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Gerard Tonti 19 min read

Donor Data: How metrics boost your fundraising


“Fundraising succeeds because of authentic relationships with donors built on strong, trusting relationships among staff, board, and volunteers.” 

This quote, pulled from the article, How to Fundraise Like a Rockstar, touches on one of the most important aspects of fundraising: building authentic relationships. It’s your job to do what you can to relate to donors and build the strongest relationships you can with them, as efficiently as possible.

That’s why donor data is so important to track and keep. It will help your nonprofit better adhere to the desires of your supporters and build these meaningful relationships. 

Donor data allows you to better understand what will most interest your donor. From there, according to Salsa’s CRM guide, you can optimize your communication strategy, build useful donor segments, and raise more money. So what kind of information should you collect and store in your CRM to make this possible? We recommend the following: 

  1. Fundraising History
  2. Engagement History
  3. Personal Details
  4. Corporate Giving
  5. Prospect Research

Let’s jump in to learn more about how each of these data points will help your nonprofit raise more money. 

1. Fundraising History

Knowing the fundraising history of your nonprofit’s supporters can help you better understand how and why they prefer to give to your organization. For instance, you should track this information from your supporters’ past: 

  • Methods of giving. With this information, you can better understand how your supporters prefer to give. For example, if certain supporters prefer to give online via your online donation tool, you may decide to include a CTA in your emails linking them directly to that page on your website. 
  • Donation amounts. Knowing the amount that your supporters have given in the past will help you better understand how much to ask for in the future. Ask for too much, and your supporters may get offended. But ask for too little, and you won’t maximize your fundraising. 
  • Communications about giving. Make sure you track when you ask supporters for additional contributions. Space these communications out among others such as event invitations or volunteer opportunities. Asking for money too frequently can make your supporters feel like ATMs. 

The best way to track this type of fundraising information is to make sure your fundraising tools automatically connect and sync with your nonprofit’s CRM. This helps speed up the information collection process. For instance, consider the following situation: 

Your nonprofit collects, on average, 1000 donations per week. Around 400 of those donations are online via your online giving tool, 300 are from a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, and 300 are in-person gifts. 

With a disconnected fundraising tool, your nonprofit will need to download the donation information from both the online giving tool and your peer-to-peer fundraising tool, then upload the information back into your CRM. On top of that, you’ll need to manually input the data from the in-person gifts your organization receives. This means your access to the information will be delayed depending on when it can be uploaded and it’s more work for your nonprofit to access the data. 

However, with a connected, fully integrated fundraising tool, your nonprofit can sync fundraising data with your CRM more frequently without worrying about constant uploading and downloading data. Your data will be on the tips of your fingers whenever you need it! The only information you need to worry about inputting is in-person gift data, which is quick, easy, and can be done right away if your system has the right setup. 

For more information about top fundraising tools that integrate with the best CRM software solutions, check out the best ones here

2. Engagement History

Your nonprofit should be focused on keeping supporters engaged with your cause. However, as we mentioned before, you don’t want them to feel like ATMs. Diversify the engagement opportunities you provide to supporters. This ensures they remain engaged with your organization, but helps you avoid asking for money too frequently.

Record the activities supporters engage with to help you better understand their interests, build relationships with them, boost involvement, and help you time your next fundraising ask. 

Some of those non-donation activities that can help your organization boost engagement include:

  • Advocacy campaigns. Advocacy campaigns help your nonprofit appeal to legislators, representatives, and community leaders in order to make a difference towards your cause. Ask your donors to participate in your next petition, click-to-call campaign, or Tweet-a-rep initiative. The right advocacy solution will help you track this engagement for future analysis and use. 
  • Event attendance. Invite your supporters to attend your next event. Not only does this engage supporters with the cause, but it also gives them face-to-face time with your organization’s fundraisers. Ask fundraisers to review data about supporters before the event to guide their conversations during it. Even though we’re all staying home to stay healthy right now - shift your focus from in-person event attendance and volunteering to online events and online sharing to keep your supporters feeling connected to your cause.
  • Volunteer opportunities. Contributions of time can be just as valuable as money! Ask supporters to volunteer their skills to help your office run more smoothly. Or, ask them to volunteer at your next event. Don’t forget to thank them for their contribution as you would for a monetary donation.
  • Online sharing. Invite supporters to like your social media pages, use your hashtags, and share your online content. This will spread the word of your nonprofit from you and your supporters to your supporters’ friends and family. 

Keep track of this engagement history in your CRM. This will help you be sure you’re thanking supporters appropriately for their engagement. 

