Making More of Your Data

Lord Leverhulme, head of Britain’s biggest advertiser Unilever, famously said, “Only half of what Unilever spends on advertising actually works. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” So fundraisers are not alone. But what difference might it make, in money saved and raised, if he could answer that question in detail?

Data is gold. But only if you can get to its real value.
part 2

In part 1, Data is Gold, Chuck Longfield spoke about the real asset value of data for fundraisers. Here, in part 2, he brings us six recommendations for making more use of your organizations’ data.

1. Monitor your data quality regularly.

Every fundraiser should satisfy himself or herself that their data is spot on. So choose 100 donors at random and review their data. Call donors and check that the data you hold is correct. Check duplicates, status, spellings and so forth. Make sure all the important information is there and add new stuff you’ll collect in the process. Capture your donors’ ‘rich interactions’, and then write a short report on it. Act on what you learn, and use this to set targets for the future.

2. Use this richer data in your selections.

Create and test single passion variables, such as event attenders, matching gift donors, address changers, even complainers. Consider adding new selections to your traditional RFV. Practice seeing things through your donors’ eyes. This will help you to get your incentives right.

3. Call all new donors with a carefully constructed relationship-building message.

Or at least, invest in the donors with the greatest potential. Kay Sprinkel Grace says that calling new donors carefully can increase gift values by 40 per cent. Yet few do it. Whatever the financial incentive, anyone who does is sure to learn a lot.

4. Look at donor return on investment (ROI).

Analyze your donors rather than your campaigns. This is an opportunity to increase stewardship and to practice seeing things from your donors’ viewpoint. Look not just at what your latest mailing will bring in, but consider its effect on the majority who didn’t respond?

5. Create hurdles for donors, to justify further investment.

You don’t have limitless resources, so create hurdles for donors so you can find which ones might be best for you to focus your time and budget on. Don’t make their lives difficult, of course, just give them every opportunity to wave their hands saying, in one way or another, ‘I love you’.

6. Follow up all non renewing donors (above say $100) personally.

Find out why they’re not renewing and change what you do accordingly.

Chuck Longfield is chief scientist for Blackbaud, Inc. and founder of Target Software, Inc. and Target Analysis Group, Inc., Blackbaud companies.

Copyright, The SOFII Foundation 2010; reprinted with permission.