News & Press: Member Insights

3 Donor Details for Providing a Better Donor Experience

Monday, September 18, 2017   (0 Comments)


By Sarah Tedesco, Executive Vice President of DonorSearch 

Let’s play a quick game of fundraising word association. 

What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘prospect research’? 

Many of you probably thought about major giving, or at the very least, it was somewhere within your immediate thoughts.

Major giving is so closely aligned with prospect research because it’s what prospect research is most known for! If a major gift officer wants to find new candidates for their organization’s program, they likely turn to prospect research.

Prospect research helps a nonprofit determine two key traits about a potential donor:

  • The prospect’s interest in making a contribution
  • The prospect’s financial capability to follow through with their interest

It essentially assesses donor giving ability by learning more about a donor’s philanthropic and wealth histories with the assistance of various databases and other resources. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why it’s such a prominent nonprofit tool.

That all being said, prospect research has plenty of uses beyond identifying major giving candidates. At a base level, prospect research helps an organization learn more about its donors. That’s an invaluable benefit when it comes to donor relations.

And with the national donor retention rate dwindling to just 43%-46%, who wouldn’t want a more complete picture of their donors? Prospect research can change the way you’re able to steward them for the better!

With that framing, this article is going to explore the donor details that prospect research can uncover. Those details include:

  1. Accurate, Current Contact Information
  2. Past Giving to Other Organizations
  3. Preferred Communication Channel 

Leveraging these donor details, your organization can curate a better donor experience for your loyal supporters! 

1. Accurate, Current Contact Information 

This might be an obvious point, but it’s an important detail, so we’ll go ahead and refresh your memory. Donors move. Donors get married. Donors change their names. Donors switch jobs.

While your donors are all out in the world living their best lives, they’re growing and evolving and so are their contact details.

Don’t waste the postage on a letter sent to an out-of-date address. Don’t offend a donor who has recently taken their spouse’s name. And certainly, don’t isolate a donor who prefers their nickname over their given name.

They’re all seemingly small details, but when you’re working to forge a bond with a supporter, you shouldn’t let the little things get in the way of the big things. Remember the little things often stick with donors to leave a positive, lasting impression.

Overlooking these crucial details can mean you’ll have to kiss your effective fundraising goodbye. Think about it: why would a donor contribute to an organization who can’t get her last name right? Taking the time to update your donors’ contact information (and therefore, get to know your donors) will go a long way.

The takeaway: Prospect research will both help fill in any holes in your donor database and correct any misinformation.


2. Past Giving to Other Organizations

It is extremely beneficial for your organization to be as aware as possible of your donors’ philanthropic giving elsewhere.

You know the amount your donors have given to your cause and you’ve acknowledged it accordingly, but what about their other philanthropic interests? Understanding the full scope of their interests can play a pivotal role in how you grow your nonprofit’s relationship with a given donor.

Their philanthropic history with other nonprofit organizations is significant for two main reasons:

Reason #1: It gives you a point of comparison to better understand the size of the gifts they donate.

This kind of information can be extremely beneficial when you’re looking to upgrade donors. Say you perform a bulk screening of your donor pool and find out that a mid-level gift donor at your organization is a major gift contributor to a similar organization.

With that knowledge, your team will be better equipped to engage this donor. You may interest him in making larger contributions and possibly upgrading to a higher giving level.

Reason #2: It helps round out your knowledge of the donor’s philanthropic mindset.

Reason #2 is the more significant of the pair when it comes to donor experience. Beyond asking for contributions, you want to be actively engaging with your donors. Treat them like people and like supporters. Keep in mind, they don’t want to feel like ATMs to your organization, so don’t treat them as if they’re only good for their money.

Donors are an integral part of your organization’s support system and need to be treated as such. Your donors deserve to know how important to your organization they really are!

When you can determine what makes them tick, philanthropically speaking, you situate your nonprofit in a better place to offer engagement activities that truly resonate with those donors.

For instance, maybe one of your donors contributes because they feel strongly about a particular cause you’ve been lobbying for. You might ask her to fundraise on behalf of your organization with your upcoming peer-to-peer fundraising campaign to benefit the cause she’s particularly interested in supporting. Don’t be shy; pull out all the stops!

You want to aid donors in creating impactful and long-lasting ties to your organization and this is just one easy way of doing so.

The takeaway: With the help of prospect research, you can curate a more personalized path toward engagement.

3. Preferred Communication Channel

Just like you wouldn’t want to address a donor by the incorrect name or invite them to an event they have no interest in, you should try to avoid reaching out to donors through channels they won’t respond to.

Luckily, in our modern era of donor communications, there’s no shortage of communication channels, including:

  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Phone calls
  • Text message
  • Websites
  • And more!

However, the more communication avenues there are, the more preferences there are to keep up with. For instance, within a category like digital communication, you have to account for every possibility, from text-to-give to emails.

Check your metrics to see which types of communications have yielded the highest response rates and from whom.

Here’s another great tip: If you’re using a donor management solution as well, you’ll want to organize your data as such so that you’ll be able to easily check your donor profiles to see which communication method your donors prefer.

They might prefer emails over phone calls or social media shoutouts over letters, and it’s your job to know which will keep their preferences accounted for.

Knowing their preferred method of communication won’t be a perfect science, but it will be a step in the right direction. No matter how your donors prefer to be contacted, make sure your outreach is always full of gratitude and appreciation.

The takeaway: Put on your detective cap and discover your donors’ favorite platforms for staying in touch with your nonprofit organization.

Helpful donor data is out there for the taking. Don’t let such valuable information go to waste when you can have prospect research on your side!

Get out there, start researching, and make some changes to the way you foster relationships with your donors. Improved donor stewardship awaits!

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