Fresh Ideas is a new series here on The Storytelling Non-Profit blog. Each month, I’m sharing one idea, tip or strategy that you can use to strengthen your fundraising program.
Data – fundraisers seem to either love it or hate it. I personally love data and that’s because I know having a strong handle on your data can vastly improve your fundraising results.
This month’s fresh idea is to review your data.
We are at the start of a new year and frankly, there is no better time to get your data organized and up to date. I know, this might not sound fun but I promise you that it will help you identify potential blind spots as well as opportunities. This was something that I learned the hard way during a recent client project and I want to encourage all organizations to keep a better pulse on their data.
Here are a few ways that you can review your data to ensure that you have a healthy, clean data file.
- Run reports on your segments or tags. Specifically, look to see how many donors are in each segment. You’ll also want to run a report to see if you have donors who are not in any segment or tag. I encourage you to look at this to make sure that there are not any people that you are unintentionally excluding from communications or appeals.
- Run a report on donor retention for 2016. This is such an important number for your organization to know. This number will tell you how many donors who gave in 2015 gave again in 2016. This will also tell you how many donors have lapsed.
- Identify how many donors gave their first gift during year-end fundraising 2016. Then, look to see how many of them have been thanked since making their gift. This could include a phone call, a handwritten note or something else. I recommend honing in on this group because the cost of acquiring new donors is high and you should be doing everything possible to retain them.
- Run a report to look at activity on your email list. Recency of action is one of the best indicators of response rates – especially if it has been 0 to 90 days since their last action. By action I mean, making a gift, signing a petition, downloading a report, or something else. Take a look at your email list to see what portion of your list is regularly taking action such as signing a petition, reading a report, making a donation and so on. Then, when you are able to see how many people are inactive consider making a plan to reactivate people leading into future campaigns.
Those are just a few ideas to get you started.
Let me know what other data reports you run and keep track of in the comments below.
This is so important. I’m in the process of doing database cleanup right now – it’s boring, tedious, and time consuming, but it has to be done and we’re going to be so much better off for it when it’s finished. We’re missing so much vital information from our constituents, though – phone numbers, email addresses, even mailing addresses in some cases. We’re also missing spouse information and birthdays, but I’m less concerned about that than I am contact information – I know it’s important, but I’d rather focus on tracking down contact info than their birthday at this point. Do you have any suggestions for acquiring this information? We use Raiser’s Edge/RE NXT if that helps.
Vanessa Chase Lockshin says
In terms of tracking down contact information, I have a couple of suggestions.
– I see you work at a higher ed institution, so there may be an opportunity to collaborate with your alumni relations staff. Sometimes alumni are more likely to provide them with updates.
– Hire a research to track down information
– Do your own research using Google, LinkedIn and Facebook to get back in touch with donors
– You could add a page to your website for people to update their information voluntarily. For reference, here’s an example of what that could look like: https://www.stjude.org/give/update-your-donor-information.html
I hope that helps. Let me know if I can point you in the direction of any additional info.