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3 ways data integration can make (or break) your fundraising strategy

Guest post from the experts at Kindful

As the new year approaches, Emma’s helping nonprofits gear up for 2016 with helpful tips on how to engage with donors more effectively. And when they asked us here at Kindful to talk about the importance of collecting and analyzing data to boost your fundraising strategy, we were only too happy to oblige. Because at Kindful, we’re all about data, and specifically something called “data integration.” (That just means all your data gets collected in one central location so you can use it more effectively.)

Data integration is the lifeblood of every successful organization. It does more than just help you track donors, it can actually guide you to better fundraising decisions. Not convinced? Here are three reasons why data will make or break your fundraising strategy in 2016.

1. Data integration helps you know your donors better.

Anyone can pull a list of donors who gave in the past year and send a mass email. But if you really want to communicate effectively with your donors, you’ve got to know more about them! Knowing where your donors come from, how they get involved and why they give will help you pinpoint the best way to engage with them.

Data integration helps by pulling all your info into a central hub - your database or CRM - to give you a full picture of each unique donor and a better sense of what drives their involvement in your organization. Once your data is all in one place, you can easily segment that data to see who’s brand new to your organization so you can send them a welcome email. Or who consistently opens your emails so you can create an automated workflow specific to them. Or even who gave in January 2015 so you can send them a specific ask to give again in January it a New Year’s Resolution!

2. Data integration helps you maximize your fundraising tools.

There are some amazing tools out there making it easier than ever to interact with donors – everything from online accounting to event management to email marketing. But too often, nonprofits are forced to manually decipher and integrate their fundraising efforts out of each individual tool. Think about your typical fundraising campaign: you’re probably using one platform for emails, one for event management, one for crowdfunding and one (or more) for donation processing. That’s at least four different platforms pulling in different information about your donor.

Data integration helps by creating a framework to connect all that info and make sense of it. Try thinking of your donor engagement strategy like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Your online fundraising tools are the middle pieces – the pieces that make your image come to life. Your data makes up the pieces on the edge, keeping everything in place and providing structure. Sure, they’re not as “fun” as those middle pieces, but they make sense of everything. That’s what automatic data integration does – it connects all the data points of your fundraising tools. And as that puzzle starts coming together it allows you to think about fundraising in new ways, creating campaigns that are customized to your constituents.

But if data integration is the framework, how do you figure out all those data points that need to be framed? Odds are, you’re pulling in donor information from sources you don’t even know about...even that signup sheet you scribbled on a sheet of paper at your last event counts! Lucky for you, Kindful’s got you covered with a free resource! Click here to download a handy Data Audit checklist to help you identify all your different data sources so you can start pulling them into your donor database.

3. Data helps you increase your fundraising potential.

That Emma blog post said it best: when it comes to effective fundraising, you’ve got to think long-term. Special occasions like #GivingTuesday are great for massive fundraising blasts, but they end at midnight. Viral campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are powerful to spread awareness, but trying to guess the next big trend is like chasing a unicorn. When it comes to maximizing your fundraising and growing a sustainable organization, you’ve got to think about building long-term relationships with your donors. Donor cultivation is important that we’ve actually teamed up with Emma to talk about it before. (And give you a whole guide on how to do it!)

Data integration helps by showing you where each individual donor lands in your funnel of donor cultivation and giving you the full story of how they got there. It pulls together every historical milestone of their involvement – from the first email they received, to the first event they attended, to the first donation they gave. And when you know where they’ve come from, you’ll know how to get them to the place they need to be: a key donor who is invested in the life of your organization for years to come.

Data integration is one of the most powerful tools in building a sustainable online fundraising strategy for your nonprofit. When it’s all coming together and giving you a full picture of your constituents, data will change the way you interact with your donors, making your fundraising more personal and consistent. If you’re ready to get all your data in one place, don’t forget to download our handy data audit – a one-page guide to help you identify where all your data is hiding...and get it in one place!

Kindful is an innovative donor CRM software that combines intuitive donor management, insightful analytics and integrated online fundraising tools to help nonprofits grow. For more information and to sign up for a free demo, visit our website today.