Donor Data: What to Track and Why

Love it or hate it, data is a necessary part of every fundraiser’s job. You have to capture it, input it, pull it, and learn from it. And, if you follow best practices and use your data to adapt and perfect your fundraising strategy, then everyone will benefit.

Tracking Donor Data: It’s Not Just Helpful, It’s Essential

Before we jump into the how let’s discuss the why.

Data is a necessary part of every organization, whether you’re running an international corporation or a 1-person nonprofit operation. What data does is provide you the insight you need to cater to your specific audience.

It Helps You Cater to Individual Donors

The data you capture and track can help streamline your fundraising efforts and aid in creating donor-specific engagement opportunities. Seemingly insignificant information like a donor’s occupation, average gift, or frequency of giving helps you determine things like how much to ask for and when to ask for a donation.

Data provides you with the opportunity to give your donor a truly personal giving experience.

It Helps You Cater to Segments of Donors

Donor segmentation is something we speak a lot of in the nonprofit world. When we segment our donors, we’re grouping them with other similar donors—but you can’t do that without data, right?

How you segment based on the data you collect depends entirely on what you want from your donors. Maybe you want to segment your first-time donors and present them with a targeted engagement plan to ensure retention. Or, it’s possible you’re interested in creating a moves management plan for potential major donors.

In both of these cases (and more), data is the essential element in the segmentation process.

Preparing For the Data

Nonprofits and charities need in place to manage the data. Use the following to prepare your information:

  • A place to collect the data, such as CRM software, spreadsheet, or your online fundraising platform
  • A person/s responsible for inputting the data. This can include a designated staff person or trained volunteer
  • A strategy for what information to collect and when. For example, you’ll capture donor contact information from a donation form, interest-specific data from a donor experience survey, etc.
  • A plan for how you’ll use the data and which key facts and figures you’ll use to shape future engagement and retention efforts

Must-Have Donor Data

In an ideal world, you’ll capture all the data you need to get a thorough idea about your donor’s demographics and motivates giving. However, it’s best to start simple if you haven’t given much thought to tracking donor data before.

Each bullet point you see below represents key donor data that your nonprofit can benefit from.

Start with the Basics

In most cases, you collect basic contact information from your donor when they make an initial gift. On the donation form, include the following fill-fields:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Payment information
  • Gift amount

With this, you’ll know how to contact your donor with future information and engagement opportunities.

Search for Key Data From the Donation Form

Your donor came to your donation form some somewhere. Were they motivated to give by a friend through social media? Did they give through your website? Was there an inspirational nonprofit story that fueled their desire to get involved? Where your donor received the inspiration to get involved is information that can help you with future engagement efforts.

When you crafted your donation form, did you add donor options, such as recurring giving? If so, that’s something else to note.

Continue Collecting Data During Each Touchpoint

As you build a relationship with your donors by recruiting them for volunteer work, interacting in-person and online, etc., it’s vital you document any relevant information consistently. Such as the following:

  • Age
  • Affinities/Philanthropic interests
  • Other organizations your donor supports
  • Family makeup
  • Ability to volunteer
  • Employment
  • All online and offline interactions

As you continue to dig deeper, learning more about your donor, you’re gaining valuable insight to speak to your donor’s heart and meet them where they are.

In fundraising, knowledge equals power—data gives you the knowledge you need to build a better relationship, which benefits both your organization and your donor in the long run.

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