How charities and organisations in the third sector can attract supporters and donators using data and insight

At Experian we do a lot of analytic work to support a wide range of charities both in terms of attracting the best donors and to identify the optimum locations for allocating resources most effectively to recipients. To check that the services that we provide are meeting the charities needs we recently did a short survey asking a range of organisations what they considered to be most important to them. Thanks to everyone that took the time to give us their views.

It is apparent that the use of different media to recruit donors has changed. 93% cited digital media as their most important channel and email at 92%, both ahead of more traditional direct mail although that is still important at 71%

Perhaps not surprisingly all the organisations said that they are making increasing use of digital media and consider it ‘essential’.  With virtually everyone carving out a presence on Facebook and Twitter, but not always feeling they were using them to best effect. 79% said they felt they had good offline knowledge but digitally were behind. It is clear that the ability to communicate effectively through all channels and join up the approach is the secret of success.

Almost all the organisations told us that their top priority is to find new donors.  There is of course always a tension between finding new sources of income and looking to get repeat donations. In the recent book “Think like a Freak” (Levitt and Dubner, 2014) for example they suggest that telling people that a donation will not elicit future calls for money unless you agree to it is a successful strategy.

Many charities we spoke to had large databases of past donors (86%) but many felt that they were not making full use of it. Clearly the need to clean up these lists to remove people who have moved house, passed away or do not wish to be contacted is a useful activity; as is enhancing big databases so that the more valuable supporters and donors can be unearthed for future campaigning success.

Following this survey Experian is issuing a short guide “Eight Ways to grow your charity”, it talks about how charities can find out who are their best donors and supporters, link customer data across channel and plan a coordinated on-line and off-line strategy. Hopefully we can help charities find more donors with a little bit of science and by embracing the new cultivation methods of a coordinated digital and off-line plan.