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May 25, 2023

Donor Analytics: 4 Ways to Leverage Your Nonprofit’s Data

Guest Blog Writer

If you were to comb through your nonprofit’s donor database, you’d likely find a wealth of stored information on your supporters. However, the raw data points you collect contain untapped potential unless you strategically analyze and apply them to your nonprofit’s operations.

The practical conclusions your nonprofit can draw from donor data are collectively termed donor analytics. Jitasa’s guide to donor analytics breaks down these insights into four categories: giving, engagement, demographic, and predictive analytics. 

To help you start applying these categories of donor analytics, we’ll discuss four corresponding ways you can leverage them at your nonprofit. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Developing a Sustainable Funding Model
  2. Offering New Engagement Opportunities
  3. Creating Targeted Marketing Communications
  4. Conducting Prospect Research

By drawing insights from your donor data and incorporating them in these ways, you can improve your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy and ultimately bring in more revenue to fund your mission. Let’s dive in!

1. Developing a Sustainable Funding Model

If your organization is like most nonprofits, you probably focus most of your day-to-day efforts on running your programs and launching fundraisers, meaning you spend less time on financial activities overall. However, fundraising and financial management work side by side in allowing your nonprofit to sustainably fund its mission.

Giving analytics help your nonprofit understand supporters’ individual donation habits to make better fundraising and financial decisions. To gain these insights, try analyzing the following donor data points:

  • Average donation amounts for each individual supporter as well as your entire donor base.
  • Frequency of giving, or how often each donor gives.
  • Recency of giving, referring to when a supporter last donated.
  • Lifetime value of each donor throughout their entire history of involvement with your organization.

Drawing conclusions from these data points can help make your nonprofit’s funding model more sustainable in several ways. For example, analyzing donors’ average donation amounts and giving frequency together can help you identify strong candidates to join your recurring giving program. If you have a supporter who has given $100 each year for the past three years, they might be willing to set up an automatic monthly donation of $10. Your nonprofit would receive an additional $20 from them annually and have a better chance of retaining them.

Giving analytics can also inform your nonprofit’s budget, since knowing how much you received in individual donations in previous years allows you to more accurately predict your revenue for the coming year. Then, you can plan your organization’s expenses accordingly.

2. Offering New Engagement Opportunities

Although individual donations are essential to fund your nonprofit’s mission, keep in mind that monetary gifts aren’t the only way supporters can contribute to your organization. In fact, your most dedicated supporters might not always be your biggest donors, but rather the individuals who engage in a variety of other ways.

This is where engagement analytics come in. To boost supporter involvement across the board, examine data points such as:

  • Volunteer hours, which can be viewed as contributions of time.
  • Event attendance for in-person, virtual, and hybrid events.
  • In-kind donations, which are direct gifts of goods or services rather than money.
  • Feedback provided, both positive and negative—supporters only take the time to share their opinions if they’re passionate about your organization and its work.

These insights allow you to shape individual supporter journeys, helping supporters get more involved at your nonprofit over time. For example, if a food bank noticed that a particular supporter provided in-kind donations of canned goods on a regular basis and filled out a survey about their experience, the organization could reach out to that supporter about signing up to volunteer.

Additionally, examining this data helps ensure you show appreciation for every type of contribution your organization receives. Volunteering, event attendance, and in-kind donations often aren’t valued as highly as monetary gifts in the nonprofit world. However, these functions are essential for your organization to further its mission, so your supporters deserve thanks for all of their contributions.

3. Creating Targeted Marketing Communications

A solid marketing strategy allows your nonprofit to reach new audiences, retain current supporters, and spread awareness of your mission. However, every organization’s communications will look different based on their unique donor data.

Demographic analytics are the most applicable to marketing, as they allow you to group donors based on shared characteristics and then target your communications to each segment. To make your segmentation process effective, consider donor data points such as:

  • Age is often an indicator of which marketing platforms donors prefer. For example, older donors may be more receptive to direct mail, while younger donors are more likely to be active on social media.
  • Family status, since reaching out to members of the same household together allows you to cut down on print marketing costs.
  • Employment information helps with promoting corporate philanthropy opportunities like matching gifts and volunteer grants.
  • Relevant interests that allow you to identify areas of your mission where each donor might want to get involved. For example, an animal shelter might segment supporters based on whether they prefer dogs or cats. Then, the organization could send messages about different volunteer opportunities and adoption events to the segment that would be most interested in each one.

In addition to these data points, keep track of each supporter’s preferred name in your donor database. Then, use that information to personalize your direct mail and email marketing, as supporters are more likely to respond to a message that addresses them by name.

4. Conducting Prospect Research

Research shows that approximately 80% of individual fundraising revenue comes from the top 20% of nonprofit donors. These major gifts are essential to your organization’s success, and a data-driven approach will help you secure this vital funding.

According to Double the Donation, prospect research is typically the best way to find major donors for your nonprofit. Leveraging your donor database alongside specialized prospect research tools allows you to identify predictive donor analytics, which is drawn from two main types of data:

  • Wealth indicators let you know whether a potential donor has the capacity to make a major gift. These include the prospect’s net income, real estate holdings, stock ownership, and political giving history.
  • Philanthropic indicators demonstrate a prospect’s affinity for your organization’s mission and therefore their willingness to consider becoming a major donor. Consider their donation history, volunteer hours, event attendance, and board membership—not only at your nonprofit, but also with other similar organizations.

Besides allowing you to identify potential major donors, predictive analytics help your nonprofit employees build deeper relationships with prospects and make more targeted fundraising asks. This ultimately increases your chances of securing the significant gifts you need to launch programs, complete projects, and accomplish your organization’s goals.

Donor analytics can serve a variety of purposes at your nonprofit, from helping identify new opportunities for fundraising to improving your marketing efforts. By unlocking the potential of the data your organization already collects on your supporters, you can set your nonprofit up for fundraising and financial success in the short and long term.

Written by Jon Osterburg | Leader at Jitasa

Jon Osterburg has spent the last nine years helping more than 100 nonprofits around the world with their finances as a leader at Jitasa, an accounting firm that offers bookkeeping and accounting services to not-for-profit organizations.