Unlocking Donor Data to Fundraise Smarter


Collecting data from donors to your fundraising campaigns is a simple way to improve your future performance. More than that – it lets you stay in touch with donors, sending a warm thank you for their support and keeping them up to date with how a campaign progresses.

However, fundraisers often make some simple mistakes during the data collection process. Whether that’s neglecting information you’ve already got at your fingertips or being a little intrusive in your collection methods, we’ve got some expert insights to ensure your fundraising campaigns are perfectly optimized. 

In this article:


Types of Donor Data

During the donation process, there are reams of data you can collect and store in your nonprofit, charity, or church donation database. Commonly collected donor data includes:

  1. Personal Information. Donation forms often capture basic details like name, address, email, and phone number. Contact details like address, email, or phone number are critical to sending donors updates, thankyous, or requests from future fundraising campaigns. Remember to ask the donor how they’d like to receive future communications. After all, you’re a guest in their inbox.
  2. Donation Amount. Running a campaign is about raising as much money as possible. Just as a company goes after its big spenders, so too should your marketing efforts prioritize major contributors. That means you’ll need to collect and store this information for current and future efforts.
  3. Payment Method. Information on whether a donation was made via credit card, bank transfer, cash, or other methods helps with accounting and tracking. You can also ask donors if they’d like you to remember their payment method (and details) for future donations, simplifying the process next time around.
  4. Donation Frequency. Alongside donation amount, frequency is also critical for future engagement strategies. A one-time big donation is helpful. But monthly pledges or annual contributions can often add up too much more over the long term. These regular donations are the lifeblood of many charitable endeavors, including churches and ministries.  

That’s the basic donor data you want to collect during the donation process. However, this is all objective info – the how and what of the donation. Other more unconventional or lesser-known data types cover the why. For example:

  1. Reason for Donation. By asking donors why they chose to contribute, organizations can gather insights into what motivates their supporters.
  2. Donation Source. Tracking whether the donation came from an email campaign, social media, an event, or another source can guide marketing efforts.
  3. Gift Preferences. Some donors prefer to remain anonymous or might want to dedicate their donation in memory or honor of someone.
  4. Feedback on Donation Process. Inviting donors to provide feedback on their experience can yield information to streamline the process in the future.

Collecting this subject donor data helps refine your future fundraising campaign by better understanding your donors. For instance, identifying the motivation behind a donation can help you segment your audience when launching an email marketing campaign for your donation drive (see below).


How to Collect Donor Data

Bombarding your audience with communications about a campaign is the simplest way to ruin your campaign. Balancing promoting your cause with being respectful requires careful consideration. Your data collection should follow the same principles.

If a donor ever ask why they are giving you all this information, something has gone seriously wrong. Aim to keep your data collection seamless and unobtrusive. Consider these tips:

  • Use a clean, user-friendly design that’s quick and easy to complete. If your collection or donation process includes multiple sections, add a progress bar so they can see how much longer there is to go.
  • Collecting data incrementally is perhaps the best approach. Asking for too much too soon will annoy most donors. Start by asking for the basics, and then send follow-up emails to ask for more specific information. For example, a donation survey can ask about the reason for the donation or future preferences. 
  • Transparency is key. Always explain why you’re collecting the information and how it will be used. Emphasize how it helps future fundraising campaigns. 
  • Whenever possible, use a system that prefills known data. Some internet browsers let the user automatically complete certain sections – ensure your forms are compatible.
  • Not all data is absolutely essential. Aside from a donor’s name and contact details, make non-critical fields optional to reduce friction.
  • Avoiding pop-ups is a simple way to reduce disruption. Data collection should always form a natural part of the donor’s journey. 


How to Leverage Donor Data for New Campaigns

Not sure how to leverage the donor data you’ve collected in your next fundraising campaign? We’ve got a few ideas. If you have a nonprofit or church donor database full of info, explore these possibilities:

  • Personalization is as critical for nonprofit campaigns as it is for businesses. Using a person’s name in the subject line of an email or referencing past contributions can help create an intimate, genuine, and individualized message.
  • Segmentation is a big deal in email marketing. Categorizing donors based on donation amount, frequency, or reason allows you to create tailored campaigns with a much higher conversion rate. 
  • Celebrating donor milestones, like anniversaries or a specific number of donations, is a fantastic way to show your appreciation for a loyal donor. Certain email marketing tools let you create workflows that will automatically send an email based on a particular trigger. For example, “That’s Your Fifth Donation! We Couldn’t Do It Without You” is an email that will get read.
  • Mapping a donor’s journey using collected data lets you better understand their touchpoints and experiences. Enhance positive interactions and address any pain points to ensure they remain loyal supporters. 


Closing Thoughts

Collecting donor information is key to optimizing and enhancing your future fundraising campaigns. However, it should always come second to the donation itself. Never jeopardize receiving a donation by making the donation process unwieldy or cumbersome. Ask for just enough information to help you out – and use secondary messages, e.g., SMS, email, or in-person meetings, to gather more donor data. 

Want help managing your donation process? Paperless Transactions is an industry-expert in short-term campaigns, fundraising events, or ongoing donations. We specialize in helping churches and ministries automate their fundraising efforts. Schedule a demo today to find out how you can get started!