Analytic Insight: Optimizing Donor Data to Meet Fundraising Goals
This article is adapted from a 2019 AHP Webinar Series event presented by Adam Gafke, CFRE, Vice President, Development Operations and Campaigns, Hoag Hospital Foundations, and Scott R. Lange, President, Visionary Philanthropic Consulting, LLC.
When considering a long-term goal for your fundraising achievements, there is nowhere to go but up. Your foundation is ready to transition from events to major gifts, your staff is excited and existing donors are prepared to help — but what if your data isn’t up to the task? The seemingly endless list of names and numbers is intimidating, but taking the time to organize your data and optimize donor acquisition strategies can improve your outcomes exponentially.
Organizing Existing Data
Starting with those seemingly endless lists, perform an assessment of the types of information you have — donor names, demographics, contacts, etc. — and brainstorm new ways to sort it. Maybe that entails reconstructing your data storage systems, choosing a new platform or manually reorganizing until your data is clean, consistent and accurate. Review the list of events, auctions and galas that your existing donors have attended, assessing their giving histories along the way. Organize your list of addresses so there are no duplicates based on user input style. Monitoring for these slight differences in otherwise identical pieces of information will improve the cleanliness and consistency of your data.
Gaining Insight & Conducting Wealth Screenings
Seventy percent of donations are given by individuals, making these donor prospects a key determinant in the sustainability of community hospitals and health care systems. Search for major donor characteristics when conducting a wealth screening by utilizing a combination of donor data and public data. Donor data includes giving history, engagement level and contact information while public data includes demographics, consumer behavior, business information, political activity and real estate.
Easily accessible statistics like those found in public data are incredibly helpful to calculate a prospect’s capacity, propensity and affinity for giving. Specific analytics of giving behavior and historical patterns of giving are indicative of a potential donor’s capacity and propensity. The affinity of a potential donor is the most challenging characteristic to evaluate. Ideally, donors would have a high capacity and a high affinity to donate. This however can be an unrealistic expectation for every donor — most are evaluated as lower prospects until an event occurs in the donor’s life that increases either their desire or ability to give.
Engage the right prospects but avoid excluding those who do not show all the characteristics of an “ideal donor.” Use targeted messaging to engage donors within their demographics for optimized results. Something as small as different linguistic cues can impact the prospect’s responsiveness to your pitch, making a notable difference in the final gift outcome.
After assessing the viability of your data, take a look at the organization of your staff and donor relations. This unquantifiable data is just as important as your other metrics. Start by checking in on your gift officer staffing needs. Visionary Philanthropic Consulting suggests that to see the highest efficacy of a gift officer’s work, shift some of the time spent on obtaining principal gifts to major or leadership annual gifts. Next, use your data to build relationships with donors. Getting to know someone’s background is highly influential when you first interact. Making a donor feel valued reflects well on your organization. When donors are found via a grateful patient avenue, their first and foremost relationship to the foundation is with the hospital staff who saw them through their experience. Ensure that your donors have the opportunity to build and maintain relationships with employees across different levels of your hospital foundation. If a singular staff member moves on to a new career, the donor they have connected to should not be left behind.
The optimization of your donor data and donor acquisition requires attentiveness to the varying needs and spaces for improvement within your foundation. By committing to a long-term overhaul of your organizational style, you can stay consistently up to date with the needs of your donors and achieve far beyond your year-end expectations.
To learn more, watch the full webinar.