[GUEST POST] How Proper Data Management Can Help Fundraisers

With today’s technology, the amount of data that nonprofits collect is seemingly endless. Leveraging good data can help a nonprofit sustain operations with limited resources, or better yet, make large and impactful changes on its mission altogether. 

From maximizing fundraising dollars to boosting supporter retention, the impact of effective data management can be significant for nonprofits. A strategic approach allows you to improve operations across the board and build lasting supporter relationships. All of this equates to a greater impact made by your organization. However, proper data management is often a blind spot for growing organizations, and they rarely have a strong understanding of how to best leverage their existing data.

To help, we’ll walk through four major benefits that commonly-gathered data can have on your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts:

  1. Maximize matching gift dollars
  2. Create hyper-personalized outreach
  3. Improve your fundraising campaigns
  4. Grow volunteer impact

As nonprofits continue to shift to virtual operations, it’s important to have a data-driven strategy set in place to make smart use of your metrics. If you’re ready to maximize the usability of your organization’s data, let’s take a look at these key benefits paired with the data needed to experience them.

1. Maximize matching gift dollars.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a phenomenon that’s been growing in popularity for quite some time. By launching philanthropic initiatives, businesses can support the causes their employees care about, give back to their communities, and create a positive image of their company in the public eye. 

Matching gift programs — a specific type of corporate giving initiative — represent a major fundraising opportunity, and the type of data you collect can aid you greatly in maximizing your matching gift potential. In short, matching gift programs allow you to multiply the contributions you’re already receiving. When an employer offers this type of program, they commit to matching their employees’ philanthropic gifts to eligible organizations. While this is a sizable potential source of funding, many nonprofits leave this money on the table — $4 to $7 billion each year to be more exact.

While your fundraising team may already be capitalizing on these opportunities, there’s likely a considerable amount of matching gift dollars currently flying under your team’s radar. To secure your portion of the billions in unclaimed matching gift funds, start by gathering employer information during the donation process. 

Additionally, each company has different requirements that their employees must meet in order to be considered eligible, so you’ll need to pay special attention to the following matching gift data for each donor’s employer:

  • Minimum and maximum donation requirements
  • The ratio at which they offer to match donations
  • Employee eligibility requirements
  • Nonprofit eligibility requirements

After locating your match-eligible donors, there are a number of additional organization-wide metrics your team should track to determine progress. These key performance indicators include the total amount that’s available in matching gift revenue, the number of total requests submitted, and the number of matching gifts actually received. This will ensure you’re actively following up on all available opportunities and won’t overlook any potential matching funds. 

How a Matching Gift Platform Can Help

Centralizing this information into a single dashboard can give you a quick snapshot of your organization’s matching gift potential. Take a look at this example from Double the Donation that displays an organization’s all-time matching gift totals, broken up by month:

Notice how it presents the data in a concise way while still providing valuable insight, so your matching gift coordinator can easily determine which areas to focus on. For instance, while there’s a lifetime total matching gift value of more than $9 million, only about half of these matches have been submitted. With dashboards like this one, you’ll be able to click around and see which of your donors still need to submit their matches, so you can reach out and drive these gifts to completion.

Overall, access to a matching gift database will simplify the process and empower you to inquire about as many of these available matches as possible. With more than 18 million individuals working for companies with matching gift programs, you likely have a large percentage of donors who work for these companies. Having processes in place for collecting each valuable data point will help you locate these individuals and streamline the process across the board.

2. Create hyper-personalized outreach.

A major benefit of proper data management is the ability to create donor profiles that illustrate a holistic picture of each supporter. Doing this empowers you to leverage segmentation strategies. In short, segmentation involves separating individual supporters into meaningful groups based on commonalities, which then allows you to deliver tailored fundraising appeals to each group.

Let’s walk through three ways you can segment your supporters using your fundraising technology for more effective outreach:

  • Communication preferences: First things first, ensure you have different segmentation lists based on each supporter’s contact preferences (i.e., phone call, email, etc.). This will ensure you’re using your resources and time contacting them in a way that’s most likely to yield results.
  • Giving history: Note the channels through which your donors give (i.e., debit/credit card, ACH direct deposit, check, and so on). Further, take note of their average donation amounts and giving frequency. This will help you personalize your fundraising asks and request appropriate donation amounts at the right time. Otherwise, you risk asking for the wrong amount at the wrong time, which can lead to you missing out on a donation altogether.
  • Past interactions with your team: Beyond donations, there’s a number of engagement metrics you’ll want to track. For instance, this could include volunteering, event attendance, or peer-to-peer fundraising participation. You can then segment based on that data to make sure supporters receive appeals to partake in similar opportunities in the future.

