Another year, another fundraiser, right? It may often feel like your nonprofit starts from scratch every year even though you’re using the same recipe. You solidify your mission, plan your best fundraising ideas, attract donors, and wait for the timer.
But did anyone ever tell you a watched pot never boils? Likewise, stagnant fundraising never surpasses expectations.
However, there is a way to revitalize your fundraising recipe without having to reinvent the wheel. By utilizing prospect research and properly managing your donor data, you can boost your fundraising strategy and even exceed expectations.
Cooking is cooking. But it’s the quality of ingredients and how you utilize them that really makes the difference between fast food and a five-star meal. Here are 3 of our favorite tips to maximize your data management and build your new fundraising recipe:
- Conduct Prospect Research
- Choose the Right CRM
- Leverage your Prospect Research
Learn how you can maximize your donor data and prepare the best fundraiser you’ve ever done.
1. Conduct Prospect Research To Create Quality Fundraising Ideas
Conducting prospect research is the first and best step for creating fundraising ideas. Therefore, it should be carried throughout the entirety of your organization’s fundraising calendar. By implementing a data-driven approach to your fundraising, your organization capitalizes on the value of finding new donors and figuring out more about your existing community.
Prospect research identifies new prospects, researches existing supporters, and creates prospect lists for fundraising stewardship. The goal of prospect research is to collect data specifically targeted to ascertain an individual’s fondness for your organization. So you should start by creating the perfect prospect profile.
Beginning with the perfect prospect profile means you need to consider the following:
- Your organization’s needs
Depending on your organization’s cultivation needs, the format to house the information you collect on prospects will differ from organization to organization.
- Begin with the basics
To properly manage your prospect research to boost your fundraising, donor segmentation is the place to start.
- Using categories suited to your donor base
Classify your data and understand how to utilize it effectively to guide your research. A prospect research tool can help you to discern otherwise difficult patterns and trends in your donor network and your prospective donor list.
When you’re ready to gather data for your prospect research, begin by analyzing the general information of your current donor base. Gathering general information will help you better understand your donor network so you will know how to appeal to donors during your fundraising efforts.
For instance, collecting the following will help you determine each donor segment’s distinctions:
- Gift size
How much are you expecting from specific donors?
Are these donors giving to your nonprofit at a consistent rate?
- Donation preferences
How do specific donors prefer to give? Online, in person, by text? Learn their preferences to increase their likelihood of donating.
- Successful fundraising strategies
Which fundraising ideas were best in the past for certain demographics or segments of your donor base? How can you optimize these successes?
Are these donors part of your immediate community or your online community? What information will be most relevant to their lives?
- Age (and generation of donor)
What age or donor demographic does a specific donor fall under? If they’re a Baby Boomer, pushing social media fundraising may not be as effective as it would be for a Gen Z donor.
This information will augment your current donor analysis, which can help guide you to individually cater to each of the segments of your donor base. Doing so will boost your fundraising effort and its overall effectiveness at converting prospective donors into recurring donors.
However, if you only segment your donor base, you will not achieve the maximum potential by properly managing prospect research data. Once you have acquired the general data, it is time to dig further into aspects of detailed fundraising analytics that are more indicative of the ability and willingness of a prospect to donate to your organization, which means looking at wealth and philanthropic indicators. Wealth and philanthropic indicators are vital to your prospect research, since they will point out new opportunities, highlight major gift donors, and improve your donor stewardship.
Indicators Of Wealth
Wealth indicators that are especially important to consider include:
- Real estate ownership
Individuals owning real estate holdings have a greater chance of donating.
- Stock holdings
Stock holdings can indicate the net worth of the individuals who own more than 5% of public shares. This could also signal any relationships they may have with important companies.
- Business affiliation
Analyzing employment information via LinkedIn or other platforms can hint at an individual’s estimated net worth, which can allow your organization to capitalize on any connections they may have to other prospects.
While wealth indicators can provide telling signs of prospective donors, they should not be your main focus. Philanthropic indicators highlight those individuals who not only have the means to become a major donor, but who have an established charitable record. So keep your eyes peeled for these philanthropic indicators to identify strategic asks:
- Past giving
How much has this individual given in the past, and what causes and organizations did they give to? Giving history is an effective indicator of whether someone will be charitable toward your organization.
- Relationship to your cause
What causes is this individual most interested in? Have they volunteered for your organization before? Assessing the extent of a prospect’s previous interest is important to gauge their potential for giving to your cause.
- Political giving
Individuals who tend to donate to political causes are more likely to donate to charitable causes too.
Gathering this information will be worth it for your fundraising when you can pinpoint donor trends, analyze donor relationships, and then respond to the information appropriately. But to get even more out of your prospect research, tools and databases can help you uncover a complete picture of prospects, their beliefs, their habits, and their connections that influence their likelihood to give to your organization.
2. Choose The Right CRM To Make The Right Decisions
Choosing the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can make or break your fundraising efficiency. It’s the difference between a whisk and an electric mixer. Both will get the job done, but CRMs can take your cooking skills to the next level.
