Nonprofit marketing leaders are always thinking about how to best communicate with their donors. Personalized and valuable communication is what builds relationships, and long-lasting donor relationships are what set the foundation for nonprofit growth. No matter the strategy, the best way to optimize your donor communication processes is to leverage donor data.
Writing donation request letters and other communications to your supporters needs more thought put into it than pressing the send button on a general template. Your donor data should play a key role in your communication strategy, helping you create targeted content and personal experiences for recipients.
To collect key data and utilize it effectively for communication, you’ll need a dedicated system of integrated donor software. This way, your communications tool can easily access data points and you can leverage them in marketing content.
This guide will walk you through the top ways you can leverage donor data in your communications with the help of fundraising tools. Even if you’re familiar with concepts such as donor segmentation and data automation, it’s always good to go over the basics and ensure you’re not missing anything crucial in your current strategy.
You’ll be exploring:
- What type of donor data should you collect?
- What are the key data points to include in donor communications?
- How does donor data help with retention rates and relationship building?
- How can you leverage donor data to increase fundraising?
Whether it’s information taken from your online donation forms or metrics on past campaigns, your fundraising data can clue you into which supporters are likely to give and do wonders for your donor communication strategy. Let’s learn more!
1. What type of donor data should you be collecting?
The best donor communication strategy stems from personalization and valuable information, something that can be achieved with donor data. However, in order to utilize data to your advantage, you need to collect a lot of it.
The data that’s most useful to your organization’s communication strategy will depend on your unique mission and goals. To understand the type of donor data that you should be collecting for your nonprofit, you should look to your commonly used online donation tools and donor engagements.
For instance, some organizations may focus entirely on peer-to-peer fundraising. Keeping track of event data and supporters’ social media activity will be more important to their communications than to a nonprofit that heavily relies on volunteer support. After all, how you engage and talk to these supporters will differ.
To help provide a clearer picture, let’s review the common tools that nonprofit utilize and the key data it can help you collect:
- Online donation forms. Your online donation forms don’t just enable organizations to collect gifts. These forms are also the best place to record and ask for donor data. Besides the basics of their name and gift size, your donation form can also ask key questions like “How did you find out about our mission?” to learn more about the donor.
- Event registration. Similar to your donation forms, event registration forms are a great opportunity to record your supporters’ basic details. The types of events someone registers for and their involvement in the event are also key metrics to note. These types of data points can also help you personalize your communications.
- Email tools. Tracking data from your email marketing tools is crucial in order to improve strategies and increase your conversions. Make sure you’re collecting metrics such as email open rates and response rates. These can give you a clue into which marketing tactics are reaching which audience, as well as add comprehensive data to your donor profiles. This way, you have a better sense of which supporters respond well to emails and which tend to ignore them.
- Website traffic tool. Your nonprofit website is likely the hub of many of your online engagements. Consider using Google Analytics or another website traffic tool to gain a better sense of which pages are performing well and which are likely to bounce visitors away. This will enable your organization to come up with an optimization strategy to maximize the use of your website content.
To best utilize these tools, it’s recommended that you keep all your data in a centralized database. An integrated fundraising solution is best; this way, you can manage your data in one place and gain a comprehensive view of all internal processes. Further, this is key to ensure your marketing tool leverages data.
2. What are the key data points to include in donor communications?
Now that you have a dedicated system to track and record all important donor data, it’s time to use it in your communications. How do you create the perfect donor email?
The best way to reach your supporters is to do so in a personalized and targeted way. Your supporters are passionate about your cause, but they might not continue giving if they don’t think that their previous efforts have made an impact.
When crafting emails (or other types of communications) to your supporters, consider how leveraging the following key metrics can help:
- Donor name. This is the most simple and the most important data point to include. In fact, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without one.
- Gift size. Whether you’re sending a donor appreciation email or reaching out for another contribution, including past gift sizes is a great way to personalize the email.
- Event registration status. If a supporter recently signed up for one of your events and you have multiple tiers of registration status, make sure you specify that in your emails. After all, VIPs should be receiving different engagement than your general admission guests.
- Gift impact. Above all, donors want to know their impact on your mission. Even after you send an initial donor thank you letter, make sure to also send a follow up summarizing that individual’s impact on your mission! They’ll love knowing how they helped and will be motivated to give again.
What you include in your messages to supporters reflects your relationship with them. Incorporating key personal details and donor data is the best way to show them that you’re personally invested in the relationship, which keeps them engaged and supporting your cause.
3. How does donor data help with retention rates and relationship building?
As mentioned earlier, leveraging donor data in your communications is a key component of building healthy relationships with donors and is key to increasing retention rates. According to this Qgiv article on donor retention, keeping your current donors and supporters is in fact more cost effective and beneficial than acquiring new ones.
In addition to optimizing your donor communication content, your fundraising data can also provide insight into the best ways to improve your communication strategy. How you conduct outreach can either build relationships or be the reason the engagement lapses. And the more data you collect, the better you understand your organization’s current standing— including your current marketing strategy.
If you want to test out your current communication and engagement efforts, consider the following data tips:
- Set key performance indicators (KPIs) to track engagement rates. Some good KPIs to set are email open rate, online gift from email link conversion rate, and email response rate.
- Use your fundraising data to identify supporters who might be in risk of lapsing, whether it’s due to a pause in gifts or other engagement factors. This is a great way to check in and see if there’s anything you can do to improve the engagement.
- Set automated communications up. Emails like donor thank you letters or recurring gift reminders are necessary but can be hard to remember to send. Set up automated communications that send the appropriate email depending on the action that triggered it. To make this email even more special, make sure you automate personal details like name and, if relevant, gift size to also be included in the messaging.
- Segment audience for more targeted content. Another way to improve your donor communications with data is to segment your audience based on key traits. For instance, consider creating a segment of new donors and another consisting of recurring ones. After all, the communications you send to these two groups should be different!
The above strategies not only improve your donor communication strategy, but they also set the foundation for strong and lasting relationships.
4. How can you leverage donor data to increase fundraising?
While donor data can do wonders for your relationships and the overall growth of your organization, it can also help you capitalize on important fundraising opportunities. That’s where prospect research comes in.
According to this DonorSearch article, “Prospect research is a method that many fundraisers use to determine who is most likely to become a major donor in their existing supporter base.” This is done by exploring potential or existing donors’ personal backgrounds, giving history, wealth metrics, and philanthropic indicators.
Using your prospect research data, you can then evaluate a prospect’s capacity and affinity to give. This is basically how much the prospect is likely able to give and how much they’re likely to give to your organization.
Those with a high capacity and affinity to give are your prospective major donors.
Once you determine who your major donor prospects are, you can start developing a targeted communication strategy just for them. After all, it’s rare when someone gives a major gift to an organization they don’t have any previous engagements with. Consider the strategies we discussed earlier to help you build this important relationship.
While conducting prospect research on your own is definitely doable, it’s not recommended. Instead, invest in a dedicated prospect research tool that can screen your donors in batches for a quick and streamlined process. This is the type of innovative nonprofit technology that your organization needs to not only increase fundraising, but to also improve donor relationships, analyze key data, and learn more about your supporters.
Donor data and donor communication naturally go hand in hand. After all, the best communication practices are built on key data points that your organization has collected. Use the above tips and best practices to set your nonprofit up for success and improve your important relationships.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.