Connecting with your donors in a digital and socially-distanced era can feel worlds away from providing the ‘personal touch’ and the engaging experiences that have always been an essential part of effective fundraising. This can become more challenging when you have to spend your precious time trying to connect the dots between pieces of information, rather than finding new ways to enhance your donor relationships.
Fundraising teams are commonly tasked with managing multiple online softwares. In fact, it’s commonplace; switching between multiple platforms, logging into different systems and uploading or exporting spreadsheets forms much of the administrative portion of advancement roles. The risk that arises from this way of working is considerable, if not understandable. Human error is highly likely – after all, it’s why there are rubbers on the end of pencils! However, risk can be multiplied, and that’s what’s going to happen when you’re managing disparate data and multiple systems.
Resources are stretched, the economy is in downturn and non-profits are under pressure to ensure donations are spent on the cause. It’s never been more important to work efficiently, so that you can get on with getting results.
Data-driven. It may be a buzzword, and one that is commonly used to cover a range of activities, but despite the mystery shrouding this approach, it’s far simpler than it first appears.
Using data to drive your fundraising efforts doesn’t mean letting go of the human aspect of advancement. It means you can work more efficiently and spend more time connecting with donors. It comes down to probability. Past behaviour is the biggest predictor of future behaviour*, and admins that operate connected systems have a wealth of data at their fingertips. If a donor, or prospective donor, has engaged with your organisation or taken a positive action previously, such as attending an event, downloading a resource, or opened an email from you, you need to be able to connect the dots.
The ability to segment and report on donor records is key to the ‘filter-first’ approach for ToucanTech admins. Layering audience criteria to create a segment can feel like guesswork for many fundraisers. The challenge often lies in the siloed systems that they inherit. With a connected system, you can track all donor activity in one place, and avoid the embarrassment of failing to dedupe an email segment, or worse still, failing to thank a donor promptly.
By choosing a data-led approach, you’re committing to use what you know rather than what you think. Applying this insight makes your fundraising strategy effective and efficient.
It’s not magic, it’s just segmentation
Being able to predict donor behaviour is gold dust in fundraising. Segmentation helps you to engage your donors on a deeper level, and to really break down how your donors are interacting with you. Using these insights you can inform a smarter strategy that feels natural and engaging to your donors. This will improve your fundraising outcomes.
Using dynamic filters in your database can seek out pools of engaged supporters that are ready to take the next step in your donor process. Tonbridge School, located in the UK, used engagement filters to find a group of supporters that were twice as likely to donate, and targeted with tailored messaging to encourage support. This is a prime example of where data can help you to make fundraising asks in untapped parts of your community.
Hold onto your donors (and win them back)
Data holds the key to making your fundraising strategy less risky; knowing when to make the right ask at the right time removes the frustration that donors can feel if they are being targeted with the wrong messaging, or contacted in a way that they don’t enjoy. Whether you’re dealing with hundreds or thousands of supporters, it’s important to treat each donor as an individual. Tracking preferences and trends using a smart database is one way to help avoid costly or awkward mistakes.
One of the main insights that data can give you are the trends of your fundraising: in particular the rate of retention that your organisation has. This is an important factor to keep an eye on, as gaining new donors is expensive and time consuming. A high drop off rate can suggest urgent areas where your communications and activities are not lining up. Using filters on your data gives you a chance to intervene before it’s too late, by seeking out unengaged supporters and providing them with content or opportunities that delight and bring them back on side before they hit the unsubscribe button.
Work smarter, not harder. Fundraise faster with ToucanTech.
*A comprehensive study, performed by Fidelity Charitable, found that 87 percent of volunteers say there is a relationship between their volunteer behavior and the causes they support financially. – https://trust.guidestar.org/converting-volunteers-to-donors-missed-opportunity-for-most-nonprofits or Volunteering and events are “gateway drugs.”
Nearly 75 percent of those who volunteered say they are more likely to donate. This is especially true for Millennials (52 percent), who are most likely to donate after volunteering. http://www.thenonprofittimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Donor-Loyalty-Study.pdf