And while there are many nonprofit CRMs out there for your organization to utilize, it’s important to choose one that aligns with the needs of your organization because one size does not fit all.
No matter which CRM you choose, be sure it:
- Keeps track of all important donor data in a single location
- Records and manages relationships with donors and other constituents
- Allows for a more targeted and successful fundraising campaign
- Enables you to better understand your donor data and reach the right audience
- Easily integrates with your prospect research tool
- Finds the best donors for your nonprofit and therefore targets your communication to be relevant to their interests
By providing you with relationship management information, engagement tools, and more, your CRM helps you connect more to your donors and contacts. So you can rest knowing that your CRM can help you improve your donor retention and track your fundraiser’s progress, allowing you to focus on other fundraising tasks.
Improve Donor Retention
Implementing an intelligent donor database augments your donor relationships by welcoming new donors, engaging with donors who may be less active, and making your loyal donors feel appreciated.
Keep track of your communication activity with donor segments, your notes, and their giving history in one platform to optimize your time for other fundraising essentials.
There’s no need to tire your eyes and mind with spreadsheets upon spreadsheets of information. For the best fundraising efforts and ideas, invest in a CRM that can immediately display the volunteers who have not yet donated, who have unfulfilled pledges, major donors, and other pertinent opportunities your organization may otherwise miss.
Ensure success for your organization, not anyone else’s. Find a donor database platform that can measure metrics indicative of your organization’s success and is meaningful to your community, goals, and mission. Learn more about insightful metrics your organization can use. However, once armed with these donor metrics, it’s up to you to properly manage your data to leverage current and new relationships.
3. Leverage Your Prospect Research
Now that you have successfully invested in the tools to construct a powerful base of donor data for your fundraising recipe, you must bring all the ingredients together to make the best fundraising strategy or idea yet.
The results from your prospect research can guide you to something that may need to be revamped to help your fundraiser soar. For more ideas on how to develop your prospective research into actionable steps, look over some of DonorSearch’s strategies. By fully realizing your resources and leveraging your prospective donor list, you can begin to steward individuals for donations with legitimate leads.
Increase Donor Stewardship
Donor stewardship is symbolic of your relationship with your donors, so honing this element of prospective development is key. It is imperative to emphasize the reciprocal nature of your relationship to your major donors by genuinely thanking them, keeping them updated on your organization’s plans, and acknowledging them for their donations.
Therefore, to maximize donor retention and to encourage donors to engage in a continuous relationship with your organization, try these methods for stewarding donors:
- Plan personal follow-up messaging and meetings
- Plan events or recognition ceremonies to show your gratitude
- Thank and acknowledge your donors in your publications
- Plan distinctive volunteer opportunities
- Encourage face-to-face communication to build strong relationships
Incorporating these methods into your current donor steward strategy can help your organization respect and maintain the necessary relationships with each and every donor who supports your work.
While ensuring your donors feel your gratitude, it’s important to help them make the biggest impact they can, which is where offering matching gift opportunities comes in.
One of the greatest gifts you can give is the gift of impact because making an impact is what your nonprofit strives to achieve with its mission and what your donors strive to achieve with their support. By offering the opportunity for donors to match their gifts through corporate matching gift programs, your organization can double, triple, or even quadruple the impact that a single donation can make.
The matching gifts process is incredibly simple, and with the right data management, it’s even easier:
- The donor supports your organization with a generous gift.
- They search for their employer’s matching gift program guidelines using a matching gift search tool.
- The donor completes and submits the matching gift form.
- Once approved, the donor’s employer makes a matching donation to your organization.
Matching gift opportunities enable your donors to further their involvement with your organization and their impact on your cause. They also help your nonprofit cultivate stronger relationships with your current donors.
While your nonprofit can rely on donors to submit these forms, many donors are unaware this opportunity exists. So to boost your fundraising ideas, it’s best to utilize your data management to reach out to specific donors who are eligible for matching gifts and encourage them to submit the form.
Your donor management tools can minimize the amount of time your organization spends on pursuing matching gift opportunities by identifying which donors you should pursue. Those tools will also help you identify potential major gift donors.
Major Gift Donors
Major gift donations are extremely important to the vitality of your organization. Over 80% of total fundraising revenue comes from 12% of donors. Optimize the indicated major gift opportunities identified by your prospect research tool and outlined by your CRM. The software analyzes key indicators of major gift donors like:
- Are they an existing donor?
- Have they been donating for a minimum of 5 years?
- Do they have the financial capability to become a large donor?
- Are they affiliated and committed to your organization?
- Do they display a passion for your cause?
By answering these questions, the results from your prospect research enables your organization to focus on major prospects with a higher conversion rate. The individuals identified by your prospect research software and management database are more likely to make an investment in your organization because you’ve made an investment in their interests. For more information on how you can effectively utilize prospect research of major gift donors, check out this guide.
But having the best ingredients is only one aspect of a great recipe. You need to know how to use them to make something truly special. By making the most of your donor data through conducting prospect research, choosing the perfect CRM for your nonprofit, and leveraging your prospect research, you are ready to bring your best fundraising ideas (or recipe) to new heights.