Donor Analytics for Nonprofits: Your Ultimate Guide

February 27, 2023
9 minutes

While we’d love to shmooze with each of our donors over a leisurely lunch, learning all about their likes, dislikes, and childhood pets, nonprofiteers are busy people. That’s where technology can lend a helping hand in the form of donor analytics. By compiling all the donor data that’s fit to print, then analyzing it to draw actionable insights, you can get to know your donors like the back of your hand—assuming you’re someone who stares at the back of your hand a lot. For all the DL on DA, read on.

What are the 4 types of donor analytics?

Once your nonprofit has a CRM in place (and hopefully, it’s Funraise!), you can start reaping the benefits of that luscious donor database. At first, however, all those numbers and data points can be a tad overwhelming. There are so many types of data that you can track, and only some of it is useful. If you want to get meaningful insights to inform your fundraising strategy, you can start with the four key types of data analytics below. After, we’ll get into the details and comb through specific donor analytics metrics.

1. Descriptive analytics

To build your analytics tower on a strong foundation, you need to start with descriptive analytics. That means you need to know what’s happening with your donor data—and happily, that’s pretty easy. Pop on over to review the donor profiles in your CRM. They’ll help you understand key descriptive analytics metrics, such as your current supporters’ demographics, giving habits, and preferences.

2. Diagnostic analytics

Like descriptive analytics, diagnostic analytics requires looking back at past data to provide insight. But where descriptive analytics is all, “What the heck happened?”, diagnostic analytics is like, “Why the heck did that happen?” Basically, we’re diving a bit deeper with this one, analyzing the data strategically to understand outcomes. For example, diagnostic analytics can help you understand why more donors lapsed this year than last. While you can handle descriptive analytics with an Excel sheet, you need an analytics tool, like fundraising software, for diagnostic analytics.

3. Predictive analytics

While all that past data can be super useful, analytics are also about what-if’s and could-be’s, AKA prospect research. Because of that, you want to look at predictive data, too, in the form of wealth and giving indicators. As the name suggests, predictive analytics are all about using past data trends to predict what will happen in the future. Again, we’re up-leveling, so do yourself a favor and choose a software that can build predictive models. Predictive analytics can be as simple as examining whether contributions have increased or decreased over time to determine if next year’s looking bright or if you really need to rethink that next campaign. It can help you stay realistic about your organization's donor retention, likely growth, and budget.

4. Prescriptive analytics

Finally, we come to prescriptive analytics, which are all about experimenting with different possibilities to determine what strategic changes could positively impact your nonprofit organization. Essentially, it’s a data-driven way to predict outcomes and make decisions. For instance, you might try adding different suggested amounts to your donation form to see how they impact your nonprofit’s fundraising.

10 donor analytics metrics you should track

Now that you’re a tech-savvy analytics guru, it’s time to drill down into the details. Within each of the four buckets above are many different metrics that need your keen eye. Take a look at our list below.

1. Donor demographics

Consider age, family members, location, and career history, tallying up how many folks you have in each key demographic category. With these characteristics in hand, you can use segmentation to send tailored emails to each individual donor and plan your strategy accordingly. For example, if you have lots of Gen Z donors, you might want to set up that TikTok account. And if half your donors live in a different time zone, consider a few more Zoom happy hours in the future.

2. Giving history

You might have guessed that supporter gifts are key when it comes to donor analytics. In particular, you want to keep an eye on average gift size, which helps you recognize your most generous donors (and generous donors in the making), as well as giving frequency and recency, so that you can catch any folks who usually give but haven’t recently. You don’t want a single donor to lapse, so here’s your chance to be proactive and reach out with a friendly, “Just checking in, old buddy!”

3. Communication preferences

Great relationships start with great communication, so you want to stay on top of donor communication preferences. You might ask the following questions: How do your supporters like to hear from you? Is a daily check-in okay, or is that wayyyy too much? Do they want to get direct mail about the latest volunteer opportunities or would they prefer texts with the latest industry news? With all that in mind, you can hit that email-social-snail mail sweet spot, and keep your latest newsletter out of the recycling bin.

4. Donor involvement

While giving the big bucks is great, not donating directly doesn't mean someone's not a donor. Next, review all the ways folks can interact with your cause outside of a monetary gift, including volunteering and event attendance. With this valuable intel in hand, you can ensure you’re devoting ample attention to these donors, who are providing crucial support for your org even if they’re not handing over a check. Furthermore, you can segment the data to send them personalized volunteer opportunities or event invites.

5. Online engagement

Sometimes, people are plugged into your cause even if you never see their faces and never get a dollar. Consider tracking digital engagement that doesn't lead to any type of conversion, like email open rates, social media clicks, and feedback provided. Once you understand all the ways in which your community silently participates, you can craft stewardship strategies to meet them where they are.

6. Wealth indicators

Sometimes, donor analytics metrics take you outside the donor database and into the wilds of the internet. By gathering wealth data, such as stock ownership, company matching potential, real estate ownership, and more, you can get an idea of a supporter's financial status. From that, you'll have a window into future giving capacity and can solicit gifts accordingly.  

7. Philanthropic indicators

Money isn’t the only indication of a donor’s propensity to give. You can also look to their overall giving history, in the form of memberships, other nonprofit donations, and outside volunteer roles. Then, if you find that one of these fine folks has recently left their long-time position on another board, you know exactly where to target your efforts.

8. Lifetime value

This is the nonprofit development analytics metric to end all metrics. When you add up all the contributions a supporter has made to your cause throughout the history of time (AKA their time with your organization), you get a donor’s lifetime value. Then, you know if all those fundraising efforts are (literally) paying off.

