Ravela Insights | Nonprofit Database Management & Fundraising Analytics http://www.ravelainsights.com Ravela provides nonprofit database management tools and fundraising analytics to empower fundraisers and leadership to make data-driven decisions. Wed, 17 May 2017 15:59:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://www.ravelainsights.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/cropped-RavelaInsights_SiteIdentity-32x32.png Ravela Insights | Nonprofit Database Management & Fundraising Analytics http://www.ravelainsights.com 32 32 Major Gift Fundraising: The Complete Walk-through http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/05/15/major-gift-fundraising/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/05/15/major-gift-fundraising/#respond Mon, 15 May 2017 15:32:39 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=14008 Special thanks to our guest blogger Ryan Woroniecki. If you haven’t checked out DonorSearch and their amazing services, you must! Major gifts are very important to a nonprofit’s ongoing success and, as such, deserve careful attention and planning. In this article, we’ll take you step-by-step through everything you need to know about major gift fundraising: What […]

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Special thanks to our guest blogger Ryan Woroniecki. If you haven’t checked out DonorSearch and their amazing services, you must!

Major gifts are very important to a nonprofit’s ongoing success and, as such, deserve careful attention and planning.

In this article, we’ll take you step-by-step through everything you need to know about major gift fundraising:

  1. What are major gifts?
  2. Who can seek major gifts?
  3. Why are major gifts important?
  4. How do you plan major gift fundraising?
  5. When should you seek major gifts?

After reading through this guide, you’ll be armed with all the necessary knowledge and tools to get out there and do some serious major gift fundraising!

1. What are major gifts?

Generally speaking, major gifts (1) are among the biggest contributions a nonprofit receives. A single major gift can completely change your organization’s fundraising outlook.

Major gifts is that they have no fixed amount or universal definition. After all, what qualifies as major is going to vary drastically between a small, up-and-coming nonprofit and an established, national organization!

So how do you figure out what counts as a major gift for your nonprofit?

The best way is as follows:

  1. Find records of the ten or so donors who have made the largest contributions to your organization in your nonprofit’s CRM software.
  2. Analyze their gift amounts and put them in order from highest to lowest.
  3. Remove any gifts that don’t fit within the average range, such as a gift that is substantially larger or smaller than the rest of the group.
  4. Once you have whittled your list of ten to a smaller group of donations that are fairly similar in size, make an educated guess about the major gift minimum you want to set.
  5. Take the dollar amount you’ve selected and compare it to the other gifts you have logged in your database.
  6. Decide if that gift minimum is the right number by considering your current donor pool and seeing how many gifts you’ve received of equal or greater value.

Obviously, this isn’t an exact science. You’ll have to fine-tune your strategy over time, but it should be a good starting point to help determine what should count as a major gift for your organization.

Once you figure out what constitutes a major gift for your nonprofit, you can begin putting a plan in place to solicit more.

The bottom line: Major gifts are a huge source of funds for your organization, and figuring out what counts as a major gift is the first step towards generating a comprehensive major gift fundraising plan.

2. Who can seek major gifts?

The short answer is any fundraising organization!

Studies have shown that, on average, over 88% of all funds raised for an organization come from just 12% of donors. That 12% constitutes the donations from your major gift contributors. In other words, major gifts are simply too valuable to let pass by — so any nonprofit or other fundraising institution, like a university, can and should seek major gifts.

Examples of organizations that should pursue major gift fundraising activities include:

  • Institutions of higher education
  • Greek organizations
  • K-12 private and independent schools
  • Healthcare organizations
  • Arts and culture organizations
  • Social service organizations
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Community foundations
  • Advocacy groups
  • Environmental groups

It’s not uncommon to hear smaller nonprofits without major giving programs say, “We’re too small to seek these kinds of gifts. We don’t have the capacity to do so at this time.”

While it is true that running a top-tier, incredibly advanced major giving program requires a serious commitment of time and resources, it’s also true that not every program has to be as developed.

It’s even truer that every program has to start somewhere, and you need to learn to walk before you can run.

Essentially, every organization serves to benefit from setting ambitious fundraising goals(2) and beginning the hunt for major gifts.

Even if your program starts off small and doesn’t have an immense operating capacity, that’s okay. In fact, if you can expand your program over time, its growth will spur your organization’s growth and vice versa.

The bottom line: If you are part of a fundraising organization, you can (and should!) start major gift fundraising activities to help advance your organization.

3. Why are major gifts important?

The “why” of major giving should be pretty obvious.

If you want to see your organization grow to new heights, major gifts need to be part of the equation.

As was stated earlier, major gifts are the top tier of gifts your organization will bring in. As such, once your program is up and running, the major gifts you solicit will account for a large percentage of your fundraising total.

In fact, for most mature nonprofits, major gifts will make up 80-90% of your organization’s fundraising totals.

When you look at it like that, it’s hard to deny the immense value.

The bottom line: Major gifts are a huge source of funds for any nonprofit and as a result must be included in your fundraising plans.

4. How do you plan major gift fundraising?

There are plenty of ways to go about securing major gifts for your organization, and that process should start with appointing a leader to take charge. Most nonprofits hire a major gift officer or fundraising consultant(3), but don’t worry if that option is out of your budget.

Primarily, you just need someone to run point. A major giving program takes a team effort, but every good team needs a leader.

So, appoint one!

Once you have a major gift officer to pave your path to better fundraising, your nonprofit is going to want to think through how it plans to handle the four main stages of the major donor experience.

Let’s discuss those one at a time:

A. Identification

You can’t ask for major gifts if you can’t find any major gift donors! That’s where you’ll need to take advantage of wealth screening and prospect research tools(4).

Through analysis, your team can uncover such pertinent details about your prospects as:

  • Past charitable giving
  • Other involvement in nonprofit work
  • Political giving
  • Real estate ownership
  • Stock ownership
  • Contact information

This background information is going to help you consider the two main questions that determine whether or not someone is a good major giving candidate:

  1. Does this person have the philanthropic history to indicate that he would be open to making a large contribution to our organization?
  2. Does this person have the financial capacity to follow through with such a gift?

Once you’ve found prospects who meet those qualifications, it’s time to move on to cultivation!

B. Cultivation

Major donor cultivation is basically a period of time during which your team members spend time building a relationship with your prospect.

Cultivation is going to vary from donor to donor and organization to organization, but the bottom line is that it is an incredibly valuable time.

During cultivation, your organization should be actively working to increase the likelihood that your prospect will say yes to your donation request(5) when you get to the solicitation stage.  

Think of the goals of cultivation like two sides of the same coin.

On one side, you’re trying to learn as much as you can about your prospect so that you can design the most well-informed solicitation strategy possible.

On the other side, you’re hoping to teach the donor as much as you can about your nonprofit and the work their money will help accomplish so that they’re more inclined to donate when the time comes.

Aim to strike a balance between the coin’s two sides.

C. Solicitation

Solicitation(6) can be nerve-wracking and stressful, but the more prepared you are, the more relaxed your team can be.

Before you go into any solicitation meeting, you’ll want to be prepared with a plan that includes an outline of how you want the conversation to go, a specific ask amount, and next steps.

It’s also always a good idea to practice your ask first on peers or coworkers. After all, practice makes perfect. Plus, an outside perspective can help you identify any areas of weakness in order to craft the perfect gift request.

D. Stewardship

Once the donor has actually made the donation, the relationship shouldn’t stop there!

Follow up with an acknowledgement, then funnel the donor along a path of other engagement opportunities.

Retained major donors are incredibly valuable(7). You put in a lot of time to secure that first gift — make sure that it’s the first of many with proper stewardship.

The bottom line: Plan out your major gift fundraising by first appointing someone to take the lead. Then, put a plan in place for how you are going to identify, cultivate, solicit, and steward your major gift donors.

5. When should you seek major gifts?

Whether you decide to include major giving requests in your year-end fundraising goals(8) or whether you choose to seek them in conjunction with other campaigns, the short answer is that you can seek major gifts at any time of the year.

Major giving is not directly connected to one giving season or day — as long as you’ve put in the right amount of time and resources into identification and solicitation of donors, you’re free to make the ask whenever you’d like.

The “when” that we’re going to focus on here is more personalized. Although there is no ideal time universally, there is an ideal time for each individual prospect.

Study up on your prospect’s giving history and look for patterns to figure out when you should ask them for a gift.

For instance, if a prospect usually gives once a year in November, design your ask strategy around making the appeal in November.

Your nonprofit’s CRM software(9) is indispensable here. You’ve taken the time to collect a ton of donor information — use it to your advantage and let it inform your solicitation approaches!

