As you work to revise and revitalize your organization’s fundraising strategies ask yourself this: “Are we approaching all of our donors the same way, or are we reaching out to each as an individual?” A personalized approach is central to a successful ask, so it’s wise for your organization to get to know its current and potential donors better!
Whether you want to learn more about the donors already in your database or reach out to new supporters who would be eager to contribute to your cause, you can find the information you need by analyzing your donor data. Obtained through the process of prospect research, your donor data can help you:
- Ask your donors for the right gifts.
- Identify donors who share your mission.
- Use a prospect generator to find even more donors.
- Refresh your email marketing strategy.
- Connect with your donors on social media.
Your organization may be missing out on potential donors or underutilizing your current supporters. Ensure that your support base is as strong as possible by putting your donor data to good use! We’ll begin by taking a look at the wealth screening process so that you can know how much to ask for from each of your donors.
1. Ask your donors for the right gifts.
Donor data collected via prospect research is broadly divided into two categories: wealth markers and philanthropic indicators. Wealth markers indicate a given potential donor’s capacity to give, while philanthropic indicators provide information on their past contributions to nonprofits, including yours.
Wealth markers can help your organization identify donors in your database who are capable of contributing more than they have in the past as well as new donors with the potential to give substantially. Have a look at DonorSearch’s guide to wealth screening for more information on this process, which takes into account your current and potential donors’:
- Real estate ownership and stock holdings. Real estate ownership is one of the most reliable indicators of wealth, and potential donors who own valuable properties are more likely to be philanthropically active than the average person. Information on stock holdings, much of which is available through SEC.gov, is also a useful wealth marker.
- Career and business affiliations. Your potential donors’ positions within their companies provide insight into their own wealth, helping you ask them for the right size gift. Their affiliations with certain businesses open the possibility of corporate sponsorship or partnership as well as the opportunity to ask eligible donors for matching gifts from their employers.
- Political giving history. Individuals who support political campaigns are more than likely to be wealthy, even if their political giving is limited to relatively small amounts or one-time gifts. Your organization will want to reach out to any potential donors who have contributed to political campaigns in the past.
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Wealth screening can help your organization identify your next major donors, increase giving from your current supporters, and ensure more successful asks at every level of donation. To maximize your fundraising effort, however, your organization will want to focus on asking the potential donors who are most interested in the work you do.
2. Identify donors who share your mission.
While wealth screening is extremely valuable in that it can help your organization identify high-net-worth donors and make well-informed asks, this process alone can’t tell you which of your current and potential supporters are likely to donate. Philanthropic indicators are necessary for understanding your donors’ past giving histories and their likelihood of supporting your organization.
Philanthropic indicators provide information on the charitable causes and organizations your potential donors have supported in the past. Potential donors who have demonstrated records of philanthropic activity are more likely to support your organization than those without extensive giving histories. Philanthropic indicators measured through prospect research include:
- Past giving to nonprofits, including your own. The number-one indicator as to whether an individual will donate is their past support for your organization. Ensure that you’re reaching out to your current and past donors as well as those who have donated to other nonprofits whose focus or mission is similar to yours.
- Other involvement with nonprofits. Consider reaching out to potential donors who volunteer with or work for other nonprofits, especially those similar to yours. These individuals are already committed to causes like yours and would likely be happy to support your organization.
- Activities and interests. Asking for donations is easier when you know what motivates your donors to give. Potential donors who have expressed their interest in or support for your cause, on social media for instance, are strong candidates that your organization should contact.
Loyal donors willing to provide your organization with continued support are a key component of your organization’s sustainability, and philanthropic indicators can help you identify donors whose commitment to your goals and your continued progress will make them long-term supporters.
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To expand your network of potential donors beyond the familiar names in your donor database, you can use a prospect generator to find more individuals prepared to offer repeated or substantial support to your organization.
3. Use a prospect generator to find even more donors.
Your team can make the prospect research process more efficient and effective by taking advantage of the tools that your prospect research software has to offer. Making sense of donor data and putting it into action is an important function of the software your nonprofit chooses, so you’ll want to consider a service that offers a prospect generator.
