Leveraging Donor Data in the Year-End Fundraising Season

The year-end fundraising season is a critical time for nonprofit organizations. It’s an opportunity when donors feel particularly generous, ultimately leading to higher levels of engagement and giving. But it’s also a time when supporters’ attention is being pulled in a ton of directions⁠. As a result, ensuring your end-of-year outreach stands out among the commotion is critical. And did you know your donor data may be your secret weapon for doing so?

In this blog post, we’ll explore ways that a data-driven approach can significantly enhance your year-end fundraising efforts⁠—and build deeper donor relationships as you go along. Specifically, we’ll dive into seven types of supporter insights that can help inform your strategy.

These include:

  1. Employment information
  2. Demographics
  3. Ability to give
  4. Engagement history
  5. Communication preferences
  6. Giving channels
  7. Interests and values

By harnessing the information at your disposal, your team can uncover transformative opportunities to engage donors on a whole new level. Read on to find out how!

1. Employment information

Understanding a donor’s employment status and other relevant details⁠ can be extremely valuable for optimal year-end fundraising. This may include:

  • The company the individual works for
  • Any available workplace giving opportunities
  • Status as a full-time, part-time, or retired worker
  • Job rank or title

When available, this data allows your team to uncover potential for matching gift programs, volunteer grants, and more. Not to mention, a tailored approach can provide donors with personalized guidance through the matching gift experience, thus easing the submission process and motivating donors to give even more generously this giving season.

Here’s an example: Donor A is a dedicated supporter employed by a well-known tech company with a generous matching gift program. Knowing this, your organization can drive engagement with your fundraising appeal by highlighting the available match. Plus, remind the individual to complete their request after they make their year-end donation⁠ and provide company-specific eligibility criteria (including year-end submission deadlines) and direct links to online match request forms.

2. Demographics

The more details available about a donor, the more effectively a fundraiser can build a detailed understanding of that supporter. In this realm, demographics include a wide range of socioeconomic data, such as:

  • Age group
  • Geographic location
  • Education level
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Familial status
  • Occupation
  • Ethnic or cultural background
  • Religious affiliation
  • And more!

This information assists in creating targeted and personalized outreach, allowing organizations to better connect with their audiences. By recognizing a donor’s demographic profile, a nonprofit can tailor its messaging to effectively resonate with specific groups, ultimately enhancing its year-end fundraising results.

Here’s an example: Imagine a donor whose background includes strong ties to their cultural heritage and religious faith. Knowing that this individual celebrates the Hindu festival of Diwali during the holiday season, you may choose to tailor your year-end messaging to emphasize relevant holiday themes⁠—such as light, hope, and positive change.

3. Ability to give

Understanding a donor’s financial capacity for giving is a vital step in optimizing your organization’s year-end fundraising strategy. After all, indicators of a donor’s ability to give enable nonprofits to inspire maximal donation sizes. These data points (also known as wealth screening markers) may include:

  • Approximate income
  • Estimated net worth
  • Previous donation amounts
  • Political and other philanthropic giving history
  • Real estate holdings
  • Stock ownership

As you craft your personalized end-of-year donation requests, understanding an individual’s ability to give allows you to tailor your ask accordingly. After all, an appeal too large might turn donors off from giving entirely. However, one too small can ultimately leave dollars on the table that the donor may have been willing and able to give.

Here’s an example: Your team understands that a particular donor is a high-net-worth individual (estimated net worth of $2.5 million), and the supporter has regularly donated significant amounts (between $5,000 and $7,500) to your organization in the past. This year-end giving season, you might solicit the individual for a major gift at the high end of their estimated giving ability (e.g., $10,000) by leveraging the increased generosity of the holiday spirit.

4. Engagement history

An individual’s engagement history can provide valuable insights into their level of commitment and connection to a nonprofit’s cause. This, in turn, helps organizations tailor their year-end fundraising efforts and continue enhancing the donor journey.

