The need to develop deeper personal connections with donors and potential donors is vital to any long-term giving strategy. When people feel strongly connected to an organization, they absorb the organization as part of their personal unit, making it a locus of much of their social activity. In turn, they attend and promote events, recruit friends to volunteer, influence and engage others on social media, and provide increasing levels of financial support. This type of kinship network (cultivated by what we term the “absorption” process) is assisted through the development and use of data management, modeling and analytics. Many nonprofits have complex social relationships. As such, there is an imperative need for nonprofits to customize their database infrastructure so that it is providing the analytical information needed to more easily comprehend and predict donor behavior. We cannot underscore this enough – to obtain useful analytical donor information, you have to know more about the people who support your nonprofit. This also enables the organization to better segment communications and gift proposals in order to maximize fundraising efficiency and achieve campaign effectiveness. Nonprofits should do more than just have a relationship management system – it is vital to customize the system to meet specific needs.
A big question you need to ask is whether you are getting your money’s worth from your present technology. An effective CRM allows you to customize data fields, collect and track details with precision, and integrates with other data sources such as social media. Most importantly, your CRM should make it easy to analyze data in order to visualize the bigger picture with respect to your donor base. If your CRM has these functionalities, the next question is whether you are maximizing its use effectively. Are you uncovering the right prospects most promising to your major gift or annual campaign? Are you using your data to discern which solicitation appeals best resonate with any given donor? Are you generating and analyzing reports that help you develop better fundraising strategies? Again, making certain that you customize your technology infrastructure so that it is saving you time and strengthening your relationships is essential.
Finally, if you purchased a CRM, you also need to invest appropriate time customizing fields that effectively segment constituency. Again, the goal here is to build personal connections. Your data, when customized, will help you quickly provide more personal appreciation and recognition to supportive constituents. In segmenting data, there is certain demographic data you obviously wish to maintain such as age, gender, income level, level of involvement, and generational designation (i.e. millennial, baby boomer). But, you also want to collect and store data that is customized to your strategic fundraising efforts. For instance, if you desire to build an effective legacy program, two key elements are donor trust and donor perception. Legacy donors need to trust and have a good perception of your financial stability and stewardship. Thus, you may find it beneficial to track constituent perceptions over time. In this example, you may want to particularly track the effect sharing financial reporting communications has on donor perception. In this case, you may need to integrate your CRM with a dashboard to measure and track this key performance indicator. The last take away is that you need to make sure that your technology is working hard for you, and to make that happen requires customizing your technology to your individualized needs. For assistance with database customization and donor modeling techniques, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.