Tuesday, June 10, 2014

6 Ways to to Grow Your Active Donor Base with Data, Part 2

We’ve been discussing ways that your nonprofit can address attrition and generate new donors to help grow a healthy active donor base.   Part 1 focused on tightening up your data management.  This article looks at analyzing your list for active vs. lapsed donors.

Thoughtfully analyze your active donor list

Has your organization taken a hard look recently at which donors in
its current list are active and which are lapsed? Analyzing your list thoughtfully in this way can help you make sure your data reaps the benefits it should.

Exactly what does your organization consider an active donor? Have you specified when donors are considered lapsed? Some organizations say two years without a response to an annual appeal. Others say 18 months. Still others don’t specify at all, and their list of “active” donors actually contains many, many more lapsed donors than active.

Once you determine how your organization has been defining its active donor base, ensure that definition is rooted in reality. Is a donor who hasn’t given in two years truly active? Your historical giving data can help reveal the appropriate time frame for your organization to define a donor as lapsed.  Perhaps someone who hasn’t responded to two cycles of annual appeals is immediately coded as “lapsed” within three months of the unanswered second appeal.

The definition of “active” matters for two reasons:
  • First, and most obviously, active and lapsed donors require different appeals and messaging.

  • Second, an accurate definition of active donors will offer your organization a realistic attrition rate, which helps with campaign development and resource allocation.

Next up: List selection and segmentation

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