We know fundraising is the lifeblood of the nonprofit sector. And we know that high quality, clean, verified data is foundational to the fundraising efforts of modern nonprofit organisations.
But data inevitably degrades. Supporter data reflects a snapshot in time, and supporters aren’t static: they change their opinions, their living situations, financial circumstances, and so on. As data degrades, the holes in your database grow wider. This can impact campaign ROI when, for example, an increasing proportion of your correspondence gets returned to sender unopened.
How do you close the gaps in your database and make sure every campaign is working its hardest for your organisation? This is the role of data enrichment. Data enrichment closes the gaps in your data and gives it more context by adding relevant information. When you know more about your supporter, you get more value out of your database for less cost.
With more information, you can communicate with your supporters in ways that are mindful of their values, preferences, or factors like their age or location. Data enrichment supports:
• Retention Pareto Fundraising reports a 10% increase in donor retention can increase the lifetime value of your donor database by 200%.
• Lifting gifts-in-wills Donors are more likely to leave a bequest to your organisation.
• Access to supporter circles of acquaintanceship or social influence through word of mouth and genuine engagement.
• Making sure you’re only contacting the right people, excising costly and wasteful excess sends from your campaigns.
Case Study: Catholic Mission Date of Birth and Australian Death Check
Our team of nonprofit data specialists helped Catholic Mission enrich their contact data. They began with two specific and achievable goals in mind — an important first step.
1. Reactivate disengaged supporters The organisation’s supporter base had been collected over decades. The advantage of this is a rich and expansive database, but degradation in quality is an inevitable downside. As time moves away from the snapshot point at which the information was captured, people move, grow and change. Catholic Mission was aware that their data needed to be carefully considered before they tried to reconnect with disengaged donors.
2. Conduct fundraising in a way that does the least possible harm One of Catholic Mission’s concerns was acting with sensitivity to the circumstances of their donors: they didn’t want to reach out to supporters who had passed away and upset families, and they didn’t want to request donations from elderly and potentially vulnerable supporters.
These laudable goals came together in a data enrichment project: check the deceased status of supporters and add age information. The organisation came to a trusted broker of the Australian Death Check, a government-backed source of national death information able to provide accurate information about donors who have passed away.
Every organisation’s enrichment goals are different. For example, a university typically has dates of birth on file for alumni, but they might need to enrich their database with income information. Knowing the income brackets of alumni helps ensure expensive, limited-capacity fundraising events are prospected appropriately, preserving campaign ROI and avoiding any embarrassment associated with reaching out to those in reduced circumstances.
It’s important to consider where your enrichment data comes from, too. With high profile data issues like the Optus breach earlier this year compromising significant quantities of personal information, it’s critical that nonprofits use trusted data sources – that’s why Catholic Mission sought information from a reputable broker of a known government database. When you’re not sure where the data you’re using for enrichment comes from, you risk creating compliance and regulatory challenges for your organisation.