Those small details might not seem like much on their own, but in the grand scheme of things, they add up. Taking the time to personalize your ask demonstrates that you care about your donors, and as a result makes it much more likely that they will decide to give.

The bottom line: Examine your prospects’ giving histories to determine when the best time to ask for major gifts is for each individual. They’ll be much more likely to respond favorably!

There you have it! Hopefully you now have a better understanding of the ins and outs of major gift fundraising. Now get out there and start securing those major gifts!

Ryan Woroniecki is the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at DonorSearch, a prospect research, screening, and analytics company that focuses on proven philanthropy. He has worked with hundreds of nonprofits and is a member of APRA-MD. When he isn’t working, he is an avid kickball player.

 

Resources:

(1) http://www.donorsearch.net/major-gifts-guide/

(2) http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/01/12/fundraising-goals/

(3) http://www.donorsearch.net/top-fundraising-consultants/

(4) http://www.donorsearch.net/wealth-screening-definitive-guide/

(5) https://blog.fundly.com/how-to-ask-for-donations/

(6) https://articles.salsalabs.com/major-gift-solicitation/

(7) http://www.ravelainsights.com/2014/09/15/analyzing-major-gift-program-pivot-table-tutorial-part-2/

(8) http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/08/31/year-end-fundraising/

(9) https://www.neoncrm.com/nonprofit-crm-software/

 

 

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Spring Cleaning Part 2: Top Ways to Get Your Database in Shipshape http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/04/22/spring2/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/04/22/spring2/#respond Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:01:26 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=13918 There are few things better than a clean database. In this post, we’ll cover our final four tips for keeping your database tidy. They are geared toward gifts, proposals, and pledges. Gift Coding Many organizations choose to code their solicitation appeals and campaigns with the fiscal year. It’s easy to accumulate dozens of old codes that […]

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There are few things better than a clean database. In this post, we’ll cover our final four tips for keeping your database tidy. They are geared toward gifts, proposals, and pledges.

Gift Coding

Many organizations choose to code their solicitation appeals and campaigns with the fiscal year. It’s easy to accumulate dozens of old codes that could be archived. Not only will this ease data entry efforts, it will limit the choices to accidently code a gift with an old appeal.

Proposals

Another place that data can easily hide and then quickly become outdated is in “open proposals.” The functionality is designed to keep track of major gift and grant proposals but the status can change quickly and often. Ask your fundraisers and grant writers to review a list of their proposals and update the status. It will help you and them pull much more accurate and meaningful reports.

Funds & General Ledger Codes

On an annual basis, it is always good to review your funds and GL codes. Some funds are temporary and new ones are sometimes needed. Also, meet with your Finance department and make sure you have the most recent codes they are utilizing. This will ease your monthly reconciliation process.

Open Pledges

Keeping up with pledges and payments is critical for data health. Gather the team on a periodic basis to review the list of all open pledges. Whether it is calling donors or rescheduling the payments, it’s important to not let open pledge sit and “age” in your system.

What are your favorite spring cleaning tips? We’d love to hear from you!

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Spring Cleaning Part 1: Top Ways to Get Your Database in Shipshape http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/04/10/get-your-database-in-shipshape/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/04/10/get-your-database-in-shipshape/#respond Mon, 10 Apr 2017 13:59:23 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=13912 Databases need tending to, just like gardens. What better time to spruce things up than in the spring? We’re going to give you our top nine tactics for keeping your database shipshape. Data integrity and cleaning take time, so we advise that you tackle it in bite-sized pieces. Your sanity is of utmost importance. In […]

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Databases need tending to, just like gardens. What better time to spruce things up than in the spring? We’re going to give you our top nine tactics for keeping your database shipshape.

Data integrity and cleaning take time, so we advise that you tackle it in bite-sized pieces. Your sanity is of utmost importance. In that spirit, we’re going to break this blog into two separate posts: constituents and gifts/pledges. Let’s start with constituents:

Constituents are transient.

If your organization utilizes direct mail, phone banking, and/or events as part of its fundraising strategy, then keeping track of constituent addresses and phone numbers is critical. Most databases have easy-to-use appends that you can run to keep up with changing information. It is an inexpensive way to update your data and the process will add the zip+4, which will save money on postage!

Are all your database users current employees?

Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector suffers from tremendous turnover. If you have former employees with active rights in your database, you might spend some time going through and updating those. It will free up licenses and ensure data security.

