Category

Database Management

Fundraising Big Data with DonorPerfect Online

By | All Posts, Annual Giving, Capacity Building, Database Management, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jennifer Studebaker
Coordinator of Administration + Consulting

DonorPerfect Online (DPO) Vice President Jon Biedermann and Dr. Nathan Dietz, a published scholar and experienced practitioner of quantitative and qualitative social science research, recently led a webinar analyzing the results of 2.24 million transactions and 427,000 donors over a period of years. So what did these numbers reveal about fundraising behavior?

Demographic data showed most 2017 gifts were to human services at 23%, followed by health and religious organizations. Offline donations remained the most common way to give, though online donations have increased from 4% in 2014 to almost 8% in 2017. First time givers declined from 2015-2017, but Jon noted that the recent declines in first time donors points to increased donor retention.

Not all of these findings may be surprising for the experienced nonprofit professional. However, one of the key parts of data-based decision making is allowing the data to speak. Your assumptions may be correct, but actually testing your assumptions is vital.

The most compelling insights were around the importance of thanking donors and multichannel giving. The DPO data showed only 48.5% of the donors in the data reviewed were thanked for their gifts. Over half of donors in 2017 were not thanked! The impact of thanking showed in the transaction data. While they waited longer to give again, their donations ($50 on average) were higher than non-thanked donors ($35 on average).

Here are some key steps to turn this insight into action:

  1. If you do not currently have a standard protocol for thanking donors within 72 hours of receipt, establish one now.
  2. If you have an acknowledgement process, review any messages that donors receive through your website or other channels, since this may be an opportunity to improve the impact of your messaging through customization. Ensure that the thank you message, whether mailed or email, is properly addressed and matches the campaign or fund to which they are donating.

Multichannel donors gave over twice as much as other donors over the course of their lifetime, and their annual giving average was $325, opposed to $75 offline only and $100 online only. Multichannel includes solicitation via direct mail, telephone, email, face to face, text, social media, events, flyers and newsletters. Knowing this, consider the following:

  1. Donors want to give, so make it as easy as possible for them to donate. I know from my user experience research that hard to navigate websites or poorly organized information will result in people abandoning their efforts, even when highly motivated. If you are able, invite a volunteer to do a test run of completing your donation form or donating online. Ask for their feedback, but while they complete the task, observe where they hesitate or take more time than expected. This combination of feedback and observation will help you identify the pain points your donors may be experiencing. Removing those will help guarantee that giving to your organization is a positive experience that donors will wish to repeat.

Also think about the value of wealth screening in prospecting major donors and cultivating monthly donors.

Click here to view the full webinar.

Art, Science, Success: Creating Opportunity for Prospect Development in Your Organization

By | All Posts, Database Management, Fundraising, News You Can Use, Planned Giving, Prospect Research | No Comments

JB+A is pleased to welcome guest contributor Marissa Todd, JD, MBA – a prospect development professional and current President of Apra Missouri-Kansas – as she shares her insights and experience on prospect research and development.

Marissa Todd, JD, MBA
JB+A Guest Contributor

How many of us have heard the phrase “the art and science of fundraising”? Probably many of you reading this. It’s quite the popular phrase and is often used to describe the intersection of data and research with the relationship building that takes place across the donor development cycle.

The art part of fundraising is generally the domain of gift officers and senior level administrators whose main role is to meet with donors and prospects in order to cultivate and solicit gifts. The science part, especially in smaller development operations, is often shared by many hands from the gift officers to the database manager to gift processing, and if you are fortunate, a prospect research professional. Having talented professionals to implement and execute both the art and science pieces is critical to a strategic, successful development operation.

However, many organizations do not believe they have the resources to invest in staff for prospect research. If you are one of the organizations who struggle with resources or time for the science of fundraising, fear not! This passionate prospect development professional has some tips that any organization, regardless of size, can try to take steps to integrate prospect research into your organization.

First and foremost, make sure you are collecting information from your prospect interactions. Most fundraising databases have an area for you to capture contact reports from your emails, phone calls and meetings with prospects. Make sure staff utilize this area to capture substantive interactions. These reports can be a wealth of information (pun intended!) on the potential capacity of a prospect, as well as provide historical context during staff transitions. Having a central place for relationship data is key to continuing to build relationships. If you are looking for good prospects, looking at who has historical contacts is a great way to start.

If your database doesn’t have this capability, consider creating a call report form your staff can fill out electronically and save to prospect files on your server. At my first fundraising job, our database was so ancient you couldn’t even click – everything was done using the F keys and commands, so not surprising there was no contact report area. The development used a call form and paper prospect files helped me many a time in connecting dots. When the organization converted to a new CRM, students entered the historical reports of top donors into the new system, so we had a complete picture.

Another great way to ease into some prospect research is by looking at your highest lifetime donors. Although many of these folks may have given their ultimate gift to your organization, many of your top cumulative donors get that way through loyalty and longevity, not a five or six figure gift. Look at the donation history of these donors and you will surely find some prospects who you could be creating more meaningful relationships with and moving to larger annual and major contributions.

