Changing the conversation with your donors

Mar 29, 2017

Are you currently among the many fundraisers who have just finished (or are about to start) their fundraising budgets?

Are you confident with your decisions and direction for this year?

Did you try some new fundraising ideas, bold and full of promise for donor growth and retention?

Or did you play it safe, sticking to the tried, tested and true? Why fix it if it isn’t broken, right?

Before your planning was completed, did you immerse yourself in the previous year’s data and results to uncover trends, behaviours and opportunities of your donor base that could be used for “Data iNFORMED Decision Making”?

Or, like most of us, is just getting through the day-to-day tasks of managing your fundraising program, your staff, the occasional board meeting and attending an AFP or CAGP conference all you can do to stay on top of things?

Wherever you turn, every conference you attend and every article you read seems to be about leveraging your organizational data to succeed in today’s philanthropic fast-paced world of donor engagement.

Simone Joyaux photoI like what Simone P. Joyaux said in Charity eNews in 2013 ( ) “Every year, every conference everywhere probably has to talk about nurturing relationships to build donor loyalty. We fundraisers need to explore strategies and tactics that work.”


Penelope Burk published a book ““Donor-Centered Fundraising” Donor Centred Fundraising is an approach to raising money that inspires donors to remain loyal longer and give more generously.”


Is your organization among the many that have invested tens of thousands of dollars, in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars to collect and manage your donor data, stats, history…..etc.?

Sure, some of these investments may allow you to produce great reports, do some comprehensive year over year evaluations, but where is the gold, where is the realized promise of being truly data-informed, of building better donor relationships, keeping them longer and being able to find the right donors for your organization in the sea of list trades and list purchases?

I believe most organizations are convinced about the need to be donor-centered and data-informed.  They just don’t know how to get there.

Having worked in the “data informed marketing” field for more than a decade, and having begun where many of you may be now, I get the frustration and apprehensiveness you may be feeling when you hear people talking about being “donor-centered” and “data-informed”. But I am here to tell you it works, because I am doing it now for multiple organizations. Using data to build better relationships, retain those relationships, acquire new donors, optimize relationships, and drive better net revenues.

I am crazy passionate about data-informed fundraising, and I want you to experience the success that this can bring to you and your organization…… more road blocks!

You see, there are many organizations that provide a tool (Raisers Edge, Donor Perfect, and Salsa to name a few) but they did not provide a plan for success. A hammer, no matter how big or good, without the blueprints cannot build a house by itself; it needs people and plans to make it happen!!

My goal is for the not-for-profit sector to understand how powerful their organizational data is, in fact it is the crystal ball that most of us seek! I want to show you how obtainable and accessible results are, and what a profound and positive impact they can have on you, your organization, and your team.

So my colleagues and I (all data informed fanatics) will be sharing, through this blog, the journey to becoming data informed fundraisers, using practical and plain speak with useful and actionable tips.

We want you to really start using your data.

Mark Cuban, billionaire investor recently said that one of the most sought after job skills will be Those who can make sense of the data that automation is spitting out. No, not data scientists. Cuban believes employers will soon be on the hunt for candidates who excel at creative and critical thinking.” Well isn’t this at the heart of what we as fundraisers do?  We are constantly evaluating our landscape, coming up with creative, effective, and resourceful ways to connect, inspire and engage our audience!! Data can help us be more effective and efficient with what we already do, we just need to understand how to use it.

Ok enough of the intro, where to start?

Its starts with you and your data. The foundation of the house you are about to build (or continue building) is built on solid, good quality, reliable data. Without that you will not have confidence to use it, nor will it produce the quality insights and results you’ll need for decision-making. So a great place to start is with “Getting your Data House in Order”.

Over the next several articles we will be going through our tips and best practices to help you begin your own journey to being truly data-informed and donor-centered.  It will begin with making sure your data is ready to start feeding back to you, actionable information. For some, this will just be a checklist of what you already have in place, but for others it will be the start of creating your blueprint on how to transition from a traditional fundraising model to that of a donor-centered, data-informed, fundraising program. Regardless, it is exactly where you need to start, enabling you to build efficient budgets, successful campaigns and bold new strategies, all using your data!


“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”