What Are You Doing About Data?

Jun 15, 2017

For most nonprofits and independent schools the end of the fiscal year is fast approaching. This means wrapping up appeals and attempting to recapture donors and prospects that have yet to make their gift. Though fundraisers have earned some much deserved downtime, spending the summer months adequately planning for the next season is practice we’d absolutely recommend.

One of the best ways to set yourself up for a strong fundraising year is to get your data in order. Here we’ll focus on three fundraising data related items that will have a serious impact on the success of your efforts:

Your data is trapped in a silo.

Development offices can often operate as a frenzied but well-oiled machine. But what can that mean for your data? Oftentimes it means that donor information and giving records are stored in multiple spreadsheets in varying formats, or across emails and handwritten notes. When data is this siloed, it becomes difficult to let good information be the driver because sometimes these systems can’t talk to one another.

A singular database that contains all necessary information is your best asset, and not without reason. Launching campaigns with very specific goals, like recapturing lapsed donors or increasing gifts from donors with a 3 year history of giving, can’t be done if the proper information can’t be leveraged. In this scenario, time best spent on strategy and messaging will go toward hunting down and aggregating lists, renumbering identification numbers or codes, or searching for information to fill big gaps in your donor profiles.

Your data has no real champion.

The ability to access data is crucial, and multiple members of your team should be able to locate this information at a moment’s notice. However, in order for data to be of good use it needs to be maintained by a dedicated owner. As donors and gifts shift and your database evolves, one person should really take charge by continuously analyzing your data for patterns and trends that help your organization move forward in its initiatives to raise money.

Your organization isn’t properly valuing data.

In order for a data-centric approach to fundraising to really work for your organization or school, leadership needs to adequately value donor data and the insights gleaned from proper analysis. Top-level leadership typically keeps their eyes glued on one spot: the bottom line. We’re not saying that that isn’t important, but a keen understanding of the giving trends that pertain closely to your organization is one of the most crucial things your development team can possess.

But why?

Significant resources are allocated toward appeals. Print, mail, email and other forms of online fundraising are big investments. If you were spending that much time and money on something, wouldn’t you want to know the impact of your plans on donors and their respective behavior? Are your efforts increasing acquisition of first time gifts? Is retention up or down? Have you recaptured past donors? What’s the lifetime value of your donor-base? The answers to these questions paint a very honest picture of your fundraising efforts and your success beyond dollars raised. These questions can’t be answered without good, clean data.

So how will you be spending your summer? Let us know!    

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