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3 Best Practices for Donor Research and Nonprofit Fundraising

February 23, 2022

Why do many fundraising campaigns fall short of meeting their goals?

The adage “time is money” is often used in a business context. However, it also holds true in the world of nonprofit fundraising. When it comes to searching for and screening donors, efficiency is key. But too often, fundraisers lack the proper donor management software and processes to conduct proper in-depth donor research in a timely manner. As a result, many fundraising professionals are forced to fall back to the “cast a wide net” approach, which ultimately leads to wasted effort appealing to people who were never prospective donors in the first place. Fundraising goals are left unmet. And you’re left with a lack of donor insights for your next campaign.

How to improve nonprofit fundraising efforts

If your aim is to increase donations for your nonprofit campaigns, there are a series of best practices you can follow to help you do so. But there’s a catch: These best practices can only be put into, well, practice if you have the right donor research tools in place. That’s because having an effective donor research solution is critical to an efficient campaign process. In fact, the right donor research tool can make all the difference between merely appealing to prospective donors and truly engaging with donors most likely to contribute to your campaign.

Let’s review 3 best practices for donor research and nonprofit fundraising to illustrate just how important your choice in a donor research platform is.

Nonprofit fundraising best practice #1: Establish, maintain, and revise an annual fundraising plan

A fundraising plan gives you and your fellow fundraising professionals a path to follow. It lays out the goals to hit, metrics for campaign success, and breaks down fundraising efforts into specific tasks and deadlines. But like a blueprint for a home without measurements, what good is an annual fundraising plan if it’s built on assumptions and unknowns about your potential donors?

And what about when it comes time to build out your fundraising plan for the coming year? How can you improve upon your efforts if you lack proper insight into your donors or the effectiveness of prior campaigns?

Your annual fundraising plan should be built, maintained, and revised based on clean, accurate data. Nexis® for Development Professionals not only gives you access to an unmatched collection of news, company, and public records information; it also lets you take advantage of tools like its Batch Services, which verifies and cleanses your records while also filling in knowledge gaps on current and prospective donors. In other words, you gain a highly accurate and detailed look into potential campaign targets, so you can create a fundraising plan with realistic and attainable goals, based on an in-depth, 360-view of your prospects.

Nonprofit fundraising best practice #2: Personalize donor engagement

The more a fundraising professional must rely on the aforementioned “cast a wide net approach” in an effort to meet deadlines, the more cookie-cutter an email, letter, or other form of engagement (using the word engagement here lightly) becomes. This is in no way the fault of the professional; rather, it’s just what happens when you’re forced to reach out to someone and ask for a contribution with little to no knowledge on that potential donor aside from what they may have contributed to prior campaigns.

You probably already understand that personalizing donor engagement is vital to increasing donation amounts. However, how to actually personalize donor engagement might feel easier said than done. Once again, this all goes back to having the right donor research platform.

Nexis for Development Professionals lets you quickly conduct a level of donor research needed to understand a person’s affiliations, hobbies, and topics of interest. You can also easily track news reports that reveal events such as promotions or awards. And with greater intelligence on donors amassed much faster than previously possible, you can transform those cookie-cutter emails into personalized notes of congratulations or a conversation-starter on shared interests.

Nonprofit fundraising best practice #3: Find ways to improve donor retention

Donor interaction should never be a one-and-done deal. The best way to maximize nonprofit fundraising is to cultivate an ongoing relationship with each donor over time. Even if someone donated once to a campaign, you may be one insight or connection away from earning their donations again and again. Besides, retaining a current donor is less costly than working to attract new prospects.

With Nexis for Development Professionals, you can stay connected with current donors through more accurate, highly up-to-date data. You’ll always have fast and clear insight into a previous donor’s latest life events, donation history, and more. So you can nurture existing relationships while also cultivating new ones through donor wealth screening, identifying giving patterns, and even uncovering relationships between donors.

Implement these best practices for nonprofit fundraising

Nexis for Development Professionals helps you save time and effort on donor research, giving you the foundation you need to benefit from these nonprofit fundraising best practices. Learn more about how to get started with Nexis for Development Professionals here.