Fundraising is the lifeblood of the nonprofit organisation and modern fundraising practice leans heavily on customer experience.
It’s no wonder: there’s no better way to maintain donor loyalty than to make each donor feel as though they are a valued contributor to the cause. That’s done by creating a smooth, seamless customer experience that leaves each donor feeling like the organisation knows them personally. Nonprofits with successful fundraising programs are those capable of devising sensitive, flexible and dynamic supporter journeys.
The expectations donors have of the organisations to which they donate have never been higher. They expect to see the impact of their donations to a cause and to have a seamless experience throughout their entire supporter journey.
They expect any communication to be personalised and relevant, and contextualised by their history with the organisation. When they’re contacted, they expect accurate, accessible information on their past interactions to be readily available to any representative with whom they speak. Data underpins every one of these expectations.
Often an invisible asset and overlooked in fundraising discussions, donor data is the bedrock upon which all communication between an organisation and its donors rests. It consists of all donor information: their histories and donations, preferences, contact information and any specific events or drives they engaged with.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD DATA
With clean data, collected rigorously and stored correctly, an organisation gets a 360-degree view of each donor. This information can then be accessed by staff through automated systems at need to support fundraising efforts.
In plain terms, that means donors receive communications addressed to them by name, to the right place and by the right method, that are relevant to them and sensitive to where they are currently placed in their supporter journey.
The outcomes of fundraising supported by poor quality data can be disastrous. Using poor quality data, organisations risk sending repetitive or irrelevant messages, messages that contain incorrect or outdated information, or risk becoming a nuisance to their donors.
Supporters who receive this kind of communication feel as though they are not being valued and, in the worst case, as though their generous donations have been wasted on pointless marketing instead of going to the cause to which they donated.
Under these circumstances, communicating with donors is laborious and ineffective.It doesn’t matter how good your contact centre staff are if a donor’s response is never recorded in any useful and accessible way.
That information has no impact on future efforts and donors rapidly begin to feel like they’re not being listened to if they have to give fundraisers the same information on multiple occasions.
Without quality data, a nonprofit organisation can have the strongest campaign and the best staff in the world and still fail to meet its fundraising goals.
AN EXAMPLE FROM AUSTIN HEALTH
Austin Health is a prominent health service focused on patient care, teaching and research. They rely on donors to fund their valuable work, and fundraise in multiple ways, from direct appeals to events and raffles.
Last year, Austin Health was in a position where they had the experience and the industry knowledge to create a good fundraising strategy, but their data was stored in four separate legacy systems and was, in some cases, up to 20 years old. They knew that to keep up with modern donor expectations, they needed to sort out their data.
Quality data is extremely important, but you can’t clean up and organise your donor data without first considering how you’re going to use that data – both in terms of current and future use. This means that every solution to problematic data is just as unique as the organisation that seeks it.
With such a complex background, Austin Health turned to Data Consultants Australia for our data solution. We made sure we understood Austin Health’s specific requirements through a series of collaborative workshops, so their solution was tailored to their unique needs.
In the end, we cleansed, de-duplicated, verified and consolidated their legacy systems before migrating all that information into a new CRM they’d selected. With information on 300,000 donors and 600,000 gifts resting in the one system, Austin Health has been able to move forward with their fundraising with confidence.
They now have a 360-degree view of each donor that is accessible to key staff and systems at need. Having clean, well-organised data to support their fundraising has also relieved the administrative burden – there’s now no need for extra data entry or double-handling of data.
“We are far more efficient than we have ever been before,” says Lauren Stewart, Donor Data and Systems Manager at Austin Health.
CONNECTING WITH DATA
Strong donor-organisation connections are vital to fundraising – and you can’t make those connections without data.
For more information www.data.com.au
Martin is Group General Manager Data Services at Data Consultants Australia and has more than a decade of experience across data quality, analytics and related technology.