Board Coding

Volunteers roll on and off your board roster each year. This is a great time to update your board coding, including committees, so you can keep track of current board, emeritus, and former board members.

Duplicate Constituents

It’s so easy for duplicate records to creep into your donor database. A current donor makes a gift online but uses his nickname or a new address when registering. Boom – a new record is created. Keeping dups out of your database is an ongoing fight, so take the time to periodically check for duplicates. It will save your sanity when pulling mailing lists and your budget by saving postage.

Solicitors & Relationships

Fundraisers have the best intentions when wanting to manage as many prospects as possible. A prospect list can easily reach hundreds in length. The reality is that some prospects, after discovery, need to be blessed and released. Ask your fundraisers to go through their lists and update any relationship codes they have.

Stay tuned for the final four database tips. Next time we’ll focus on gift records.

 

 

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Never Underestimate the Power of a Widow http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/02/02/the-power-of-a-widow/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/02/02/the-power-of-a-widow/#respond Thu, 02 Feb 2017 18:32:52 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=13851 Even Beyonce said, ‘girls rule the world.’ It’s also true in the world of philanthropy. Women and their role in philanthropy have been hot topics for many years. There are amazing books that go into the depths of exactly how women are moving the needle. In this blog post we’ll focus on female widows and […]

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Even Beyonce said, ‘girls rule the world.’ It’s also true in the world of philanthropy. Women and their role in philanthropy have been hot topics for many years. There are amazing books that go into the depths of exactly how women are moving the needle. In this blog post we’ll focus on female widows and the impact they fuel in the nonprofit sector. It’s not only that women are inheriting wealth from their partners, they’ve made their own money.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • In addition to balancing work and families, women volunteer at a higher rate than men.
  • Forty-five percent of American millionaires are now women, and 48 percent of estates worth more than $5M are controlled by women
  • Women-owned firms that bring in $10M+ in revenue increased by 57 percent in 2013
  • By some estimates, as much as two-thirds of all wealth in the U.S. will be controlled by women by the year 2030.

Relating to women, regardless of their marital status, is critical to fundraising success. The other significant factors are that 1) women live longer than men and 2) they make up more than half of all charitable donors.

Enter the widow.

She controls the disposition of a lifetime of earnings and accumulated wealth. She has buried her partner and has had a lifetime of experiences with nonprofit organizations. Whether it is the hospital that saved her life or the university that helped shape her children, a widow has the power to significantly thank and support nonprofit organizations. As she reflects on her life, she is thinking about the legacy she and her family will leave.

As a fundraiser, you might put some thought into how you approach women of all generations. What is your strategy to engage them? What tactics will you employ to help them fulfill their philanthropic passion? If you don’t have any specific endeavors, you might consider developing some. Remember, girls run the world.

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Fundraising Goals: Don’t Set Yourself or Your Team Up for Failure http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/01/12/fundraising-goals/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2017/01/12/fundraising-goals/#respond Fri, 13 Jan 2017 04:18:51 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=13840 Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals It’s January, which means that thousands of nonprofits are beginning a new fundraising fiscal year. All the year-end vying and pushing for donor’s dollars is finished, and the financial books will soon be closed. With a new year brings new goals. Below are some helpful hints to set your fundraising team […]

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Setting Realistic Fundraising Goals

It’s January, which means that thousands of nonprofits are beginning a new fundraising fiscal year. All the year-end vying and pushing for donor’s dollars is finished, and the financial books will soon be closed. With a new year brings new goals. Below are some helpful hints to set your fundraising team up for success in 2017.

Diversify the Goals

Work with your team to set multi-pronged goals that work together to lift all boats. Oftentimes managers will only set a monetary goal and leave a fundraiser to fend for themselves. Consider multifaceted goals that not only set your fundraiser up for success this year, but for many years to come. The key is to set goals but allow flexibility and creativity. See the differences below.

Scenario 1:
  • Raise $1,000,000
Scenario 2:
  • Raise $1,000,000 from at least 75 constituents
  • Acquire/graduate 10 first-time major donors gifting $2,500+
  • Retain 60% of your major donors from last year at the major gift level

The second scenario feeds a pipeline for future years, ensuring current major donors are being stewarded and cultivated for their next gift, and confirms that a portfolio is being worked (and not just relying on three heavy hitters). One million dollars is a big goal, and if you miss it, a big fail. By having the diversified goals, you and your fundraiser can break down what was hit and what was miss.

Use Metrics for Goal-Setting

The best way to ensure setting appropriate goals is to review your organization’s fundraising landscape and how it has changed over the last couple of years. Below is a brief list of data points that should be considered as you build your goals. Each data point is important but also think about how they have changed in relation to one another.

  • Retention rate (overall and by gift level)
  • Average and median gift
  • % of donors that gift the same amount year over year
  • Size of the donor pool (how it’s changed over time)
  • Gift pyramid and how it has changed with each fiscal year

Be a Team 

At the end of the day, everyone who helps to raise funds or craft the donor experience is an important part of the team. High functioning fundraising teams have healthy relationships that celebrate one another’s wins and share the burden of missed goals. One important ingredient for your recipe for success is an environment where people can ask for help, share best practices, and collaborate to support the mission.

For more tips on fundraising and database management, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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What the Nonprofit Sector Can Learn from Amazon http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/10/06/nonprofit_amazon_memo/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/10/06/nonprofit_amazon_memo/#respond Thu, 06 Oct 2016 15:26:07 +0000 http://www.ravelainsights.com/?p=13813 Amazon’s Six-Page Memo (Article Link) This is amazing insight into how Amazon presents ideas, distributes information, and utilizes data to make smart and decisive decisions.  As a nonprofit employee who has a closet full of hats, you might read this article and think, “Yeah, it would be nice to have everyone on the same page before important […]

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Amazon’s Six-Page Memo (Article Link)

This is amazing insight into how Amazon presents ideas, distributes information, and utilizes data to make smart and decisive decisions.  As a nonprofit employee who has a closet full of hats, you might read this article and think, “Yeah, it would be nice to have everyone on the same page before important meetings, but we don’t have time for this type of process.” The thing is….by the time you educate your leadership, peers, and board members, you might as well have written your 6-page memo. The other red flag might be “I don’t think attendees will read the document before the meeting.” If it is not part of your organizational culture, then work make it so. If it’s your meeting, start writing the document and sending it out. Then, slowly begin raising your expectations that it will be read prior to each meeting.

Think of the benefits of having a meeting where everyone around the table (or on the phone) has the same information, is prepared to discuss and explore, and productivity is at its peak. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Here are some ways the sector could evolve:

Don’t make any decisions without data.

Take time to explore possible outcomes and use your fundraising or constituent database to help project how a decision might positively or negatively change revenue, earned income, budget expenses, constituents served, etc. Anecdotal information should never be enough.

Educate before the meeting.

If you spend 50-70% of your meeting educating your team about a situation, the possible solutions, and/or the challenges, that leaves little time to dig into the actual decision. Spend time drafting a one-pager to your group that explains the challenge or opportunity and let the team know that you’ll be diving right into questions and discussion when the meeting begins.

Ask for more information.

If you are managing a team or individual that is proposing significant change, it is important that you understand the logic and outcomes for each path. Asking the team for clarification, including data, will help everyone understand the reasoning for the proposed change.

I understand that board members are volunteers and lead busy lives, but they’ve made a commitment to your organization and its mission. If you have a board member that can only find time to attend the monthly or quarterly meeting, can’t commit time to reading financials and/or documents before the meeting, and is ultimately is unable to productively participate in the board meeting, they should spend time reflecting about whether this role is right for him/her.  You are not asking too much by asking someone to read a document before a meeting.

What are some of your meeting productivity tips?

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Make the Most of Your Year-End Fundraising http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/08/31/year-end-fundraising/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/08/31/year-end-fundraising/#respond Thu, 01 Sep 2016 02:05:49 +0000 http://ravelainsights.com/?p=13734 Year-end is a monumental time in the nonprofit sector. Fundraising efforts are already in full swing – and for good reason! A 2012 GuideStar Survey concluded that 50.5 percent of organizations surveyed said they receive the majority of contributions between October and December. It is critical that nonprofits spend time building smart tactics early because every donor they have will be solicited […]

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Year-end is a monumental time in the nonprofit sector. Fundraising efforts are already in full swing – and for good reason! A 2012 GuideStar Survey concluded that 50.5 percent of organizations surveyed said they receive the majority of contributions between October and December. It is critical that nonprofits spend time building smart tactics early because every donor they have will be solicited by dozens of other organizations.

Crunch the Numbers

As you are planning your mail and e-mail campaigns, run some reports to see what worked well last year. Then, make some important decisions. If there are zip codes that don’t have a great history of responding to your mailings, consider focusing only on the zip codes that do. If a portion of your donors only respond to email appeals, trim them from your snail mail list. Consider asking donors to match or increase what they gave last year. Not only does this help to tailor your letter, it communicates that you have sound tracking and finance systems in place.

Save Yourself Some Heartache (and Money)

It is so hard to trim a mailing list. We get it! As fundraisers, we think that every lapsed donor will one day come back to us so we keep them on newsletter, appeal, and event lists. If a donor has been lapsed for 2 or 3 years and hasn’t responded to newsletters, event invitations, or other appeals, consider transitioning them to the e-mail appeal list. I know it is hard because you’re thinking, “this is the time they might come back to us!” Be strong. Especially with donors that have only given you one gift and you’ve sent them 4-5 appeals. It’s time to let them go and focus on those who want to support your organization.

Say the Right Thing

Your year-end appeal will be with a stack of other appeals sitting inside either the donor’s mailbox or inbox. Make sure to stand out. Ditch the statistics and inspire your donors with a story that they will want to share with a friend. Then, consider using a visual that sparks emotion (hint: pictures of buildings do not spark, up-close faces do!)

 

Have questions about how to crunch numbers or run any reports that were discussed in this blog post? Contact us today!

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Tracking Constituents in Your Fundraising Database (Part 4 of 4) http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/07/05/trackingconstituents/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/07/05/trackingconstituents/#respond Wed, 06 Jul 2016 01:09:25 +0000 http://ravelainsights.com/?p=13714 Our fourth and final blog in this series is about constituent tracking and management. This is where the rubber hits the road. If you can’t track your constituents, how to communicate with them, the relationships they have, and historical information with your organization, you can’t cultivate, solicit, or steward in a sophisticated way. Here are what […]

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Our fourth and final blog in this series is about constituent tracking and management. This is where the rubber hits the road. If you can’t track your constituents, how to communicate with them, the relationships they have, and historical information with your organization, you can’t cultivate, solicit, or steward in a sophisticated way. Here are what we recommend you track and track well!

Addresses.

Bad addresses are costly. Spend the $1,000 annually to run an NCOA update to keep your address information healthy. It is money well spent when you consider wasted postage and your database administrator’s time and sanity going in and manually updating addresses when mail is returned.

Phone & Email.

These communication outlets allow you to have two-way dialogue with your constituents. It is imperative that you keep up with phone numbers and email addresses.

Relationships.

Databases are built to be relational. When a constituent is connected to a corporation, family foundation, or other individuals, those records should be linked in your database. It helps you identify matching gift opportunities and gives you a well-rounded picture of their connections.

Communication Preferences.

If a donor tells you that they prefer email and calls over snail mail, for heaven’s sake note that in your database! Not only does this show that you are listening to your donors, but it communicates that you run a sophisticated shop capable of handling those requests.

Engagement with Organization.

All volunteers, board members, event committee members, staffers and any other ways constituents interact with your organization should be coded in our database (former and current). Not only does this information help you when you are speaking with a constituent, it is helpful for the staff who will work at the organization after you.

Go forth to track your constituents! Get our updates by subscribing to our email newsletter.

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Using Data to Empower Small but Mighty Nonprofits http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/03/17/datastudy/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2016/03/17/datastudy/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 22:21:40 +0000 http://ravelainsights.com/?p=13562 Ravela Insights is once again a proud sponsor of the Individual Donor Benchmark Survey, an annual data analytics study by Third Space Studio. It is initiatives like this that work to advance the field of philanthropy. We’ve asked Heather Yandow from Third Space Studio to guest blog today and fill you in on this year’s study: […]

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Ravela Insights is once again a proud sponsor of the Individual Donor Benchmark Survey, an annual data analytics study by Third Space Studio. It is initiatives like this that work to advance the field of philanthropy. We’ve asked Heather Yandow from Third Space Studio to guest blog today and fill you in on this year’s study:

 

Guest Blog by Heather Yandow

As a fan of Ravela, you know the value of data – and the importance of individual donor fundraising. The Individual Donor Benchmark Survey combines the best of both to create a picture of individual donor fundraising data for small and mighty organizations.

For four years running, the Individual Donor Benchmark Project has collected donor data from nonprofits nationwide with budgets under $2 million to fill a void of donor data. Last year, we uncovered some exciting “universal truths”, which have helped nonprofits enhance their fundraising efforts and find great success.

Several “universal truths” identified in last year’s report included:

  • The single most important thing you can do to strengthen your individual donor fundraising is to create a plan.
  • The average small but mighty nonprofit raises 36 percent of their revenue from individual donors.
  • About 16 percent of individual donor revenue is generated online.

Now is the time to be part of a growing grassroots movement to empower small and mighty nonprofits to benefit from fundraising data tailored to you. Don’t miss your chance to benefit from the universal truths that will help your fundraising efforts soar. Visit http://www.thirdspacestudio.com/idbproject/ to find out more and take the survey!

When you submit your nonprofit’s fundraising data, we’ll provide you with:

  • Your individual results AND the complete survey results to share
  • The official Individual Donor Benchmarks report and infographic
  • An invitation to an exclusive webinar for survey participants where we’ll dig into the results
  • An entry to win one of 50 coveted consultations with Ravela Insights, experts in donor data analytics, database strategy, and prospect identification
  • An entry to win one of five Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training prize packs with a subscription to the Grassroots Fundraising Journal as well as a book from the Kim Klein Fundraising Series.

The Individual Donor Benchmark Survey is open now through April 8th. Learn more and be counted by visiting: http://www.thirdspacestudio.com/idbproject/.

head_only[1]Heather Yandow

Third Space Studio

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Database Utilization (Part 3 of 4) http://www.ravelainsights.com/2015/06/05/database-utilization/ http://www.ravelainsights.com/2015/06/05/database-utilization/#respond Fri, 05 Jun 2015 21:12:08 +0000 http://www.delve-analytics.com/?p=13417 Using Your Database to Its Fullest Extent There are many development shops out there that invest in a big, beautiful database – the “Cadillac” of databases, if you will. But most shops we work with don’t utilize the database to its fullest extent. In fact, it typically serves as just a repository for gift information […]

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Using Your Database to Its Fullest Extent

There are many development shops out there that invest in a big, beautiful database – the “Cadillac” of databases, if you will. But most shops we work with don’t utilize the database to its fullest extent. In fact, it typically serves as just a repository for gift information and donor addresses. Of course those are critical pieces of information to capture, but databases today are built to do much more. Databases help all levels within the development department be successful, not just database administrators and gift entry professionals.

To utilize your database, you need the proper security rights and settings. Work with your database administrator and articulate what you want to do with the data, and s/he should be able to help you accomplish your goals. Without information–the ability to capture and pull insight from the data–fundraisers cannot be successful.

Annual Giving

With today’s robust annual giving tactics, your database is the “one stop shop” for looking at the holistic view of how donors are philanthropically engaging. Whether they are enrolled in monthly giving, responding to direct mail, or purchasing items at events, record this information; there are a multitude of ways to utilize your database to track, measure and benchmark your efforts. First and foremost, make sure to record all giving appeals, event invitations, and other communications that include an ask (even if it is soft) on the constituent records.  This allows you to fully understand what each constituent receives and how they experience the organization. When gifts come in through those channels, you will be able to see your results through appeal and event analyses.

Major Giving

Public-facing fundraisers need a toolbox to be successful, and the database is one of the best tools. This is where you find new prospects, record your significant cultivation tactics, and keep track of your solicitations and proposals. Being able to query and export information is critical for all major gift officers because this is how prospects are identified and proposals tracked. Another important resource for major gift officers is having dashboards built where relevant information can be accessed in real-time.  It’s all about information and quick access is critical.

Leadership

Today’s fundraising databases are built with a multitude of reporting and querying options. Leadership should be equipped with monthly relevant reports that accurately reflect dollars in the door, number of donors, aging and receivable pledges, appeal performance, new donors, and any other priorities. To put results into perspective, you might consider requesting reports that show you metrics to date next to where the organization was at this time last year. That will depict how departmental efforts are fairing.

Stay tuned for the next blog in this series: constituent management and tracking. Have questions about how to get started on the topics discussed in this blog post? Our Database Insights package can help. With Database Insights we review your database against dozens of industry best practices and provide a clear set of enhancements in the areas that need improving. Contact us today to see if Database Insights is right for you!

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