Geek looking at data

How to Chart the Best Path for Your New Supporters

Published Mar 4, 2020, 03:20 PM by Allen Davidov
How fundraising organizations can take the careful next step of understanding who new supporters are and what their journey with organization should look like.

Now that the holiday and end-of-year fundraising period has wrapped up, many Not-For-Profit and Fundraising organizations are coming up for air.

But they are also preparing to chart out cultivation and stewardship plans for their newest supporters, as many donors raised their hands and replied to a call to action during GivingTuesday, Holiday, or Year-end campaigns. These donors have taken the essential first step, and now it's up to the fundraising organizations to take the careful next step of understanding who these supporters are, and what their journey with your organization should look like. 

A donor's journey should not be predicated by organizational or program need, but by what makes the most sense for the donor concerning what is offered. Ultimately, setting out a course for the best relationship outcome and maximizing the opportunity with your newest supporter. Having been in the charitable sector for over 15 years, I have experienced the pressure to deliver programmatically and have seen some terrific plans crumble because of that. 

The push for immediate results can put pressure on everyone, even at the beginning of a new year, and comes at the expense of retaining and stewarding the organization's existing donor base. Not only is this acquisition mindset taxing on charities, but it also drives up costs.

So, what are some innovative options to break this cycle and make it easier for fundraising teams? 

Focus on the right plan

 Large charities have dedicated teams to help them make smart decisions to keep their donors engaged. In contrast, smaller organizations with fewer resources have had to rely on their wits and tenacity to connect with supporters. But to reach the next level, wits and determination alone will only get these smaller organizations so far. Imagine what can be accomplished if they were able to channel all of their energy on the right existing donors, considering their capacity to give, what is meaningful to them, engagement and donation history.

Organizations, specifically smaller and mid-sized charities, need data-driven solutions that will fit their budget and provide actionable insights to address the needs of fundraisers. One of the ways to accomplish that is with systems that provide insights based on supplementing existing in-house data with new tools.

There are innovative proprietary scoring systems which these kinds of charities and foundations can adopt to provide advanced data and analytics in the same way that many larger organizations have been doing for many years. Small- to mid-sized organizations, using customizable scoring systems, can utilize third-party privacy-friendly data that offers a cost-effective way to prioritize their existing supporters and can help organizations with as little as a few hundred donors.

Tools that are powerful and easy to use

While data and analytics can often be complicated and intimidating, what you need to look for are tools that are simple to understand and easy to use. What you’ll get are insightful views of your new supporters and that leads to a more comprehensive picture that allows you to guide the creation of the best plan for each individual.  

These helpful insights will start to paint a clear picture of the type of supporters that are in your database based on their last gift size as well as the channel they gave through, their wealth capacity and their potential to give. You will also learn about the psychographic reason they chose your organization versus the handful that communicated with them over the same time. Whether that is because they align with giving back to their community, educational causes, housing, poverty, or the arts.

Each of these insights can become building blocks to unlock who your new supporters are, and the type of cultivation and donor relations that would make the most sense to them. Whether that means they stay within your annual file, have an opportunity to become monthly or mid-level donors or, make more significant transformational gifts now or through their estates. By getting a deeper understanding of your new supporters, you can refocus efforts on building those critical relationships and maximize opportunities before starting additional expensive acquisition programs. We all know that the best prospects for mid-size and large gifts are found from within the existing donors. A donor who makes an annual $100 donation may have the capacity to give significantly more—you may need to reach that person with the right message and ask to unlock that potential.

With the outlook for the Canadian economy projected to tighten this year, now is a great time to pause and evolve the decision-making process to ensure shorter-term goals are met and longer-term priorities do not get lost. 


Allen Davidov leads Environics Analytics' Not-For-Profit Practice. He has more than 15 years of experience helping charities of all sizes use #DataForGood to achieve their fundraising goals.

Originally published in Foundation Magazine

Back to top