Data That Won’t Churn Your Stomach
big data nonprofit

If we all trusted our gut when it comes to fundraising instead of making data-driven decisions, we’d all be wrong most of the time. There’s a three-pronged approach to using data and it isn’t that incredibly complicated.

It was all uncovered in a session during the recent Bridge To Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference held in National Harbor, Md. The session was led by Laura Connors of the National Parks Conservation Association, Mikaela King, National Geographic Society, and Kerri Kerr of Avalon Consulting Group.

The three-pronged approach includes industry level, program level and campaign level. In industry level you use readily available benchmarking reports to help determine your program’s strengths and weaknesses. Program level is a deeper dive than top-level returns to see the impact of strategy at a program or channel level. Campaign level is a solid testing plan to guide strategy.

When it comes to industry trends, ask yourself these questions:

Are we the only ones experiencing revenue growth/decline;
Why is acquisition such a struggle right now?; and,
Are other organizations seeing web revenue decline?

The next step is the benchmark to decide if thigs are normal, if you should be raising more online and acquiring more Millennial donors. Know which metrics need to change to improve your program and set goals. When it comes to acquisition, is it file growth or return on investment. Is the appeal goal an increase in net revenue, increase response rate or cost savings. Then there is renewal, the response rate and if you are upgrading donors.

Next you need some information, such as what motivated new donors to join, why donors lapsed and key sources of information for members.

Once you’ve got all of this data, it is time to test. Test to get people to open your solicitation, to increase revenue, increase engagement, settle an argument, determine which messaging resonates and to reduce costs.