Guest post by Ryan Woroniecki, VP, Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch.
It’d be great if every donor preemptively announced their tastes to your organization.
Picture it now: “Hi, XYZ Nonprofit. I’m interested in giving $50 a month for this year, and then I will be open to drastically increasing my gift size. Additionally, I detest being called and much prefer email. Also, I love getting direct mail because it just feels special in this modern age. Please send me updates on Facebook, but I never check Twitter. Thanks!”
But donors don’t do that and shouldn’t. It’d be helpful but very strange. Instead, savvy fundraisers have to get creative and find inventive solutions to learning more about their supporters. That’s where technology can be such a big help.
Utilizing a combination of nonprofit software (prospect research tools, CRMs, mobile giving platforms, etc.) and modern everyday technology, your organization can get to know its donors better and, through that process, become better fundraisers.
Digital engagement tactics are now in the majority, and it looks like they’re only going to continue to grow in popularity. So make sure you’re making the most of all the technology at your fingertips.
Here are four ways you’ll be able to do so.
1. You gain a new level of access to donor preferences.
Speaking to that imaginary and overwhelmingly upfront donor from earlier, you can’t undervalue the benefit of understanding your donors’ preferences.
Here are a few of the top tech options for learning more about your donor’s preferences:
- Performing a prospect screening of your donor pool: A screening tool will run a comparison of the donors in your CRM to the people listed in various charitable giving databases. This process reveals all sorts of high-value donor information, from past giving patterns to basic contact details and plenty of data in between.
- Researching on your own through a variety of free tools: From searching real estate holdings in Zillow to studying political giving on the FEC’s website, there are plenty of publicly accessible web tools for your fundraisers to explore. They’ll be filling in blanks in donor profiles in no time.
- Studying donor response to certain communications over time: Even if a donor won’t outright say, “I dislike email” or “I prefer email,” your nonprofit has the means to read between the lines. Study your communications success metrics to gauge how successful various communications are. Check things like: email click through rate, call-to-action conversion rate, social-media-post amplification rate, and more.
- Sending out surveys: It never hurts to ask. Using an online tool, you can design and send out a survey to your loyal donors. You’ll be doing so much work to discover your donors’ preferences; don’t overlook the obvious option of going directly to the source.
A greater understanding of your donors’ preferences is like a cheat sheet for solicitation. You greatly increase your chance of acquiring a gift if you make a request that’s both:
- Within the financial range the donor is comfortable giving.
- Through a channel they’re comfortable communicating over.
You certainly won’t be able to customize every ask to exact donor preference, but you will be able to segment your donors into communications groups, enabling your nonprofit to make much more personalized asks of all your donors.
Asking for donations can be a tightrope walk; learning your donors’ preferences makes it a relative cakewalk.
2. You get a window into a donor’s social and professional networks.
Along similar lines to learning more about your donors’ preferences, you can also get to know their social and professional networks much better.
Via social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and so on, your fundraisers can uncover highly useful information about a donor’s professional and social networks.
The possibilities are diverse and bountiful, including:
- Realizing a donor is close with a major gift prospect you’ve been looking for an introduction to.
- Finding out that a donor works in a higher level position at a company you’ve been looking to partner with.
- Discovering that a donor is actively sharing your content on social media and deserves an acknowledgment shout-out.
- And more!
It seems like people live half their lives on social media. Your fundraisers need to go to where the people are. Meet them on their ground and get to know them there.
Whether you create a hashtag for a fundraising event so that you can track mentions on Twitter or set aside time each week to see what your most active social media supporters are up to on Facebook, there’s serious worth in investing the time to explore your donor’s social media networks. You never know what valuable tip you might glean.
3. You learn more about the donor’s other philanthropic interests.
As part of the social media and donor preference screenings from points one and two, you can also explore the other philanthropic interests of your donors.
How does this help you become a more effective fundraiser?
- It helps you deduce why a donor might be giving to your organization. For instance, you might be curious why Donor Dave is an avid supporter of your animal shelter. It’s a debate as old as time: cat lover vs. dog lover. From your tech-enhanced research, you see that he also volunteers at an organization that trains service dogs and gives money to a local dog rescue. Donor Dave is clearly a dog lover. With that knowledge, you can cater your communications and offers to specific events and fundraisers a dog lover would be most interested in.
- It helps you find candidates for major giving among your donor pool. A prospect screening could reveal that a member of your monthly giving program also happens to be a major donor at another organization. In that case, she has the funds to contribute a larger gift, and now your major gift officers are signaled to explore the best way to upgrade her.
If you put on your detective hat, you can walk away from a screening with tons of invaluable clues for your next round of cultivation and solicitation.
4. You can have access to your donor information on the go.
We’re going to close out this out with a brief but significant point. Fundraising doesn’t only happen in a conference room. It happens at lunches, over the phone, through a series of emails, at events, and many other locales. Experienced fundraisers understand this.
And just like donors have come to expect your organization to be optimized for mobile giving, fundraising tools should be optimized for mobile, too! And many pieces of support software are.
Cloud-based CRMs make it easy to check on a donor’s history before walking into an out-of-office meeting, for instance. And, your screening tool might be accessible anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.
Modern technology is all about convenience, and that principle has certainly had a powerful effect on nonprofit software.
Whether you want to learn more about your donors’ individual histories and tastes, discover more about their professional and social relationships, or be able to use such information out-of-office as easily as in-office, nonprofit tech is here to help. More effective fundraising awaits.
Ryan Woroniecki is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch, a prospect research, screening, and analytics company that focuses on proven philanthropy. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits and is a member of APRA-MD. When he isn’t working, he is an avid kickball player.