9. Donor acquisition and retention rate

Donor acquisition and retention are big deals for nonprofit organizations, so stay on top of these key metrics. After all, they reveal a whole lot about how your development strategy’s working out. As we all well know, it costs way more to get new donors in the door than to retain current supporters. At the same time, without new donors, your growth will stagnate. Once you have this info, you can move over to the dark side of the equation by determining your lapsed donor rate.

10. Fundraising participation rate

If your nonprofit's big on peer-to-peer fundraising and social fundraising, it’s important to track how many of your supporters are actually fundraisers themselves. It’s one thing to donate or attend an event and quite another to rally your peeps in support of a good cause. Fundraisers amplify your nonprofit's impact, help with sustainable fundraising, and bring in additional revenue.

6 tools to measure donor analytics

So, you know what you want to measure, but how do you actually measure it? To measure donor analytics, you need a donor database software that knows its way around the fundraising block. Something that’s user-friendly and data-driven, focused on the big picture and the tiny details. Options vary, but we've got a few ideas.

1. Funraise Fundraising Intelligence

Here at Funraise, we pride ourselves on our industry-leading fundraising intelligence. We offer ready-made fundraising dashboards and custom charts, graphs, and reports, so that you can unlock essential insights and identify data-based strategies. Want to focus on a specific campaign or date period? Done and done. LYBUNTY, SYBUNTY, donors YOY, and donations MOM—if it has an acronym related to fundraising, we have the analytics you want.

2. Salesforce

Salesforce’s CRM is used far and wide, and you can use Funraise’s Salesforce integration to send your fundraising data straight to Salesforce. Then, you’ll have access to its native dashboards and reports, making all those analytics a breeze. Whether you’re examining past giving or analyzing different ways to engage, you can customize your reports, visualize different data sets, and export the information with a click. It’s the best of both data-based worlds!

3. Funraise donation reports

If you know exactly what you want—and what you want is standard, filterable reports—Funraise has you covered there, too. With specialized tools to cultivate donor relationships, like custom segmentation and interaction tracking, our nonprofit CRM helps you raise funds, manage individual donors, and produce donation database reports all in one handy-dandy place.

4. HubSpot

HubSpot’s marketing analytics and dashboards are a great way to calculate the performance of your various campaigns. If you wish they were a bit more nonprofit-centric, near fear. HubSpot integrates seamlessly with Funraise, so you can manage your organization’s donation and donor data in HubSpot while using Funraise for all your online donations and peer-to-peer campaigns. Double yay!

5. Funraise automated task management

With great donor analytics comes great responsibility—and also a lot to keep track of. When all your potential donors and current donors and donors whose names end with “y” start to run together, you need a good task management tool to keep your organization on track. Funraise makes it easy, with a plethora of ways to automate tasks relating to your various reports, takeaways, projects, and plans.

6. Zapier

With so many tools, you might need one more, and that’s Zapier. It automates your work across thousands of integrations so that everything flows smooth as silk. And with more time on your hands, we know exactly what you can do: dive even deeper into that donor database!

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5 benefits of tracking donor analytics for your nonprofit

You’re probably looking at all this and thinking, “I was a liberal arts major! Why are you asking this of me? It CAN’T be worth it.” But trust us: there are a ton of benefits to collecting all that donor data and tracking donor analytics. We’ll list a few to get you on your way.

1. Inform your fundraising strategy

What’s working and what’s not working when it comes to your fundraising strategy? Sometimes, it’s hard to know—but donor analytics make it easy. When you calculate which events have the greatest ROI and which campaigns bring in the big bucks, you can craft a fundraising strategy that leads to more donations and more sustainable fundraising.

2. Cultivate better donor relationships

When it comes to relationships, deep talks and long walks on the beach are great. But you can also use that smorgasbord of donor data to better donor relationships. If you understand more about your donors’ giving habits, giving history, and demographics, you can tailor your donation requests accordingly. For instance, if a loyal donor gave a week ago, hit pause on those asks. On the other hand, if they've gone nine months without a peep, you'd better engage ASAP. All in all, that means it’s less likely donors will peace out and more likely they’ll continue to contribute.

3. Draft a better budget

Tracking donor data and analytics means staying on top of all sorts of useful data points related to revenue. When you know how much revenue comes from individual donors and how your revenue fluctuates from month to month, you can draft a far more accurate budget for the year ahead.

4. Target your communications and campaigns

All this data-driven wisdom helps with accurate segmentation, and careful segmentation means you can run tailored campaigns and send personalized communications. Once you know which donors have an affinity for stretching it out, all those goat yoga fundraisers are going to pay off pretty quickly.

5. Identify fundraising opportunities

Those predictive analytics really come into their own when you want to identify potential major donors and corporate giving opportunities. When you’ve explored wealth indicators and know which employers offer matching gifts, you can file it away and pursue those leads when the time is right.

How Funraise can help your nonprofit track donor analytics

Tracking and analyzing your donor data is a big, important job—and Funraise can help your nonprofit rock it from top to bottom. Our tools do it all: dazzling data dashboards, cool customized (exportable!) reports, great graphs, and terrific templates. (All with alliteration!) All our nonprofit reports are configurable and user-friendly, so you have the tools to fundraise for days … and weeks … and years to come.

Build custom data dashboards to see everything you need.

Key takeaways

  • Donor analytics refers to the key trends and takeaways from analyzing your donor data.
  • Donor and fundraising analytics have a plethora of benefits. They can help your nonprofit build a better organizational strategy, increase donations, foster donor engagement, and personalize contribution requests.
  • There are four primary types of analytics: descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive.
  • When it comes to nonprofit analytics metrics, there are dozens of areas to consider. Some of the most important include, demographics, donation history, donor engagement, donor retention, and lifetime value.
  • Fundraising software can help you measure key metrics to discern patterns and predict future trends.
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