Data-driven analytics can be leveraged across higher education to improve institutional financial health, increase student success, and even drive fundraising. For the latter, analytics can help cultivate prospective donors like alumni, corporations, and philanthropists, and help maintain relationships with existing donors. With a growing pressure to increase fundraising goals, higher education institutions should consider incorporating analytics into their advancement and development initiatives.
There are two factors to consider when determining the likelihood of a donor’s contribution. The first is donor capacity. Donor capacity is an evaluation of individual wealth indicators, such as real estate holdings, income, stock, and assets. The capacity rating is a best-guess estimate based on data available in public databases as well as databases curated for donor research.
The second factor is donor affinity. Donor affinity uses individual philanthropic indicators to understand a donor's willingness to give to an organization. Higher education institutions tend to already have an abundance of this type of data in their advancement offices. Does a prospective donor have a connection with an institution? If yes, then they may be a potential donor. If an individual is not necessarily affiliated with an institution but gives to organizations with similar missions/causes, they could still be a potential donor.
There are numerous criteria that can help institutions better evaluate fundraising prospects. Here are a few.
- Are they alumni?
- Do they have a child that attends or previously attended the institution?
- Do they have a history of prior giving to the school?
- Do they read a college’s newsletters?
- Do they attend homecoming or other networking events?
- Have they volunteered at an institution at any capacity?
- Have they reached out to the school?
- Do they regularly open emails?
All these factors are data points that, with the help of analytics, can be evaluated and weighed to determine the likelihood of a prospect giving a donation.
Analytics in Fundraising
Every donor interaction or community engagement introduces data that can be analyzed to improve results. Some of the benefits of analyzing data and incorporating findings into fundraising are listed below.
- Better Understand Donors – With analytics, institutions can build profiles of their donors and segment donor lists by the regularity of donation, size of donation, as well as basic demographics like age and geographic location. This insight can help organizations better predict the likelihood of donations.
- Leverage Corporate Philanthropy – Many donors work for corporations that provide gift matching. Institutions can optimize their efforts by capitalizing on corporate philanthropy initiatives that agree to match the contributions from donors.
- Target New Markets – The more data an organization has on its donors, the easier it is to optimize strategies to target the desired audience segment and achieve a positive outcome. Schools can also use the information they have to tap into new markets that may not be targeted as heavily as others.
Donor data should be one of the biggest influences in an institution’s fundraising decision-making. Data-driven fundraising helps schools focus and measure their efforts. With the right tools and the best partner, organizations can collect, manage, and utilize data to secure more and larger gifts and grow their donor community.
Are You Ready for the FAFSA Simplification? Here’s What You Need to Know.
November 29, 2023
The simplified FAFSA comes out on December 31. How can you prepare for its impact on your campus?