Do: Set up a centralized system to manage campaigns.
Don’t: Worry if you can’t afford major software.
As you align your internal departments to work toward shared goals, the next logical actions are to set up centralized systems and shared databases.
• Make sure your various databases—marketing, fundraising, finance, etc.—talk to each other or that you exchange reports consistently. Consider centralized software options to coordinate all the various channels and communications going in and out. Inexpensive systems are available as a place to start. You cannot truly measure the worth of an integrated strategy unless you track and prove it with data.
• Let technology do the tedious routine work. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to automate manual routine practices, such as importing spreadsheets of donor data with address changes, event attendance, and online behavior.
• Accept that no database is perfect. Many solutions exist (and within a range of costs) that are designed to pick up the slack where your current system may be lacking. These systems can provide more robust reporting, create data overlays with external source information, and warehouse data for sophisticated analytics.
Do: Plan to be data-driven.
Don’t: Make things unnecessarily complicated.
The first step in crafting that centralized strategy is assessing donor data. Extensive, reliable donor data that tells you who your donors are, their propensity and capacity to give, and their specific interests and preferences will inform your decisions. Take a yearlong, holistic approach to planning your communications so that each campaign builds upon the previous one and drives the next in each relevant channel.
Determine what data will be required to make those decisions and how it will be captured and updated in an ongoing fashion. You don’t have to have a complicated plan, just a thorough one. Capture key behavioral data during your campaigns, such as how your donors interact with your emails and website, so you can engage donors according to their preferences and motivations. Avoid relying too heavily on giving history.
A donor’s giving history is a reflection of past fundraising strategy, not necessarily his or her current motivation or preferences. If you strategize properly and choose your tactics wisely, you can manage effective campaigns with existing resources by focusing your efforts on the best opportunities. Data will help you refine your strategy, and by bringing a diverse set of interested parties to the planning process, the team will share ownership in its successful implementation.