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The season of goodwill is a great time to attract the support of people for good causes. But to turn seasonal givers into serious donors, you must put yourself in their shoes and remember how it feels to be the donor. That can mean really highlighting how much the donations mean. And email is a great channel for communicating that.

But in order to do that, you need to be strategic about your data.

How data can help you understand the donor lifecycle

The donor lifecycle is a strategic fundraising tool that can help you track your donor prospects. This will help you gain a valuable insight into their past, current and future behavioural patterns.

Similarly to the retail industry, who uses CRM (Customer Relationship Management), nurture campaigns and auto-response tools to track a customer lifecycle and loyalty to a certain brand, the donor lifecycle delivers huge benefits to its users by offering a complete, accurate picture of individual donors and their unique (often difficult to forecast) paths.

Charities can then build up profiles on donors and establish lasting relationships through different channels (email, social media, direct mail, etc.) resulting in greater, less sporadic donations. Looking at performance reports and donor data can also help you predict their most likely ‘next move’, so you can adapt communications accordingly.

Why is it worth investing the time to understand data?

Understanding data can help you use your marketing budget more cost-effectively because it will help you target the right donor with the right message. This will achieve better results than blasting the same message to donors in different stages of their lifecycle.

Certain activities or events might be suited to older, loyal, enthusiastic donors. They will be interested in hearing your news and achievements more regularly than others. However, if they have just given you a donation, they might not want to receive communications for a while because they might feel you’re asking for too much.

Understanding the different categories donors’ belong in will help you understand what message to send them, and what stage they are at in their lifecycle. This will help you be relevant to them, and establish the foundation to a long-term relationship.

Take a leaf out of these charities’ books

These charities have each uniquely demonstrated that integrating original email marketing campaigns with donor lifecycle mapping is the key to meaningful, lasting relationships with donors, greater retention and ROI:

  1. Who? Oxfam Unwrapped
    What? Email campaign
    Successes: 18% open rate, products flying off the shelves like never before
  2. Who? SSAFA
    What? Email campaign
    Successes: 47% open rate, converted subscribers for fundraising events
  1. Who? The Butterfly Tree
    What? Orphan support through email newsletters
    Successes: Several thousands of pounds annually – on average £110 per orphan for children in Zambia