Donor management can be one of the trickiest things for new nonprofits to get the hang of, especially if they don’t have the tools they need to do it well.
When most nonprofits first get started, they record just about everything in a spreadsheet. Do you remember your spreadsheet days? You’d registered your nonprofit for fundraising and donations were steadily rolling in. But recording all of the necessary donor information is difficult and time consuming. You probably often thought to yourself, “There’s got to be a better way!”
This mindset is what we call the donor management blues. You know you need to find a better method of organizing your nonprofit’s donor data but you’re unsure of how to go about it.
Even if you’ve graduated from this initial stage and have better methods of organization, you might still see hints of the donor management blues. This often occurs when you get frustrated while searching through your nonprofit’s donor database.
No matter where you are in the process of eliminating your donor management blues, whether you’re still at the spreadsheet level or if you’re figuring out how to use your donor database, we’ve compiled this guide for you. Eliminate your blues once and for all with these 8 strategies:
Ready to lose the blues forever? Let’s dive in to learn more!
While spreadsheets and basic databases can track donations to your nonprofit, they do very little to help you get a grasp on the other engagement factors exhibited by your supporters.
Some of the other elements that you need to take into consideration to measure each supporter’s engagement include:
As you can see, engagement goes far past just donations. Why are these other factors so important? Well, a general engagement measurement gives your nonprofit an indication about which donors are becoming disinterested or disenchanted with your organization. Therefore, you can reach out to steward them back in.
Engagement levels don’t only show the negative news, though. They can also indicate relationships with your advocates that will continue to grow for years to come.
To track these factors, you’ll need an extensive nonprofit CRM that provides room for every engagement opportunity within a donor’s profile. Bloomerang’s donor database even populates a general engagement score in a donor’s profile based on these important factors!
It’s likely that your nonprofit has already established some prospect development strategies during major fundraising campaigns. But do you have an effective way to store this information?
Preliminary knowledge of past or current prospect research for each of your donors can kickstart your future capital campaigns and other major fundraising efforts. Therefore, you should make sure that information such as wealth and philanthropic indicators can easily be stored in your donor database for future reference.
If your donor database integrates with a prospect research tool, you can even assign each of your donors a generosity score. This score gives a general indication of the approximate ask amount appropriate for each of your donors.
Bonus! When you have a good indication for the engagement level of donors as well as their generosity score, your nonprofit will have little to no trouble finding major donors!
In addition to knowing the types of interactions your donors have with your organization, it’s important that you also track when these interactions take place.
Interaction recency helps guide your nonprofit in your outreach strategy. For instance, if your donor registered for an event multiple months in advance, sending them reminders will be especially effective. Or, if you notice a donor seems to be interacting less than they used to, they may require stewardship to get them involved again.
Your timeline should show more than just donations dates and methods of giving. It should also show all of your engagement factors such as volunteer hours or website visits. A comprehensive timeline gives a well-rounded view of your donors’ relationship with your organization.
Keep in mind that not all donors have the capability to donate every time they want to interact with your organization. When you provide opportunities such as volunteering to donors, you give them the freedom to support your mission without straining their wallets.
Plus, according to Double the Donation, 40% of Fortune 500 companies offer volunteer grant programs. With these programs, companies will financially match the hours their employees spend volunteering for qualifying nonprofit organizations. Generally, they will donate about $8-$15 per volunteer hour.
When you track the volunteer hours of your supporters, you can reach back out to them and encourage them to research their eligibility status for these grant programs. Tell them the number of hours they volunteered for your organization to make their match request process easy.
Ensuring your organization has active social media accounts can provide more interaction opportunities for your supporters. However, you should make sure to cover both aspects of social media engagement: posting from your account and monitoring your supporters’ posts.
Your posts: Posting to various social media platforms can help your nonprofit maintain a strong presence on social media and help you gain traction during fundraising campaigns. Create a unique social media strategy for each of your platforms according to the distinct parameters of that platform. For instance, you might Tweet more often than you post on Facebook because of the shorter “lifetime” of a Tweet.
Your supporters’ posts: Monitor the posts that your supporters make about your organization by creating a hashtag that they can use in their post content. By monitoring the posts that use this hashtag, you can see your supporters’ general feelings toward your nonprofit.
They say that the key to any relationship is effective communication. That’s absolutely true for the relationship between your nonprofit and your supporters!
Everything from your solicitation letters to acknowledgments to fundraising disclosures should be specifically tailored to your audience.
Segment your donors into lists in your donor database for communication purposes so that your messages with them will be as relevant as possible, increasing the likelihood that your supporters will read your message and act on it. For instance, segment donors by preferred donation platform so that your next solicitation will take that preference into account.
Track these communications as well as email open and click-through rates to better understand how often you’re communicating with donors and how effectively your message is coming across.
Relationships are not one-sided affairs. Encouraging supporters to provide feedback to your organization and getting to know them better will significantly improve your donor retention rate.
What better way to get to know supporters than by asking them direct questions? Donor survey questions give you insight into your supporters’ values and beliefs regarding your organization. After all, when you know more about the motivations of your donors, you can better appeal to them in the future.
Donor surveys are also a great opportunity for supporters to provide feedback about your organization as a whole. You can learn a lot by listening to what they have to say and taking their opinions into consideration before making future plans.
Nonprofits like yours spend a lot of time and energy recruiting new donors through marketing. Therefore, your marketing strategy is likely very effective! But can you imagine how much more your nonprofit would benefit if you could better retain those donors you worked so hard to recruit?
Tracking your donor retention rate helps you identify opportunities for improvement and future fundraising success.
Keep this important metric on the front dashboard of your donor database so that you see it frequently and can focus on improvement. As your donor retention rate improves, you’ll start to notice the stronger relationships you’ve built with supporters as well as improved fundraising efforts.
The donor management blues tend to emerge when your nonprofit’s donor data is out of whack. Organizing everything and tracking all of the interactions can bring you out of this disorganized slump.
Make sure your nonprofit tracks your donors’ interactions with your organization as well as your organization’s interactions with donors. Relationships are a two-way street, so tracking both ends of your relationships with donors will build stronger connections.
Jay B. Love is a Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang. He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.