Although they may not think about it, nonprofits interact with data on a daily basis. From the number of weekly volunteers to donor email addresses to communication preferences, it’s absolutely essential for nonprofits to work with clean, complete data points in order to raise money, market programs, and achieve their missions.
But what do you do when your organization’s data is limited or incomplete? While you can certainly collect data by sending out surveys and forms to the contacts in your database, this process is often slow and ineffective in gathering the data most valuable to your nonprofit.
That’s where third-party data appends, buying data points to supplement your nonprofit’s existing records, can come in. With data appends, the sky’s the limit. This guide breaks down the various elements of the data append process for you to be able to append your nonprofit’s data with confidence and ease. We’ll look at:
- Nonprofit Data Appends FAQ
- Types of Data Appends for Nonprofits
- How Data Appends Can Help Nonprofits Raise Money
- The Best Data Append Service for Nonprofits
As you read through this guide, consider the data you already have in your database. Ask yourself: What data points do we use the most often? Do these data attributes contain any errors, inaccuracies, or duplicates? What information would make our jobs easier and our outreach more effective? Your data appends will be more impactful when your existing data is clean, accurate, organized, and up-to-date.
Nonprofit Data Appends FAQ
Data appends represent a big unknown for many in the nonprofit sector. You probably have a sense that your nonprofit’s data is essential, but anything beyond a tertiary look can also be scary and overwhelming. In this section, we’ll answer all your burning questions about data appends and the data append process. Let’s start by addressing the elephant in the room: Why should nonprofits care about data?
Why is data important for nonprofits?
For nonprofits big and small, data is critical in making smart fundraising and programmatic decisions. According to Target Analytics® research, the average nonprofit is missing out on $3,781,461 in supporters’ untapped giving potential. Simply put, without data, you may be going down the wrong path and have no idea. With the right data, however, your nonprofit can:
- Improve supporter engagement (such as direct mail response rates and email click-throughs) by targeting supporters’ interests, behaviors, and communication preferences.
- Reduce mailing and print costs for communications that would otherwise go to unlikely supporters and end up in the recycling bin.
- Define your target audiences by creating ideal donor personas based on your existing donors’ traits and preferences.
- Identify potential major donors and focus on cultivating those relationships early in the giving cycle.
- Increase donor contributions by evaluating ideal ask amounts and donor giving potential.
Of course, to take advantage of your data and avoid ill-informed decisions, you need to have a complete, organized database and a sound analytical process to make sense of it.
What is a nonprofit database?
A nonprofit database is a centralized digital platform that helps nonprofits track, organize, and report on donor and volunteer data, as well as manage stewardship and communication campaigns.
Likely, your database already contains some information, such as your supporters’ contact information and their gift and volunteer histories. However, a complete database should also include data that the typical nonprofit hasn’t collected, including demographic, financial, educational, and behavioral information.
Who are the most philanthropic donors?
In most cases, the most philanthropic donors remain consistent from one nonprofit to the next. These donors tend to be older, financially stable, and highly educated. In fact, in the United States, the average donor is sixty-four years old. Thus, when examining your database to determine those most likely to give to your cause, look for those who are:
- Over sixty years old
- College graduates
- Earning a household income over $100,000
- Married (or in committed relationships)
- Empty-nesters (or have children older than six)
While every donor is important to the success of your nonprofit, these high-giving donors can make the difference between your nonprofit being able to fund or cancel a program. Identify and group donors and potential donors who fall into these categories. Then, target your outreach toward engaging their support.
How does a data append service for nonprofits work?
You want to be making a difference in your community, not spend your days typing data points into your CRM one-by-one-by-one. But, clearly, your success also relies on effective outreach to volunteers and donors. For nonprofits, a data append service can save you time and energy by enabling the data append process in batch.
Generally, when working with a data append service, the process follows four simple steps:
- Step 1: Uploading. To perform a batch append, you’ll upload your existing data to your data append service provider all at once.
- Step 2: Matching and Verifying. Uploaded records are verified and matched with corresponding entries in the append service’s extensive external databases.
- Step 3: Enhancing. Depending on the type of outreach or marketing you’re planning, you’ll select the data attributes you’d like appended.
- Step 4: Downloading. Finally, you’ll download these attributes to append the corresponding records in your database.
Once the relevant data attributes are appended to existing records, leverage this information to determine when and how to reach out to supporters. For example, you could append a newsletter subscriber’s hobby data and send them personalized recommendations for upcoming events or products in your nonprofit’s web store.
Types of Data Appends for Nonprofits
Data service providers hold millions of data points available for your nonprofit to leverage in its marketing and outreach campaigns. Yet, deciding what data will be helpful and what will make your job harder can be a difficult task.
We’ve compiled a list of the most important information to consider appending to your nonprofit database and why you might want these data points. Each data point falls into one of four categories: contact information, demographic information, philanthropic information, and firmographic information.
When your success relies on your donors and volunteers, you need to be able to quickly and easily reach them. But if contact information is missing or out-of-date, any engagement is simply impossible.
- Address Updates. According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, over 10% of Americans move each year. As a result, unless they take the time to notify you of their move, the mailing addresses in your database can quickly become outdated. Many forget to update mailing addresses becoming outdated every year.
- Name Changes. Appending your database with supporters’ most up-to-date names allows you to personalize your messaging with their names and titles of choice.
- Phone Numbers. With a phone append, you can add cell and home phone numbers to missing records. This is especially valuable for connecting with major gift donors who generally prefer more personalized communication approaches. Additionally, you might run a reverse phone append to add other contact information based only on the phone numbers in your records.
