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Personalization requires a connected data strategy

Personalization is a hot topic in today’s fundraising space. And while some buzzwords are mostly hype, personalization is a key part of connecting with donors on a deeper and more meaningful level. Based on our Listen Up research, this is exactly what donors are craving, even expecting. 

Personalization is all about relevancy. When we communicate with donors in their preferred channel and incorporate information that is deeply meaningful to them—because it is content they have engaged with in the past—we are showing them that we know them and truly understand them. 

Before you can get creative with your personalization, however, you have to do a little behind-the-scenes work. That’s right, I'm talking about data.  

Advanced personalization is only made possible with a connected data strategy and technology infrastructure. It takes into consideration all the data and interactions you have with a donor and tailors their experience in a custom way—no matter the channel.  

In this blog, we’ll discuss a few steps you can take to get your nonprofit’s data strategy connected so that your organization can take its personalization strategies to the next level. 

1. Assess your data governance plan. 

If you already have a data governance plan, take the time to reassess it. Does it still serve your organization’s needs, or are there new initiatives that need to be outlined?  

A data governance plan should serve as a pulse check for all departments across the organization. It helps provide an outline for how all data is collected, stored, used and analyzed.  

If you don’t have a clear data governance plan, the next three steps will help you begin to establish one. 

2. Create a blueprint for where you store your data. 

Think about all the different donor data your organization collects. There’s email data, digital engagement activity, transactional behavior, direct mail campaign communications—just to name a few.  

It’s important to understand, map out and establish a process for how you are storing this data. Then, when it comes time to use those insights to build a strategy, you know exactly which levers to pull. 

3. Establish a clear campaign management strategy. 

Your campaign management strategy should be clear and well defined end to end. This means across all channels and disciplines.  

  • What data will you be collecting for each campaign?  
  • Which channels will be leveraged? 
  • Where will this data be stored? 

4. Ensure your data strategy works in harmony with your fundraising and marketing strategy. 

Your data, fundraising and marketing strategies should be harmonious. What data will you need in order to execute your fundraising and marketing plans? Do you have the capabilities to collect that information, or will new technology need to be introduced? These are important questions to consider as you refine your data strategy.  

I always recommend having all key stakeholders at the table as you build these strategies. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and that you’re addressing any technology gaps in your plans for activating data within your campaign strategies. 

5. Check your data governance plan one more time. 

After you’ve completed this exercise, check your data governance plan again. Are all the plans and processes established in steps 2-4 documented? If not, mark them down. 

Personalization is essential as we move into this new world of fundraising. It shows that you are actively listening to your donors—and care enough to tailor your messaging directly to them.  

Steve Caldwell

Steve Caldwell has nearly two decades of experience in building direct marketing data and analytics solutions. His ability to leverage data as an asset and passion for helping organizations accelerate their data and analytics capabilities has driven radical transformations in business insight and operational performance, leading to increased revenues for hundreds of nonprofit organizations.

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