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The Most Important Question in Fundraising

The Plenty Team
September 7, 2016

It’s easy to have a general sense of who your audience is — and there are probably aspects of that sense that are right on target. But have you taken a look at your constituent database recently to truly uncover who is coming to your events, visiting your website, or fundraising for you? You may find that a different segment is driving each activity or that one key audience is engaged on all levels. There is no one right path to success, but knowing who is helping you achieve it is crucial for your organization's acquisition and retention efforts.

If you've followed our blog for any amount of time (and by the way, thanks for that!), you know that there are several key participant drivers that provide the baseline for understanding what brings your constituents to your event. We can segment even further by taking a look at demographic and cause connection data. The idea here is not to generalize your audience, but rather to effectively personalize messaging and develop events that are rooted in the understanding of who your constituents are, what they care about, and why they’ve connected with your organization.

community-of-people.jpgThe first step is to collect the data needed for analysis. A great place to start "getting to know your audience" is to ask your constituents why they’re participating in your campaign or event directly on the registration form. Depending on your cause and the nature of your campaign, you can often generate data that can yield deep insight with a single question: What is your connection to the cause?

Be sure to give your constituents enough response options that they’re able to accurately answer the question and you’re able to analyze the groups you’re interested in, but not so many that choosing the response is cumbersome, responses are overlapping or confusing, or there are options that you do not plan to analyze. Require all participants to answer the question and do not leave open space for constituents to type custom answers. The key here is to collect the data in a format that is analysis-ready and allows for you to spend your time analyzing the results rather than cleaning the data. The form responses that you provide are just as important as the question. Consider the questions you’re trying to answer when crafting the response options — these choices will provide the baseline for your analysis. Are you trying to understand how parents with children impacted by your cause interact with your organization compared to siblings? Be sure to provide two distinct response options that allow you to take a look at these segments separately such as “My child is impacted by [your cause]” and “My sibling is impacted by [your cause]” rather than “My family member is impacted by [your cause].” 

After you’ve collected data from your constituents, dive in and take a look at the following:

  • How many participants fall into each connection type? Does this vary by location or over time?
  • How much fundraising revenue is each connection type raising? How does this compare to the participation distribution?
  • How does fundraising activation differ between connection types? What about median and average fundraising?

If you’re also collecting demographic data, overlaying variables such as age or gender with your connection types can lead to valuable insights. For example, you may find that moms and dads are engaging differently or that most of your constituents that are parents fall within a similar age range.

Finally, consider how your messaging and event day experience align with the insights you’ve gained from the connection analysis. By analyzing your constituents and their connection to your cause to inform your target audience, you’ll be able to more effectively engage and activate those that care most about the impactful work that you’re doing.

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