Turning Insight into Action: Using Data to Drive Your Fundraising Strategy
DonorPerfect Community Conference with speakers Jeff Vogel and Julia Gackenbach
Turning Insight into Action: Using Data to Drive Your Fundraising Strategy TranscriptPrint Transcript
Lori: Good afternoon, and welcome to one of our final sessions of the day before closing remarks, Turning Insights into Action using data to drive your fundraising strategy with DonorPerfect zone, Jeff Vogel and Julia Gackenbach.
Jeff leads DonorPerfect’s marketing and Read More
Lori: Good afternoon, and welcome to one of our final sessions of the day before closing remarks, Turning Insights into Action using data to drive your fundraising strategy with DonorPerfect zone, Jeff Vogel and Julia Gackenbach.
Jeff leads DonorPerfect’s marketing and business development team with 20 years of experience in digital marketing, branding, sales enablement, and product marketing. Jeff volunteers, and supports organizations that work in the areas of food security, health equity, environment, and civil rights. Jeff earned and MBA and marketing and strategic management from Villanova School of Business.
Julia has spent over a decade working locally and globally with nonprofits. This has sharpened her skills to raise funds, care for donors, and communicate impact. Her experience, coupled with her desire to create community through a mission, gives her a unique passion to work with all types of organizations. Julia now uses that enthusiasm and expertise to lead communication strategies from DonorPerfect to industry practitioners. Before we get started, I want to make sure that you put your questions into the Q and A so we make sure that we get to them. Now, I’m going to hand it over to Jeff and Julia.
Jeff Vogel: Thank you, Lori. I hope everybody has some energy here at the end of the day. We’re going to talk today about segmentation and then using that data to create target personas for a fundraising and individualized strategies by persona. Tying it back to the themes that we are talking about is your data has a story in it and your donors have a story in who they are and why they support your organization. What we’re going to talk about today are some ways to leverage that data and turn it into real actionable strategies.
Julia Gackenbach: As Jeff mentioned, we’re talking about stories, and what good is a story without an audience? Today, we’re going to try and put some details into your audience. You don’t want to be speaking to an empty room, you’re speaking to real-life people. We’re going to help use data to inform what your audience looks like. We’re excited to take that journey with you today.
The end result of this presentation is going to be examples of developing donor personas. Now, this is something that we have used as even in our roles, as software, as we look at who our audience is when we are communicating stories with what we do here at DonorPerfect. We want to make sure that– Something to note I will say is maybe this seems like something you already know. Maybe you feel like you already know your audience, you know your donor database.
I as a development professional thought that I knew my donors. I knew who was in the audience when we were at a gala or when we were doing something. I will tell you the things we’re going to go through today will address how data further explains who’s in your audience and proves the things that you may feel that you already intuitively know in the same way that you know how to tell a story. You’ve been telling stories your whole life, but we’ve just packed two days with storytelling tips. That’s what is going to happen here as we’re going to break down the simplicity of your audience and add some data to back up that information.
We’re going to give you two live examples. I’m sorry, not two live examples, we’re going to use two organizations to offer multiple live examples of what a persona may look like. Now, something we want to ask and a poll is which let me go over and publish this poll, is we want to find out what you all know about donor personas and if you use those in your roles at your organizations now. If you could vote in the poll, it’s published, hopefully, you guys can see that.
The question is, do you use donor personas? Yes, no, or maybe you don’t know what a donor persona is. If that is the case, that’s totally okay. We’re going to talk about that today. As you all vote, we’ll just take a few moments.
As you’re voting, you can see here in the presentation, an example of a persona this is Networker Nicole. You can see some information about her and hopefully this seems like a real person to you. Someone that maybe you’ve met in the past or someone that your friend knows or someone that you’ve interacted with.
The polls are still going here. Give it just another minute or two. This is very interesting. The poll is finished, and if you guys can see the results here, the answers came out to do you use donor personas 8% of you said yes, 26% of you said you didn’t know what a donor persona was, and 65% of you said no, which is really interesting because that’s what this whole conversation is about, it’s how to use donor personas to inform you about your audience as you communicate with them. Great information, and we’re excited to share with you.
Jeff: That’s great. First of all, I want to talk about the concept of data enrichment and you have donor data in your database, but there’s a lot more about that person that you don’t know. Sometimes you’re able to capture notes about people from meeting them, but the deeper level details are available through data services that you can get an append data elements to these individual records.
Learning about people’s spending habits, learning about their travel habits, learning about their income status, learning about their credit scores, things that give indication of who they are beyond your relationship with them as an organization. There’s a lot of data services that can append data to your donor records. There are a few options available through DonorPerfect, but doesn’t have to rely on any specific data source. The idea is lots of data sources exist in the world that you are able to bring into your DonorPerfect system.
Julia: Here’s one thing we want to know. Sorry, Jeff, I don’t mean to cut you off. This is a question I would love to ask in the chat. A question about why we keep data on our donors. As mentioned, I was a development director. I kept a whole lot of data on my donors and there were some days where I felt like, what am I doing this for? And why am I sitting here inputting information into my database? I’d love to hear from you all, if you could put in the chat, why do you keep data on your donors?
Some examples would be, I keep data on my donors because I want to know who attended an event. In the future, I can invite those people again to an event or ask them to bring friends next time. I want to keep data on my donors to inform my future communications so that I know this person is involved in year-end giving. I want to put them on a list to make sure they’re communicated with when it comes to year end. This is great.
A lot of information about relationship building or analytics, being able to pull analytics based on what donor behaviors have been in the past, understanding their interests, improving relationship with donors. These are all very practical reasons for keeping data. I just want to take a moment to encourage the fundraisers and the data information inputers out there that this is a long term project, which sometimes day to day. It may seem like a lot of work, but long term, it again helps with relationship building gives you opportunity to pull analytics based on giving habits, things like that.
As mentioned, there are many things we can do with this data things still coming into the chat about what we can do. Segmenting is a great example, using data to inform what lists certain partners should be on or using data to inform who should be invited to an event.
Then having more data will give us the opportunity to evolve as we continue in our mission. It gives us the opportunity to really build robust campaigns or to make sure that we have specific messaging to maybe some people who used to give large amounts and then stopped. Then we could know that we need to speak to them directly or make a specific ask to them. All of this information comes from your data, which is an important starting off point as you look at all of your other fundraising habits.
I like this comment just in case I’m hit by a bus. I used to say that all the time, I had to put things into my database in case I got hit by a bus. Why is it that we go straight for like hit by not– Very dramatic, but I do the same thing.
Jeff: That’s great. This concept of collecting additional data points of what matters to to you as a reflection of who these donors are. Some of the data sources available I’ve listed here, voter registration databases, the political giving from the federal elections committee or the credit bureaus, mortgage databases, the census national change of address databases. Then some of the newer sources are looking at social engagement, scoring and light creating lifestyle profiles. There’s a lot of rich data that you can bring into your DonorPerfect system to create some life into these records beyond just the data.
Julia: Yes. As mentioned, our goal at the end of this session is to really dig deep into donor personas and show you how that will apply to your communication strategy when it comes to speaking with your donors. We’re going to give you all two examples, two different organizations in different areas of the country in different sectors, and we’re going to break down their donor databases and walk you through the best way to develop a donor persona based on the data.
The first organization we’re calling organization A. This is an organization based in the west coast in the human services sector. They have about 50,000 constituents in their records. They are regulars with direct mail, especially personalizing those when it comes to larger donors. They take part in events and they take part in giving days which was an interesting organization because they actually have their own giving day. They would take part in big days like giving Tuesday or end of year, and then they would have an additional giving day.
They would also take part in general campaigns like monthly giving or end of year, things like that. We also ask these organizations for some of their goals over the next year or so. This organization in particular is coming up on a milestone year so they’re going to do an ask based on that. Additionally, they’d like to expand their major gift program, and then lastly, they’d like to secure planned gifts which is very interesting as we look at their data. That particular goal makes a lot of sense.
Jeff: We were able to screen their database with some of these big data providers to find out at a summary level, what does your database look like? I’m going to break down a little bit of the data for you. In total, their database, the education, they are a pretty highly educated group. Graduate school is 17% and bachelor’s degree is 34%. Some college is 17% and then high school and below is about 33%.
The wealth rating, as you can see is their top wealth quintile, so that’s the top 20% of wealthy people over 50% of their database, 54% of their database falls within that wealth rating. Then moving to the generation, the silent generation, these are the people born before 1946, that represents 20%. Baby boomer, this is between 1946 and 1965 represents 39%. Gen X, that’s 1966 to 79 is 23%, and then Gen Y 80 to 95 is 17%, and Gen Z is 1%, that’s after 1995.
Gender, as it’s defined by these big data sources, allocated 57% of the database were people recognized as women, 43% men. The average home value in this database is $450,000, and the household income is $90,000.
Julia: Now we’ll take a look at Organization B. This organization is an East coast organization and they’re in the healthcare sector. They also have a large database. However, their database is very content-driven. They are really great content creators. A lot of subscribers in their database subscribe because of the content they’re putting out which shows an opportunity for being able to ask those people to be givers.
This organization really segments their lists because of the content. They segment based on donor amounts or donor frequency versus maybe the people that are there to grab the content that they’re putting out. They also take part in giving days and conferences. Their goals are to expand their donor pool and to reduce their reliance on the few major givers that are tied to their founders. They see maybe some changes happening in the future and so they’re anticipating those changes and knowing that growing their database would be an important part of that, especially if there’s such a tie to specific people in their leadership team.
Then lastly, they want to work on building a growing concentration in certain geographic areas. I do want to mention that this organization is– Actually, both organizations were really great at knowing their databases. We played a game with them and quizzed them on the percentages in their databases and they were impressive, but which as a development director probably would’ve tried to say the same thing about what I know about my database.
The goals here with looking at these databases is not only to confirm what you already know about the majority of your database, but to show some opportunities and to show the percentages that are maybe growing or missing things like that. That’s what we’re going to look at as we continue on.
Jeff: Thank you. That’s great. Then Organization B, they have a differently educated group. Its graduate is 22%, bachelor is 35%, and some college is 14%. High school, we have 25% and below high school is 4%. Wealth rating, similarly again, 50% of the individuals in their database are in that high-income category.
Then looking at their generations, silent generation represents 11%, Baby Boomer 41%, Gen X 30, Gen Y 16, and Gen Z 2%. This database is primarily male not female, and you can see that the household income is reasonably similar 88 compared to 90 for the other one, but here in East coast organization, the average home value is a $100,000 less than the West coast organization. That’s just an interesting characteristic of this organization.
Julia: That means that these people are more able to give with their extra margin in their income.
Jeff: Now we get to talk about where the science comes in and the data science. Segmentation and targeting specific groups of people is how you can be focused and deliberate with your messaging and trying to attract certain people in your donor base. When we talk about a segment, we’re talking about a discreet group with defined characteristics.
In most organizations, you think about segmentation based on the data you have. Behavioral data, in this case, giving data, you know looking in your DonorPerfect system, they’re giving history, people’s giving level. You know if they have participated in various campaigns or attended events, but what you don’t necessarily know yet and what we’re suggesting is the strategy to help you really flesh out who your donors are is layering on this demographic data with the behavioral data.
When you add in things like the age range, location, wealth rating, gender education on top of that behavioral data, now you’re going to start to get a really rich donor profile that donor record is going to have a lot of characteristics to it that we can take advantage of as communicators.
For this project, what we wanted to do is take a look at donors based on giving behaviors. We created a series of behaviors that we thought would make sense. One of them was people who gave on Giving Tuesday, or people who gave the last day of the year, people who gave in a prior year but in the current year, your live months, people who gave in prior years and more in the current year, so your upgrades, two or more gifts in the last three years, so these are retained donors who give again, and then people who are upgrading in each of the last three years. These are very, very valuable donors.
Julia: I will say with this, this is where we started for these two specific organizations. However, your reports that you pull maybe be different. For example, maybe most of your donors go to your gala and so you want to pull information of who gave at your gala. I worked for an organization that’s based in South Florida, and so we had givers all over South Florida, many of whom lived in Miami.
If I were to pull only information on Giving Tuesday, I actually would miss a large group of my Miami givers because in Miami, they do give Miami Day. They don’t play with Giving Tuesday, they do give Miami Day. That’s where I would pull a lot of my Miami givers. If I left off give Miami Day, then I would miss a big group of people. You guys know your donor database the best, these are just the reports that we started with and reports that should capture most of your givers.
Jeff: Now I’m going to show a number of slides with data on it, and they can get really complicated and hard to focus on. What I want to do is orient everybody to what the next few slides will look like. I’ve tried to really pull out what’s important in this jumble of numbers so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
Each of the slides we’ll look at these categories of the giving behaviors. We just talked about donors who gave on Giving Tuesday, donors given the last day of the year, et cetera. Then over the last three year period, what the percentage was that matched each category. Let me give you a direct example.
Organization A, we looked at the segment of people who are college and graduate school educated. As you can see here, three quarters of the donors who upgraded each of the last three years are in this highly educated group. What we’re looking for are concentrations of the data and, if you saw 30% or something, that wouldn’t necessarily get onto your radar, but when you see 77% of donors who upgraded now, that becomes a trend.
The female segment, here, two thirds of donations on Giving Tuesday were from women and 82% of donors who upgraded each of the last three years are in that highest wealth quintile, you’re most active and upgraded donors and being wealthy. It makes sense, but here’s the data sort of proving that out. Three quarters of donors who upgraded last year are older than 65 and in that younger segment, Generation X and Millennial across most of their categories, about a quarter of donors fit that younger donor demographic.
Julia: To put all that in one place, you’re able to see based on those charts that Jeff just shared, that this organization, Organization A, the West Coast organization has an older database with a high wealth rating. Mostly women are giving on the like specific call to action days like give now it’s Giving Tuesday or give now its end of year.
There’s also a lot of opportunity for highly educated people to upgrade their giving, which all of this is proven by that data that Jeff just shared. To take it back to the goals of this organization, they mentioned that they want to grow their database, and that they want to secure some plan to giving, which this information helps to justify that. Because they see that their database at the moment is a little bit older and securing plan gifts for those particular loyal givers is a great next step using the data and implementing it and how they’re going to use it in their fundraising.
Jeff: Thank you, looking at Organization B, we’re going to run through a number of the same charts, the college and graduate segment, 83% of donations on the last day of the year came from these highly educated people. The female segment was interesting because fewer than half of total donors are identified as women, but two thirds of donations on the last day of the year came from people identified as women in the database.
Here in that upper wealth quintile, 83% of donors who made a gift in the last day of the year were in that top wealth quintile, and three quarters of donors who upgraded are in that top wealth quintiles. It’s a very valuable group for them.
We saw something interesting in that Generation X and millennials segment that half of the livens half of givers from last year, but not yet this year, are people who are in their 30s to 50s, and 44% of donors who upgraded were from the segment. There are many donors who gave previously but not yet this year and there are people who are upgrading from this same category. It sort of tells you if you can get these people who gave previously to give again, it’s a pretty good likelihood that they’re going to give more.
When we’re developing personas we wanted to look at– fundamentally are you thinking about someone who looks more like a man or looks more like a woman as a base persona and we looked at the trends in general for male versus female in that upper wealth category.
We saw some declining trends over the three-year period for men, and we saw improving trends over the three year period for women. That gives us an indicator that even though There’s not a super concentration of data like we’ve been looking for, the 70% 80% or something, the trend data over time is also important. We made the determination that an older wealthier woman was actually our focus here.
Julia: Another thing to note here is the conversation about most of this database being college and graduate educated. When we’re thinking about how we’re communicating with this particular database, I know for me as a fundraiser, I often would say, “Okay, I’m going to write my appeals based on a second grade reading level. However, this particular database is very highly educated and they’re part of this database, possibly because of the content that’s being put out and maybe this information helps this organization know that they should, right, at a more educated level.
Additionally, this organization had a high wealth rating for women, and also on specific giving days. As Jeff mentioned, on the last day of the year, the high wealth rating people are the people who gave most on the last day of the year. Maybe that indicates that they know that they get tax benefits, because they have to give a certain amount that year, and writing to that specific need is something that this data informs.
Then lastly, there’s this opportunity, kind of waiting in the wings for this organization, which is the Gen X and Millennial. Something that’s interesting with this is this is a health organization. Looking at the information that Jeff shared about the lie bud, there’s a lot of Gen X and Millennial givers that gave last year but not yet this year. Maybe that was in response to his social and global need when it came to the pandemic.
Now you knowing this about your database can speak specifically to this generation, who gave because of a pandemic and why they should give now as well, and kind of nip that lie but in the blood, because we don’t want them to only have given in 2020, we want them to give in 2021 and 2022, and so on.
Jeff: We talked in the beginning about the outcome of this presentation is being able to create a donor persona, and two thirds of you have not been using donor personas. We’re going to explain a little bit about the process of creation and using a donor persona. It’s important to identify right off the bat that we’re talking about personas, not stereotypes. Personas should look and feel like someone, it should be a realistic person.
You do know the donors in your database, you know them personally, and what a persona is supposed to do is sort of create one as a representative sample of a group and you’re not saying that that entire group is the same, but they have similar characteristics to each other. If something appeals to one, it might also appeal to the group and it’s really, really important to use personas to focus on a specific target.
As a marketer, I use personas every day in my work and as a communicator, and as a fundraiser, using the same strategy will help you focus when you’re going to create a piece of communication or create a campaign, who are you trying to attract, and if you can think through who you’re actually trying to get to open that email or take action on that direct mail.
You’re going to write for a specific person, that’s the end game here. You want to be able to visualize that person and communicate with that person because if you can do that effectively for one, you’re going to do that for a broader group of people who are like them. We’ve heard throughout this conference, and a number of the presentations I heard yesterday, Mallory Erickson was talking about him, today, Julia Campbell is talking about it, you can’t be all things to all people and you have to be able to focus on a specific person who you want to be something specific for.
Julia: Now we’re going to show you some examples of those donor personas based on these organizations that we showed you the data for. that first slide that had all those graphs and the colors and the breakdown of the home costs and things. That’s the information based on the demographic data. Then the slides that Jeff showed with the percentages is the information based on the behavioral data.
Taking both of those pieces of the pie and putting it together led to understanding our personas in this way. This is an example of a power persona for the first organization we discussed, the West coast organization that’s in the human services sector. This is where the money is coming from for that organization. This is the person that is giving.
This is Boomer Barb, and she is in her 70s. She lives in the suburbs and has a lake house that she takes her grandchildren to on vacation. She’s married with adult children, and she used to work as a community college professor. She has a high wealth rating around 85 and her wealth comes from her family. She is a key decision-maker in how her family gives and she’s a loyal giver.
I, as a development director, wanted Boomer Barb. She knew about giving. She knew about the nonprofit sector. She’d served in many different capacities including a board as a board member. She knew why she wanted to give and who she wanted to give to. She is very interested in making sure that the things that she’s giving are making an impact, which every giver feels that way. She wants to make sure that her gift is a long-term change maker.
To make this person not a person of fiction, this is somebody maybe you’ve interacted with. We want to add some of her hobbies here. She likes to play piano and she’s creative. She’s a painter. As mentioned, she takes her grandchildren to her lake house for vacation. She loves to cook and hosts people in our home for dinner or for book club. She’s active on Facebook and she is a volunteer in a lot of local organizations.
Jeff: The point here is realistic fiction. You want to create something that feels like somebody you know. If you are able to work on some of these details, you will think through how then am I able to craft messaging for these people?
Julia: When we talked to these organizations, it was interesting because we asked them, “Hey, does this resonate with you? Is this somebody you know?” This particular organization they said, “Yes, we know Boomer Barb. She’s in our database. We’ve interacted with her a lot, but something that’s missing is that we have a large group that is in the next generation, Generation X, and they’re involved with the tech scene in our area.”
It’s funny because then we switched to this current slide and said, “That’s great because we saw that in your data as well.” There’s an opportunity persona here for a Gen X woman. We’ve called her Genevieve X. She’s in her forties. She lives in a townhouse and a residential neighborhood in the city. She is this great opportunity for this organization because she wants to make an impact in her area.
Now she’s very social. She’s very connected. She loves being part of things, whether that’s something to do with her kids’ school or if she’s part of a yoga class that her friends go to every week. She’s very social and she wants to make an impact. She works from home with a flexible schedule and she has a 82 wealth rating and she’s in the middle of her professional career. She is socially and politically liberal and she likes to focus on education and healthcare. She’s involved in local politics.
You’ll find her on Instagram and Pinterest. She wears name brands to her yoga class with her friends. She’s part of a co-op supermarket and she’s very interested in local businesses, local politics, things that are affecting her neighborhood now. She has a full social calendar. If you get time to sit down with Genevieve X, you should, and tell her why she should give today. Because if she leaves and forgets, then you’re going to lose her and until you sit down with her again because she’s so busy.
Jeff: For Organization B, they had a different set of donors and a different set of data. The story in their data is different. For them, their power persona is we’ll call it a middle-aged older, wealthy man. Someone who owns a high-rise condo and has a beach house. Someone who has adult children and a lawyer, senior partner approaching retirement, a high wealth rating and someone who is involved in their city in criminal justice and supports cancer research because of a family member. Supports his temple and participates in golf events and fun runs.
Boomer Bruce is a member of a country club. He swims each morning. He attends the orchestra. He travels. He loves fine dining and he’s got season tickets to basketball games. I will say that when we asked our client about Boomer Bruce, she said, I know a lot of Boomer Bruce. It was a fun validation that this bit of fiction is grounded in reality and in truth.
What we saw in the data was at the end of the year, there was a high propensity of older wealthier women to give. On the last day of the year, Silent Susan is your target. She is a new great-grandmother with a family and grandchildren now in their sixties. She has never worked outside the home, but she’s got a high wealth rating from family real estate.
She supports local PBS. She has a planned gift for literacy organization, and she’s a donor to 30 different organizations. She is very active in philanthropy. Socially, she plays mahjong and canasta. She bakes. She attends social events at her senior center, and she loved watching Dancing with the Stars. You have to be able to visualize Silent Susan when you’re going to be crafting that end-of-year letter asking for a gift or in fact, a planned gift conversation.
What we saw also in the data was another opportunity for this organization. Millennial Mike, this is representing that next-generation of donors. Here, in fact, picked a man based on the data. Millennial Mike is married with a young family. He lives in the suburbs and commutes for work into the city. He’s an IT professional with a background in the military. He has a lower wealth rating than that top quintile, but he’s still again younger and still establishing himself professionally.
His giving interest, he supports political organizations, his church, and behavioral health research that impacts his family. As a person, he’s got regular neighborhood poker game, plays golf at the local public courses, and hosts barbecues on football Sundays.
Julia: Now we want to use this information about personas and put it into practice when it comes to fundraising or communicating about your mission or impact. This is where I geek out as a fundraiser and as a communicator, I love the idea of the recipient of what I’m communicating to feel that I’m speaking directly to them.
