A Guide to Nonprofit Donor Analytics and How to Use Them

Nonprofits collect and store lots of supporter data. Between the donor profiles in your CRM, event registrations, online donation form responses, survey results, and marketing statistics, your organization likely knows more about who your supporters are and how they interact with your mission than you realize.

However, all of that information holds unused potential if it isn’t carefully examined and applied. You can glean insights into how to manage your nonprofit more effectively and make a stronger impact by understanding donor analytics, which describes the conclusions drawn from supporter data.

In this guide, we’ll review the four most helpful types of donor analytics and some of their common uses. Understanding and applying each of these types of metrics can not only put your nonprofit on track to fundraise more effectively, but also improve your organization’s financial position. Let’s dive in!

Types of Donor Analytics

Different types of donor analytics provide unique insights related to your nonprofit’s management and operations, so it’s important to understand them all. Jitasa’s guide to donor analytics breaks down the four main types, each of which we’ll explore in more detail.

Giving Analytics

Giving analytics are just what they sound like: conclusions that help you understand your supporters’ donation habits. Use the data stored in your CRM profile to draw conclusions from the following points:

  • Past donations, particularly whether the amounts given fall into the category of small, mid-tier, or major gifts.
  • Frequency, or how often a supporter gives.
  • Recency, meaning when the donor last contributed.

These data points can help with several nonprofit financial calculations:

  • First, you may choose to determine your ROI per supporter to dig deeper into your fundraising efficiency. You can track this at any level by examining data on individual supporters, supporter segments, or donors as a whole. 
  • You could also track your average donation amount for each category of gift to tailor your fundraising asks. For example, you might track your average donation completed online and incrementally adjust your suggested giving amounts on your donation page to increase that average.
  • Finally, you can compare your fundraising data from year to year to budget more effectively in the future.

Engagement Analytics

As you consider supporters’ donation habits, remember that supporters can engage with your mission in other ways besides giving. Engagement analytics provide a more complete picture of a donor’s value to your organization.

To analyze engagement data, review data points such as:

  • In-kind contributions, which are non-monetary donations to your organization such as physical items or pro bono services.
  • Email open rates, as well as click-through rates for any links within your emails.
  • Event attendance, since supporters who take the time to attend events instead of or in addition to donating show further commitment to your mission.
  • Volunteer hours, which you can think of as donations of time.
  • Feedback provided via surveys, contact forms, social media comments, or other communication channels.

Having this complete picture helps in determining larger-scale fundraising opportunities and improving donor retention. Once you understand how supporters engage with your organization, you can engage supporters in data-driven ways they’ll likely be receptive to.

Demographic Analytics

The key to creating effective nonprofit marketing materials and fundraising appeals is segmenting your donors based on shared characteristics. That way, you can create targeted communications based on each segment’s preferences.

To segment your supporters, start by analyzing demographic data points, including donors’:

  • Age. Age often corresponds to donors’ preferred marketing channels. For example, older donors often respond well to direct mail, while younger supporters are more likely to be active on social media.
  • Location. Supporters who live far away from your nonprofit may not want to travel to attend in-person events as often as supporters who live closer, but they may still enjoy virtual fundraising opportunities if you promote them to the right audience.
  • Family status. Your organization can cut marketing costs by avoiding sending duplicate promotions to members of the same household.
  • Employment. If you know where your supporters work, you can leverage corporate philanthropy initiatives such as matching gift programs and volunteer grants.
  • Interests. Tracking donors’ relevant interests allows for targeted marketing based on specific motivations related to your mission. For example, an animal shelter could segment supporters based on whether they prefer dogs only, cats only, or both species and then tailor marketing messages and volunteer opportunities to each segment.

When you know who currently supports your mission, you can better predict the qualities of other potential supporters, helping improve your donor acquisition strategies. Look for supporters who share key characteristics with your current support base, then reach out to them to discuss opportunities to get involved.

Predictive Analytics

There’s no way to predict exactly how a supporter will engage with your organization over time. However, predictive analytics can provide potential insights into their future involvement. These conclusions are mostly associated with finding and soliciting major donors for your organization.

DonorSearch’s guide to major gifts suggests using prospect research tools to analyze the following data about potential major donors: 

  • Wealth markers, such as net income, stock holdings, and real estate ownership.
  • Philanthropic markers, including past donations, memberships, and participation with both your nonprofit and other similar organizations.

These markers show not only who has the capacity to make a significant contribution to your mission, but also the willingness to do so. Also, consider your prospect’s interests that are relevant to your nonprofit in conjunction with their wealth to tailor your fundraising asks.

Applications of Donor Analytics

Once you understand each type of donor analytics and draw conclusions from your data, you can start using the insights you’ve gained in two main areas of your nonprofit’s operations: building supporter relationships and improving financial management.

Building Supporter Relationships

Personalized, targeted communications go a long way in keeping all of your supporters engaged with your nonprofit. As stated above, getting to know your major donors’ interests can help you tailor your fundraising asks. While your organization will have many more small and mid-tier supporters than major ones, you can still apply insights gleaned from donor data to engage them by:

  • Adding their preferred names and specific donation amounts to thank-you emails.
  • Tracking marketing conversions to help you focus on the channels that get the most traction.
  • Extending invitations to fundraising events and volunteer opportunities that would interest them most.

When your supporters feel like your nonprofit recognizes and values them as individuals, they’re more likely to stay involved long-term. Developing a data-driven strategy to retain donors is more cost-effective than always acquiring new donors to replace those who stop giving, and it provides more sustainable financial support.

Improving Financial Management

In order for your nonprofit to have all of the resources necessary to further your mission, fundraising and financial management need to work side by side. Donor analytics can help your organization coordinate both of these essential efforts.

For instance, your organization can plan fundraisers more strategically if you understand:

  • Which campaign types have attracted the most participants.
  • What donors enjoyed about your campaigns as well as opportunities for improvement.
  • When donors are most likely to give.

Adjusting your fundraising strategy based on data allows your organization to maximize the ROI from each event or campaign, which puts your organization in a stronger financial position by reducing expenses and maximizing revenue.

Donor analytics can also be applied to your nonprofit budget, since understanding when and how much donors give helps you predict your annual and monthly revenue. For example, nonprofits tend to bring in a lot of funding at the end of the calendar year and experience a lull during the summer. Therefore, you may want to designate some of your year-end revenue as reserve funding in your budget to ensure you’ll have enough to keep your programs running through the summer months.

Keep in mind that each nonprofit is unique, so you may find that some donor data points are more useful to analyze in your organization’s current situation than others. Understanding what these four types of donor analytics are and how to use them can help your organization communicate effectively with supporters and improve your organization’s financial health.

Author: Jon Osterburg

Jon Osterburg has spent the last nine years helping more than 100 nonprofits around the world with their finances as a leader at Jitasa, an accounting firm that offers bookkeeping and accounting services to not for profit organizations.

Wrapping Up

Check out these research for more ways to learn about and better understand your donors: