donor data

As expectations increase for more sophisticated development strategies and tactics that win and keep donors engaged with organizations, donor data plays an increasingly influential role in the nonprofit landscape.

The good news is that most nonprofits already have excellent record-keeping practices in place thanks to the integration of CRM and donor management platforms.

However, apart from basic records management how many charities invest in their data? For many nonprofits, it is a question of resources, and even for large organizations, it can be challenging to invest in a dedicated team responsible for maintaining and optimizing donor data.

Yet, when nonprofits do drill into their donor data they gain valuable insight into donor behavior, enabling them to set more predictive targets, increase efficiency, report more accurately on fundraising performance, and identify trends and opportunities for growth.

For instance, how confident are you in the quality of your donor data? On average, a charity can expect to lose approximately 2% of its donor base each year due to its constituents passing away. When you add in changes of address for donors that move and duplicate records, approximately 15% of your data needs updating every year.

What about KPIs? Which ones matter to you? Metrics such as donor retention rate are telling indicators about the health of an organization’s fundraising efforts. Knowing the impact of global trends on baseline metrics is also helpful in understanding if trends in your data are part of a larger shift in donor sentiment.

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, the average donor retention rate for nonprofits in 2017 was a grim 45%. Combine that with the fact that just 19% of first-time donors give again the following year, as compared to 65% of donors who have given over multiple years and you can quickly see how important it is to understand how these metrics relate to your organization.

Top 5 Fundraising Metrics

  1. Donor Retention Rate
  2. Donor Acquisition Rate
  3. Donor Gains & Losses + Net
  4. Growth in Giving
  5. Growth in Donors
  6. Bonus KPI – Donor Engagement

Embracing your donor data creates opportunities to increase donor engagement, retention rates, and average gift size significantly. Understanding donor behavior and personalizing appeal messaging in response can significantly impact the effectiveness of your fundraising efforts.

Targeting Tips

  • Personalization ≠ Stewardship – Personalizing thank you notes, email or appeal letters improves response rates and donor engagement but don’t stop there.
  • Know Your Donor with Data – What channels do your donors prefer? Knowing which one to use for which persona type can significantly increase fundraising effectiveness.

Use your donor data to discover which appeals generate the most gifts and when in the calendar year. Donors today seek greater levels of engagement with the organizations they support, which means donor communications must resonate with every segment of your database. Use your database to shape blog or social media content to generate better engagement with your donor base.

Ultimately, a data-informed fundraising strategy is something that all nonprofits should strive towards. The more you know, the better equipped you will be to take aqction with targeted and timely fundraising appeals that elicit more predictable outcomes.


Shawn Bouchard

Shawn Bouchard

Principal Consultant at GivingData
Shawn Bouchard is Principal Consultant at GivingData Insight & Analytics, which provides donor insight and strategic campaign services to nonprofits. Offering our clients a unique blend of hands-on experience and cutting-edge data mining techniques, GivingData is here to help you get the most from your donor data, enabling you to build more predictable and effective donor-centric giving appeals.
Shawn Bouchard

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