Plus, you may look back at the history a supporter has with your nonprofit to decide if it’s a good time to request a gift. If a supporter has an extensive engagement history with your organization and a high gift capacity, that supporter may also be a good candidate for a major gift. 

3. Personal Details

72% of consumers only engage with personalized communications. This means that nonprofits who are sending out mass communications rather than individualized ones are not reaching a large portion of their audience. 

Personal details are some of the most important metrics you can store in your nonprofit’s CRM. Including personal details about your supporter’s engagement with your organization ensures they feel individually valued by your nonprofit.

Consider the difference between the two messages below: 

Dear valued supporter,

Thank you so much for your contribution to our organization. Your gift will help save the bees from harmful pesticides used in regular farming practices. 


Dear Karen, 

Thank you so much for your contribution of $50 to the Save the Bees campaign. Your gift will prevent the use of 10 gallons of pesticides at local farms, saving the lives of approximately two million bees. 

The second email uses donor data to better personalize the email and show the direct impact of the gift. This is why you should save the following information in your CRM: 

  • The supporter’s contact information. Otherwise, it will be impossible to get in touch with them or thank them for their gift. 
  • The name of your supporter. Make sure to use your supporter’s name in the introduction of your email so that they know it was only sent to them.
  • The contribution made by the supporter and its impact. Specifically telling the supporter what they did and what it accomplished not only confirms their contribution was received, but also helps them know they’ve made a real difference. 
These details may seem like small adjustments, but they can drastically impact your email conversion rate and help supporters better engage with your cause.

Some marketing software will help you automate these messages. For instance, start by auto-populating the name of your supporter in the introduction of the message. Then, include details like the impact of specific contributions. 

4. Corporate Giving

Corporate giving is an under-tapped resource for nonprofit organizations. This is when companies give away additional fundraising money to qualified nonprofits primarily in the form of matching gifts. This is a match made on top of the gift an employee has made to the organization. 

However, many employees are often unaware of their eligibility for these programs. There are a couple of ways you can increase awareness. The first is allowing supporters to check their own eligibility as they give. According to Double the Donation’s corporate giving guide, that process looks something like this: 

  • A donor contributes to your organization
  • As they give, they type their employer’s name into a matching gift database
  • The database informs them of their eligibility and links them to the matching gift form
  • The donor fills out and submits the form to the company and the company matches the gift at their predetermined rate

In addition to encouraging supporters to check their own eligibility, your nonprofit can save information about employment in your CRM.

This way, if you have a large number of employees who work for the same company which offers a matching gift program, you can reach out to them directly. 

Corporate giving is a great way to maximize and diversify your fundraising revenue. Plus, when donors know that their gift is eligible for a match, they’ll be 84% more likely to give to your nonprofit! 

Save the information about your supporters’ employers so that you don’t miss out on the (essentially) free money that comes from implementing an effective matching gift strategy. 

5. Prospect Research

Finally, your nonprofit should be sure to save any data you find from conducting prospect research. While conducting prospect research, you may learn information such as a supporters’ past or current: 

  • Charitable giving to your organization or to a similar one
  • Contributions made to political organizations
  • The personal relationship someone has with your nonprofit’s mission
  • Service as a volunteer or board member with your organization or a similar one
  • Real estate ownership
  • Business affiliations

These indicators provide wealth data and philanthropic data to decide if a supporter has the capacity and affinity to give to your organization.

This data is essential for your organization to effectively reach out to supporters for major or even mid-level donations

For example, let’s say one of your supporters has made large charitable donations to your organization and others just last year. They also gave a large contribution to a political party during election season. They own sizable property in multiple states. Plus, they recently served on the board of an organization whose mission is almost identical to your own. And, they volunteered at multiple of your organization’s events.

All of that background information can be found from prospect research. These indicators show that this individual might be a good candidate for a major gift. 

Save this information in your donor database. These indicators are important for your current strategy as well as future strategies. In the future, you’ll have a jumping off point as you conduct additional research.

Donor data is essential to effective nonprofit fundraising. Specifically, it helps you collect data and use metrics about individual supporters to better communicate with them and build relationships. These relationships lead to more donations down the line and retained donors over time.

Email marketing is a numbers game too! 

Before investing in donor prospect acquisition (whether through organic methods or Care2) you'll want to determine your ROI. We built the Care2 Email ROI Calculator to help you find the lifetime value of your email list.

Use the calculator to learn:

  • The optimal email frequency for your fundraising appeals
  • How to balance your list growth rate against your unsubscribe rate
  • What your cashflow analysis looks like, with the latest benchmarks built in

Download the Care2 Email ROI Calculator!


Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.