Why Data is Important in Fundraising for Nonprofits

As a fundraiser, your toolkit is full of tried and true strategies to engage donors and keep donations coming in. Knowledge is power, and with the right information, you can improve your donor relationships and be more strategic in your fundraising efforts. 

If you are fundraising online then you are collecting valuable data already. You wouldn’t wander around in the dark if you had a flashlight would you? So let your flashlight (or in this case, data) guide you! 

First, we will debunk some myths about data, so you know exactly what it is. Then we will explore how you can use data at your nonprofit and integrate it into your fundraising toolkit. 

Debunking Data-Based Fundraising Myths and Misconceptions

1. Big Data is for the For-profit Sector

What is big data? Big data is the large volume of data that is collected from peoples’ activity on the internet. It’s true that the for-profit sector has figured out how to use big data to make more informed decisions about their business strategy, but even small nonprofits can do the same when you understand what the data is telling you

If you allow donors to donate through your website, send newsletter to donors, or use a donor management software then you are already performing nonprofit data tracking. 

2. Data Gets In The Way Of Relationship Building

There is a myth that data turns individuals into just a number and removes the personal relationship that donors are looking for. We know that relationship building is at the heart of fundraising and nonprofits are relying on individual donors more than ever, as funding for many non-profits is becoming more limited

Data science allows you to develop your relationship with each donor, because it helps you get to know your donor better. For example, your nonprofit email’s unsubscribe rate is a great benchmark for measuring how well you are fostering your donor relationships. 

Emails are a key way that donors stay connected to your organization, so if your unsubscribe rate is creeping up, you know you have some work to do in relationship building (psst… I would recommend segmenting your email list).

Start Segmenting Your Donors

Use this FREE Donor Segmentation Template to segment your donors and contacts based on their level of engagement. 

3. No Room For Data In Storytelling

It is easy to think that the cold, hard facts that data represents will get in the way of the storytelling that many donors connect with. We know that storytelling is a great way to create a narrative that will help donors connect with your cause and your organization, and data can help you assess the impact of your nonprofit’s stories and narratives. 

Nonprofit metrics and analytics can help you better understand your organization’s impact, so you can weave that into your story.

Data science for nonprofits is all about uncovering clues, trends and gaps in your fundraising workflows so you can make better decisions.

The Importance of Data-based Fundraising for Nonprofits

1. Understand What The Data Is Telling You

As fundraising moves online, data is now being collected with every click a donor makes as they donate. These clicks are clues about when, how and why a donor is making a donation

Data science for nonprofits is all about uncovering these clues so you can understand what the data can tell you. Let’s take a look at three things you can learn from data and what that means for fundraisers. 

  1. Data can describe what is happening within your organization right now, such as describing the demographics of your donor base, or how many donations you have received as a part of your holiday giving campaign.
  2. Data can predict upcoming trends by combining current data and historical data. For example, combining last year’s holiday giving trends and this year’s overall giving trends, prescriptive data analytics can tell you what to expect for this holiday giving season. 
  3. Data can prescribe the best course of action for your organization so you can be more effective. For example, prescriptive data may suggest to donors that you should re-engage with this holiday season based on their giving habits over the last year and when they were last contacted, helping you to be strategic in reaching out to donors.

2. Get To Know Your Donor Better

Wouldn’t you love to give one-on-one time to each and every donor to build a personal connection and maintain that throughout their donor journey? While data can’t give you more time, it can help you get to know your donor better so that you can be more efficient with your interactions and build a strong relationship with each donor.

  1. You can use data to understand the donor journey, and then reach out to donors at key moments. Nonprofit data tracking allows you to track a donor’s interactions with your organization so you can tailor your approach to that individual. Nonprofit data tracking might tell you that an individual has been making a donation in the month of July for the past several years. Now you know that July is the right time for you to reach out and make an ask. 
  2. Data can also help build trust, a key to donor relationships. Using nonprofit metrics and nonprofit analytics you can track exactly where a donor’s money is going. As more and more donors demand transparency, being able to communicate the specific impact of their donation helps them trust you and your organization with their donation. 

3. Use Data To Help Tell Your Story

Data can help you tell your organization’s story, by first helping you understand your organization’s progress. Setting and tracking clear KPIs is a great way for you to understand the impact that your organization is making so that you can begin to communicate that with donors. 

Data can help add substance to the narrative that you are communicating to your donors. Nonprofit metrics can tell you exactly how your organization is making an impact, which can help you to communicate your impact to potential donors. Numbers pack a punch! While nonprofit storytelling taps into a donor’s emotions, numbers can tap into their logic. Combining storytelling and data can create a rich narrative that will hook donors.

Data can also help you understand what kind of story each donor will connect with. For example, tracking what keywords led a donor to your website can allow you to present your organization’s story in a way that connects with donors. 

If your organization is involved in policy advocacy and programming, you can communicate your impact by publishing stories with keywords, or search terms, such as “education policy” because it will resonate with them more. 

Are You Making the Most of Your Nonprofit’s Data?

Fundraising KIT sees patterns in your nonprofit’s data that humans can’t. This first-of-its-kind CRM-integration tool enables fundraisers to assess their performance and make informed decisions. 

Data science for nonprofits can seem overwhelming, simply because there are so many details that you can learn from data and so many ways that you can put it to work at your organization. So, let us make it easier to get started. 

Think about the data that you are already collecting in your organization. Do you have a donor feedback form? Do you track marketing emails? Do you track how many people your organization serves? Great, now dive into that data and see how you can better understand what the data is telling you, how you can use it to better understand your donor, and how it can be a part of your storytelling.  

Fundraising KIT assesses nonprofit data to provide suggestions on how your organization should communicate with donors, run successful campaigns and create insightful reports. Nonprofit analytics can be overwhelming when you don’t understand it, but with tools like Fundraising KIT to help you make sense of it, you can make your data work for you, and become the most valuable thing in your toolkit. 

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