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Top 4 Features Every Donor Research Software Needs

June 29, 2022 (5 min read)

Do you ever feel like you’re trying to hit your nonprofit fundraising targets with one hand tied behind your back? Don’t let that feeling get you down. The reason you ‘re falling short of your campaign goals may boil down to the software you’re using.

After all, experience and know-how only go so far without access to the proper tools of the trade. And just like how a master chef would never settle for a subpar cooking utensil, academic and nonprofit fundraisers should only use the best donor research software available to help them find new donors, better engage with current ones, and maximize donor contributions.

Even the most seasoned and talented fundraisers fall victim to inefficient, ineffective, and impractical donor research software. In fact, some of them may not even realize the extent to which their software impedes their fundraising efforts; when research software lacks the proper functionality and capabilities, then connections remain hidden and insights stay buried that could otherwise result in greater contributions and stronger long-term donor relationships.

So what features should your donor research software have? We’ve listed the top 4 here. Keep reading to learn what it takes to make your donor research more efficient and maximize contributions.

Feature #1: Data quantity and quality for more accurate, informed donor research

The more you know about your donors as individuals, the more prepared you are to engage them in meaningful, personalized ways. But to do so, you need access to more than just data readily found on the open web; rather, the key to highly effective donor research is a breadth of third-party and internal donor data, free from silos and readily accessible from an easy-to-use search bar. (We’ll touch on the search bar more in a second.)

If you want to know about a prospective donor’s interests, affiliations, hobbies, giving potential (through wealth screening and other measures), then you’ll want software that lets you search news, corporate data, public records,* social media, and more to learn as much as you possibly can. Additionally – and just as important – the donor research software you settle on should have the ability to verify and cleanse your data, so you can fill in knowledge gaps, update information, and eliminate redundant records. Because when you can connect the dots between donors and other variables, keep your records current, and practice good data hygiene, then your fundraising efforts benefit.

Feature #2: Intuitive search functionality for greater donor research efficiency

Circling back to the search bar we touched on above, your donor research software should also make it easy for you to search your wealth of data. This is because the more donor data you have, the greater the need for intuitive user functionality becomes.

If you have a wealth of clean data, imagine how much of that is going to waste if you spend your timing trying to search it and compile your results and donor profile reports manually. Essentially, a deep variety of donor data can make your donor research more effective. But a well-designed search feature makes your donor research more efficient – so you conduct research faster against more data.

An example of intuitive search functionality is the arrangement of data type by tab. By entering the name of a person or other entity into a search bar and by selecting the tab that corresponds to the type of data you want to search – let’s say news, in this instance – your software should immediately return a list of results from all news data sources. The software should also break out the results by source, as well as allow you to select a tab to see your results across different data types following your initial search.

Feature #3: Alerts for opportunities to engage current or potentially new donors

Your current and potential donors change jobs and get promotions, make newsworthy announcements and business moves, and change as people and professionals over time. Of course, you can’t stay on top of every event in your donors’ lives—but your donor research software certainly can. Or, at least it should.

Having software that lets you set up email alerts regarding a donor or topic of interest is paramount to maximizing your fundraising contributions. This means your software should be continuously checking behind the scenes for new data entries and updates to existing donor data. Then, when an update triggers one of the alerts you set up, you can receive a notification so you can take swift action on your newfound knowledge.

Feature #4: Highly informed donor profiles and donor screening

Ultimately, when you have donor research software that offers the three features previously discussed, then what you should get in return are accurate, informed, and up-to-date donor profiles that give you a 360-view of your prospects.

For example, with a wealth of clean donor data, you gain confidence that what you know about a donor is trustworthy, and that there are no major knowledge gaps hiding valuable insights. Additionally, donor profiles can give you a quick view into a donor’s assets, wealth indicators, education, interests, and associations that can influence their contribution. This means you can quickly qualify and screen donors to find the right ones to engage for a particular fundraising campaign, as well as learn precisely how you should engage them.

Add Nexis® for Development Professionals to your fundraiser’s toolbox

Cut through the inefficiencies of donor research with Nexis for Development Professionals. As an all-in-one donor research solution, it enables you to rapidly search data from an unmatched collection of content sources. So you can build reliable donor profiles, screen prospects, and gain valuable insight into when and how to engage your potential donors. Nexis for Development Professionals also cleanses your data for greater accuracy and elimination of redundancy, and it continuously checks for updates to alert you to any development you ask to be notified of, such as the negative mention of a donor in the news.

With Nexis for Development Professionals, you’re no longer at a disadvantage when it comes to hitting your fundraising goals. You have the data, the functionality, and the potential to conduct more in-depth research faster, increase your average donations, and establish a relationship with donors that will have them chipping in for your cause time and time again. Learn more about Nexis for Development Professionals here.