Gathering and analyzing data about your donors critical to nonprofit success. Think about all of the ways donor data may have benefitted you in the past: Maybe it helped you tailor your marketing strategy to your audience’s preferences, or perhaps it revealed the perfect ask amount for a donor based on their giving history.
While donor data is incredibly valuable, it can take time to consistently collect and organize accurate information. But, you can make the forms and documents that you already use work to gather key information for you.
In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons to prioritize using fresh, high-quality donor data and how digital waivers can help your nonprofit do so. To get started, let’s walk through the key benefits a robust file of donor information can bring your organization.
Why is this data important?
When you understand your donors, you can tailor your organization’s marketing and fundraising strategies to resonate with their exact reasons for supporting your nonprofit. This makes donors feel valued and understood, encouraging long-term support.
In addition to improving your relationships with donors, leveraging donor data can benefit your nonprofit by helping you:
- Consistently meet fundraising goals. Once you have donor data to reflect on, your nonprofit can set goals—based on past performance—that are ambitious yet attainable. Along with your goal-setting being more accurate, access to donor data increases your chances of meeting those goals by giving you the information you need to appeal to donors’ desire to give. For example, you could segment donors by their average gift size and make customized appeals that push the envelope enough to achieve increased donations, but not so much that donors feel put off.
- Increase marketing ROI. Without data analysis, marketing can feel like a shot in the dark. But when you know which communication channels your donors engage with, what messaging strategies resonate with them, and how they prefer to support your cause, donors will respond more positively to your efforts. Over time, this will allow you to allocate marketing dollars more effectively, reducing waste and improving your return on investment.
- Boost retention. Providing a more personalized experience will help you retain your donors. They’ll feel like an intrinsic, valued part of your team and know that their support makes a difference within your nonprofit. Additionally, keeping a close eye on donor data will help you spot donors at risk of lapsing so you can take steps to draw them back in.
To truly maximize the positive impact donor data has on your nonprofit, make sure you are following best practices for donor data management. To keep your files organized, NPOInfo’s guide to donor data management recommends keeping your data in one place, using standardized data entry formats, developing entry guidelines, planning for exceptions, and frequently reviewing your files. Remember to train any staff members who will interact with your data to accurately enter, organize, and analyze the information.
What is an easy way to gather this data?
There are many different ways to gather information about your supporters. For example, you may conduct wealth screenings that help you understand a donor’s giving capacity by revealing factors like their household income, real estate and stock ownership, and net worth. However, methods like these can be time-consuming and expensive, making them feel out of reach (or simply inconvenient) for many nonprofits.
Simply asking your supporters to tell you what you need to know is a simpler way to get this information. You can send out surveys to current supporters, but there is no guarantee that they will open or complete the forms. Instead, gather data through forms like waivers that your donors need to complete in order to attend events or volunteer opportunities.
Digital waivers are the simplest, most convenient option to use when securing a release of liability. Using waivers, you can obtain baseline information about supporters including their full names, home and email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, and preferred languages.
To go beyond these more basic traits, Smartwaiver’s guide to waiver software recommends choosing a provider that offers customizable forms, allowing you to add as many personalized questions as you’d like.
What insights can nonprofits gather from digital waivers?
When you are creating your waiver, take the time to draft questions that will help you uncover the data that will be most valuable to your nonprofit. While these questions will vary based on your unique needs, here are a few that can get the ball rolling:
- How did you learn about our organization? Use this question to get a better understanding of which platforms your audience uses and which of your outreach channels are the most effective.
- Why are you participating in this opportunity/event? This question will help you understand whether volunteers or event participants are supporting your nonprofit because they value the cause, are honoring the memory of a loved one, are involved with CSR efforts, or for another reason.
- Would you like to receive updates and additional information from us? Allow donors to opt into updates through their desired communication channel (e.g., email, text, direct mail, etc.). This also reveals which channels the donors would prefer your nonprofit contact them through.
- Would you be willing to share your story of why you support our organization for use in promotional materials? Give your most dedicated supporters the chance to share about their history with your nonprofit. Not only will you gain valuable marketing content, but you’ll also be able to learn how your supporters found your nonprofit, why they support the cause, and what they value most about your organization.
- Is there any additional information or feedback you want to share with us? By asking this question, you open the door for positive or constructive feedback from donors. Ideally, they’ll tell you which strategies and messages resonate with them and which things they’d like to see changed.
Your nonprofit should review the questions it asks before rolling out a new waiver, making sure that each one is relevant to the event or opportunity. Additionally, look for opportunities to include more specific questions or prompts related to special occasions (e.g., “Are you interested in participating in Giving Tuesday?”).
Planning events and volunteer opportunities require a lot of planning and resources from your team. Make these investments worth your while by using waivers to gain a deeper understanding of your supporters. Along with growing your file of donor information, you’ll also save money, conserve resources, and boost accessibility by using digital waivers.