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At a time when many people are experiencing difficulties through financial uncertainty, illness, or worse, the last thing a fundraiser wants to do is to contact struggling supporters with appeals for funds.
And while recovery is progressing, the pandemic has left many charities in need and few can afford to stop fundraising.
So how can you work out which of your supporters might be able to help, and even increase their support, and avoid contacting those who are in difficulties with financial asks?
You may already have much of the information you need in your supporter database, including a record of every interaction they have had with your charity: useful, actionable insight that can help you understand your supporters better and guide you in:
From regular giving data for example, you might see if a supporter has skipped payments in recent months or reduced their monthly donation amount; perhaps indicating financial issues meaning they’re not ready to respond to a fundraising appeal or upgrade.
Taking a look at previous donating patterns can also give you an insight into who could continue their support or potentially increase their gift.
If the data tells you that someone has recently been responsive to appeals, increased their regular payments, or is a relatively new supporter – this could indicate a higher level of engagement and they are more able to respond to an appeal for help.
By looking at the types of communications, response to appeals and whether this has changed over time, you can ensure you only contact people with the information they want, at times when they’re most likely to respond – improving loyalty and retention.
This level of insightful stewardship can lead to successful supporter upgrades and even reactivations.
The information held in your database can even help you to reach out to new audiences with a similar profile to your existing supporters. This could be via digital channels like social media or cold data files for mailing campaigns. There is a surprisingly high volume of cold data available to charities, that is fully compliant and secure.
Suzanne Lewis, Managing Director of Arc Data, which specialises in data analytics and profiling for charities, explains how:
“Providing supporters have been told that you may profile their data, you can supply the names and addresses of existing donors to lifestyle databases. This allows these databases to look at the types of hobbies/interests and lifestyle your existing donors are known to have, and so build a more rounded picture of your supporter type. This then in turn enables you to find other people who are similar.
“In other words, you are able to reach new audiences of consumers who have a similar ‘profile’ to your current donors and therefore are more likely to be interested in your cause. By tuning in to your supporter types, as there may be several profiles, your campaigns can be more successful and importantly, more cost effective as you are only contacting new people who are more likely to respond.”
Of course and more so than ever during this time, you must be sure that the data you hold and the database you’re working from is up to date and accurate.
Running your data against bereavement files beforehand will help to highlight specific households and avoid inappropriate contact.
When both charities and supporters are struggling, using your data to understand your supporters’ needs is an approach that can clearly help both sides.
Being smart in your use of data can help avoid causing inadvertent distress and increase the success rate of vital appeals – and lead to stronger supporter relationships that last into the future.