Geek looking at data

It’s Giving Season. Do You Know Who Your Donors Are?

Published Oct 21, 2018, 11:53 AM by Sean Moloney
How charities can excel during the critical autumn fundraising period

Charitable giving always picks up around the holiday season, but in recent years non-profit organizations have found a way to focus that seasonal spike in giving with the creation of GivingTuesday. Just as Black Friday and Cyber Monday celebrate the consumer and mark the beginning of the holiday rush, GivingTuesday is meant to be the “opening day of the giving season.” Now in its sixth year, the organizers behind GivingTuesday hope to convince companies and individuals to rally around their favorite causes. 

While GivingTuesday can be a boon for charities, the biggest and most recognized non-profit organizations are the ones that typically benefit the most from these drives. That, coupled with the fact that the number of non-profits jockeying for donations grows each year, makes it a particularly challenging environment for smaller non-profit organizations to gain attention and attract more donors.

The solution is to stand out from the crowd and appeal directly to prospective donors who are more likely to be receptive to your message. Leveraging data and innovative approaches to build a 360-degree view of your donors is one of the most effective ways to build campaigns that yield the best returns.

Here are three data-driven ideas to maximize your efforts and capture more donations.

1. Help your fundraising staff identify donor potential faster

Finding new donors to support a cause is always a difficult task. By leveraging privacy-compliant and available financial databases, non-profit organizations can access neighborhood-level information on Americans’ incomes, assets and net worth. These data permit the efficient scoring of previous donors to understand their wealth and estimate their giving capacity. This approach helped one of our fundraising clients generate critical insights to help it attract more funds. Through validation and testing, this data-driven method successfully identified the major giving potential of nine out of 10 individuals.

2. Tailor communications to engage ethnic communities

The American population is increasingly diverse and the U.S. Census Bureau reports that this growth trend with minority populations will continue unimpeded. Fundraising campaigns need to consider the increasing size of these minority populations and the diversity of the groups when developing programs and marketing communications. As such, changing diversity presents both opportunities and challenges for non-profit organizations.

The first challenge involves understanding the extent to which your current donor base includes representation from any of these growing minority communities. One potential solution is to leverage Origins, a classification system licenced by Environics Analytics, which predicts a donor’s cultural, ethnic and linguistic origins based on their first and last name. We successfully used Origins for a recent project with a foundation at one of North America’s leading childrens’ hospitals to expand the organization’s donor base by identifying new ways to engage diverse communities.

3. Optimize your digital and traditional media spend

Non-profit organizations can use data and analytics to enhance their awareness campaigns and educate donors through their preferred media channels. By leveraging third-party data, from databases like SocialValues and ConsumerProfiles, organizations can get a deeper understanding of their donors’ lifestyle preferences, behaviors, media consumption habits and even their attitudes and beliefs. With this information, charities can develop and distribute personalized and relevant messages that resonate with the specific audience and deliver the desired call-to-action.

By segmenting your donors and building personas around them, you will be able to get a better sense of who they are, how they behave and what their interests are. It can also answer questions about preferred marketing channels—social media, print, mobile—for your target segments, as well as which media sources they trust and find credible. Knowing the answers to these questions will ensure your marketing spend is effective and engages donors in the channels that they prefer.


As #GivingTuesday approaches, these data-driven ideas provide some food for thought to help organizations get the most out of their data and analytics resources, so they can focus on the success of their cause. We hope your end-of-year giving campaign meets and exceeds your goal.


Sean Moloney is Environics Analytics’ Director, Business Development, North America

Back to top