And engagement can take many forms, too. This includes:

  • Monetary donations
  • In-kind gifts
  • Volunteerism
  • Event attendance
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Advocacy

In addition to the types of interactions an individual has had with your organization, it also helps to understand the approximate timeline at which these instances occurred. This will allow your team to tailor its strategy for re-engaging lapsed donors versus maintaining engagement with recent supporters.

Acknowledging their pattern of dedication⁠—and citing an existing relationship to your cause⁠—can also be a powerful asset in encouraging donors to continue supporting your organization this giving season.

Here’s an example: A devoted volunteer has supported your organization for years, largely by attending fundraising events and advocating for your cause online, and has a strong emotional connection to your organization. Consider acknowledging the individual’s dedication by involving them in your year-end campaigns as a spokesperson or advocate. After all, their history of active engagement can serve as a powerful asset in your fundraising efforts⁠—and also work to inspire others to get involved alongside them.

5. Communication preferences

More than likely, you engage with your audience through a number of messaging channels. But do you understand which avenues are most effective among different segments of supporters? It’s important that you do⁠—especially within the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

Channels may include (but are certainly not limited to):

  • Email
  • Text message
  • Phone call
  • Social media
  • Direct mail
  • Newsletter

By aligning your messaging with donors’ preferred communication channels, you increase the chances of your appeals being noticed and acted upon. This allows you to ensure your team is investing time and resources into the efforts that are most likely to produce tangible results⁠—ultimately elevating your ROI.

Here’s an example: One supporter prefers to receive updates through email and actively engages with your organization’s newsletters. However, any communications sent through direct mail or social media platforms seem to generally go unanswered. Knowing this, ensure your year-end fundraising messages align with this communication preference. You might opt to send personalized email content that resonates with the recipient—and forgo the stamps and envelopes for this person altogether.

6. Giving channels

Knowing a donor’s ideal giving method is another key piece of the puzzle. Again, there are a nearly infinite number of ways to give, but some of the most popular practices include the following:

  • A nonprofit’s website/online donation form
  • Crowdfunding campaign
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Direct mail
  • In-kind giving
  • Text-to-donate or other mobile giving
  • Recurring donation
  • Social media fundraising
  • Phonathon
  • Event-based giving
  • Stock transfer
  • Employee donation stipend

In understanding and catering to your supporters’ preferences, your team is able to effectively optimize top giving channels leading up to the year-end fundraising season. This might include analyzing and improving your online giving experience, introducing new opportunities for tech-savvy supporters, and revising traditional engagement methods. Not to mention, it can help you guide donors to new and deeper opportunities for support and maximize the return on your investment!

Here’s an example: Imagine there’s a donor who frequently contributes to your organization through online peer-to-peer giving campaigns. Your team might decide to capitalize on their preference for digital engagement⁠—and experience in social fundraising⁠—by encouraging the individual to take on a new role as a peer fundraiser themself. The year-end season is an excellent opportunity to encourage supporters to take the next step in their donor journey!

7. Interests and values

Do you know what matters to your donors? Understanding supporters’ interests, values, beliefs, and more allows you to personalize your campaign efforts to resonate with the specific areas most essential for your audience.

A tailored approach can focus on how the donor’s beliefs are closely tied to your nonprofit’s overarching mission, making the relationship a perfect fit. In turn, this allows you to capture and retain the individual’s attention and inspire a greater connection that’s more likely to lead to giving.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your team knows that a particular donor is passionate about environmental conservation⁠—and that they’ve previously contributed to fundraising campaigns that center around such efforts. As a result, you choose to tailor your year-end giving appeal to this recipient by emphasizing your organization’s recent, current, or upcoming efforts in this area. You might even throw in a relevant success story, research study, or image!

The giving season will be here before we know it. Your organization is gearing up to make a lasting impact. Don’t overlook the power of the insights living in your donor database.

Making the most of this resource empowers your team to engage supporters on a new level, target the right audiences with ease, build and grow meaningful connections, and maximize your fundraising potential overall. And remember: equipping your nonprofit with the right tools, like DonorSearch and Double the Donation, can go a long way.

Additional Resources

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