Why Data Helps When Everyone is Targeting The Same Donors

We are all dealing with finite resources, but from my experience working at a nonprofit, the constraints aren’t just time and money.

There is little acknowledgement that competition over donors is a real thing and that organizations need a refreshed perspective on what they can do to get their message to those that care most about their mission.

If you’ve lamented the fact that, “everyone is targeting your donors,” consider these three ways to use data to help capture the attention of highly coveted donors.

1.) Build a Team of Donor Detectives

Your staff is eager to make a difference and there’s a high probability that some of them enjoy digging into the numbers and sifting through data. In order to do this, you need tools that empower your staff to have access to critical information about your existing demographic. Investing in tools that unify and turn donor data into something simple and easy to understand will help your team make more sound decisions. Also, by establishing a group who meets regularly to review your donor demographics, looks at trends for each campaign, and discusses insights, you will be presented with more ideas on segmentation, custom messaging, and reactivation. Soon your “Donor Detectives” will be more empowered to run more targeted campaigns, try A/B testing and better define sponsorship alignments based on donor interests.

2.) Use Data to Take Customization Offline

Once you’ve started to have a recurring conversations about donor data, broaden the brainstorm to address personalizing communication offline. In the last week, I received customized emails daily. I am no longer impressed that companies know what I am looking to buy, have learned how to entice me with just the right discount, or establish price sensitive deadlines only extend them to sell more things. What would catch my eye is a thoughtful, personalized New Years Card or a customized magnet in the middle of February just because. When everyone else is caught up in the business of operating, reaching out to your donors on a random Wednesday actually makes you stand out and makes your donors feel recognized. While data tends to be captured mostly in a digital way, use this data to apply it in a thoughtful and offline way.

3.) Increase Loyalty By Getting a Clear Picture of Your Donors

Most nonprofits have learned the importance of asking and listening to feedback. The act of asking starts a dialogue with donors about what is important to them and why they feel strongly about your mission. And the purpose of listening deepens your understanding about your donors and can be used as anecdotal evidence when planning program changes. However, data can take this a step further and by offering strong evidence on what is working, what’s not working, who is actually listening, and whether or not sponsors are reaching the correct audience. It is powerful to feel heard.


So as nonprofits start allocating their dollars for 2016, leveraging customer data might just be the difference in getting prospective members to support your cause.