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Using Data to Create Personal Relationships with Donors

AHP Staff
Published:  07/16/2018

Using_Data_Create_Personal_RelationshipsAdapted from an episode of “The Ask,” a podcast from KCI (Ketchum Canada, Inc.)

In today’s world, we are surrounded by conversations about data. Hard data, soft data and data-driven decision-making may be daunting topics of discussion for organizations. However, using data appropriately can allow charities to develop more meaningful relationships with donors. In “The Ask” podcast, KCI Senior Vice President Celeste Bannon Waterman shares how valuable data is to cultivate conversations and sustain lasting connections with donors. 

Why Charities Should Make Data a Priority

One of the primary reasons why charities and nonprofit organizations should prioritize data gathering is because it enables the organization to get to know the donor on a deeper level. As the donor gives to your organization, each interaction leaves little clues of knowledge that you can use later to craft unique conversations and develop a personal relationship with the donor.

It’s important for organizations to gather not only hard transactional data, but soft and more meaningful data about the donor. This is a challenge for many organizations, but those that are successful uncover how to capture the meaningful data and use it in an authentic way to further the relationship.  

Benefits of Data to the Donor

The art of data collecting is not purely for the organization’s benefit. If the data is gathered appropriately and effectively, the donor is more likely to feel valued because the organization knows who they are. Donors generally want to be recognized by the organization and be thanked for their contribution. Using data to personalize messages to your donor reflects well on your organization as well as honors the relationship with the donor. Increasingly, donors expect charities to utilize their data to develop messages tailored to them, just as for-profit organizations do.

Best Way to Utilize Data

It’s important to use data to maximize efficiency in the organization and make the donor experience the best it can be. If you focus solely on data, segmentation and processes, you might drive the donor away.

Celeste shared a personal story illustrating the importance of recognizing each donor as an individual. A year after her son adopted a cat for his birthday, he decided to donate his birthday money to the local Humane Society. A few months later, he received a generic solicitation letter in the mail. He was devastated that the Humane Society did not personalize the message to him or recognize the contribution he had made. It was clear the organization successfully gathered the hard data, but failed to place importance on the soft data. As a result, they ultimately lost a potential life-long donor.

It’s important to treat your donor as an individual; let the data be your guide to a meaningful donor relationship.

If you’d like to listen to the full KCI podcast, listen here.

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