3 Ideas to Unleash the Hidden Potential in Your Database

Amid the impact of the pandemic, most nonprofits are re-evaluating many of their fundraising strategies. This is especially true of healthcare organizations as their revenue is being impacted by both the disruption of service lines and possible cancellation of signature events.

Savvy fundraisers are turning to the opportunity that lies within their database. With some analysis – and a little bit of love – you can identify and engage your most valuable supporters.


Untapped Potential

  • Upcoming events may have been cancelled, but you have thousands of past event participants in your database who are waiting to hear from you.
  • You have new faces that contributed to your COVID relief fund – can you upgrade these donors or turn them into long-term supporters?
  • Patients and families are grateful for the care received. Are you helping them to express that gratitude?

You already know all of these supporters. They are just waiting for you to make the right ask at the right time in the right way.


Not Your Typical Supporters

As you begin to cultivate relationships, it’s important to remember that these supporters may be very different than your typical supporters. Grateful patients may be new to charitable giving. A crisis donor responded to an urgent need in the community.

These supporters are unique and have come to your organization in very different ways – but they all expect you to understand their preferences and tailor a message just for them. That’s easier said than done when you know very little about your past event participants, one-time donors, and patients.

The giving patterns of these supporters most likely will be different as well and it is probable that the retention rate of these groups will be lower than your consistent annual fund donors. That’s ok but it’s important to weigh your investment in these groups carefully. How much staff time and resources should be dedicated? Do they warrant a portion of your marketing budget? Does it make sense to look for different types of support beyond just an outright cash donation?

And that’s where data can really help!

Bring in additional insights and analytics to better understand these supporters.


Use the Data

Using additional analytics, and in some cases external data, you can find out who is charitable, what motivates these supporters, and the best way to reach them. These insights can boost the yield of your direct response programs dramatically and help you convert this opportunity in a cost-effective way.

Let me share a few examples of how healthcare organizations have used this data to improve their results:

  • Improve your response rate. I worked with a healthcare organization that wanted to increase the number of donors responding to their solicitations. They had a compelling case for support so we looked deeper at their donors using external data. Based on this analysis using consumer marketing and wealth data, we found that they had two large cohorts who were dramatically different in terms of life stage and engagement preference. One group was older and preferred making gifts to solve big issues while the other consisted of busy families that preferred more emotional appeals related to helping their neighbors. It became clear that using the same messaging for both groups was one reason that past efforts were unsuccessful. Armed with these insights, the organization modified their messaging and effectively used digital methods to personalize communications to each group.
  • Uncover those likely to become monthly donors. Not all donors want to make a one-time cash gift. Many nonprofits have experienced great success with sustainer programs to offer personalized giving opportunities. Sustainers give automatic recurring (usually monthly) gifts. Research shows that 42% of younger donors say they are more likely to give monthly than an outright gift so leading with that option can resonate with this age group. In an analysis the organization’s database, we were pleasantly surprised with the opportunity for these types of supporters. Although we expected that the potential would be significant, we were surprised that between 7-16% of the organization’s patients have the likelihood to become monthly givers. Since the average sustainer gives $624 (compared to $124 with other first-time donors) annually, converting these donors can result in 5x increase in donations from this segment!

See how technology can help convert one-time donors into sustainer givers.

  • Increase the revenue from each mailing by using personalized ask arrays. Leveraging external insights to calibrate a unique ask string is another way I have worked with organizations to maximize gifts from supporters that they don’t know much about. By creating an ask amount based on data, rather than just using a standard “entry level” ask amount, you can create top-line revenue from mailings and online donation pages. For most organizations, a database analysis shows that over 50% of prospects have the likelihood of giving gifts larger than just a gateway gift. In fact, a significant number could give a gift that was over 3x what the organization was planning to ask. Through these insights, the organization is able to make sure that they didn’t just get a gift, they got the largest gift they could from each supporter!

Our current fundraising environment is challenging but in some ways it’s a golden opportunity.  We can no longer accept doing things just because we’ve always done it like that before. We are being forced to reevaluate almost every aspect of our programs to make sure they have the best and highest impact possible.  This process can be painful but it’s worth the effort.