When embarking on a capital campaign, nonprofits often look outward — researching best practices, hiring a consultant, and seeking major donors.
But the key to maximizing your fundraising success already lies within your organization. Your donor database contains a wealth of information that, if leveraged properly, can take your campaign to the next level.
First and foremost, a capital campaign is about relationships. Successful capital campaigns require deepened relationships with current donors and new relationships with prospective donors. The data in your CRM (constituent relationship management software) is what will enable you to do this effectively.
In this post, we’ll explore many of the ways you can harness your donor data to build meaningful connections and, ultimately, bring in more donations.
Treat Your Donor Data as an Asset
In the rush of day-to-day operations, donor data often becomes an afterthought. Contact information and interactions get entered incompletely or inconsistently. Important details fall through the cracks. Data hygiene suffers.
But by being diligent about keeping donor records organized and up to date, you’ll ensure that this powerful asset can be fully utilized for your capital campaign.
Check out our previous blog post for data hygiene best practices, which includes:
- An assigned staff member that “owns” data integrity.
- Enforce strong data entry standards so records are consistent and complete.
- Run periodic reports to look for duplicate records, misspelled names, etc. and clean up any issues.
- Maintain a protocol for researching and adding contact info, demographic data, and biographical details for top donors.
- Conduct regular data appends and updates, such as NCOA (National Change of Address) process for address changes and death record screening.
Following standard operating procedures around donor data will pay dividends when it comes time to fundraise.
Leverage Your Donor Data Properly
If you followed the advice from our previous blog post on preparing your data for a capital campaign, you should already have capital campaign-specific custom fields to track things like a donor’s current pipeline stage, their ask amount, and their acknowledgement preferences — just to name a few.
Be sure to actually utilize these fields, as well as add campaign-related activities to your database, like prospect meetings, asks and follow-ups, etc.
Maintaining detailed interaction histories enables you to pick up right where you left off with donors, and — more importantly — avoid any embarrassment. For example, you wouldn’t want a volunteer to accidentally re-solicit a donor just because their pipeline stage wasn’t updated.
Segment and Target Your Campaign Outreach
Your donor database allows you to divide individuals into groups based on criteria like past support, capacity, campaign interactions, and more. By creating targeted segments, you can fine-tune your focus to be highly relevant for each phase of your campaign.
For example, set up a report or smart list of mid-level repeat donors to receive a special “Leadership Circle” mailing. Or send an email series focused on planned giving specifically to older donors who have supported capital projects in the past.
Get even more personalized by using merge fields to include donors’ names, interests and requested ask amounts in campaign letters or emails. Targeting and customizing your outreach in this way makes prospects feel known and connected to your mission.
Track Campaign Progress with a Database Dashboard
Monitoring the health of your capital campaign doesn’t have to rely on spreadsheets and manually compiled reports. Set up a campaign dashboard within your database to get real-time insight into key performance metrics, including:
- Total dollars committed vs. your campaign goal
- Number of donors by giving level
- Pipeline stages for top prospects
- Upcoming pledge reminders and renewals
Equipped with this high-level view, you can easily identify areas that need additional focus and adapt your strategy accordingly. Maintaining a dashboard streamlines reporting and helps keep the entire nonprofit team aligned and motivated around campaign progress.
Involve Donors in Their Data During Donor Meetings
Ultimately, your database is about people — not numbers. That’s why when interacting with donors, especially when closing a gift, it’s important to directly capture their preferences and philanthropic goals.
If your CRM allows you to create web forms that can populate or update the data on a donor’s profile, consider creating campaign-specific forms that you can fill out, for example, during a donor meeting.
Rather than simply inputting new data later (or sending the form to them to fill out themselves — yikes!), use the opportunity to fill out the form during the donor meeting.
3 Key Steps to Build Rapport with Donors
You can further build rapport and ensure your database accurately reflects donor relationships you’ve cultivated through the campaign, as this is the foundation for sustaining donor engagement over the long run.
Actively engaging your donors throughout the campaign means that you’ll take time to:
- Clarify how donors want their gifts acknowledged.
- Identify what campaign initiatives donors want to support.
- Determine how donors want to receive pledge reminders and other communications.
These things will also help you avoid embarrassing mistakes with your top campaign donors.
Turning Inward to Move Your Mission Forward
While capital campaigns necessitate an outward fundraising focus, the inner work of maintaining your most valuable asset — donor data — must continue. Remembering this will allow you to maximize gifts in the short term and build lifelong advocate relationships that will ultimately help propel your nonprofit’s mission into the future.
Free Capital Campaign Resources
Check out the many free campaign resources we offer to help you get a handle on your capital campaign.