We broke down these personas to say, what is this person based on what we know about their giving history, their demographic data, their hobbies, and interests of why they’re giving, what do they want to hear? We are looking at Boomer Barbara who wants to hear about leaving a legacy. She’s looking at the sun setting of her life and she’s considering the next generation, especially those grandkids that she’s taking to the lake. She wants to make sure that what she’s giving to is making the world a better place for those kids.
Genevieve X wants to make sure that what she’s giving to is making a social impact and a local impact. She’s so focused on her neighborhood and her kids’ school and her friends that live down this street that she wants to make sure that what she’s giving to is making a social and local impact. She also needs a high level of urgency so that she takes action now instead of puts it on the back burner, and then you don’t hear from her for a while. Not that I’ve known any Genevieve Xs as a fundraiser. I’m speaking from a little bit of experience with Genevieve Xs.
Boomer Bruce wants to hear about his legacy. He wants to know that he has made an impact on the world that he is special and that he’s making this mission go even further than it would’ve gone if he weren’t here.
Silent Susan needs to know that there is a call to action today that she can give today right now and it will immediately impact this mission.
Then lastly, Millennial Mike needs to know that it’s now his turn, that his generation is now stepping up to the plate and they are able to make the impact. We want to remind him that he’s been tapped in, that the baton has been passed, and that it’s his turn to start giving.
Now, this information is all based on, again, that data just being layered so that we know more about our audience and who we’re telling this story to because if we don’t know who we’re talking to, then we’re speaking to an empty room and we don’t want to be doing that.
Jeff: When you think about using these personas, the idea is to create segmented campaigns. We are not suggesting that you rewrite your website because as you can see, even in these two organizations, all of these different donor personas exist in the database and support the organization differently for different reasons. We’re not saying that this should in any way change your baseline messaging, but what this should do is help you create differentiated messaging for specific purposes.
If you’re doing an end-of-year campaign, you’re able to focus on, well, what, it’s going to be Silent Susan, who I’m actually targeting with this message. If you’re creating a campaign where you’re looking at upgrades and you want to focus on highly educated people who have given more each year over the last three years, you’re going to write in a certain way that will make you seem worthy of getting a larger give this year.
When you do these differentiated messaging campaigns, what we suggest as a best practice is to test it versus your baseline. Imagine you never saw this presentation at all, and you were just going to send out whatever your normal communication would be, that’s the baseline, that’s what you would normally send. What we’re suggesting is if you do an A B test, where you’re sending half of the donors who meet certain criteria, a differentiated message where you are really focusing on the donor persona, and the data driven call to action that you’re looking for, test it versus your baseline.
Then when you see that it is outperforming, it gives you the validation that this is now the path that you should be crafting your campaigns around. It’s really important to focus on the communication channels that appeal to each persona. We’ve heard during this workshop that there are always people at all ages on social media, and that everybody likes getting a direct mail letter, a physical letter. We’ve heard there’s some things that everybody likes and everybody does.
When you are appealing to Silent Susan, you’re not going to send her a text message, you’re not going to send her a link to an Instagram page, you have to think through what are the communication channels that will appeal to each of the personas. Millennial Mike, he probably likes a text message, and he’s on Instagram. Maybe the way you reach out to people and the way you communicate is as important as what you’re actually saying.
Julia: Another example of that, if you are able to be in this session, Robbe Healey shared a little bit about some newspaper marketing. She shared an ad from a handheld newspaper and an ad from the same newspaper online. The messaging was different. Someone like Silent Susan is still receiving a paper newspaper. The ad in a paper newspaper may look different, may look something like you have the opportunity to impact the world. Then someone like Millennial Mike is getting his news from online. The call to action there is give now it’s your turn. That messaging is the same content, but it’s a different message based on who’s interacting with that particular communication style.
This is something that I just want to take a moment to encourage all the fundraisers out there. I know that sometimes it’s exhausting, and that there’s so many things that are on your plate but this is something that you can do. I know that taking on new projects is obviously a new frontier. I would encourage you to do something like this with your team. That way, you would be able to build some internal communication among your team and you’ll be able to figure out who you’re talking to when you’re developing certain campaigns.
There will be work on the front end to develop these personas but in the long term, being able to really base things, and bring it back to the conversation about personas every time will help you and your team to be more specific when it comes to your messaging.
Jeff: To recap the process that you could do yourself. First, you want to define your goals and your own most valued segments. That’s the exercise we did of saying donors on Giving Tuesday or the end of the year or upgrades or live bonds. You have to determine what matters to you. Do you want to find people who are more like your monthly givers? Do you want to find someone who is like your gala attendees? It starts with understanding who do you value?
