With the climate for fundraising more challenging than ever, charities are experiencing a funding squeeze

Rising operating costs alongside increasing demand for their services are pitched against falling income, as donors reduce the amount they give. All this is combining to create a testing time for the sector.

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According to research conducted by Charities Aid Foundation1, fewer people are engaging with charities compared to before the pandemic. They report that donation, volunteering and sponsorship levels have still not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, suggesting a worrying and permanent change in charitable activity. What’s more, inflationary pressure means donations are worth less and less. It’s estimated that a monthly charity donation of £20 set up in 2017 will be worth just £14.90 by 20242.

This presents a challenge for charities: to use their data to cultivate vital prospective donors while at the same time, maintain relationships with their existing donors. Achieving this relies upon a solid foundation of accurate contact data that will support targeted fundraising efforts and provide better insights into the needs and wants of existing donors to maximise their fundraising potential.

How is data used in fundraising?

Analytics tools can predict donor behavior and identify major donors, helping with resource allocation. Data-driven insights, such as A/B testing and real-time monitoring, can optimise campaigns by refining messaging and channels. While data analysis can help with donor retention strategies and also prospect research to identify potential supporters.

Big data for fundraising

With fewer individuals donating to charitable organisations, using data to engage with and nurture your current donor and supporter base is more important than ever. Accurate, complete and up to date contact data can help you identify your best donors and retain a strong donor base. Enriching this data can provide insight into the communication methods and strategies that are most effective to properly target and engage with those people who are more likely to generate funds for your charity.

For example, by analysing your contact data, you can segment your donors into categories based on a variety of characteristics including:

  • How you acquired them as donors
  • Their donation size and frequency of giving
  • How often they engage with you and via which channels
  • The method by which they prefer to donate
  • Their preferred forms of communication
  • The types of stories they resonate with

To achieve actionable insights such as these, your data must first be of high quality. This relies upon collecting accurate data at point of entry and maintaining it regularly. Achieving this is simply a case of implementing the right solutions.

The need for clean data

Whether you’re engaging with your supporters through direct mail, email, online or over the phone – accurate contact data will help your fundraising efforts be as effective and efficient as possible.

The first stage of any data management programme is to spend time analysing, tidying, and maintaining your existing database. Contact data degrades at a rate of 10-20% per year as people get married, move house, change jobs, change phone number, update their email address or pass away. Failure to keep on top of these changes means you miss valuable opportunities to communicate and engage with your donor base. For example, sending marketing material to an old postal or email address is a huge waste of money, particularly for a sector where every penny counts. In the case of email communications, it could also result in blacklisting if ‘spam’ rates are high. Furthermore, sending the same communication multiple times to the same supporter, or worse, to a supporter who is deceased, can damage your reputation and cost you donors.

By cleansing your data, you can identify and then remove or amend any data or records that are flagged as outdated, invalid, incomplete, duplicated, poorly formatted or irrelevant under GDPR. This will ensure you are contacting the right people at the right time, greatly increasing the chances of developing a meaningful relationship.

Cleansing your data manually, while possible, is incredibly time consuming, costly and highly prone to error. Instead, consider automating the process using data cleansing software. This way, cleansing can be carried out in minutes at regular intervals with more precision, ensuring your data is always fully optimised and ready to use.

Digital tools to achieve data quality

1. Data validation solutions

We have a range of data quality tools that can check the validity and accuracy of your data. It ensures the information your hold in your system – postal addresses, email addresses and phone numbers – are correct, consistent and up to date and can resolve inaccuracies and errors, saving you time and money. Applying a bulk cleanse will validate all the data you already hold while implementing real-time validation tools, that check email, mobile and address validation at point of capture will ensure only valid data is entering your system from the get-go.

2. Data enrichment

The more you know about your donors, the better you can connect with them and effectively fundraise. From creating targeted marketing campaigns to more personalised experiences, when you have a complete view of your donor’s profile, their preferences, and their needs, you can develop targeted campaigns that will resonate with them. By enriching your data and combining your first party data with third party data from external sources, it instantly becomes fuller and more detailed making it more useable, insightful and valuable.

For instance, your enriched data might reveal that older donors are more likely to give a larger donation than younger supporters, so you could work towards focusing more resources on this group. Or it might become clear that younger donors prefer social media and mobile communication channels rather than direct mail, allowing you to prioritise this channel to better engage with this group, rather than waste money on direct mail. Enriched data can also provide information on the topics your donors care about, their income, marital status or home ownership, all of which can be used one again to tailor messaging based on their interests and habits. Armed with this type of data, you can understand how and where to engage your supporters, and in turn, focus your efforts accordingly.

3. CRM integrations

Screenshot of the Caritas platform

Screenshot of the Caritas platform

The accuracy of information stored in a fundraising CRM is what allows charities to effectively understand, communicate with, and engage supporters. The most efficient way to ensure you are capturing accurate data is to validate it at the point it is ingested. Experian Data Validation for Enterprise Applications seamlessly captures, standardises, validates, and enriches postal addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers globally in real-time within your application. There are pre-built data validation integrations available for a variety of CRM systems, including Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 CE.

Caritas Australia is the international aid and development organisation of the Catholic Church in Australia. They maximised their fundraising and donor engagement by implementing our real-time data validation solutions for addresses, email addresses and phone numbers within their Salesforce CRM and website. By validating the data they already held in their CRM system and making sure that all new data gathered is also validated they managed to Increase donor retention rates and overall active donors in the database by 5%, increase supporters’ appeals response rate by 6% and create more successful direct marketing campaigns that resulted in a 76% increase in donations.

How can we help?

Engaging with new and existing donors and persuading them to part with their both their time to engage with you and most importantly, their money in the form of a donation, can be challenging, particularly when you have limited resources.

Our contact data validation solutions enable you to capture and maintain accurate addresses, emails and mobile phone numbers for your donors and volunteers globally at the point of entry or post-collection. Combined with a range of datasets, you will have the ability to gain insight to inform your fundraising and marketing strategies, which enables you to communicate with donors more relevantly and effectively.

Get in touch

Our Charity experts are on hand to help you discover how your charity could benefit from our data validation and enrichment solutions.

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