Posted by danosky | Posted in The Philanthropy Therapist | Posted on 22-09-2011
People who raise money are creative, charming, influential, persuasive – real “people” people. Data is for, well, you know, people who are not “people” people. And a database – it’s just a necessary evil. After all, you couldn’t function without it. But how much time should one spend on a database? Isn’t better to be out “among the people” – asking them to give and support your cause?
Maybe yes. Maybe no. You really can’t tell unless you have a good database. So, how is your database?
To see how useful your database is – take a minute and see if you can answer the following questions by easily going into your database and pulling out the answers:
1) Based on the total giving by all donors last year – what defines a major gift in your organization? This can be analyzed by preparing a gift table and looking at the top 10-20% of your donors who contributed 80-90% of your dollars.
2) What is your annual attrition rate? Using your average gift, what is the potential loss of revenue you need to recoup next year?
3) Where will the most significant increase in donor contributions come from and which donors are most likely to increase their contribution?
4) How many loyal donors do you have? (Clue – it’s more than pulling out your consecutive giving report)
5) What are the most effective tactics for raising funds from your events over the past 2 years and what percentage do they raise of your overall event?
So often I will begin working with a client, only to find that the information we need to help them build their program simply is not available. Extracting accurate information is painstaking and often results in reverting to a manual tabulation. Ouch! Sometimes, we have to re-build a database all together.
Many donor databases only have the most basic data – the necessary demographic information and the donor’s contribution. Here is where the problem begins. The contribution information only states what the donor gave to. Well, you’re thinking, that doesn’t sound so bad. Oh, but it is. Because that is as far as it goes – there is little or no depth beyond the fact that they gave to the 2012 October Appeal or the Annual Gala. The context of how the funds were raised, how they were used, how the appeal was targeted …. That is where the real information lies. And, more often than not, that is what is missing.
A good database segments the data into large “buckets” (the technical term I like to use), and then starts drilling down into smaller and smaller buckets until you have the ability to slice and dice the data any which way – by year, by event, by mailing, and even by a particular type of donor or donor group. This ultimately shows you how effective your fundraising program is: whether you are reaching your donors in the best manner possible, and what you can do to raise more money.
The better you understand your donor database – the more money you will raise, whether you are a people person or not. And, it will ensure that when you are out “among the people” that the relationships you cultivate and nurture are even more meaningful and purposeful. And, taking that extra time now could possibly mean the difference between a good year and a great year for your organziation.