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Top 5 Benefits of Tracking Donor Engagement

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Maintaining a genuine relationship with donors is essential in keeping your nonprofit organization running. But how can you measure or quantify donor relationships?

One of the most important things in being able to keep your effective relationships with donors is having a 360-degree view of the engagement activities taking place with them. These interactions have to be visible across the entire organization and be easily defined.

It may seem counterintuitive, but data – raw information – is an important key to cultivating strong donor relationships. This data should be regularly reviewed and analyzed, and it should be used to help define your communication strategy with your donors. Understanding what resonates with your donors starts with accurate and consistent tracking of your interactions, and adjusting your strategies based on what works.

Based on our experience in the CRM space, there are five key benefits to tracking these engagement activities accurately and consistently:

  1. Protect the relationship information with your donors – By communicating with your donors, and tracking these interactions, you can build organizational knowledge about each individual donor.

    When tracked effectively in CRM software, this information lives within the organization, and not within one PERSON in the organization.

    This is especially important because unfortunately, even the best organizations deal with employee turnover. Make sure the organizational knowledge about your donors stays within your walls, even when key employees decide it is time to move on.
  2. Dodge embarrassing communication gaffes – Effective tracking of donor interactions ensures you appear coordinated and presents a unified front to your donors. The 360-degree view of engagement ensures you avoid any gaps in communication with your donors.

    Also, equally as important is avoiding bombarding donors with over-communication simply because the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand has been up to. It can be embarrassing to reach out to a donor with an ask, only to find out from them they have already been solicited by another team member earlier that day.

    Consistent tracking helps everyone in the organization to know that if the communication isn’t tracked, it didn’t happen, and conversely, if it is tracked it can be trusted that it did happen.
  3. Accurate donor data– Regular and accurate tracking of donor interactions also gives you the chance to ensure the data you have about your donors is up to date and accurate.

    Perhaps in a conversation with a donor, you find out they plan to winter at a new address. CRM tracking gives you the opportunity to proactively update your core donor data to ensure you have the appropriate information for continued communication.
  4. Understand your donor’s preferences– Active communication with your donors and effective tracking helps you understand more about who they are, why they care about your organization, how they prefer to be communicated with, how they prefer to give and limitless other important pieces of information.

    This information can be used for specific donor segmentation and to create targeted appeals that resonate with the donors based on their preferences, experiences, and what motivates them.
  5. Ensure regular and effective communication– As the old saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This holds true for donor engagement as well.

    Often, we hear nonprofits talk about their engagement strategy with an “I think, I want, I feel” mentality. This proves unreliable and difficult to measure.

    Effective tracking gives you something measurable that is easily quantified. This level of business intelligence can make all the difference in effective fundraising.

    Remember, the goal of regular and effective communication is to support and improve your fundraising efforts – it is proven to increase your effectiveness as fundraisers.

In today’s fast-paced world, one of the most utilized methods of communication is email. While we could argue the finer points of whether email is a meaningful way to engage with donors, it is a reality we all use email as an arrow in our engagement quiver.

A challenge in many business systems is the difficulty of tracking these emails. If your organization uses something like Excel, tracking of email would probably consist of just indicating an email was sent. It would be difficult to store the actual email content, which makes true, effective tracking nearly impossible.

If you are using a large and complicated CRM tool, you would likely have an add-in for your email system that is clunky, buggy and requires as many as six clicks to track one simple email.

This was a challenge we faced head-on when building DonorDock – how do we take this important and widely used channel of engagement and make it easy to track these interactions in the system?

Our solution is track@donordock.com. The idea with track@donordock.com is to take a complicated process and simplify it. If you are emailing with a donor and need to track the interaction, you simply CC or BCC track@donordock.com on your email or reply. The system will pick up the email, and within a few minutes it will create an email activity with the subject and body and associate the activity to the contacts it was sent to.

No special email clients, or clunky tools. Just a simple CC or BCC and you have a copy of the interaction that lives on in DonorDock, even after you delete it from your inbox. Here is an example of the DonorDock Reductionist Theory on full display.

In order to build better relationships with your donors, I would encourage you to make consistent and accurate tracking of engagement activities a cornerstone of your relationship strategy. Don’t let it stop there, though.

Tracking data for the sake of tracking data is just wasted time. Make sure you are reviewing and USING your data to build organizational knowledge and business intel, and that you are using it to make the best possible decisions for the benefit of your organization.

Matt Bitzegaio
Written by
Matt Bitzegaio

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