thank-you messages to donors, causing them to feel unappreciated and sit your next fundraiser out.

Additionally, make preparations before each campaign to ensure you collect the right data. Choose key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the campaign’s goals. For example, if you hold a school fundraising event to raise $10,000, track donations. Or, if your goal is to reach 50 new donors, track metrics like new donor acquisition rate and conversion rate.

How to Make the Most of Your Data

Next, it’s time to put your data to work. Employing data analytics for nonprofits, schools, and other mission-driven organizations is the best way to prove your impact and continuously improve your fundraising efforts. Start by making sure you’re connecting with supporters at the right time, with the right message, through the right communication channels.

1. Personalize marketing.

Personalized marketing involves applying data insights to your communications and appeals to supporters. For example, you might reference the last time a donor engaged with your organization to show how much you value their contributions.

For this method to be successful, you’ll need to create donor segments. Then, you can launch:

  • Tailored messages. Include personal details in your messages by greeting the donor by their first name, referencing past support, and recommending other opportunities for them. For example, if a supporter gives to all of your school’s fundraising events, you might ask them if they’d like to volunteer at the next one. Share these messages via donors’ preferred communication channels to ensure they see and engage with them.
  • Targeted campaigns. Create campaigns aimed at specific segments of your audience. For example, let’s say you kick off a marketing campaign to re-engage lapsed donors. In this case, you’d send updates about the work you’ve done recently, share impact metrics, and tell them how their support would help you do even more.
  • Customized appeals. Making a fundraising ask is often the most daunting part of the process. However, using data to formulate tailored appeals increases your chances of success. By referencing the donor’s giving frequency, recency, and average gift size, you can position your appeal in the fundraising Goldilocks zone by asking for the right amount.

Once you’ve gotten comfortable segmenting donors and tried out these personalized marketing strategies, consider launching a passive fundraiser to earn additional revenue. Because these hands-off campaigns rely mostly on solid marketing to drive donations, creating effective donor segments and using automated marketing tools can yield great results with minimal effort.

2. Document your impact.

Tracking and sharing your organization’s impact helps you prove your nonprofit’s progress to donors. When they have tangible evidence of the change their fundraising dollars or volunteer hours made in the world, they’ll be much more likely to continue donating.

Here are some examples of how you might communicate impact to your supporters:

  • A school holds a read-a-thon and uses the reading log recommended in 99Pledges’ read-a-thon guide. After the fundraiser ends, the school shares the total number of minutes, books, and pages students read with supporters.
  • A food pantry tracks how many meals volunteers can serve within their three-hour shifts. Then, they follow up with volunteers to let them know that because of them, 150 people didn’t have to go hungry.
  • A wildlife conservatory translates dollars to tangible benefits so donors know exactly where their money is going. For example, five dollars is enough to plant a new sapling, while $50 purchases beach cleanup supplies.

Spread awareness of these key metrics to inspire support from current and prospective donors. Add these numbers to your annual reports, website, social media pages, and targeted marketing messages.

3. Optimize future events.

Another way to show how much you value your supporters is to ask for and implement their feedback. By getting their input on your fundraising events, you’ll know what’s working well and where you stand to improve.

For example, perhaps your school works closely with the PTA to organize a charity auction. Once the auction wraps up, you ask both the PTA members and attendees to weigh in via a survey. Let’s say parent volunteers indicated that they needed more direction at the event, and attendees and donors say they would have liked to access a full auction catalog in advance.

From here, you need to use the data. Implement donors’ suggestions whenever you can to make future events align with their preferences and expectations. Returning to our previous example, your school could start assigning specific roles to each parent, appoint a volunteer manager, and share a digital auction catalog two weeks before the event.

Additionally, you can compare metrics like registration and attendance rates to identify gaps in the process. For instance, if 200 people register but only 125 attend, you may need to send reminders the day before the event to boost attendance.

Wrapping Up

Your data is one of your most valuable assets—don’t leave fundraising revenue on the table by letting it go to waste. Plus, these insights can aid you in building a strong foundation of supporters. Personalizing communications, effectively communicating your impact to supporters, and consistently improving campaigns will help you retain more loyal donors that you can count on to power your mission.

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