Speaking of donations, does your organization produce a periodical donation report (daily, weekly, monthly)? If so, this is an excellent tool to proactively look for new potential prospects. At two of the organizations I have worked, I developed a donation report that also pulled in helpful information like analytical modeling scores, total giving, last two year’s giving totals and engagement information. Using this information, it is easy to scan the report and pick out donors who maybe should be looked at closer, like those who suddenly double their previous gift or make a first-time donation at a certain level ($100, $500, whatever is appropriate for your organization).

So let’s say you implement the donation report and have a good list of potential prospects. You don’t have any paid resources to screen them, so what do you do? There are a plethora of free resources out there to get started with prospect research! A simple search of a county assessor site to verify home ownership and value is a great place to start. Using a search engine to do a quick search of a prospect’s name and location may also open you up to employment information, business associations, etc. The Secretary of State’s office in each state has a business registry you can search to verify business ownership. The list goes on and on. I have numerous bookmarks for free sites, but some of my favorites are sites that themselves are curators of both free and paid resources, like Helen Brown Group or Prospect Research Institute. Most of these sites allow you to sign up for a free account, and then you also receive emails updating you on new resources and other potential services.

Investing a little time and energy in prospect research can make a huge difference in your fundraising efforts. As one of my former gift officer colleagues put it, before she worked with a researcher she felt like she was on a wild safari with no end that often came up totally empty. After research was put in place, she had a map and a plan and was better able to focus her time and effort on the right potential prospects. Don’t leave your gift officers wandering in the wild; invest in some strategic prospecting and keep everyone moving toward fundraising success for your organization.

Marissa Todd has been working in nonprofit and higher education fundraising for over a decade. She found her passion for the prospect development profession at her first Apra conference in 2014. Since then, Marissa has focused on developing and growing small shops, at Stephens College, University of Central Missouri and her next adventure, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. She is very involved with Apra, serving as the President of Apra Missouri-Kansas and on several Apra International committees. She has also presented at Apra and CASE conferences and loves to share her passion for prospect development with anyone who will listen.

Marissa earned her BA and JD from the University of Missouri and her MBA from Stephens College. In her free time, Marissa likes to experiment with cooking and wine, devour books and cheer on her favorite sports teams. She also likes to plan adventures with her husband, Michael, and snuggle up on the couch with their cats, Artie and Faurot.

 

Why Major Gifts? Why Now?

By | All Posts, Capacity Building, Commentary, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Fundraising, Major Gift Solicitation, Prospect Research | No Comments

How many of us wish there were more hours in the day to focus on our major giving program and donors? Some of us may be one-man teams, but even those of us lucky enough to work in a fully-staffed, robust development office wish we had more time to reach out to more donors and have more meaningful conversations. Some of us don’t work on major gifts because there isn’t time and we don’t really see the need: “Why would I spend the time on major gifts if I’m getting by with annual gifts, grants, earned income, etc.?”

Good question. And below is arguably a good answer.

First, let’s reference GivingUSA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy published by The Giving USA Foundation, an arm of The Giving Institute. Of the approximately $390 Billion dollars given by Americans in 2016, 72% was given by individuals.  Add in the 8% giving through bequests (which are also given by individuals, technically) and the 7% from family foundations and the total is closer to 87% received from individuals.  That leaves only 13% given by foundations and corporations. Also, foundations are only legally required and mostly stick to a 5% mandatory distribution requirement.

Donor-Advised Funds and non-traditional giving methods allow for a myriad of possibilities and vehicles for individuals to use to invest in causes and programs about which they care deeply. It is also easier and a better use of staff resources (including time!) to cultivate and grow donors you already have, than to go out and identify new donors.  This is especially true when you look at the national statistics on donor retention. The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Survey Report found donor retention year-over-year averages 45%, meaning more than half of your new donors will not give a gift a second time.

A major giving program gives your donors a path to a deeper relationship with your mission and allows for greater impact through financial investment. With donor acquisition costs on the rise,  spending time examining your current donor base is a better use of time and results in a higher ROI. These individuals have already self-selected and said “yes” to you and your work at least once, but how well do you really “know” them? When was the last time your organization (or have your ever?) conducted a wealth screening? You may know who your top donors are, but do you know who are your most loyal?

To implement a major giving program, organizations should rely on the four pillars of a successful solicitation:

  1. You need a major giving case for support that clearly explains your mission and needs and expresses the impact major giving investments will have on your nonprofit.
  2. It’s imperative that we really “do our homework” and know our donors by understanding their past support, motivations to give and philanthropic goals. This is where the art and science of fundraising converge at the intersection of qualitative and quantitative knowledge.
  3. Utilizing this knowledge, we can develop personalized cultivation strategies, guided by best practices, to present the strongest solicitation possible.
  4. We need to steward our donors by identifying meaningful recognition and continuing communication.

By now, I hope you you’re thoroughly convinced individual donor prospects and major giving are elements you need in your resource development plan.  But do you still wonder if you have the time and resources to implement a major giving program your own organization?

Well, you can quit wondering.

