Our company invests in professional development because we believe deeply in the power of continuous growth. Although we’ve experienced unique challenges during the pandemic, engaging in learning opportunities as a team has been a top priority.
Most recently, we partnered with Marianne Pelletier, Managing Director of Staupell Analytics Group. Marianne is a data scientist who is wealth of knowledge and tremendously fun to work with. She challenged us to think differently about applying data to fundraising and gave us new tools to continue our exploration and learning with our clients.
I have spoken extensively about key data points that all nonprofits should understand about their donor base, including retention rate and average gift size. BoardSource’s initiative, Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness, provides framework that goes beyond the cost of a dollar raised. The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) promotes their Fundraising Effectiveness Project so that development professionals have evaluation and tracking tools.
All of these resources are critical for nonprofit leaders — both board and staff — to utilize and understand because philanthropy is often the primary driver of an organization’s economic engine.
In the most interesting ways, Marianne reminded us about the power of segmenting data with sophisticated analytics tools, and that nothing is possible without proper coding in gift entry and database management.
In one sample exercise, we used donor data that a client captured this spring during the Giving Tuesday Now and The Big Give fundraising appeals. The client properly tracked gifts and included notes on which gifts came from new versus renewing donors. They also tracked solicitation methods and every gift was coded by campaign and method so we could analyze the giving data to truly understand what strategies worked best.
We found that the average gift of new donors was less than renewing donors, which is to be expected. However, the average gift was also considerably higher than we would have anticipated from mass social media campaigns like Giving Tuesday.
Why was that true?
Because of the analytics, we could tell that a donor who received a targeted message in addition to social media and email messages gave at significantly higher rates than those who did not receive a targeted message. It may seem intuitive, but it’s a critically important reminder. With this information, we could then extrapolate how much more would have been raised had all donors received a targeted message, and with higher average gifts, how much can be raised when these donors renew. The exercise was also a reminder of the importance of stewardship to keep donors engaged.
Every nonprofit is working as fast as they can right now to deliver on their missions. The old adage of working smarter and not harder is true in this case. Development teams need to make sure they are tracking how donors are solicited and how they respond, because knowledge is power.
Think of how much more can be raised when we take the time to learn from the data.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO