Fundraising Intelligence (Donor Data)

“Donor retention”, “donor management”, “donor relationship management”, and CRM.  In the nonprofit realm, you’re likely well familiar with these tired terms.  Of course, organizations certainly need to track donations, maintain donor contact info, and generate tax receipts.  If you’re not already already setup with that baseline (digitally and automatically), please contact us — we’d love to help!

Once that foundation is established, it’s vital that nonprofits have an answer, strategy, and system in place to answer the following question:

If I needed to raise funding for a new asset, specific location, emergency need, campaign, or unique situation, could I identify past donors that would be most likely to contribute?

Let’s bury the old “retention” and “management” concepts, instead focusing on something much more useful: Fundraising Intelligence.  Like its brother “business intelligence”, fundraising intelligence is all about using rich datasets to make strategic and tactical decisions.  Doing so must be knowledge-based and efficient.  As a nonprofit director, you have enough to do…

Here’s an example that came up recently:

My wife and I love supporting an organization that directly rescues and rehabilitates kids from international sex trafficking, all with a Christ centering and focus.  It’s an organization that we feel we can never give enough to — the do some seriously incredible work and their accomplishments for the Kingdom are countless.

We have a long record of giving that primarily targets a specific city in Asia, its projects, its facilities, its staff, and its kids.  A couple of years ago, that region was hit by a typhoon and one of the buildings was severely damaged.  That building’s initial construction is one of the projects we had helped fund.  And that building housed activities that we had donated towards.  (I hate how chest-thumping that all sounds — I swear this is going somewhere…)

How did we find out about it?  A buried Facebook post, several months later, that we just happened to notice.

But here’s the rub.  After the storm, if someone from the organization would have emailed us, called us, or sent us something in the mail, we absolutely would have contributed to the repairs.  In a heartbeat, without a second thought.  Those facilities are near and dear to us and we’d do anything to stay involved.

What was missing?  As a starting point, organizations need to not only track basic donor/donation information, but also as many specifics as possible.  In a donor’s history, what was targeted?  Do they focus more on projects, assets, funds, or emergencies?  Any specific missional categories?  Which locations?  Going further, what do you know about the donor himself/herself?  Demographics can help identify general passions (ex: teachers/parents may be more interested in children, engineers in tech, musicians in the arts, etc.).

Then comes the tricky part.  How do you make sense of the data, identify individuals most likely to donate towards a given opportunity, and then later pull measurable results?  Honestly, this can be hard.  But useful systems, tools, and processes make it easier.  And this day and age, very little should require manual, repetitious tasks.

Finally, an elevator pitch (sorry…): this is one of our biggest passions.  Our company’s services have revolved around data from day 1.  Few things excite us more than deriving order from the chaos, especially in automated and efficient ways.  We’d love to serve you and your mission.

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