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4 Data Types to Gather Before Making Fundraising Materials

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fundraising can often feel like taking a shot in the dark. For many nonprofits, it can be difficult to quickly and accurately identify your target audience and determine the best way to get in touch with supporters.

However, instead of making wild guesses about the direction to take your outreach efforts, data marketing—a strategy previously reserved for businesses—can help. Data marketing allows nonprofits to streamline their marketing efforts, reach a larger audience, and fundraise more effectively.

Before you prepare outreach materials for your next fundraiser, plan to gather the following types of data:

  1. Donor contact information
  2. Donor demographics
  3. Communication preferences
  4. Previous fundraising campaign data

If you don’t have much experience with data, don’t worry! You don’t have to be a data scientist or marketing expert to get started with data-driven marketing. With these types of data in your database, you have a solid foundation to build the rest of your fundraising strategy.

1. Donor contact information

One of the most basic types of data you’ll need to gather before your fundraising campaign is your supporters’ contact information. This data allows you to reach donors effectively and prevent wasting time and resources on those who are unresponsive to your messages.

You can gather accurate contact information through your in-house forms and database or by partnering with a data marketing provider to enrich your data. Either way, you should ensure that you gather and update the following donor data points:

    • Email addresses: Scrub your database to remove any inaccurate or unresponsive email addresses. This process allows you to focus your email marketing efforts on supporters who have the highest likelihood of engaging with your content.
    • Home addresses: It’s crucial to keep your supporter address data updated since people regularly move and change addresses. Having access to accurate home addresses allows you to be confident you’re sending direct mail fundraising materials to real people.
  • Phone numbers: Whether you’re running an SMS fundraising campaign or calling your major donors to thank them for their contributions, gathering donors’ phone numbers allows you to reach them from their mobile devices.

If you find that you’re missing key data points, consider investing in data append services. Appending data refers to the process of improving your in-house data with information pulled from external databases. For instance, you might conduct a data append to fill in missing donor phone numbers or email addresses.

2. Donor demographics

Understanding your donors’ demographics allows you to craft messages that resonate with each individual. Plus, discovering the demographics of your ideal supporters allows you to save marketing dollars by focusing outreach on those who are most likely to donate to your cause.

To start, NXUnite by Nexus Marketing suggests ensuring you have donors’ basic personal information, such as:

  • Name, to address donors by their preferred names and titles rather than the generic “Dear Donor”
  • Age, to determine which messaging and marketing platforms your audience will resonate with
  • Employer, to market corporate giving opportunities to eligible donors

Then, you may focus on more specific demographics, such as gender, location, and income. With this data, you can personalize your outreach efforts, tailoring your fundraising messages to speak directly to donors’ needs and interests.

For instance, you may determine that your target audience is women ages 25-40 who live within 10 miles of your nonprofit. Since Facebook is the most popular form of social media among this generation, you can plan to launch campaigns for this audience on the platform and craft targeted social media ads.

Remember that the demographics of your donors will likely change over time. Plan to update your donor demographic data regularly to continue catering to your target audience.

3. Communication preferences

In addition to demographic information, gather data on your supporters’ communication preferences—how, why, and when they want to receive outreach from your organization. Make sure to ask your supporters the following questions regarding your communication with them:

  • How do you want to receive our messages? Though you should plan to take a multichannel marketing approach to reach the widest possible audience, focus on the platforms your supporters use. Do they want to receive communications through email, direct mail, social media, text messages, or phone calls?
  • What content do you want to receive? Give supporters the option to sign up for different types of communications about fundraising, volunteer opportunities, events, advocacy work, and general updates.
  • How frequently do you want to hear from us? Knowing supporters’ preferred frequency of communication will help you avoid spamming their inboxes. For instance, you may have them indicate whether they’d like to hear from your nonprofit daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

When you adhere to your supporters’ communication preferences, they’ll be more likely to respond to your messaging and further their engagement with your organization.

4. Previous fundraising and engagement data

Finally, before launching a new fundraising campaign, assess your previous efforts. By analyzing your past victories and failures, you can craft a better marketing strategy that incorporates only the most successful elements of past campaigns.

For instance, let’s say you’re working on fundraising for a capital campaign to build a new facility that serves more local beneficiaries. However, you’ve had mixed success with fundraisers in the past, and you want to ensure this campaign is worth the investment.

In this case, you can analyze the results of your previous campaigns to guide your current fundraising efforts. You might discover that your past marketing campaigns cast a too-wide net, causing you to send direct mail materials to all the households in your vicinity as opposed to only those homes that fit your ideal demographic.

You conclude that your past efforts weren’t successful because they weren’t targeted enough. For your upcoming fundraising campaigns, you’ll know to tailor your direct mail outreach to only cover households that fit your ideal donor personas.

By analyzing past campaign results, you can ensure you won’t repeat the same mistakes while still maintaining the marketing strategies that work for your nonprofit.

Data marketing isn’t a practice that’s reserved for only large, well-funded nonprofits. Small nonprofits can just as easily break into the data marketing realm to craft a strategic marketing plan.

Whether you’re working alone or with a third-party data specialist, make sure you have a streamlined system for organizing and storing your data insights. That way, you’ll have easy access to key information that will guide your decision-making for all future campaigns.

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