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Donor Participation Project

Leveraging Data Beyond the CRM: How Advancement Services Can Build Better Models

Nonprofit CRMs contain a wealth of information about donors and prospects, but the data often stops at transaction summaries and contact reports. Advancement services professionals realize there is meaningful data outside the CRM that can help build more accurate predictive models.

Phone-a-thon data, email engagement metrics, alumni records, and other data sources offer clues into donors’ interests and behaviors. This “microdata” provides context that can turn a flat CRM record into a multidimensional profile. The challenge is accessing the data and engineering it into useful formats.

Vendors sit on large reserves of data, but often only provide high-level summaries to clients. Advancement services should request raw phone-a-thon data, email stats, and other metrics to analyze in-house. It may take negotiating, but the data access will allow for customized segmentation and modeling. With leadership support, advancement services can partner with vendors and IT to develop data sharing agreements and storage solutions.

Using microdata and data engineering, advancement services can develop models that predict donors’ likelihood to give and capacity for major gifts with greater accuracy. As resources get tighter, data-driven insights ensure fundraisers spend time with the right donors. While CRM data alone may point to two donors with similar transaction summaries, microdata can reveal that one donor has been attending alumni events for years and opens every email, indicating a closer relationship and greater potential.

Nonprofits seeking a competitive advantage will invest in advancement services and adopt a data-centric strategy.

Asking for additional data is the first step. With the right tools and skills, advancement services can find hidden patterns in microdata to build models that transform how organizations identify and engage their most valuable prospects. Overall, leveraging data beyond the CRM is critical for establishing long-term donor relationships and fundraising excellence.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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