Whether in times of stability or uncertainty, building and maintaining strong relationships with your donors is the key to hitting your fundraising goals. Establishing genuine connections with donors builds trust and increases the chance that supporters will continue supporting your mission over the long term.
But before you can establish and cultivate meaningful relationships with your supporters, you’ll first need to organize relevant data about them. Gathering donor data and leveraging it to improve your interactions with supporters is the foundation of effective donor management and fundraising success.
In this post, we’ll highlight four strategies for improving your donor management:
- Track donor engagement.
- Conduct prospect research.
- Use data to improve fundraising campaigns.
- Engage supporters in all aspects of your mission.
These strategies will allow you to make the most of the resources at your disposal, such as your supporter database, to reach donors where they are, appeal to their interests and preferences, and maximize their engagement.
1. Track donor engagement.
Donor engagement data is some of the most important information your nonprofit should track. This data includes things like fundraising data, your history of communication with your supporters, and their personal information. This data can give you a sense of how well your engagement strategies are working and where there’s room for improvement.
Collect and store information like:
- Donation history. Store information on the recency, frequency, type, and average amount of each donor’s gifts. Recording this data can help your organization predict a donor’s future donation behavior and send more effective appeals to them during fundraising campaigns.
- Event attendance. Keep track of the events your supporters attend, including both fundraising and stewardship events. You should also track any donations they made during the event and activities they participated in.
- Phone calls. One way to deepen your relationships is by having a one-on-one conversation with a donor or supporter. Call your supporters to thank them for their support and to invite them to upcoming engagement opportunities. Keep a log of all phone calls in your donor management software solution or nonprofit CRM, including when the calls took place, whether they were answered, and what was discussed.
- Meetings. Whether you meet with donors in person or virtually, take notes during each meeting and record them in your CRM for reference. In future conversations, you can touch on personal details and ask questions based on past meetings. This shows supporters that you’ve been paying attention and care about them as individuals. This will increase their affinity for your nonprofit and will increase the chances that they’ll make a donation in the future.
- Email open and click-through rates. Keep track of the email campaigns you send your supporters and how they respond to different emails. For instance, when a new supporter donates to your organization, send them a series of welcome emails. You can learn about the donor’s interests based on which ones they open, read, and take the desired action or click through to another page.
- Donor retention rate. Your donor retention rate is one of your most important fundraising metrics. This tracks how many donors continue to give to your nonprofit over time. Once you have the rate, you can assess the impact that different fundraising and outreach campaigns have on this metric. For example, let’s say you add three stewardship campaigns to your outreach calendar, start calling donors to thank them for their contributions, and increase your overall communication with supporters. As a result, you find that your donor retention rate increases that year. You can draw the conclusion that these efforts successfully encouraged donors to give and plan your future fundraising strategies for the next year accordingly.
To effectively track and store these metrics, you’ll need a powerful donor management software solution. This solution will allow you to do things like maintain donor profiles that detail each donor’s full history of interactions with your organization.
Prospect research is the process of assessing the ability and willingness of a supporter to contribute larger amounts to your organization. When a certain donor exhibits both a high generosity level and a strong engagement history, you can conclude that the individual might be a good person to reach out to when soliciting a major gift.
Throughout the prospect research process, you’ll look for wealth indicators that reveal a donor’s giving capacity. These indicators include real estate holdings, stock holdings, business affiliations, and political giving history.
All of these metrics are publicly available, so your organization could conduct research on your own about each supporter in your database. However, there are tools designed to help you do this quickly and effectively, which will save your team time that can be better spent on moving your mission forward. Check out Double the Donation’s list of prospect research tools to help make your choice.
You’ll also want to make sure that the tool you choose integrates with your CRM solution. One example of this is how DonorSearch integrates with Bloomerang, a donor management software solution built for nonprofits of all sizes. This way, you’ll have the information on a donor’s capacity and affinity to give organized in one place.
Measuring donor generosity helps your organization set the groundwork for future fundraising success. Once you’ve identified major donor prospects, you can craft tailored outreach and stewardship strategies that help build genuine relationships.
After you’ve taken the time to carefully track donor engagement and generosity, it’s time to put the insights you’ve gathered to use. Use your donor data to develop a concrete plan to help you reach your goals, especially when it comes to large-scale fundraising campaigns.
For example, if your nonprofit plans a capital campaign, you may develop a gift range chart depending on findings from your prospect research and your historic fundraising success. These charts depict the number of gifts of certain sizes that your nonprofit needs to achieve its overall fundraising goal. Assess your prospective donors’ giving capacity to determine which prospects might be able to fulfill the different giving amounts required to reach your goal.
To give another example, if your nonprofit is seeking to raise $100,000 during the beginning stages of a capital campaign, you may want to reach out to donors for one gift of $50,000, two gifts of $10,000, and six gifts of $5,000. Using the donor data you’ve collected, you can easily determine which of your major donor prospects may be able to give at each level.
You can also use donor data to:
- Segment your donors. Segmentation is the act of grouping your donors based on their shared characteristics. For example, you might create a donor segment of the supporters in your database who give at the same donation level or who attended the same fundraising event. This allows you to send more tailored, relevant content to each group that they’re more likely to engage with.
- Steward donors. Once you identify major donor prospects, you should steward them to increase the likelihood that these individuals will be inclined to support your organization. Bloomerang’s major gift fundraising guide recommends arranging face-to-face meetings, asking for a prospect’s feedback, and maintaining regular contact through social media and email.
- Personalize fundraising asks. Personalized messages will resonate with your supporters more than generic communications. Reference the data in your database to use supporters’ names and contact information and their individual interests to tailor your messages when reaching out to them.
In order to use your data effectively, you need to make sure it’s accurate. This is also known as data hygiene (making sure your data is “clean”). Review your database regularly to scan for any duplicates and profiles that have incomplete or outdated information. Once you’ve determined which actions you need to take to practice good data hygiene, establish ongoing data entry processes to ensure your data is accurate.
Using the data in your donor management system can help you deepen your relationships with donors and encourage them to get more involved in your mission.
Stay connected with your supporters throughout the year by inviting donors to get involved with:
- Volunteering opportunities. Let donors know about your upcoming volunteer opportunities and how they can register to support your organization.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Encourage your donors to become peer-to-peer fundraising ambassadors and raise funds on behalf of your cause. By participating in these campaigns, they’ll describe their connection to your mission and promote your cause to their family members and friends, helping you reach more potential supporters.
- Appreciation events. Show donors that you appreciate their contributions by inviting them to formal or informal appreciation events. These can include things like a casual happy hour or a formal appreciation gala.
Fostering deeper relationships with donors can help you earn lifetime supporters for your mission. Use the data you have to start deepening those relationships today.
Storing and analyzing the data you collect in your donor management software solution is at the center of effective fundraising and marketing strategies. With an effective system in place, your nonprofit can make the most of your donor data and improve your overall approach to donor relationships.
About the Author: Jay Love
Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.
Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth.
He is a graduate of Butler University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Over the years, he has given more than 2,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers.