Archive for September, 2022

Using Information to Grow Donor Relationships

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Personal information your organization should prioritize to grow key donor relationships.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

If you’re a fundraising professional, your organization’s donor management system is an essential tool to record and operationalize individual, corporate and foundation information. A great database enables you to be efficient in your work, and it can set you up well to renew and upgrade key donors’ gifts throughout the year.

There’s a lot of information on donors that can be collected and stored within a donor database, but certain information areas should be priorities to strengthen relationships, especially among your top 20% of donors, who give a large majority of total individual contributions. This information includes:

  • General demographic and contact information: Collect mailing address, email address, phone number, birthday, spouse and child(ren’s) names and birthdays, company name, education and professional background and household income.
  • History of giving and support: Track frequency of gifts, giving patterns, gift type, fundraisers participated in and the timing of gifts. Also, record service roles as a board member or program volunteer.
  • Giving motivations: Identity what about the organization’s mission, programs and history impacts the donor personally and influences them to give.
  • Philanthropic goals: Understand a donor’s long-term philanthropic desires.
  • Personal connections: Identify ways a donor is connected to other stakeholders and supporters.
  • Communication preferences: Determine how the donor likes to engage in communication, including email, phone, text or mailing. Identify the most appropriate times to reach out.
  • Digital interactions: (Although more sophisticated), record emails, social media posts, text messages or QR codes a donor has opened, completed or engaged with recently.

Based on our experience, these areas are what we believe to have the greatest utility for impactful communications and direct interactions across a spectrum of donor personas (accessibility of information plays a role in our thought process as well). Specifically for major donors, if the first four areas are known, your organization can grow its fundraising goals year-over-year.

An information-rich donor database is an exceptional tool to help any fundraising professional produce stronger, partnership-minded donor relationships for their organization.

For samples of donor-based fundraising projects we’ve worked on, visit

6 Ways to Improve Digital Communications for Donors

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How to use digital communications to upgrade gifts from your small to mid-sized donors.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

As a fundraising professional, you spend countless hours looking at donor profiles, researching their giving potential and strategizing to get them to upgrade their gifts for the year. Donors in your database that have the potential to upgrade to middle or major donors are a big deal, and impactful communication is vital in moving those donors along in their philanthropic journey with your organization. Digital communication methods have become more important in cultivating and soliciting these movement-ready donors as they allow content to be dynamic and efficient to deploy.

Use these six ideas in your communications with these prized donors this year to make moves happen.

To move donors to give more, you have to make your digital communications highly personalized. To do this, you need to indicate you know a bit about them and their philanthropic interests. That is why keeping quality notes on your top movement-ready donor targets is important. When you personalize your digital communications—email, text, direct messages on social platforms—make sure you’re using the right information at the right time. Some personal information might only make sense to leverage in stewardship-focused touch points, whereas mentioning their philanthropic goals might be more important to include in a personal appeal during focused fundraising times.

Virtual engagement
Have you ever considered sending a personal video message to donors? A simple 60-second video message that shares your appreciation of their support and an indication of what an increase in their annual giving would do for your mission can go a long way. Share your videos via email or text message, and follow-up with a phone call to discuss giving options to complete the donation process.

Make your goals urgent and clear
Have you ever heard the phrase “clear is kind”? When it comes to asking your donors for a gift, that phrase applies. Whatever your ask, be clear about why you’re reaching out to them, how their gift will impact your mission, the timeline in which you’ll use the funds and what increased amount you’d like them to consider for the year. (if they say “no” to the asked amount, respond by asking what they would consider right away).

If you’re making an ask in response to an event, like a policy change, natural disaster or related crisis, make sure they know the details of the event, how your organization is responding and ways their incremental giving will be used in that effort.

Send emails from personal addresses, not marketing ESPs
Stewardship or solicitation emails to your movement-ready target donors should never be sent in mass. These are highly prized donors, and they demand the attention of personalized, direct and well-thought-out digital communications. The only use marketing ESPs have in your interactions with these prospects is sending organizational newsletters and announcements. If the donor isn’t subscribed to your newsletter, invite them to join the list in your direct correspondence.

Link to supporting stories and information
If you’re sending a personalized email, remember that not all content has to live within that email. Use hyperlinks to send donor targets to webpages on your site that have more information or stories that support your enclosed message. If a potential movement-ready donor prefers online giving, make sure your email has a link to your donation form. When using hyperlinks in your email, make sure there’s a clear call to action preceding the link. Simply hyperlinking a keyword in a paragraph is not as intuitive as you might think, and if you don’t include a call to act, donors most likely won’t.

Track response and follow up in other ways
The magical thing about digital communications is that it’s all trackable. Utilize your donor management system’s tracking capabilities to monitor email opens, clicks or even social media engagements. As you collect data about their interactions with you, you can have better follow-up conversations via phone, email or in-person. How great would it be to have coffee with a movement-ready donor and know what interests them about your mission and work based on their online interactions?

Share your ideas. We’d love to know how you’ve enhanced your digital communications to better steward relationships and solicit gifts from your movement-ready donor prospects.

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