Gaining Clarity in a Changing Fundraising Market


It’s an interesting time to be involved in fundraising, where a lot of changes are occurring.  Many are positive, like the growth in channel engagement (P2P, Social) or the increased availability of data, while others are concerning (an aging and shrinking donor population). In order to adapt and grow through these changes, you’ll want to understand where you may want to update your current fundraising and direct marketing practices.

Know Your Donor File

As many publications have been stating for the past couple of years (most recently NPQ here), the overall donor population is shrinking. You could look to acquisition to try and offset that attrition, but it can be very costly. I agree with many, who say you’ve got to nurture those already giving to you in attempt to drive retention rates and keep as many of the valuable donors you already have.

In order to do this, you really need to know your donors — to create strong engagement and higher retention. The more you know about your donors’ interests and preferences, the greater it is you will be able to successfully engage with them and see continued and increased giving.

Know Your Donors’ Channel Preferences

It’s been said here before, and I think it’s worth mentioning again. With the proliferation of digital and social channels to go along with the traditional offline channels, people have a lot of options for consuming communications from you.

And while you may want to send everyone everything, I have seen enough evidence to show that individuals give more to organizations that respect their preferences and communicate with them on their terms. If you can distinguish your donors who have an online verse offline preference (based on giving history and data appends) and create experiences for them that weigh more towards those preferred channels, you’ll likely see higher retention rates and happier donors.

Know Your Revenue Opportunities

Despite a shrinking donor population, we do see an increase in total giving, as reported by Giving USA. Rather than wait and be reactive to larger gifts, why not actively understand the capacity and affinity of your donor file? I have managed donor advancement programs for several leading nonprofits and seen the benefit derived from research, cultivation and elevating those who shows signs of greater giving. By identifying your most valuable contributors early on, it lets you know who to spend additional time on and jumpstarts the increase in giving that you may have never realized if not for the work done on the front end.

I understand that acquisition is often looked to as the answer for many in meeting revenue goals, and it should certainly be part of an annual plan. That said, your donor file is full of untapped value and shouldn’t be overlooked. So the next time you're developing your annual budget, consider putting some funds towards better understanding the people who currently give to you, even if it cuts in a little on the spending to get new people to give to you.


At Causemo, our Insights platform allows users to quickly understand who their constituents are, what they care about and the channels they prefer to give through, to efficiently and effectively raise more money for their mission.

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