Why Your Donor List May Need a Critical Review

by Danielle Bloom

2 min read

Nonprofits use donor lists to track donor and donation-related information. Donor lists are helpful in organizing your donor data and help monitor engagement and gift analytics, so they can ultimately help your organization grow financially. In almost all cases, donor lists are vital to your nonprofit’s fundraising and engagement strategy, but you should give them a critical review periodically.

You May Not Be Reaching Out to the Right Prospects

In nonprofit fundraising, understanding donor demographics and interests is vital in helping you understand your audience and tailor messaging that resonates with them. Learning about your donors, tracking that data, and then periodically analyzing it can help your organization narrow down your target prospective donor. Once you know the donor persona of your average giver, use this information as a tool to ensure you reach out to the right prospective donors. Then, focus on these areas:

  • Use Facebook and Instagram ads to get in front of donors likely to support your cause.
  • Tailor nonprofit stories to audience interests.
  • Research marketing trends related to your average donor, and use that information to customize the donor recruitment strategies.

You’re Not Asking for Enough

A high-quality donor list should also track donation metrics. Calculate the following from your donor list:

  • Donor retention
  • Donor lifetime value
  • Average donation
  • Other relevant metrics, such as donor return on investment, the number of gifts each year per donor, and the number of time a donor visits your website before donating.

Now, compare this data to your nonprofit’s budget, and determine whether your donor retention and average gift rates match up to your financial needs. If the data shows your nonprofit falls short, implement one or more of the following fundraising techniques:

  • Establish donation tiers.
  • Offer donation incentives, such as gift matches.
  • Create a recurring giving program.

You’re Not Addressing Their Interests

Why should donors give to your nonprofit organization? Donor interest is information your nonprofit can use to grow stronger relationships with donors and retain higher percentages down the road. Learning is the second step of the donor engagement cycle. During this stage, it’s essential for your nonprofit to understand what connects a donor (or prospective donor) to the cause. After talking with or surveying donors, input this information into your donor tracking system. When the time comes to offer volunteer projects, fill an empty board seat, or run a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you can easily data mine to find the right population of supporters to target for these opportunities.

Focus on Donor Lists Year-Round

Regardless of how you acquire a donor or prospect (in-person, direct mail, email, social media, online search), ask them to sign up for your mailing list. This will help grow your donor list organically over time. Moving forward, make sure the option to opt in is predominantly featured in all communication efforts. It’s important to track your data diligently to build donor lists. In most cases, nonprofits to use a specific customer relations management program such as Andar or Blackbaud to track donor information, gift amounts, frequency, and all other outreach, including donation requests, emails sent, and phone calls made. By focusing on your donor lists year-round, you’ll ensure that you’re capturing adequate data to better understand your target donor, average gifts, and engagement interests, all of which will help you increase year-over-year retention rates.

References & Resources

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