- Email Addresses. Email is one of the most efficient, cost-effective methods for a nonprofit to reach a large swath of supporters. As with phone numbers, you can append active email addresses to incomplete records.
- Language Preference. If you serve a diverse community, you should communicate with your supporters in their preferred language.
- Social Media Handles. With over 70% of Americans on social media, it’s crucial that you leverage these platforms in your engagement strategy. Appending social media information allows you to better update and engage with your supporters in real-time.
Detailed Supporter Demographics
Once you have your supporters’ contact information, you should consider appending additional demographic data to best tailor your marketing approach to different segments of your target audiences.
For example, if you’re a nonprofit sending an email with information about volunteer opportunities in your community, you’d likely want to address it only to your local supporters. Otherwise, you risk annoying donors in other cities who wouldn’t find those opportunities engaging or valuable.
Let’s take a closer look at the kinds of demographic data you can append:
- Dates of Birth, Marital Status, Presence of Children, and Education. As mentioned above, these data points are critical to determining an individual’s philanthropic and giving potential.
- Location: To target your outreach to specific areas, you can append the geographic data of your supporters, including their latitude and longitude coordinates.
- Gender, Ethnicity, Religion, Hobbies, and Interests. In appending these data points, you may find a correlation between engagement and particular characteristics. You can then use them to develop and target ideal donor personas.
Wealth & Philanthropic Information
A subset of demographic data, wealth, and philanthropic information can help you focus your attention on specific groups of donors and volunteers who are most likely to engage with your messaging and have the greatest capacity to give. Consider the following wealth and philanthropic data appends for your nonprofit:
- Employment Details. You might append this data (including their employer’s name, their job title, and their income) to assess giving potential and suggest matching gift opportunities.
- Giving History. If you know what causes interest your donors, you can better market your mission to align with their values. These might include the number and size of gifts, gift recipients, and association with grant-giving foundations.
- Ownership. You can append information regarding individuals’ real estate holdings, airplane or boat ownership, and stock ownership to your records.
- Buying Behaviors. Where do your supporters spend their money? To better understand their interests and spending habits, you can append information about their recent online purchases.
In addition to individual donors’ data, your database may store information about businesses and foundations that support your nonprofit with grants, matching gifts, and in-kind donations. Just as you append individual data, you can also append business information with firmographic data, such as key contact information, size, revenue, location, and internal structure.
However, before appending any of the data above, you should determine precisely why you want it and how you’ll use it to meet your goals. Otherwise, all you’ve gained is more data to wade through.
For example, if you’re fundraising for a university foundation, you may want to append the current contact information of your alumni. On the other hand, if you’re a nonprofit expanding your reach into a new city, you may want to append your database with local demographic, geographic, and firmographic information. Below, we’ll look at how data appends can help nonprofits engage donors and raise funds.
How Data Appends Can Help Nonprofits Raise Money
Generally, data appends accomplish two basic fundraising-related tasks for your nonprofit: filling in gaps in your records and supplementing existing data. In doing so, however, you can achieve several more specific goals related to accurately determining and targeting the right audience for your fundraising campaigns. Data appends can help your nonprofit:
- Tailor your existing fundraising campaigns. Nonprofit data appends can complete missing records and verify existing ones to ensure that your database is complete and accurate. As a result, you can better understand and capitalize on your current marketing efforts by narrowing down your target audiences.
- Quickly capitalize on fundraising opportunities. When you have more accurate, complete contact information, you can take advantage of rapid forms of communication, such as social media and text messaging, to reach supporters instantly.
- Identify new donors. If you’re expanding into a new area or market, you can hit the ground running with a complete list of relevant contacts. Moreover, you can use your appended data to target that new audience better with personalized, timely messages.
Ultimately, these benefits of data appends boil down to efficiency and effectiveness. When dirty and incomplete data can result in costly errors, data appends can simultaneously save your organization time and money that you can put back into the work you do for your community.
The Best Data Append Service for Nonprofits
As you can imagine, conducting data appends on your own—especially appropriately done—can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive process. Luckily, there are a number of automated tools and services that can make your life easier and save you money in the process.
When choosing your data analytics and append service, be sure that it:
- Is made for nonprofit organizations with extensive experience in the nonprofit sector.
- Offers access to leading databases with regularly updated, reputable data.
- Follows data append best practices, validating all data before appending them to your database.
- Is clear about payment structures, with no monthly subscription fee, contracts, or hidden costs.
- Provides a team of experts who can guide you through the data-driven fundraising process.
- Offers additional services, like the ability to build customized reports on your supporters.
- Abides by state, federal, and international data privacy regulations for collecting and verifying data.
Moreover, the best data append service providers should offer services beyond simply feeding you the requested data. For example, as a trusted data append provider, AlumniFinder provides a range of services to meet the needs and goals of nonprofits of different sizes. Our tools include:
- Data hygiene services to prepare your nonprofit database for appending and enhancement.
- Marketing campaign management—from concept to reporting—that targets donors across email, digital, and direct mail channels.
- Predictive data analytics services to create donor segments/lists and determine a thoughtful fundraising framework and strategy.
- Custom data solutions to meet all of your nonprofit’s unique needs.
If you’re interested in learning more about data appends for nonprofits, the available tools, and how to leverage your data, take a look at these additional resources:
- Doing Major Gifts the Right Way: A Fundraising Guide. Use this guide to help you leverage your appended data to find, attract, and retain major donors.
- Tools for the 21st Century: A Modern Fundraiser’s Success Kit. Take your fundraising data to the next level with the tools and strategies suggested in this in-depth kit.
- Data Enhancement: What Is It (And Why Is It Important?). In this article, you’ll learn about the many forms of data enhancement and data enrichment.