[GUEST POST] Donor Data: 3 Key Strategies Your Nonprofit Needs to Succeed

Donor data is key for nonprofits to maximize their fundraising efforts. Saving data and keeping it clean helps organizations personalize messages that will better engage and impact their intended audiences.

But now, times have changed. The coronavirus pandemic has many nonprofits and supporters scrambling to survive. Events have been cancelled or postponed, your team is working from home, and the economic downturn is making fundraising more difficult. 

So is donor data still a top priority? The answer: absolutely. 

Donor data is more important now than ever before. It can be easy to get caught up in trying to find your nonprofit’s new normal. Our recommendation is to continue prioritizing your donor data and its maintenance. You’ll find it easier to use that data to help your organization succeed now and in the future as things start to return to “normal.”

Your nonprofit should make sure to use your donor data to implement the following strategies: 

    1. Create Smart Donor Segments
    2. Know What to Ask For
    3. Maintain High Engagement Rates

Each of these strategies may look a little different given the current situation of the world. We’ll walk through each one and discuss how it can help your organization succeed even in the worst of times. 

1. Create Smart Donor Segments

Within your nonprofit CRM, your nonprofit can use donor segmentation to identify and reach out to your most valuable donors. Make sure to prioritize your donors so that you reach out to the following groups first and foremost: 

  • Your major donors. Major donors are those that give the most to your nonprofit. The top 20% of donors tend to give 80% of fundraising revenue. 
  • Long-term loyal supporters. These are the supporters who have stuck by your organization’s side for years. Show them that you’ll stick by their side too. 
  • Peer-to-peer fundraisers. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a strong engagement and fundraising tool that can be completely virtual. It’s likely you’ll need to lean on this resource during the pandemic. 
  • Monthly donors. As more and more people try to cut their expenses, make sure your nonprofit continues to show the impact and your appreciation to prevent the loss of these valuable supporters. 

Use donor data and segmentation in your organization’s donor database to identify these key donor groups. Then, reach out to them via phone, email, or direct mail. 

Be sure to first acknowledge the difficulty of the situation. Ask your donors how they’re doing, and acknowledge that not everyone will be able to give right now. Thank them for their past contributions and explain the positive impact they’ve had already on your organization. 

Then, you can express what your nonprofit is doing to mitigate risks and continue giving back to the community. Explain why your need has increased and the impact that donors can make by continuing to contribute. This will lead you to the fundraising ask. 

2. Know What to Ask For

Your nonprofit will need to continue raising funds during this time, even though it may be tough. You’ve used prospect research in the past to help determine your fundraising ask amount. Use the data you have in your donor database to do the same, but with a slightly different spin. 

Recognizing that many of your donors may be out of work or working through some financial difficulties, your organization should adjust your fundraising campaign strategy to make sure you’re asking for the right amount. 

Use the data in your CRM to consider relevant fundraising details such as: 

  • Each supporter’s employer. Accessing data about supporters’ employers can be very helpful during this time. For example, you can expect your supporters who work for restaurants to be experiencing a cut in their general income. Therefore, you may ask for less than usual from them. Meanwhile, supporters who work for companies like Zoom or Home Depot may not be experiencing as drastic of a downturn in their income and can continue to give.
  • How long supporters have been contributing. If supporters have been giving to your nonprofit for a long time, it indicates a very strong relationship. They are less likely to change their habits and regular donation amount. Meanwhile, recent first-time supporters may not have this same connection. Long-term donors may be more likely to give close to their regular amount, while recently acquired donors are more likely to decrease their gift amounts. 

Make sure to take recent events into consideration when you craft fundraising asks so that you ask for the right amount from your supporters. The organization, Fundraising Letters, offers  donation ask templates that can help you to start crafting your communication after you’ve decided how much to ask for. 

3. Maintain High Engagement Rates

During this time, your nonprofit should keep in mind that fundraising is more than an immediate need. Maintaining high supporter engagement rates will help your nonprofit with a long-term fundraising strategy. 

Implement some engagement strategies for your supporters, even if it results in less fundraising revenue for your organization. Be sure to share information that is informative and useful for your constituents. For instance, you may decide to: 

  • Launch an advocacy campaign
  • Provide downloadable resources for supporters
  • Send emails with coronavirus updates (short and specific are best)
  • Encourage the use of your organization’s hashtag on social media
  • Provide online webinars or information sessions about your core mission

Many nonprofits have a tendency to think only about their immediate funding needs when they craft a fundraising strategy. Instead, looking at the big picture will help you create a more sustainable funding approach. Check out re:Charity’s fundraising guide for a step-by-step guide to create a strategy in the best of times.

The coronavirus has meant many changes in our day-to-day lives, and no one is exempt from its impact. Given all that has changed, make sure that your nonprofit’s storage and use of donor data remains strong. These strategies will help your organization get through these difficult times and emerge stronger as things go back to normal. 

By Gerard Tonti, Senior Creative Developer, Salsa Labs

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits.

Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.

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