A prospect generator allows your organization to identify potential donors who have not yet interacted with your organization, but have given substantially to similar organizations in the past. Many of these individuals are dedicated to causes like yours and would be happy to donate, but haven’t discovered you yet!
You can use a prospect generator to find potential donors within a certain zip code or established distance from your organization, should you want to invite them to an upcoming community event you’re hosting or visit them if their gifts are likely to be significant.
Not familiar with all the organizations that the prospect generator indicates your potential donors have been supporting? The prospect generator will provide links to these organizations so that you can do further research and use this information to determine the best way to approach each prospect.
Finding more potential donors and learning more about them are always beneficial to your fundraising efforts. Whether you’re approaching new donors you have found using a prospect generator or reminding your current donors of why your organization is deserving of their continued support, you can use donor data to improve the way you reach out to them by updating your email marketing strategy.
4. Refresh your email marketing strategy.
If your organization uses email to communicate progress updates to your donors and ask for their continued support, making good use of your donor data can prevent you from sending ineffectual generic messages and ensure that your emails are making an impact. Make your email strategy more effective by using prospect research information to segment your donor database!
Emails to your supporters should be brief, informative, and never too far away from a place to donate online. Your organization should also ensure that you’re not sending every donor the same email (this is equally true for other forms of communication, such as mail)!
Donors are more likely to support nonprofits whose communications to them are personalized. Use your donor data to address your individual donors’ specific concerns, interests, and giving capabilities when you email or otherwise contact them. Are they:
- Involved in your cause, but not yet supporting your organization? Provide evidence of your organization’s commitment to the causes your potential donors care about in forms including images, statistics, and statements on your progress and accomplishments.
- Longtime supporters of your nonprofit? Show them where their donations have gone by providing updates on your most recent projects. Mention their loyalty and be sure to thank them for their continued support, which makes your organization’s good work possible!
- Donors of major or otherwise substantial gifts? Go beyond merely thanking your top supporters by inviting them to special events reserved for your most significant donors. Ensure that these key donors know that your organization values their partnership and that they have an essential role in your continued success.
Using emails that address the specific interests and concerns of different groups of current and potential donors, you’ll be able to personalize your approach to your supporters and encourage their loyalty. To make their transition from email recipient to online donor as smooth as possible, check out Double the Donation’s list of the best online donation tools.
Donors who are receptive to email marketing and comfortable making donations online are likely on social media. Meet them where they already are with social media strategies that appeal to their interests and build personal connections to your organization.
5. Connect with your donors on social media.
According to recent nonprofit fundraising statistics, over half of donors in all age groups prefer to make their contributions online, and social media inspires younger donors to give. Take advantage of these trends by tailoring your social media strategy according to the information your donor data provides.
Especially if your nonprofit is new to social media or has a small team, you may not be able to have a presence on every popular platform. Instead, focus on the platforms that your key current and potential donors already frequent so that you’re guaranteed to reach the right people. As you’re planning your social media presence, keep in mind:
- Your donors’ ages. With more people of all ages now using social media in some form, don’t assume that you’re only reaching your youngest potential donors when you post. If your donor data indicates a large number of young potential donors, consider an Instagram presence; if not, stick to major platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
- Their interests. If your donor data shows that your potential supporters have expressed support for certain aspects of your cause or have been involved in work similar to that of your organization, highlight these facets of your organization in your posts! Your goal is to resonate with your donors’ personal interests.
- Your nonprofit’s strengths. Every social media platform excels at a certain form of sharing. If your nonprofit’s progress is best expressed through heartwarming or inspiring images, a photo-sharing network like Instagram is likely a great choice for you. If you need space for lengthier posts and want to reach the widest audience, Facebook is the way to go. If you’re eager to interact with individual supporters, Twitter is a good option.
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Once your donors have made their contributions, social media is a wonderful way to give your donors public and personalized thanks, encouraging them to become loyal supporters of your organization. Using donor data, your organization will be able to make them feel valued and recognize them for their essential support.
Collecting and analyzing donor data through prospect research allows your organization to approach each of your potential donors as an individual, interested in different aspects of your organization and its work. Use your donor data to refresh your appeals to different groups of donors and watch your fundraising efforts succeed as a result!
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About the Author
Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.
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