Then you can append donor records with this external data. Once you do that, you can create segments of focus and opportunity based on what the data is showing you. Once you have the understanding of the data, here’s a segment of older wealthy people, or here’s a segment of Generation X urban family people. Then you’re going to want to develop these donor personas for each of your major segments.
As Julia just mentioned, validating the personas with your staff, this is a great exercise to undertake with your staff because they’re the ones talking to the donors. They’re the ones who meet them for rea. If they can say oh, yes, that’s really familiar. I know a lot of Boomer Bruces or I know Genevieve X, that means you’re headed in the right direction.
Crafting the appropriate messages for each persona, as Julia was talking about. Then continuing to use the data in interviews to evolve your personas. As you get more new donors, as your donor behavior changes over time, if you start doing persona-driven campaigns and your data literally changes, you have to keep your personas fresh. You have to keep validating what you have, challenging your staff and yourself to be accurate. One of the best ways to be accurate is to interview donors and to get to know some of that stuff about them as people that does inform the persona creation process.
Julia: Yes, and this next slide starts that conversation for you when you’re looking to interview your donors and find out why they are part of what you’re doing and help that information inform what personas you’re building. Why does this organization in particular fit into the context of this giver’s life? What types of media is this giver involved in? What motivates them to support your organization?
As Jeff mentioned, Boomer Bruce gives to a pancreatic cancer organization because he had a family member that suffered from that. Is that consistent in your database? Are people giving because of a family member or because of some personal connection? Why are they– Oh, I’m sorry. What are they focused on accomplishing in their personal and professional lives? What gets in their way? What kind of obstacles are they running up against? Then what excites them?
Those are things that you should know about your donors. If you don’t, like Jeff mentioned, sit them down and interview them. I also just think as we’re talking about these personas, I envision walking into a meeting with my executive director and just saying, “Okay, we have an end-of-year appeal coming up, we’re talking to Silent Susan, what are we asking for?” How easy would that be, having these things already in our pocket to say, “This is who we’re talking to, let’s get the job done.” It’s a tool in your toolkit and a consistent message among the organization.
Again, I just have such a soft spot for fundraising professionals. I want to remind you that you are not alone, that you have so many people that are able to walk alongside of you. Even if you are a team of one, even if you are wearing all the hats, there are people that are involved in your organization that can help you with something like this.
For example, if you have a donor that is really passionate about data, reach out to that donor, describe what you want to do and how you want to define these particular pieces of your database, and see if they want to be part of that. Maybe they’ll give to pulling those data details. Maybe there’ll be part of sitting down and talking about who your donors are.
You also have your data. I’m so grateful for everyone who put reasons to have data in the chat because it is so true. You need it for multiple reasons. This is the ladder of the reasons which shows that it informs your future information. You also are able to look for the concentration of attributes within your donor segments. That’s talking about sitting down and talking to your donors, interviewing them, having focus groups, asking them why they’re part of what you’re doing.
Then lastly, you can find a volunteer. There are people that love your organization that want to work with you. They can help you sit down and really look through this data and figure out who your personas are. Don’t do it alone, you have people that can work with you on this.
Then we are also here for you. We, at DonorPerfect, want to walk with you. You never walk alone here at DonorPerfect. We want to make sure that you know that we are your advocates. This is a downloadable PDF that will help you to start this journey on donor personas. You can go through this, it gives more context about what a persona is, and offers you some checklists and things like that to get the journey started.
Jeff: Just to wrap up, we talked about being data-driven in your segmentation strategy and using that data to then inform who your targets are and creating personas who represent that target group. Then finally differentiated strategies by persona. We hope that this is the blueprint that you could follow in your organization, looking at your data, adding richness and color to who those individuals are, and fleshing out stories about who these people are that you’re trying to connect with.
Then, like you’ve heard through so many best practices of today, this conference, you want to tell a story that matters to the recipient of that story. If you are thinking about the recipient first, the persona first, your story will sort of naturally tell itself. With that, we would love to take any questions.
Lori: Okay, I am going to remove that from the screen for the moment. I don’t know if you have to bring it back up because we did have a few questions about it. I’m going to hit to the bottom here, well, the beginning. Before I do, I want to make sure that everyone knows that we’re going to be going through the questions. If they’re not answered, we will make sure that we get answers out to you. I know there’s some DonorPerfect questions in there that we can get to in a little bit afterwards but I’m going to get started with some of the questions that we already have.
First one being, does the wealth rating take into account the cost of living in the area? For example, do these donors listed have liquidity or resources available to give?
Jeff: The data sources vary. DonorSearch is one of the integrated products with DonorPerfect. That will give much more detailed level data around giving capacity and sources of wealth. There are some lighter-weight, summary-level solutions as well. It depends on the data source that you are leaning on to collect this information. It’s not a one size fits all answer.
Lori: Okay. Adding on to that, Sam asks, “Are you able to provide links to the major public records that give depth to our constituents, for example, census data and the rest of the list from earlier in the presentation?”
Jeff: We are able to provide the lists of where these data sources are but not access to the underlying data. Some of them are public sources which you may access independently. A lot of them are paid sources that come through subscriptions.
Lori: Let me see here. Somebody’s asking you about a similar type of rating available for Canadian donors.
Jeff: It’s a good observation. This was a US-only focus for this, but there are data providers who do provide wealth and other demographic information in Canada. iWave is one of them and certainly there are others. You can get wealth screening information in Canada.
Lori: Some of our most engaged donors we have are actually DS-3s or DS-1, 4 or 5 have less education, but their affinity is through the roof. Many DS-1s have a little math and hover in the lower bounds for mid-major, major plan giving. Do you have anything to add to that?
Jeff: The most important thing that I want everybody to take away with is your donor persona is going to be different than the organization next to you and the organization next to them. What your data shows and the people who support your organization, you will have to craft a unique strategy for that donor persona or you may have several within your database.
It’s not to say that there is an answer that applies to every organization because this is grounded in your behavioral data. If you start with that and then layer on top of it, this demographic data, you will find the donors who matter the most to you and then develop a differentiated strategy to talk to them.
Lori: Sara is asking, “Do the charts indicate that 83% of women gave on the last day of the year or 83% of gifts on the last day of the year were women?” she says. I don’t remember if that’s the exact statistic, but hopefully, you get the idea.
Jeff: Yes. It was 83% of the gifts on the last day of the year came from women. That would be explaining that bit of the data.
Lori: For Alison, she says, “Do you have personas for foundations or institutional donors? This information you shared seemed very focused on individual.”
Jeff: Yes, and I think that that’s what, in many ways, defines a persona. Persona is a person first. If you’re talking about a corporation or a foundation or a trust, these are impersonal vehicles driven by people. Yes, you can create a persona for something a foundation, but really, you’re not creating a persona about the foundation. You’re creating a persona of the people who are funding the foundation. It always ties back to a human. That’s what is ultimately the defining criteria of a persona. The closer to a human it is, a real human, the better the persona is.
Lori: Okay. This has DP aspect to it, but I’m going to ask it anyway. I think you guys will be fine. “Most of us are in small shops and don’t have large philanthropy or more calm departments. I’m looking for realistic ways to accomplish–” I’ll get it today, “differentiated messaging.” Diane’s question is on my mind, “Do we need to design this or is it a can available process for DP subscribers?”
Now, I’m going to jump in real quick because I know that Ali was throwing some great resources into the chat. The person asking that question, I’d say go back and scroll, see what Ali provided. She had some white pages and links and things like that, but do you have anything to add?
Jeff: I will say that start simple. Start with one. If you can get an inch in this direction, it’s going to be a very worthwhile inch. I totally understand a small shop. We have provided some how-to guides of how to get started with this. As Julia mentioned, there’s inevitably somebody in your donor ecosystem who is data-minded, who would like to volunteer to work on spreadsheets as opposed to maybe something else.
I think that there is a way for even the smallest and scrappiest organizations that don’t have time for data projects to start building donor personas based on what you do know, based on what you can identify about the people in your donor base. Julia, do you have anything else to add?
Julia: Yes, I would just say do it for your next thing. If you have a golf tournament coming up, take the data that you’re going to use to show your executive director that it was a successful golf tournament. Take that data and turn that information into a persona, then you have one. You use that in a today capacity. It’s not adding a new project but deepening a current project.
Jeff: That’s great. You can also do some scrappy internet research on people now. Sure, it’s great to get big databases, sources helping you do that, but you can go on their social media platforms, you can identify a lot of attributes about people and create your own data append service doing it the old-fashioned way.
Like I said, every bit helps. If you have an upcoming event or if you had a recent event and you wanted to look at who’s everybody who just attended my golf outing, you can go through the 150 people who attended and start building out a little persona of, “Here are the two or three types of individuals who came to this golf outing.” so that when you do the next thing, you can be a little focused on who that should be targeting.
Lori: All right. That, I apologize. This is going to be the last question that we had, that we have time for anyway. Like I mentioned, we will get to the rest. We’ll get answers out to those who have questions that we didn’t get to answer. At this point, I’m going to finish out our session. I do appreciate everybody who’s joined us today.
Jeff, Julia, thank you so much for presenting. You had some great questions coming in. It was a good topic. I think a lot of people got so much out of it. Next up is going to be our last presentation for the day. It’s going to be Robbe Healey.
She’s going to be doing our closing remarks as we bring another DonorPerfect community conference to a close. I hope to see you there. Thanks so much.
Julia: Thank you.
Jeff: Thank you.Read Less