Data-driven fundraising: Key considerations when implementing a data-driven campaign

Whether you’re already using data to drive your fundraising campaigns, or you’re considering implementing a data-based campaign for the first time, here are some key considerations when using data in fundraising.

Data-driven fundraising is not a new concept.

As fundraising programs have become more structured to meet the demands of the ever-evolving modern-day charity and its donors, the merits of using data to increase results and efficiencies within fundraising campaigns are becoming harder to ignore.

As fundraising takes a more technology-focussed turn, there’s no denying there will always be a place for traditional fundraising methods such as community events and coin collections. Face-to-face connection with your donors is practically non-negotiable but using data-based campaigns as a foundation for fundraising is undoubtedly a key concept that will help you achieve your wider organisational mission.

Benefits of data-driven fundraising:

Get to know your donor’s giving habits

Increase the number of donations within a given campaign

Increase in-house efficiencies

Directly meet donors giving needs

Help your donors reach their giving potential

Data-driven fundraising can help you target your campaigns based on some of the following criteria:


Giving history


Family status

Employment and income

Hobbies and interests

Whether you’re already using data to drive your fundraising campaigns, or you’re considering implementing a data-based campaign for the first time, here are some key considerations when using data in fundraising.

You must learn how to analyse data

It’s all very well gathering data and identifying the giving habits, personal details and triggers of your prospects and donors, but if you don’t have the capacity or skill to analyse the information and put it to good use to increase your fundraising efforts, you should engage with someone who does. Accurately analysing data can help keep costs down and maximise giving potential for all your campaigns, but only when utilised strategically and methodically.

Don’t put all your eggs in your data basket

If you’re planning to use data-driven fundraising as a basis for future structured fundraising programs, you’ll soon start to see the fruits of your labour.

As the campaigns gain momentum, it can be tempting to abandon community events and face-to-face booths in favour of focussing all your efforts around data.

This would be a mistake.

Forming one-on-one connections within your community is still a central pillar of your growth so don’t neglect your community supporters who appreciate and rely on their individual association with you.

Data-driven campaigns should be an extension of your existing programs, not a replacement, particularly if you’re just starting out using data.

Set clear goals and intentions

It’s futile to gather data without having a clear purpose of what you’re going to do with it.Before beginning a data-driven campaign, make sure you have well-defined objectives, and your campaign addresses the desired outcomes including how you plan to use data to achieve them.

It can be tempting to get carried away and try to achieve too many goals but start with one or two specific measures to track and build up slowly.

Less is more

Don’t be disheartened if you find your direct mail list shrinking based on data. This can actually be a good thing as you’re targeting those most likely to respond. A smaller list with a higher probability of giving is one of the most effective ways to keep costs down and ROI up.

You must be a forward-thinking charity

Using data as a basis for fundraising, while not a new concept, removes the feelings from a traditionally emotional-based strategy.

To maximise the efficiencies of a data-driven campaign, you must appreciate the value of data, analysis, and be prepared to adjust your results based on metrics rather than sentiment and creativity.

If you’ve built your charity from the ground up and you’re heavily connected to your core mission, this may involve a switch in mindset. Progressive business development must be at the heat of your fundraising if you’re to utilise data to its maximum potential.

Test, test, TEST!

Testing is one of the most crucial elements of any data-driven campaign. When you’re committed to testing, you don’t ever make mistakes – you only give yourself more opportunity to learn and improve your campaign for the next time.

Just like Rome, a streamlined fundraising campaign wasn’t built in a day, and testing, particularly AB testing, is the only way to get to know your donors and their response triggers.

Start small on your data-driven campaign and build your in-house procedures and analytics systems with room to grow to keep costs down and results up.

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