Mar 19, 2021

How to Collect Donor Data and Enrich Supporter Relationships

Not sure what donor data your nonprofit organization should be collecting? Cleaning up and optimizing fundraising data can be a confusing topic—there are limitless options! In this blog, discover the basic information you should be storing and how to make it shine for donor engagement.

Keep scrolling to learn:

  • Recent research on the importance of donor data 
  • Three types of data nonprofits should collect
  • Different methods for collecting data
  • How to translate data donor engagement

Donor Data Value in Relationship Building

The number one reason nonprofits should be collecting donor data is because supporters actually want to be known! People want personalization and are willing to share information to get it. More than 83% of people are willing to share their data to create a more personalized experience. Would it surprise you to know that 72% say they only engage with personalized messaging?

Your supporters want you to know them. Collecting information helps you understand them, which is the first step to building trust.

What Kind of Information Nonprofits Should Collect

Nonprofits should be collecting three different types of data: basics, preferences, and motivations. Remember that each level of detail enables a richer engagement with your donors. Let’s break those down!

Level 1 - Basics: The bare minimum contact information you should know.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Age
  • Employment
  • Location
  • Donation amount
  • Donation date
  • Donation designation (matching gift, in honor or memorial gift, corporate match, etc.)

Minimizing the level of basic information to what is truly required makes it easier for your supporters to dive in and begin partnering with your cause.

Level 2 - Preferences: How they discovered you and their communication preferences.

  • How they learned about you (on your website, through social media, referred by a friend, etc.)
  • Where they donated (on your website’s fundraising page, through a crowdfunding page, if they used mobile vs. desktop, at an event, etc.)
  • Options for all online and offline interactions (event attendance, historical giving, participation as a volunteer or team fundraiser, etc.)

Level 3 - Motivations: Why they care about your cause and what they value.

  • What inspired them to give (referral from family/friend, after inspirational story, while at a fundraising event, personal experience related to the mission, etc.)
  • Desired level of involvement (volunteer, fundraise, support, etc.)
  • What part of your mission appeals most to them (particular programs/services are they most interested in making an impact through)
  • Advanced personal information (hobbies, interests, habits, etc.)

Motivations are the most important and overlooked type of data to learn about your donors. Understanding what drives, inspires, and moves supporters toward your cause is invaluable because at a deeper level it helps you forge a meaningful, long-lasting partnership.

How to Collect Donor Data

To collect this valuable donor data, you will need a place to store it. This is usually accomplished with a donor database software (i.e., CRM software), fundraising platform, or simple spreadsheet.

Once you’ve determined the right location, create a strategy and workflow for collecting data on an ongoing basis. Who will collect it and how often? How will it be collected? Who will maintain it? And most importantly how will it be used?

Pro tip: Most Level 1 information can be collected automatically when donors first sign up. Once they’re a part of your organization, you can invite them to provide Level 2 and 3 information through surveys and opportunities for feedback.

Finally, you’ll need to determine a process for analyzing donor data. This is an important step that often goes neglected. This could be automatic reports once a day, once a week, or once a month, depending on the size of your organization. Keep an eye out for progress toward fundraising goals, levels of engagement, giving or communication trends, and any data that needs to be cleaned (e.g., missing or outdated emails). 

Reviewing donor information can help your organization adjust engagement strategies and boost retention efforts to build a stronger level of trust with supporters based on what you find.

Translating Information to Engagement

Now that you’ve got all of this rich information, it’s time to make good use of it. To start, you can segment your supporters based on their preferences. Whether this is their last donation date (Level 1), or how they heard about you (Level 2). 

Then, to make messages really resonate, you can tailor communication based on their motivations and desires (Level 3). For example, you can send an email about a new program that aligns with their values.

As you test different methods of segmentation, you can adjust strategies based on what is and is not working. Where does your organization have the greatest reach? Which messages are resulting in actions (e.g., donate, volunteer)? Listen, learn, adjust, repeat!

You can also use donor information to research potential supporters. Understanding who your target segmentation is can translate to you uncovering new ways to reach and establish interest in your mission. The better you understand your donors, the more effective you will be at adjusting your overall fundraising strategy, and ultimately improve your nonprofit’s success and supporter’s happiness.

Liberate Your Donor Data With Givecloud

Want help understanding your donors?

With Givecloud, you can uncover trends in campaign effectiveness, one-time and recurring donors, and how supporters found you, as just a few examples. Referral Sources allow you to track how donors are finding you no matter how they are interacting with your organization (including online forms, shopping carts, fundraising pages, kiosks, point of sale, and more).

Not only do you have access to data with Givecloud, but so do your donors! They can see or even edit their own profile with billing info, the option to make profile changes, and see their giving history.