Data is gold: How to manage data effectively to maximise fundraising outcomes 11 months ago

While there’s often a direct conflict between emotional and data-based fundraising, there’s no doubt that the different approaches can complement each other to create systems that generate positive outcomes for fundraising campaigns.

Although there’s no doubt that your data is gold, relying on data to propel your fundraising efforts is only beneficial when it’s analysed and managed correctly. Otherwise, it can easily lead you to costly mistakes that can damage significant donor-charity relationships that you’ll find hard to repair.

Here are our tips to use data correctly to maximise your fundraising outcomes.

Identify donors giving habits to avoid bombardment

While quarterly appeals may form your direct mail strategy, donors have their own unique giving habits.

Some may give annually at Christmas, others bi-annually. Some at every appeal, and others sporadically only when they receive an appeal letter that stirs their emotions.

Either way, use reporting tools to identify when a donor is likely to respond to an appeal and use that data to plan the frequency of your asks.

If a donor only ever gives at the end of the tax year and they give you this information, asking four times a year is a waste of your resources and will only serve to annoy the donor who has made their intentions clear.

Update mail codes to make sure you only contact donors when they want to hear from you.

Suggest donation amounts

The amount someone donates is often nothing more than habit.  By analysing the value of donations, you can introduce a recommended donation amount in your appeal letter that is slightly higher than their average donation.

Of course, the donor can choose to donate at their usual level, but suggesting an amount a few dollars higher may change their donation habits of the future without seeming like such a big leap to them.

Simple data analysis will help you choose an appropriate amount to ask for which could increase the donor’s average amount, the ROI for your campaign, and the value to your organisation.

Introduce tangible asks

Tangible asks encourage higher levels of giving by allowing the donor to visualise what their donation could buy and the positive impact it can make within the organisation and broader community.

Analysing your donor’s giving data will help you identify the most appropriate tangible ask to slot into your appeal letter. For example, there’s little point in asking someone who regularly donates at the $50 level to consider making a $467 donation. Similarly, if your donor frequently gives $500, asking them to donate any less than that will have a detrimental impact on your budgets.

Personalise appeals

An appeal sent to ‘sir/madam’ or ‘the homeowner’ is going to have limited success. People give, first and foremost, because they feel connected to the person asking. Always personalise your campaigns and make sure your database is regularly cleaned and updated to make sure all donor details are accurate.

If you address an appeal letter to a couple who have advised you they’ve separated, or continue to mail to deceased donors, you’ll give people a negative impression of your charity which is likely to hinder your fundraising efforts.

Further, you can create rules in your segmentation that allow you to tailor sections of your appeal letter.  Modifications can be as simple as thanking a donor for their last gift or identifying the last time they donated and the amount.

You’re likely to have thousands of records in your database and personalisation of this level can be completely automated but will have a positive impact on your donor who will feel as though their appeal has been sent by someone who knows them.

Identify touchpoints for giving

Analysis of metrics from an e-appeal and online giving can tell you the exact time an online donation is made and identify any patterns in the time of day, week, month or year. You can even build up a bigger picture of what your donor likes to do before they donate and tailor campaigns around this information.

Use this information to contact donors at the exact time they’re likely to make a gift increasing the chances of success for your campaign.

Identify preferred contact method

Meeting the sometimes-complex needs of your donor is crucial to the success of your fundraising campaigns. You can never assume anything about a donor’s habits or donating preferences, so analysis of existing data will make sure you address their requirements.

A donor might like to read your appeal letters but prefer to give online. They might not want to hear from you at all and send a cheque of their own accord. Or perhaps they like to receive contact from your call centre operators and have a chat with someone before giving their credit card details.

Thorough analysis of existing data will help you identify your donor’s preferences and select contact codes that meet their needs.

If a donor returns an appeal letter without opening it, adopt in-house procedures to try and establish contact before removing them from the database. Often, a letter ‘returned to sender’ is merely a desire to reduce the frequency of their mailings rather than remove them from the database and lose them as a donor altogether.

Proper management of data will streamline your appeals, increase donor experience and ultimately raise more funds for your organisation without impacting your time and budget.

To find out how the data analysis capabilities of SupporterHub can help increase your fundraising outcomes across all your programs, contact us today.