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discovering your donors with Allen Davidov

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Conversations about data, databases, and CRMs often surface fear and insecurity. Are you doing enough? Are we missing out just because we can’t afford an expensive database? How can we leverage the tools out there to help our fundraising efforts?

In this episode, Allen Davidov, VP of Business Consulting and Nonprofit Sector Lead from Environics Analytics, shares with us tips on how to leverage our existing donor data (yes, spreadsheets included!) to look for indicators that can help grow our fundraising and how general behaviour trends of the populations can support our understanding of donors’ engagement and giving potential.

Myths that Allen want us to leave behind

  1. You need a fancy database to understand your donors. Even if you’re using an excel sheet, if you’re clear about what indicators you’re looking for to tell you more about your donors, you will be able to look for those insights. On the other hand, even if you have a very comprehensive database, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you will just be sitting on data that tell you no story.

  2. Income level is not the sole indicator of a donor’s giving potential. On one level, income is a non-comprehensive data to reflect wealth, as people with high income can also have high debt. On another level, just because someone has a lot of wealth, it does not mean that person will make a large gift. Donor engagement is a bigger indicator for whether a donor will give than that person’s income level or wealth.

Allen’s tips on using data to learn about your donors

  1. Track and look at what triggered a reaction. Don’t just track who gave and when. Look at whether there is a spike in donations after an email appeal is sent out. Or, try doing an A/B test with an appeal to see what kind of stories or tone works with your donors.

  2. Leveraging existing tools to understand the general behaviour of our population. For example, Environics has a tool called PRIZM that has a free online postal code look-up component that allows you to understand the persona of the Canadian population based on the neighbourhood they live in. These data can give you a good sense who your donors might be and what’re potential ways to engage them.

My favourite quotes from this episode

Post your favourite quote on social to share with us!

“The first great step to understand your database is to ask the question: how are people responding and engaging? There might be a group that's very specific to just eblasts and wanting to know about awareness about a specific part of what you do. And there might be a part of your database that could be very tied to fundraising or advocacy. Mapping out these segments and keeping tabs on them are very good starting points to understand your database”

“Oftentimes, when we look at fundraising data, we focus solely on how much we raise or how many people responded to an appeal, versus, what or who in an appeal triggered a reaction, because something obviously triggered a reaction. Understanding that is very important.”

Resources from this Episode

The Good Partnership


Allen on Linkedin

Environics Analytics

PRIZM - with a free online postal code look-up to understand Canadian neighborhoods