Tackle Donor Acquisition Like a Data Marketing Pro: 4 Tips

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Tackle Donor Acquisition Like a Data Marketing Pro: 4 Tips

This guest post is a contribution from Gabrielle Perham, AccuData.

For many nonprofits, donor acquisition can feel like playing darts in the dark—who prospective donors are and where they’re located can be shrouded in mystery. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Data marketing, a strategy that uses quantitative information about an audience to tailor communications and brand decisions, can help shed light on your potential donors and improve your acquisition (and donor retention) rate. In fact, according to AccuData’s guide to data-driven marketing, marketers who used data-driven campaigns experienced a return over five times their initial investment. 

While this approach has traditionally been used to sell products and services to consumers, it can be equally as effective in the nonprofit space. For nonprofits, data marketing can help add specificity and efficiency to your acquisition strategy. 

In this guide, you’ll learn how your nonprofit can leverage data marketing to improve your donor acquisition processes, including:

  • Leverage third-party data from a trusted provider.
  • Clean your database.
  • Segment your prospective donors.
  • Use integrated tools and services.

Before you get started, it can be helpful to develop clarity around the type of fundraising campaign you’re planning to run. For example, a capital campaign will likely require different sets of data and acquisition techniques than a peer-to-peer campaign. While your plans will likely evolve once you get started, the sturdier the foundation, the easier it will be to adapt. Let’s dive in!

Leverage third-party data from a trusted provider.

From names to addresses to contact information to donation amounts, your nonprofit is likely already gathering a number of data points from your donors without even thinking about it. Most frequently, this information is collected when a supporter visits your website to make a gift and fills out a donation form. 

But this type of data collection is only scratching the surface of what data can do for your collection. In fact, a vast range of third-party data can be added to your in-house data. You can append

  • Demographic data (such as location, gender, race, religion, and age)
  • Lifestyle data (such as hobbies and interests)
  • Financial data (such as stock holdings, income, and net worth)
  • Business data (such as matching gift and corporate social responsibility information)
  • Philanthropic data (such as donation history, volunteer, or board membership) 

With detailed information on their supporters and potential supporters, nonprofits can tailor their marketing campaigns to hyper-specific target audiences, anticipate future trends, and reach entirely new donor markets. 

Clean your database.

Once you’ve collected your data, you have to process and organize your donor information. Without going through this step, it can be difficult to distinguish between helpful and harmful data, and quickly lead you into an ineffective, costly acquisition strategy. 

Thus, plan to implement basic data hygiene practices to avoid the following forms of harmful (or “dirty”) donor data:

  • Duplicate data
  • Out-of-date data
  • Incomplete data
  • Inaccurate data
  • Unnecessary data

Spend time consolidating duplicate entries, contacting bounced contacts for updated, complete information, standardizing info such as addresses, grouping families, and removing unnecessary data. For example, while it may be interesting to know your donors’ favorite flavors of ice cream, this data point probably isn’t relevant to your fundraising activities and could make it more difficult to pinpoint more meaningful trends. 

As a result of regularly maintaining clean data, you’ll be able to rely on the information in your database and make insightful decisions to guide your donor acquisition.

Segment your prospective donors. 

Once your data is clean, you’ll want to filter your prospective donors into smaller segments to create specific donor profiles. For each segment, you can then create a unique acquisition strategy that meets their preferences and needs. 

For example, your data might suggest creating specific strategies for each of the following donor profiles:

  • Wealthy donors over fifty years old are most likely to give major gifts and often prefer in-person, personalized communications. 
  • Recurring donors with employers who match gifts may make higher contributions when you show them the impact of their donation and guide them through the matching gift request process.
  • Local donors under thirty years old might be best persuaded by a call-to-action from a trustworthy nonprofit influencer, such as those listed in this resource from NXUnite

Regardless of how you break down your donor segments, make sure that your outreach always uses a range of calls to action, organizational updates, and upcoming events and opportunities, that show that you value your donors beyond their donations. 

Use integrated tools and services.

While it can be tempting to launch a DIY data marketing program, this approach can quickly get overwhelming and burdensome. Luckily, there are many tools and services designed to help nonprofits along the way.

A dedicated data marketing partner can help streamline processes and provide the framework and support necessary for your nonprofit’s fundraising success. For instance, a third-party data marketing partner can help you: 

  • Collect and organize your most impactful donor data.
  • Find new target audiences based on your ideal donors.
  • Develop a custom donor database to house, manage, and process data. 
  • Design and create impactful narratives tailored to your most likely donors.
  • Understand and report on campaigns with predictive modeling and analytics.

When deciding on which tools and services to use, make sure they fit into your existing tech stack. With limited integration, even the most comprehensive tool will create more problems for your organization than it solves.

Finally, once you’ve set up your data-driven donor acquisition campaign, you should plan to continue to collect and analyze donor data. Tracking data will show you the strategies that are working and the ones that aren’t—especially as your donor pool (and their interests and needs) change over time. As a result, you can more accurately and efficiently identify the changes you need to make to improve your acquisition efforts.

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