When you’re coming straight out of a busy time for donations, like the end of December or a major Spring campaign, analyzing your performance might be the last thing you want to think about. But a slow period is critical to growth. More specifically, it gives your team some time to look back at your data.

Analyzing your fundraising data can be like deciphering a foreign language, or better yet, filling out a logic puzzle. You can’t just take the premises at face-value; you also have to find the best ways to interpret them. And too often, organizations are only using vanity metrics to measure their progress, or they’re keeping everything in a spreadsheet on one employees’ laptop.

There are two problems with this:

  1. It’s a half-baked approach.
  2. Too often they don’t realize that there are plenty of other, better options.

Here are five things you might not be doing with your donor data. If you recognize your organization in this list, don’t throw your hands up in the air just yet — we’ve got some solutions for you, too.

1. You’re Not Segmenting Your Audiences

The Problem: There is a world of difference between an online and traditional donors. Research shows they give less on average, skew toward younger demographics, and are less likely to become recurring donors. But that does not mean whatsoever that you should pick one approach versus the other. Fundraising is a multichannel objective that should factor in a spectrum of donor behaviors.

The Solution: Do the math. Build your reports to compare numbers from online and traditional donors and look at the big differences. Pay attention to the basics, like overall audience populations and average donation amounts. But also dig deeper than the vanity metrics — for example, you can measure recurring rates by determining the percentage of donors that are making recurring gifts through any given avenue. You can go even deeper by measuring the rates for one-time, monthly, quarterly, or yearly donors per avenue.

2. You’re Not Developing Personas With It

The Problem: Your data doesn’t mean much if you’re not putting it into some sort of strategy. And you can’t create a successful strategy if you don’t know to whom you’re speaking. What are their spending behaviors like? Why do they give? Did they come to your donation page via email, social media, or perhaps both?

The Solution: Donor personas can’t be created with data alone, but it sure can help. A well-devised analytics setup (Google Analytics is free, by the way) can help you review data like goal completions (e.g. submitted payments and newsletter signups), and from where exactly that particular Web traffic came. Use these insights to help determine psychographic factors, in tandem with real-world examples (like interviews with donors and other employees at your organization.)

3. You’re Not Using It To Follow Up

The Problem: We put a lot of weight on first impressions, but second and third impressions can be just as critical. Are your follow-ups engaging and personal, or are they part of a generic newsletter sent to everybody? It boils down to this: If your follow-up communications aren’t providing value relative to the individual instead of the group, they’re going to start tuning you out. After that happens, you can forget about repeat donations.

The Solution: Most donors want personalized content from the organizations they support. A thank-you email after donating is a start (and practically essential), but the content should be customized, as well. For example, if your data segments patrons who donate to a particular campaign or restricted fund, consider sending them a targeted follow-up email with updates to the campaign’s progress. Physical thank-you notes are even better, if feasible.

And if you don’t exactly know how they want to be communicated with, then just ask! Surveying current patrons will help you determine what kinds of content delivery works best for each audience.

4. You’re Not Storing Backups

The Problem: It’s 2017, people. And while this really shouldn’t be a problem with cloud computing and increased hardware storage capacities, it’s still a to-do item many organizations forget to cross off the list. Technological disasters can happen in myriad ways, and it doesn’t even have to be in the form of a coordinated cyber attack — just one misplaced coffee cup could wipe out all a data hoarder’s hard work.

The Solution: We thought about this problem a step ahead when we created the Connect fundraising platform. Your pre-built reports are immediately synchronized with your Connect campaigns, and are available 24×7 from a cloud storage system. Best of all, you can rest assured that your donors’ data is protected under a secure, PCI Level 1 system that never stores sensitive credit card information.

5. You’re Not Integrating It Into Donor Management Software

The Problem: This ties in with #4, because it’s very likely that your data needs to be viewable by multiple people within your organization. But a donor management solution should do more than just serve as a central hub for your data. Today’s world of big analytics should be predictive. You should expect your donor management system to anticipate actions, not merely keeping a record for the ledgers.

The Solution: Once you’re comfortable with the above basics, find a solution that gives you a complete view of a donor’s value — not just the baseline numbers. If you’re using Salesforce®, Click & Pledge’ Donor Management app includes Patron Rank Analytics, a revolutionary new way to measure donors’ habits and network influence. When activated, Patron Rank analyzes an individual’s influence across all your Connect campaigns, including:

  • Number of personal contributions to your organization
  • Amounts raised as a peer-to-peer fundraiser
  • Number of new donors that donated to their specific peer-to-peer fundraiser
  • Amounts donated by those “influenced” donors to other organizational campaigns

If you’re looking for more information on how to get more out of your data, here’s a short video that breaks down Patron Rank’s value (starring The Simpsons, no less):

When your data integrates in real-time, the advantages are clear. And it’ll show the next time you run a report on recurring gifts, too.

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