It’s no secret that elections are getting more expensive. At nearly $15 billion, OpenSecrets reports that the 2020 federal election cycle was the most expensive in U.S. history – more than twice as expensive as 2016. So, why does it matter? For political campaigns, political action committees (PACs), and grassroots organizations, the ability to raise funds is closely linked to the ability to make a difference. Read on for a comprehensive overview of how donor data can boost your fundraising.
What Is Donor Data?
Donor data is a relatively broad term that covers a wide range of information that can be useful when it comes to fundraising. The data that is relevant to your campaign, PAC, or organization will depend, in part, on your specific circumstances. That being said, there are a few key categories of donor data that are widely considered to be highly useful for boosting fundraising:
- Political Contribution History: The number one predictor of whether or not someone will make a political contribution in the next election cycle is whether or not they contributed in the last election cycle. A political contribution history is a key form of donor data. By knowing how often a person contributes, who they have contributed to, what they have contributed to, and how much they have contributed, your campaign or organization will be better poised to boost your fundraising efforts.
- Demographic Information: Demographic information is key, foundational donor data. Broadly speaking, demographic information covers a wide array of personal identifying details and information related to a particular person. Along with other things, relevant demographic information includes name, age, gender, educational background, employment state, family structure, and contact information. Campaigns, PACs, and organizations can better understand and connect with potential donors when they have comprehensive information.
- Wealth Indicators: A person’s ability to donate depends, in part, on their wealth. Of course, wealth is not a perfect indicator of donor potential. Still, wealth is a relevant factor. Wealth indicators can be a useful form of donor data; these include property ownership, business interests and business connections, and prior history of large contributions.
- Political & Nonprofit Involvement: A person who is more involved in political campaigns and political causes is more likely to donate. A donor’s prior history of political involvement—including non-profit involvement—is an important indicator of not just how likely they are to contribute but what causes they care about. Organizations that can gauge a potential donor’s interests generally have stronger communications strategies, which are more likely to generate donations than organizations that don’t listen to their target audience.
- Consumer Data: Finally, election campaigns, PACs, and grassroots advocacy groups are increasingly utilizing consumer data. Consumer data is a type of donor data. Consumer data can come in a wide range of different forms. It can include everything from information about social media content to what types of magazines people subscribe to.
Note: You may see the acronym RFM used in reference to an individual donor’s potential. It stands for Recency, Frequency, and Monetary. In effect, it is the principle that donor potential can be assessed, in part, by the recency of a contribution, the frequency of overall contributions, and the amount that was donated to a campaign or organization.
The Importance of Donor Data
Beyond understanding what donor data is, campaign managers and staff also need to know why donor data is important. It can take your fundraising efforts to the next level in several ways. When harnessed, donor data has the potential to help bring in more contributions with less effort (and expenditures). Here are six ways donor data can boost fundraising:
- Identify and understand donors. With a better understanding of your donor base, you can boost fundraising and craft a more effective campaign. Ask yourself: Do you know who the potential donors to your campaign or political group are? Who are the people interested in your campaign or cause? What do they care about?
- Hone your message. Donor data allows campaigns to better communicate with their target audience. You can use donor data to help refine your message in several different ways. The right data can help key decision-makers see what type of messages are clicking with the people who matter.
- Target individuals. We live in the era of political micro-targeting. The technology and tools exist to allow campaigns and organizations to connect directly with individual voters at a deeper level than ever before. However, you cannot effectively target individual donors without the right data.
- Know what to ask for. One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in political fundraising is asking for too small of a contribution. You could end up leaving money on the table. Of course, asking for too much can be just as big of a fundraising mistake. You could overwhelm a potential donor and they may decide not to contribute at all. Knowing what to ask for allows campaigns and organizations to get the most out of their donors. The right political data ensures that you know exactly what to ask for. A person’s history of political contributions (or lack thereof) is a key data point.
- Leverage your resources: One of the not-so-secret principles of political fundraising is that it costs money to raise money. Some metrics can be used to help determine how efficient your fundraising operation is in practice. For example, you can assess how much money it costs to raise one dollar. If it costs 90 cents to raise one dollar, a campaign is inefficient. On the other hand, if it only costs 10 cents to raise a dollar, a lot of financial resources are freed up. The right donor data helps to make fundraising operations far more efficient. You can use donor data to better leverage the resources that you have at your disposal.
Keeping Donor Data Well-Organized
Donor data has changed politics. Campaigns, PACs, and grassroots organizations that do not use data-driven fundraising strategies are putting themselves behind the eight ball. When used efficiently, donor data can dramatically boost fundraising. Plus, you can raise more money with less effort. That is not to say that managing donor data is easy. Indeed, there is now so much data available that campaigns and political groups can get overwhelmed.
The useful, actionable donor data can become the needle in a haystack of duplicative, inconsistent, outdated, or downright inaccurate data. Managing donor data is more important than ever before. Campaigns and political organizations must have the right tools and processes in place to ensure that they are effectively managing their data. Keeping your donor lists “clean” and your political data organized can boost fundraising even further.
Boost Your Fundraising With the Right Tools
Fundraising matters. The right data tools can make all of the difference for election campaigns, PACs, and political advocacy groups. At Aristotle, we have long been leaders in political data. Our campaign management and political consulting team goes above and beyond to connect clients with the data tools that they need to boost their fundraising. This means better identifying donors, developing workable strategies, and raising more money. Our donor data tools include:
- Aristotle Donor Insight: Aristotle Donor Insight is a detailed tool for the analysis of political contributions. You do not have to build an entire database from scratch. Aristotle collects data, compiles reports, and provides action-oriented analysis that you can use to boost your fundraising efforts. The right insight into your donors can tell you who to ask, what to ask for, and how to ask.
- Aristotle MatchIT: Aristotle MatchIT is a data donor tool that allows you to seamlessly combine your existing data with our data. Most campaigns, PACs, and advocacy groups have useful existing data. You do not have to throw this data out and start over—even if your current donor data is underwhelming or disorganized. Quite the contrary, we can combine your data with our data to create an updated and comprehensive data list that you can use.
Aristotle Is a Leader in Donor Data
Fundraising is a never-ending challenge for political campaigns. There is no single solution, but knowing how to leverage donor data can help. At Aristotle, we are proud to be the leader in political data and campaign management technology. With a comprehensive National Voter File and regularly updated voter lists, we help election campaigns and grassroots political advocacy groups better identify and engage with primary voters. To learn more, give us a call or message us directly online to schedule your free demo!