JB+A is pleased to present a solution, in partnership with Softerware, Inc.: DonorPerfect Consulting Services Powered by Jeffrey Byrne + Associates is a 12-month, one-on-one phone and web-based consulting service that will help your organization institute major giving best practices and will offer advice crafted for each organization’s unique needs.  Expert coaching provided by us (JB+A) while utilizing DonorPerfect software and DonorSearch wealth screenings will help you identify and achieve your organization’s major giving fundraising goals.

Want to learn more?  Give me a call at 816-237-1999 or email me at KLord@FundraisingJBA.com.

Don’t Commit Fundraising Malpractice

By | All Posts, Campaign Planning + Management, Database Management, Donor Cultivation, Major Gift Solicitation, News You Can Use, Prospect Research, Technology | No Comments

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

I truly believe it is “fundraising malpractice” when nonprofits do not do their “homework” about prospective donors.  Much more than learning about the estimated wealth and capacity of a prospect, research can reveal information about philanthropic giving history and involvement as well as natural partners and connections. Then add the “human touch” of the prospect review committee process, and the result is powerful quantitative and qualitative data to help inform strategy development for prospective donors.

I am a big proponent of using philanthropic and wealth screenings in campaign planning. They offer a valuable data, help you determine when/if more in-depth individualized research is necessary and provide information beneficial beyond the campaign, that can help with strategies for planned giving and annual fund.

Here’s my simple and universal process for utilizing philanthropic and wealth screenings to strengthen campaigns:

  1. Determine your “end use”
    You cannot simply import the results back into your database, never look at them again and expect magic to happen. Be disciplined in defining how you are going to use the results to empower your fundraising activities. Do you need help in determining target ask amounts? Do you need to know more about giving histories, to determine if prospects might have an affinity for your mission?  Do you need to better understand the prospects’ peer networks to help you develop appropriate ways to connect with them? Before you select a screening vendor and before you select the screening product(s) to purchase, carefully think through how you need to use the data.
  1. “Screen” your vendor and product options
    Wealth and philanthropic screenings are investments – of both time and money – that merit a careful selection process. There are several vendor options, so do your homework. What is their methodology? What are their deliverables? Is education/training included? Do they verify their results? How long will the screening process take? Can the data be easily imported/integrated into your database? Do they support that process?  Ask for references. Then call them. And don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.  Screenings are also opportunities to clean up your database. There are valuable services available that will assess and address the accuracy and completeness of the contact information in your records (such as address verification and email, phone and address appends.)
  1. Select records to screen
    It may not be cost effective – or necessary – to screen your whole database. The flip side is that you don’t know what you don’t know – screenings often uncover wealth you never knew you had in your database. Your consultant or screening vendor can and should help you select the records you want to run. And it is imperative to provide all the fields the screening vendor requires in their upload template.  (Garbage in typically means garbage out.)
  1. Interpret the results
    A lot of information comes back in a screening, so you’ll want to make sure you are able to understand it, digest it and use it the way you need. A good screening vendor will help you do just that – and will be accessible to you beyond a 30-minute webinar or 30-page guide. You not only need to be able to interpret the data yourself, but you’ll need to interpret it for other members of your organization – both staff and volunteers. You’ll also need to determine what is appropriate to share and how.
  1. Integrate the data results
    Again, this doesn’t mean just importing the results into your database. You have to make the data work for you. Integrating the screening results means synthesizing the information and incorporating it into your donor development efforts through the steps below.
  1. Prospect review committee
    A small and select group of volunteers and staff, the prospect review committee is a most effective – and personal – way to rate prospects, as a complement to screenings and in-depth research profiles. Composed of those “in the know” in your organization’s community, this highly-confidential group works early on in the campaign planning process to rank capacity and potential interest (not just for giving but for volunteering as well.) The committee works in sessions over several days or a couple of weeks, but the process is fast-paced and highly-facilitated (typically by staff or a consultant.) The end result is a prospect list that is “categorically” ranked/prioritized and supported by anecdotal information.
  1. In-depth research profiles
    Some prospects merit additional, in-depth research. These profiles contain expanded details about a prospect’s education, employer, professional career, family, hobbies/personal interests and civic/community activities. The information gathered should only be information that affects a person’s ability or inclination to give: relevant and publicly available. 
  1. Appraisals/Solicitation Amounts
    Determining appropriate ask amounts is a combination of several factors:  the capacity recommendations/target ask amounts provided in the screening results, the anecdotal and ranking information provided by the prospect committee review, the prospect’s relationship with your organization and last but certainly not least, good judgement.
  1. Strategies
    Now you’ve got a solid foundation for developing personalized and customized plans for prospect cultivation and solicitation.  A “good ask” is more than just an amount. Knowing through whom, how and when to approach a prospect makes for more effective relationship-building.  Strategy is about encouraging and empowering the prospect to become an important part of your organization’s mission.

The resources and methods for prospect research may feel endless, overwhelming and even cost prohibitive. But it does not have to be that way.  If you use research information appropriately, there can and should be a very valuable return on your investment.