Know Your Donors | Sharpe Group
Posted November 19th, 2020

Know Your Donors

By Jana Lawyer

Throughout Sharpe Group’s 50-plus-year history, we have found an underlying truth for the success of any fundraising program is to “know your donors.” Having information on your donors’ demographics, their giving history and their preferred means of communication enables you to strengthen your relationships and better identify the likely timing of gifts based on your donors’ individual needs and intentions.

How is this accomplished?

Sharpe Group takes a data-based approach to finding solutions for your fundraising challenges. Our process starts with an extensive array of statistics that are used to thoroughly understand the attributes and nature of your donor database. These analyses would statistically describe the many aspects of your membership/donor base, including an individual’s ability to give, the way in which they give as well as their age, wealth and gender.

Other important information is marital status, education and giving history. After an initial member/donor analysis, we accurately profile your organization’s “success measures.” Success measures are your desired results, such as total amount given, gift number, bequests and so on. Sharpe combines member/donor attributes and the organization’s success measures with predictive analysis using our proprietary Augmented Intelligence (AI) platform. In our “predictive analysis,” our AI platform provides us with data-based insights and predictions. Our predictions tell us which members are likely to give and how much. It also tells us what communication types are most successful with a diverse donor base.

In one example of bequests we analyzed, the best planned giving prospect was a donor who is 70 or older, has a home value greater than $300,000 and is widowed. This donor typically has a history of giving at least one moderate-sized gift (>$5,000) and has been a member for more than seven years. Surprisingly, in this study, the total number of gifts was not an accurate predictor of bequest amount.

Finding your best prospects

The Sharpe research team has an impressive array of AI-based data analysis tools to help you uncover your best prospects. We use our AI platform, our years of experience and your defined needs to provide the data insights and prescriptive plans to build your donor relationships. Our platform is intended to be a continual cycle of analysis that consistently improves your success measures.

Our Donor Data Enhancement Service gives you the data-based insights you need to accurately integrate your resources into communication and development plans. We deliver an enhanced version of your donor file, containing powerful and actionable demographic data. Appending intelligence to your database will help you determine the most cost-effective strategies that can increase your success in current and deferred gift planning efforts.

To help you determine what types of giving vehicles (Create Your Plan/Implement Your Plan) you should target to donors and when and how to communicate to them, we use the Sharpe Donor Lifecycle and Sharpe Gift Planning Matrix®. By segmenting your donor database, you can streamline your donor communications with specific messages that have a better chance of resonating.

Knowing your donors allows you to develop communications, whether in a print or digital format, that speak to individual donors and demonstrate ways of giving that may allow them to give more than they thought possible.

This intelligence is a cornerstone for a successful gift planning program that makes the most of your organization’s resources and encourages transformational gifts. Contact us today to start a conversation about how Sharpe Group can help. ■

Jana Lawyer is a Sharpe Group senior consultant based in California. She has worked with nonprofit organizations of all sizes on their planned giving marketing and donor demographics.

Know Your Team

Your donors are not the only people vital to the success of your fundraising efforts. Your team is another key to development. Investing in your organization’s team members strengthens the relationships between donors and your mission.

Sharpe Group offers tools to help you understand and build your best team:

  • Workforce assessment using DISC analysis.
  • Team building, coaching and mentoring.
  • Leadership development.
  • Hiring platform.
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The publisher of Sharpe Insights is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Sharpe Insights may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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