When it comes to cultivating strong supporter relationships, segmentation goes a long way. With sufficient prospect research, you’ll be able to develop hyper-personalized outreach that shows you’re paying attention to their unique preferences and behaviors. If you understand how donors like to be contacted, as well as their giving preferences, you’ll increase your chances of receiving a donation or increasing their involvement in another way.

3. Improve your fundraising campaigns.

In addition to your day-to-day fundraising efforts, you likely offer larger fundraising activities that make up the bulk of your revenue, like events and peer-to-peer fundraisers. Effectively using data before, during, and after your fundraising events is essential to maximize the return on the time and resources spent to make it happen.

Here’s how you can leverage donor data in your event management strategies:

  • Analyze your donor database. Depending on your donors’ preferences, you’ll find that some campaigns are more successful than others. For instance, if you have a large number of younger supporters, you’ll find that peer-to-peer campaigns are particularly effective since these fundraisers are heavily dependent on social media.
  • Look at past participation numbers. Take a look at past participation numbers to figure out which types of fundraisers interest your supporters. If you noticed a large dip in registration for one event compared to another, you may need to reevaluate your strategy. Especially as you try out new virtual event strategies, it’s best to determine where your efforts are best spent to maximize the return on your efforts.
  • Determine gaps in your outreach. If your outreach is falling short of expectations, analyze and compare your messages to determine what works and what doesn’t. For instance, determine what an appropriate amount of text is, which visual components seem to be most engaging (e.g., font, images, videos), and what subject lines lead to higher open rates. This way, you’ll be able to strike the perfect balance in your outreach.
  • Analyze gift sizes made at past fundraisers. When analyzing previous donations, look specifically at how much was raised during past events as well as whether they were allocated to specific programs run by your organization. This will enable you to repeat popular activities at future events.

When implementing these data-driven strategies for upcoming events, you’ll be well-equipped to set registration and donation goals that make sense for your organization. Actively refining your strategies should be an ongoing task as the nonprofit sector continues adapting and trying out new virtual fundraising strategies. In no time, you’ll boost engagement in your fundraising efforts overall.

4. Grow volunteer impact.

As a nonprofit organization, your team probably places a heavy emphasis on fundraising, as it should.! However, this leaves out a major player in your efforts: your volunteers. The volunteer community is a massive force in nonprofits’ efforts, with an estimated 77 million American adults donating nearly 6.9 million hours of their time to worthy causes, according to The Corporation for National and Community Service.

With all of these community service hours being donated at an estimated rate of $27/hour (which increases with volunteer grants), it’s only natural to wonder how you can measure, and therefore maximize, volunteer impact within your own organization. Let’s explore two2 primary ways to measure volunteer impact:

  1. Quantitative metrics. Hard numbers will help you gauge the effectiveness of your program altogether. For instance, volunteer retention will help you determine if your experience is meeting expectations. From here, take a look at your conversion and selection rates. If you work with hundreds of volunteers, it’s critical to know how you’re acquiring and training them in order to meet demand.
  2. Qualitative metrics. While numbers are certainly helpful, simply asking volunteers and stakeholders for recommended improvements will provide unparalleled insight. Consider sending out standardized satisfaction surveys to both your volunteers and any stakeholders who are served or impacted by these individuals. This will enable you to gather feedback for improvement instead of making guesses based solely on quantitative data.

While each type of data has its unique benefits, you’ll reap the best results when you gather and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. No matter how you go about it, prioritizing volunteer management will allow you to further your work’s impact, empowering you to do more with fewer expenses. This way, you can spend less time focusing on fundraising and more time improving the quality of your work and building relationships.

Many nonprofits struggle to use data in ways that further their mission. A comprehensive data management strategy contributes heavily to a number of major areas. Overall, it allows supporters to maximize the impact of their gifts and volunteer hours while it lets the nonprofit maintain close ties with supporters by personalizing interactions.

To improve your processes further, work with a nonprofit tech expert to audit your tech stack and identify ways to strengthen your approach to data. Those with ample experience will be able to provide tailored advice based on years of experience. Especially for growing organizations, this guidance can be invaluable for years to come.

In a time where online outreach is so prevalent, it’s more important than ever for nonprofits to take advantage of their available resources to fully grow their fundraising. More nonprofits have found that using technology enables them to reach more diverse donor groups in ways that were once unimaginable. From matching gifts to volunteerism, data can provide insight into your nonprofit’s efforts. Implement an effective data management strategy, and you’ll start to see the return on your efforts in no time.

by Adam Weinger, President, Double the Donation

Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

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