The well-adopted mantra that we've developed in philanthropy is fundraising is about personal relationships.
High-quality relationships are built by truly connecting with donors. And, our top method for developing this personal connection is personalizing everything we do to engage donors. In some senses, this is simple, because we have so much donor data available to us in our databases or online resources.
However, an abundance of data does not tell the whole story of a donor. Before reaching out to a donor, fundraisers need to ask themselves the six basic questions - who, what, when, where, how, and why?
Even a robust set of data on your donors can only answer two of these questions: whom to reach out to, and why they should be on your list. Data can inform you about donors' giving history, their capacity to give, and even other organizations they support. But what data cannot do is answer the next four questions. Knowing who and why falls short of providing what is needed to effectively connect.
Take, for example, a fundraiser gets to work and is informed that a donor gave a major gift one year ago. This fundraiser is now equipped with a target to engage with, in the hopes of inspiring another gift. But before starting outreach, this fundraiser still needs to answer the questions of how do I reach out to this donor, when do I reach out to them, where is the best place to reach them, and finally, what do I even say to them?
When the only basis for outreach is a list of names, fundraisers are challenged with employing effective strategies in which to engage with donors, especially at scale. Where is the path to a personalized relationship from "first name, last name" on a spreadsheet? The solution is not in the amount of data we have on donors - in today's digital age, there is no shortage of it. Presenting actionable data is how fundraisers can develop deeper and more meaningful relationships.
So what does "actionable data" look like? Fundraisers should be presented with the answers to all six questions upfront so that their attention can be focused on cultivating the relationship with the donor themselves. After all, the data alone is not the catalyst for a donor giving a gift; it is the human being behind the effort - armed with this valuable data - that ultimately drives the outcome.
It is crucial that fundraisers be allotted the time and capacity to engage their donors effectively. The amount of personal outreach gift officers do directly correlates to increased success in fundraising. As such, they should be spending less time worrying about data and more time cultivating real relationships.
Instead of spending time combing through the CRM for the right data to inform outreach, artificial intelligence (AI) has the ability to go through the database for fundraisers. By leveraging this powerful software and allowing it to analyze the data on their behalf, fundraisers can then focus their attention on connecting with donors instead of spending their time in non-donor-facing activities.
The value of expanding fundraiser outreach can vary from organization to organization. For some, increasing the number of conversations leads to a larger donor pipeline, which is becoming increasingly critical in today’s giving climate. Others might use their expanded capacity to ask current donors to increase their giving level.
You don't have to predict who in your prospect pool will make the gift. You just need to make sure fundraisers are talking to more prospects to find the right one. Philanthropic giving isn’t just about the relationships you have with your donors, it’s about the number of high-quality relationships a fundraiser can develop and manage.
So what's next? Tackling your portfolio is no easy task. Luckily, Gravyty's Fundraising Master Class is the guide every development office needs but hasn't been able to access until now. Sign up for this FREE Master Class and we'll send you each segment of the course, the workbooks, checklists, videos, and more, so you can close out your fiscal year strong!