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Why data matters if you want to get personal
As you know, there’s a lot more to fundraising than simply reaching out to potential donors and soliciting donations. The most successful nonprofit organizations connect with individuals whose values align with the organization’s mission.
This enables the nonprofit to reach out to prospective donors, build a relationship, and work towards a shared goal together. Many nonprofits have turned to a data-driven approach, which allows them to personalize fundraising communications and other content on an individual basis.
Donors are open to the idea of receiving personalized content. In fact, more than twice as many donors say they prefer personalized content rather than generic communications.
But when your message needs to reach thousands, or tens of thousands of people, how can your organization possibly create content that appeals to each person as an individual?
Welcome to the World of Variable Data
Variable data applies content specially crafted for each recipient, which can be switched out from piece to piece by pulling information from computerized databases. This makes the experience unique for each individual. Addressing the recipient by name, making a reference to the city they live in, and mentions of past giving history or other accomplishments are examples of variable content.
A report by Campaign Monitor found that emails with personalized subject lines are 26 percent more likely to be opened than those with a generic subject. Emails can be one of the easiest places to take advantage of personalization and get started with variable data. Most email services make it easy to get started with at least a basic level of personalization within emails.
Where Else Can I Use Variable Data?
Don’t just stop at your email subject line. There are a seemingly unlimited number of ways to incorporate variable data in your fundraising outreach. Never turn down an easy opportunity to add personalized content into your communications!
According to Hubspot, personalized call to actions convert 202 percent better than generic ones. Using variable data to personalize your call to action will impact your nonprofit’s bottom line and give you measurable results right away.
Another effective strategy is to personalize ask strings based on a donor’s giving history. This not only lets your donors know that you appreciated their past gift, but can also open the door for an increased donation. For example, if someone’s last donation was $50, give them options to donate $50, $75, or $100, as well as a space for them to write in a gift amount. More often than not, the donor will increase their gift if they perceive the value of their last gift as the minimum donation.
Personalizing Digital Materials
As I mentioned earlier, email subject lines are a great place to get started with personalized content. However, this barely scratches the surface of what is possible with variable data and digital communications.
Planning to send out an e-newsletter blast? There’s a good chance that every article you want to include won’t appeal to every individual. The last thing you want to do is create disinterest, so consider using your data to determine who should receive what articles in their e-newsletter. For example, include relevant information and progress about projects a donor has contributed to, but consider leaving out information about your upcoming event if the donor lives in a far-away country.
If you have access to your web developer, consider using personalized campaign pages. These pages allow you to version text and images for specific segments of your audience, refer to other materials they have received, and thank them for their previous donations.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of PURLs is their ability to make it easier for donors to give. The giving process is faster and simpler when information, like the donor’s name and email address, is already filled in for them. Limiting the steps required to give a donation expedites the process, leading to an increase in individual gifts and a smoother user experience.
But How Do I Personalize Print My Appeals?
Text, colors, photos, illustrations and other graphics can all be tailored to appeal to the individual. With variable data, you can deliver a unique experience with each direct mail appeal starting with the mailing envelope. Try incorporating personalized and versioned elements, including images on postcards and reply cards, from there. Images or copy on lift notes can reflect giving history. This is a chance to create relevance, so anything you can do to build a relationship will benefit you overall.
Don’t stop there. Transactional documents, such as donation receipts, membership renewal statements, and endowment fund statements are primed for personalization. Your audience won’t be shaken by a customized message on these documents, since they are already personal in nature. Documents such as an endowment fund statement can include an annual fund ask or a heartfelt, non-generic thank you.
Brochures are another print material that you may not have thought of targeting on an individual basis. Personalized brochures are effective and efficient. They can be custom-fit to include programs and projects the prospective donor expressed interest in. Visual elements, including photos, infographics, and color schemes, can be varied based on what you know about each individual donor. Was Mr. Smith at your fundraising dinner last year? See if you have any pictures from the event that you can share with him in the brochure!
Why is Variable Data so Important?
Modern communications need to get the right message to the right people. Using variable data is cost-efficient and generates better results than a spray and pray approach. You will get your message to your ideal audience with materials stand out above mass appeal communications.
When donors and prospective donors feel like they are being addressed directly, it opens the door for deeper engagement and future donations. Nonprofits that successfully build relationships with their donors find people want to work with them and are excited about their activities. Fostering this personal connection leads to increased volunteer interest, more consecutive gifts, and improved donor retention.
About Action Graphics
Action Graphics exists to increase the value and effectiveness of our client’s fundraising and related communications. We work with nonprofits and educational institutions to provide integrated strategies and execution to help them meet their goals. Our mission-centric approach has helped hundreds of organizations amplify their messaging and communicate more powerfully to deliver results and increase engagement.