Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

How donor data can inform better donor experiences

December 12, 2022
These nonprofit professionals are studying donor data and discussing how to use it to improve donor experiences.

While talking directly with donors is one of the fastest ways to learn what matters to them, one-on-one conversations aren’t the only way to gain valuable information about them. By analyzing the donor data stored in your fundraising software, your nonprofit organization can obtain insights that will help you create a better experience for your donors and motivate them to give more over time. 

Here’s what you can learn from these analytics and how to apply this knowledge to improve your donor experience.

Biographic and demographic information

Basic demographic data is relatively straightforward, but it can provide you with the core information you need to get in touch with donors. Here are some examples of this type of data and how you can leverage it: 

  • Preferred Name: Even something as simple as addressing your donors by their preferred names or nicknames will go a long way toward building a meaningful relationship. Let donors edit this information if they have a name change, such as after getting married. 
  • Employment: Knowing where your donors work can sometimes give you a rough estimate of their work schedule, allowing you to better time your donor communications. Or, if you notice that a lot of your donors work for the same employer, that might be an opportunity to reach out and form a possible corporate partnership.
  • Age: Millennials are more likely to check social media or text messages for communications than Baby Boomers who are more likely to use email or even traditional mail. A multi-channel communication strategy, however, is the best strategy for reaching your donors where they are.
  • Educational Background: While someone’s education level may primarily provide insights about their capacity to give, consider also looking at what your contacts were involved in while in school. Did they join clubs that provide a clue about their interests? Did they hold certain leadership positions that tell you what they’re committed to? What community service projects were they active in? This information can help you meaningfully customize your communications.

Demographic information can be especially useful when forming an outreach strategy for new donors. However, remember to avoid stereotypes and pay attention to specific donors' preferences. For instance, while many younger donors may prefer to communicate over social media and text, others might have a strong preference for email only. 

Involvement history

Monetary giving isn’t the only indicator of a donor’s interest in your organization. When you’re putting together your campaign lists, don’t forget to also look at other ways they’ve gotten involved with your nonprofit and other charitable causes. For example, make sure to also record their: 

  • Involvement in Advocacy Work: If an individual advocates for a charity or cause, they are likely committed to making a difference and may be interested in advocating for your nonprofit as well.
  • Corporate Sponsorships: If someone has advocated for their employer to sponsor your nonprofit, they have demonstrated a willingness to go the extra mile for your organization. These supporters may be interested in additional volunteer or outreach opportunities depending on the nature of the corporate sponsorship arrangement. 
  • Showing Up at Events: Regulars who appear at many of your events are prime candidates to get more involved. An events platform that integrates directly with your fundraising software can be a key tool here in making sure you’re following up with the right people.

When reaching out to donors, you can personalize your messages might be referencing their past involvement with your nonprofit. For example, you might mention a supporter’s attendance at your last event when inviting them to your next one. This demonstrates that your nonprofit pays attention to and appreciates each supporter’s individual contributions to your organization. 

Network of connections

Prospective donors will always be more willing to respond to your nonprofit’s appeals if a friend or business connection has already introduced your organization to them. If you think an individual would be willing to contribute to your nonprofit, search your donor database to check if any of your supporters have a connection with them. If they do, reach out to ask for an introduction. This strategy can also be used for raising corporate sponsorships.


Hobbies and interests will tell you which supporters are most likely to participate in your events. They’ll also give you ideas about what types of events will be the most popular with your contacts. Here are a few ideas:

  • Games: Trivia night, bingo, or board games
  • Outdoors Activities: Run/Walk, golf or fishing tournament, or softball
  • Food and Drink: Wine tasting, celebrity chef or bartender, or profit share at a restaurant
  • Music: Benefit concert, talent show, or Battle of the Bands
  • Arts and Culture: Group night at the theatre, charity poetry reading, or author meet-and-greet

You can learn about supporters’ hobbies by surveying them about their interests and taking note of what events they’ve attended in the past. For instance, a supporter who signed up for your virtual cooking class might also be interested in the restaurant partnership you’re planning next month.

Timing of gifts

When do individuals give? If someone tends to make donations at a certain time of year, your request will probably be welcomed (and successful!) if you ask at that time. Use your donor management tools to analyze when your donors usually give and determine if there are trends around a particular time of year for one (or multiple) donors. Plus, knowing when supporters are the most interested in giving can also help you spend your marketing dollars more wisely. 

Collect and use donor data 

These are just a few ideas of what types of donor data to collect and how to use it. Leverage these practices to not only build a stronger donor experience but also increase your fundraising revenue.

Learn why the donor experience is vital to a successful organization and how to implement an effective donor experience program by downloading “A Better Donor Experience: Is it the Cornerstone of Donor Loyalty?

Ready to Get Started?

    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing