As a nonprofit professional, much of your focus remains on fundraising and ensuring you reach your campaign goals. But another important part of your fundraising strategy may get overlooked. We’re talking about data management.
Managing your data is an essential component of fundraising. Without it, you can’t personalize your marketing outreach, you won’t have a good overview of your fundraising progress, and most importantly, you won’t learn enough about your donors.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of best practices you can incorporate to ensure your data management is on track. These best practices are:
- Use a CRM to manage your data.
- Keep your data clean.
- Segment your data.
- Improve your events using data.
- Embrace integrations.
Having a solid grasp of the information you gather and keeping it organized is the key to successful fundraising. Let’s take a closer look!
1. Use a CRM to manage your data.
Also known as a donor database, a constituent relationship manager (CRM) is an essential type of fundraising software that tracks all of your important supporter data, including contact information, donation history, and other interactions with your nonprofit.
Make sure you invest in CRM software that meets the needs of your organization. More specifically, choose one that is meant for nonprofit fundraising. You should be able to organize your data based on your nonprofit’s preferences and priorities.
Data you can track and organize within your CRM includes:
- Past giving history
- Communication preferences
All of this information is kept in individual donor profiles, which you can reference at any time. For example, leverage your CRM to track your communications with each donor to make sure each member of your staff (with software access) knows where your communications stand. This way, your outreach will be organized and supporters won’t be contacted multiple times with the same message.
There are several ways using a CRM can benefit your nonprofit. Make sure you choose the solution that’s right for your needs. Not sure where to start? Check out this list of top nonprofit CRM software.
2. Keep your data clean.
Although you may already be using a CRM to store and organize your donor data, are you keeping that data clean? Cleaning up your data means checking for (and removing) outdated or duplicate entries in your donor profiles.
Keep your data clean to ensure your database doesn’t include donors who have lapsed or passed away. This way, you can keep your fundraising team focused on the donor profiles who are still active with your organization and not waste time pursuing donors who aren’t.
Part of cleaning your nonprofit data means:
- Deduplicating donor profiles.
- Updating physical addresses to ensure direct mail reaches donors.
- Recording additional donor information, such as their birthday or volunteer histories.
- Correcting outdated email addresses that bounce back.
- Investing in deceased suppression processing to run your donor profile data against public records of deceased individuals.
When you stay on top of your donor data and clean it up on a regular basis, you’ll ensure you’re contacting the right people via the correct channels and make a larger impact with your fundraising outreach.
Remember that a lot of accuracy within your organization depends on your data: take the time to keep it organized.
3. Segment your data.
Part of keeping a clean donor database means effectively segmenting your donor profiles. Segmentation is the process of grouping your donors into smaller categories based on shared attributes. This will help you personalize your outreach to specific groups of supporters and, on a larger scale, take a lot of data and turn it into actionable insights for your team.
For example, you can segment by:
- Demographics. Segment by demographic information, like age, gender, location, etc.
- Communication preferences. If you know which donors are more likely to respond to email, social media, direct mail, etc., this will ensure you don’t waste resources or time contacting them in an unpreferred way.
- Past event attendance. If a supporter has attended your previous events, you’ll know to invite them to your next one.
- Giving history. Note the channels through which donors give, be it via check, cash, online, or in person. This will help you when you make your fundraising asks.
- Other interactions with your organization. If an individual has volunteered with your nonprofit, for example, that indicates that they’re loyal to your mission and should be valued as such.
When it comes to sustaining donor relationships, segmentation is key because you can use supporter data to make a personal appeal to your donors.
If you understand how they like to be contacted, as well as how they prefer to give, you’ll increase your chances of receiving a donation from them. If you know they’ve volunteered with you in the past, you can most likely count on them again for future events or activities.
4. Improve your events using data.
While the data within your CRM is important, it’s also a good practice to apply that data to your larger activities, like events. Using your data before, during, and after a fundraising event is essential so that you can make sure it’s the best it can be and raise the revenue you need.
Here’s how you can leverage data to your advantage when hosting an event:
- Analyze your donor database. Take a look at your donor database to determine the kind of event your donors might take interest in. For example, if your cause is related to a school or a camp, look for family-friendly events you can host.
- Look at past attendance numbers. Take a look at your past events and determine if those types of events appealed to a large number of people, or if you need to reevaluate your strategy.
- Analyze gift sizes. Look at the size of the gifts you received at past events and what the gifts were designated for, so you can repeat the most popular activities at future events.
- Collect feedback. Send out surveys and record the feedback in your donor database so you can determine what went well at your last event and look for areas to improve. This could cover anything from parking availability to attendee satisfaction with the guest speakers.
Leveraging data in this way will help you pinpoint the areas where your nonprofit is excelling, as well as the areas where you can keep improving in the future. As your organization grows, your events will, too, so stay on top of this data and keep it organized so you can host the best event possible.
Looking for more guidance on how to run a successful fundraising event? Check out the OneCause guide to event planning for more insights!
5. Embrace integrations.
As you invest in fundraising software, including your CRM, it’s important to consider how all of your software solutions work together. Integrations are key to help data flow easily between solutions.
Integrations will do more than this. They can make your entire organization’s day-to-day operations simpler. For example, you can:
- Collect donor data during campaigns. Let’s say you’re running a peer-to-peer fundraiser. With each donation you collect through your peer-to-peer fundraising software, you’ll be gathering important donor data. Make sure your fundraising software integrates with your CRM so all the data will seamlessly flow into your donor database, without any additional effort. For more on this type of software, explore the peer-to-peer fundraising guide by OneCause.
- Collect donor data during events. If you’re handling tickets or event registrations online, there’s also a lot of donor data that will be coming through. You can manage this data by integrating your event fundraising software with your CRM so that all the data you collect will flow right into your donor database.
In addition to integration capabilities, the fundraising software you choose should use all of the data points that you collect throughout your campaigns and convert them into actionable steps that can help you work toward your mission. Invest in a software solution that offers robust reporting and analytics features so you’ll always be on top of your data.
There are many ways to leverage fundraising data during your campaigns. Whether you’re planning an event or reaching out with donation appeals, remember to personalize your communications through segmentation and keep your data clean. From there, you’ll have a solid foundation for using all of this data to your advantage.
What’s the next step? Look at your data management process as it is now and identify areas where you can clean it up and leverage it to improve your nonprofit’s strategy. Good luck!
Author: Kelly Velasquez-Hague
Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause.