Last time on SPURspectives, we looked at the importance of tracking behavioral data in helping you assess where your donors are on the “fundraising food chain” and develop a donor taxonomy specific to your organization.
To extend the metaphor a bit further, there’s also great value in understanding your donors’ philanthropic “ecosystems” – the bigger picture of where they invest their charitable dollars and volunteer time.
You probably already do this with some of your biggest donors. After all, it’s not hard to get a grasp on someone’s affinities if they give big leadership gifts and support capital campaigns and serve as honorary chairs for fundraisers – the news coverage and recognition plaques around your community paint a pretty clear picture of where high-profile philanthropists are focusing their dollars and time.
And you’re probably using all that information to determine when and how you approach major donors for support. However, many nonprofits only track this kind of information for “VIP donors” – those with the capacity to give very large gifts and whose affinities are common knowledge. But what if you understood the affinities of all of your donors? You already know which donors to approach when you need a lead gift for a major project. What if you could identify 50 donors, or 500 donors, who have the right affinities and ask them for their support for a project in a targeted, meaningful way? Rather than ask your entire base for support for your health clinic and your after-school tutoring program, what if you could break it down and match each opportunity for giving with each donor’s affinities?
It’s not that hard to find out what people’s affinities are: just ask them. Most people will readily tell you where they donate and where they volunteer. It’s also easy to match your donor list against that of other nonprofits in your community. Social media is also making it easier to gain quick insight into affinities – you can see what other organizations your donors are following online, and you can use the technology to automatically monitor online conversations for any mention of your nonprofit, as well as any mention of related nonprofits in your community.
As with behavioral data, affinity information needs to be systemized and added to your database. You can then use affinity data to add another layer of customization to your donor communications – and combine it with other things you know about your donors to start conversations based on what matters most to them.