Tuesday, October 18, 2011

data targeting

Yesterday Stephanie posted a link on the MainSpring facebook page reflecting a post from the CoolData blog regarding targeted fundraising communications. I think this is an good starting point for many of us and something that more folks than not are already doing. In the fundraising world, we are all well aware of the different potential values of LYBUNTS as opposed to NonDonors and in recent years increased focus has been placed on recurrence rather than just recency.

The question ultimately becomes who should you be spending your time with from those folks who have not given you a clear answer on interest. There are two ways to approach this and both have value:

Assume that what you are doing now is effective and engaging. This is the simplest approach, keep doing what you are doing but limit the audience to folks who act like those folks you are already connecting with. This can be done with some simple data analysis, creating a profile and statistical model of the folks who are currently giving and then use that model to score the balance of your data and identify who is most likely to respond.

Assume what you are doing now is part of the issue. There is certainly a portion of your alumni population who are not into you. Accept that. There is another good portion though that have been turned off to you but still have interest. The challenge is to figure out how to identify them and it is made even more challenging because they have not responded to what you have been doing because they have not responded to what you have been doing.

The challenge is to break that cycle. Opportunities exist but require an engagement strategy that is flexible, open and completely different from what you have been doing. I would suggest starting with a focus group. This allows you to get some of the non-engaged alumni in the room to shares views and only requires a small input. Your objective is to get them to share what would garner their attention and interest. Start small - make the goal to establish what would make them interested enough to provide an email address to you. Create a number of different approaches, use the focus group to narrow and tailor the messaging. Send that messaging to a sampling of the folks who are not engaged and use that to identify who responds. Repeat this several times and then use the compiled profile to provide a statistical model and lay it over the total population.

It is not fast, but it isn't expensive either and will work. Following these steps, last spring, we collected gifts from 600 constituents who had never given and have seen over 100 of them renew again this fiscal year.