Fundraisers today are blessed with many technological advancements that enable them to do their job like never before. However, these advancements have come with an added challenge that fundraisers must now navigate: having too much data at their fingertips.
With access to seemingly unlimited data, fundraisers now face the challenge of focusing their efforts correctly. With more work to do and bigger databases to analyze, they need to be skilled at managing and reviewing data to pinpoint the most valuable areas for their nonprofit to lean into.
It can be challenging knowing where to start and, more importantly, how to optimize your fundraising strategies effectively, so you’re not missing out on opportunities.
Thankfully, with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence tools designed specifically for the nonprofit sector, technology is now available to help optimize a fundraiser’s workload. These tools can show what data is most relevant and automate day-to-day tasks to alleviate the stress of strapped fundraisers.
By adopting some of the strategies outlined in this blog, nonprofit professionals can get back to what is most important: building meaningful relationships with donors, raising money, and creating greater impact.
First, let’s take a look at what optimization really means.
What is Optimization? And How Can it Affect Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies?
Optimization is the “act, process, or methodology of making something (such as a design, system, or decision) as fully perfect, functional, or effective as possible.”Merriam – Webster
For fundraisers, this means improving everyday mechanisms, workflows, and processes so you can more effectively analyze, segment, and reach out to a donor database. We use optimization to save time and money as well as foster better relationships with constituents.
For donors, optimization is equally important. Because, in the same way, it is inefficient and potentially damaging to reach out to disengaged donors at the wrong time; it is just as inefficient to reach out to the right donors, but for the wrong amount.
It does not make sense to reach out to a donor who has previously given $50 last year and ask them to give $5,000. Yet, in the same vein, there is money left on the table when a potential major donor is being asked to give far less than they possibly could.
6 Fundraising Optimization Strategies for Nonprofits
The art of optimization ensures you are asking the right donor for the right amount at the right time. Below are six key areas where a fundraiser can optimize day-to-day activities.
1. Data Enrichment
The fundraising environment is changing. It has become more competitive, with fewer major donors giving large sums to organizations. This, coupled with a drop-off in donors in general due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, means that fundraisers must optimize their prospect research and prioritize engagement with donors more likely to make donations.
By narrowing the pool of prospects that a fundraiser reaches out to, they can solicit fewer donations while maintaining an excellent success rate for their organization.
Quality over quantity comes into play when you can focus on donors who have both the capacity and willingness to give. This saves you time, money, and resources for future fundraising campaigns.
A great way to optimize this process is by enriching your data with wealth screening tools, such as WealthEngine, iWave, Windfall, and DonorSearch. These are great tools that enable fundraisers to better understand a prospective donor’s giving history, demographics, net worth, and even niche details, like if they are a yacht owner.
This omniscience ensures fundraisers are better informed on the propensity of prospects to give and enables them to focus on the right people from the very beginning.
Social listening is another tool fundraisers should be putting in place to understand potential donors better. There are 4.71 billion social media profiles globally, and as many as 50% of those are viewable by the public.
If you’re researching a prospective donor, social media is a great place to start. You can determine likes, dislikes, values, beliefs, and personal opinions on matters of the world and better understand their day-to-day lives. These nuances all factor into what pushes them to donate.
By adding a social listening feature to a database, fundraisers can pull this information directly into a contact profile, saving time researching and analyzing groups to determine who to steward.
2. Segmenting Your Donors
To be a more data-driven fundraiser, segmenting donors is a priority. This allows you to send targeted communications, tailor fundraising reach-outs, and build a healthy donor stewardship plan.
One way to optimize donor segmentation is by constantly gathering and refining data. The more information available, the easier it will be to determine which segment this donor belongs to. Plus, patterns will begin to emerge, making it even easier to group future donors based on previous success criteria.
Keep in mind; you won’t be able to run any analysis unless your data is clean and up-to-date. The cleaner your data, the more accurate your predictions, and the more successful your segmentations will be.
Start Segmenting Your Donors
Use this FREE Donor Segmentation Template to segment your donors and contacts based on their level of engagement.
3. Optimizing Your Ask
As mentioned above, asking the right donors for the wrong amounts can be as damaging as asking disengaged donors. Yet powerful technologies, namely the introduction of AI into the nonprofit sector, can now deliver groundbreaking levels of insights on a nonprofit’s donors.
This includes predictions about a donor’s giving behavior that shows you what the likelihood of their generosity will be in the future based on the information at hand.
These platforms, such as KIT’s AI-powered fundraising insights, allow organizations to optimize the journey of asking for donations. You’ll be able to filter through automatically segmented lists of donors who are most engaged with your campaigns. Plus, using predictive analytics, KIT will recommend precisely how much to ask, how to do it, and even the best time of year.
Instead of spending hours sifting through datasets and agonizing over spreadsheets only to make a stab in the dark request, fundraisers can take control over their solicitations. By optimizing the ask, you’re creating an organized and streamlined process that takes the guesswork out of fundraising.
Not only does this mean that you are reaching out to donors at the optimum time, but it also frees up your schedule to continue to make strategic, informed requests across your donor base, strengthening relationships and driving your mission forward.
4. Fine-Tuning Your Message
While it is critical to reach the right donors at the right time, it is equally important to get the right wording and messaging in your communications. In fact, creating personalized, tailored messaging for donors helps foster deeper relationships and can increase donations by up to 6x.
Personalizing the message that goes out to donors is putting your best foot forward – so to speak – for fundraisers, giving themselves a solid platform to cultivate and nurture relationships in the long term.
A great tool that nonprofits can use to boost communication is Gravyty. This AI-built tool generates emails to thank and cultivate donors. It also suggests ideal messaging that fundraisers should use based on previous interactions with donors.
By adopting tools like Gravyty, you can save countless hours attempting to create unique, personalized messages for your entire donor database and spend them instead on strengthening these individual relationships.
5. Understanding Your Metrics For More Informed Decision Making
With great data comes great responsibility and generally more accountability with tracking and reporting. If you take the time to understand your organization’s key performance indicators, you can rest with confidence trusting these metrics will influence your entire decision-making process for the better.
While KPIs can show fundraisers what elements of their fundraising efforts are working and are worth repeating, they also highlight organizations’ gaps and growth opportunities. You can easily set and track goals and see how they fare in comparison against industry benchmarks.
Day-to-day fundraising decisions can be transformed when you rely on metrics and deploy any of these fundraising optimization strategies.
6. Embracing Nonprofit AI
Embracing AI’s personalization and automation capabilities can optimize every step of the stewardship journey, from analyzing large datasets instantly to showing fundraisers the exact amount to ask from a potential donor.
Tools like Fundraising KIT give fundraisers the ability to plug AI directly into their current systems, enabling nonprofits to double down where they are needed most and ultimately foster a stronger, more engaged donor community.
Instead of replacing the fundraiser, embracing AI can mean optimizing workflow and fundraising mechanisms across the entire organization.
Talk to a fundraising expert today and learn more about how you can join other nonprofit organizations in increasing your annual fundraising revenue by over 46% in just one year!