Leveraging Donor Management Software

There is a secret tool behind the world of direct mail marketing. This allows organizations to completely transform their donor lists into perfectly personalized and segmented groups so that they can maximize their campaigns. That secret tool is the use of a CRM, or constituent relationship management system, and its powerful donor management features.

A nonprofit CRM allows you to collect and store large quantities of data from your donors and create all-around better fundraising campaigns. In doing this, you can use the data your CRM produces to maximize your campaign’s productivity, fundraising appeals, and conversion rates. 

However, it’s important that you select the best fit system for your nonprofit. Choosing an effective CRM will lead to better overall performance of your campaigns and allow you to leverage your donor data to its maximum capacity. If you use your CRM correctly and choose the right fit for your organization, you will reap the widespread benefits of direct mail for nonprofit fundraising appeals. Here are four ways to leverage your CRM for direct mail appeals:

  1. Segmenting your audience
  2. Personalizing your appeals
  3. Avoiding common mistakes
  4. Investing in the right software

Ready to dive into each of these tips and the ways they can benefit your overall fundraising strategy? Let’s begin.

1. Segmenting your audience

The first thing you can do for leveraging donor management software is to segment your audience. By segmenting your audience, you are dividing your donor lists into specific segments to allow for a more targeted appeal. In doing this, not only do you boost your user experience, but you also increase your chances of engagement and conversion overall. Segmenting your audience is an effective way to maintain engagement with your audience and keep communication up during a crisis and afterward.

One of the easiest ways to do this is by organizing supporters into categories. After you have selected a CRM, you want to begin finding commonalities between your audience members. For example, you can organize donors by donor level, engagement history, giving type, and communication preference—which all affect your donors’ perception of your organization.

That said, this strategy improves your donor’s experience and can likely lead to more generous donations overall. Making your donors feel as if they are part of a collective with a common goal gives them a sense of belonging within your organization. And when your appeals are carefully crafted to the recipient’s interests and motivations, they’re more likely to respond positively and take the next step.

2. Personalizing your appeals

When interacting with donors, a personal touch is immensely important for making them feel like they’re connected to and critical for your mission. 

One way to do this is by telling a story. Not only will this draw in your audience, but it also gives the donor an idea of where their money is going. You can even connect to your donors further by sharing stories about things they are interested in and provide an even more personal connection with the reader. 

In order to do this effectively, be sure to conduct some preliminary research on your supporters’ interests. When researching, you can use the data within your nonprofit database or CRM to personalize each appeal to a specific donor type. This will give you the upper hand in gaining your donor’s attention, which will lead to a higher ROI overall. 

3. Avoiding common mistakes

When leveraging data from your donor management system, make sure you streamline your appeals and avoid common mistakes. Some of these mistakes for nonprofits include an overly complicated giving process, a lack of personalization, and a single-channel approach. That said, here are three ways you can easily avoid those mistakes:

  • Simplify your online giving. Your online giving platform must be user friendly and easy to locate. If you know that a particular recipient prefers to make their donations online, be sure to include the URL for your handy online donation page so they can quickly and easily make their donation.
  • Include return envelopes for mail-in donations. You always want to include a prepaid, pre-addressed return envelope with any fundraising letters you send. This is important because it streamlines the donation for the donor and allows the recipient to make the donation without common obstructions like buying stamps or envelopes. 
  • Create additional fundraising channels. When you offer multiple ways for supporters to give, you increase the likelihood that they follow through with the donation. For example, you can include mail-in opportunities, online giving, and even text-to-give for easy access.

Avoiding these mistakes should be a priority because, if they do occur, a lot of revenue can be lost due to minor changes. But by taking a proactive approach, you can set yourself up for fantastic fundraising asks as well!

4. Investing in and leveraging donor management software that fits

Like any big software purchase, it’s important that you take the time to research and consider your options when it comes to donor management software. Here are a few elements that will likely impact your decision:

  • Price: You might not have a ton of money available to shell out for a CRM database, which means you may be tempted to seek a low-cost alternative. However, this type of software is a strategic investment that will help you raise more for your cause, meaning it certainly won’t be a waste of your hard-earned funding.
  • Features: Your donor management software likely comes equipped with a number of features, including for donor profiles, marketing and communications, and robust reporting. Be sure the solution you choose offers the features you need for your own fundraising.
  • Integrations: The best CRMs integrate with the rest of your nonprofit and fundraising techstack to save time and reduce error. When making your choice, be sure to look for a solution that fully integrates with your top tools—including your direct mail platform.

In addition to better performance, leveraging donor management software allows campaigns to bring in significantly higher returns on your investment. This is because it leverages your donor database effectively and personalizes your appeals to individual donors so that they are more likely to give, and to keep giving. 

All in all, donor management software is an immensely important tool when utilizing direct mail in your marketing and fundraising campaigns. When you implement a CRM effectively, you can segment your audience, personalize your appeals, and avoid some all-too-common mistakes. Then, if the data is leveraged correctly, you can maximize the success of your direct mail campaign along with your overall fundraising strategy. Good luck!

The Buyer's Guide to Fundraising Software

Grant Cobb

Grant Cobb

Marketing & Analytics at GivingMail
Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.