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Are You Committing Fundraising Malpractice?

By May 8, 2015May 12th, 2015All Posts, Commentary, Database Management

Are Million$ Hiding in your Database?

Jeffrey D. Byrne

By Jeffrey D. Byrne
President + CEO
Getting to know your donors through data analytics is key to raising the most money while most effectively using your resources. When you analyze your donor database to develop statistical pictures of your donors, your organization can get the best return for its fundraising dollar by focusing its efforts on those most likely to give.

Dig around in your database. Learn your donor giving habits: Who gives the most? Who gives the most often? Who can make a significant gift? Who is at a stage in life to consider a planned gift. Analysis can help you move names in your database from simply a list of previous donors to a healthy list of prospective donors.

Review your database

Rome wasn’t build in a day, and neither are databases. They are built over years, with individuals who made one gift 10 years ago and those who made 10 gifts over 10 years. Until you crack open your database and start researching your donors, you have no way of knowing who is in there and more importantly, which donors are capable of making bigger, perhaps even transformational gifts.

Sophisticated data analysis has become increasingly accessible to nonprofits of all sizes as more consultants provide analytical services. As a fundraising professional, I feel it is practically fundraising malpractice if you don’t take the time to know who is in your database and how to best use your resources to reach out to those that can make the greatest difference.

Use analytics to supplement, not replace your major gifts efforts

Remember though, analytics will never replace good ol’ fashioned relationships. Knowing your donors on paper is just another tool for building better relationships. Understanding donor tendencies and nuances gives you the opportunity to reach out to the best donors at the best times. But you still have to connect with them as individuals before you can solicit and receive gifts.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Set goals. And set them on real numbers you’ve identified, not your hopes. Realistic goals for annual fundraising efforts or capital campaigns increase your success. And then, you can more realistically hold yourself accountable to these goals.

Meaningful data analysis will also help you determine how many fundraisers you need to reach your prospects, and will provide each fundraiser the best possible prospect list to reach their goals more efficiently and effectively. Today’s Major Gifts Officers should no longer start with a list of names and snippets of giving histories. They can get lists of donors ranked by capacity, inclination, interests and other factors, helping them approach the best prospects first.

Do you know the potential that lies in your database? Are millions of dollars hiding in it? Is there a transformational gift you have yet to discover? Your database holds the key to your future fundraising success. Conduct the research to help you reach out to the best prospects for those gifts that can make the most impact. 

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