When the DonorSearch team talks to our clients, we like to ask them to describe the most powerful feature of our tools. As you might expect, the answers can vary. Some focus on the day-to-day benefits of DonorSearch, such as how easy it is to use our tools—or our world-class support always available at the other end of the phone. Yet others take a much more strategic view on how we partner well to improve their fundraising. This is of particular interest for nonprofits considering working with DonorSearch for the first time.
Along with being easy to use and including unparalleled support, our tools enable nonprofits to identify the most engaged members of the community that best-selling author and speaker Seth Godin refers to as your organization’s tribe. Of course, the process of identifying the most engaged members of your community comes with another helpful benefit. To identify your tribe, we first have to determine what factors about your organization the community finds most engaging. These insights about how your team connects with your community hold tremendous power.
Zooming out, the desire to have a deeper understanding of engagement is clear throughout the non-profit economy. In fact, it is the very subject of a recent report by the Associated Press completed in a partnership with The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Conversation. The AP’s article, aptly titled, “Why Do They Give? Donors Speak About What Moves Them and How They Plan End-of-Year Donations,” includes many interviews with donors from around the country. It seeks to understand why each of them participate in philanthropy.
The information is instructive—to say the least.
One of the interviewees is Ruben Brooks, the COO of a rail system being build in Atlanta. Mr. Brooks identifies the causes he supports as “financial literacy, scholarships, and mentoring for young people in the African American community.” According to the AP article, he makes annual gifts to organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Junior Achievement of Georgia, and the Ezekiel Taylor Foundation, which provides scholarships to African-American men from the Chicago area. Mr. Brooks also makes clear why these organizations are so engaging to him.
The exec explains, “If you want a healthier society, if you want a more productive society, a safer society, then it probably behooves all of us to give in an effort to effectuate the desired result.” Tellingly, Mr. Brooks doesn’t only provide financial support to the causes he passionately cares about. He has previously volunteered as a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, sits on the board of Junior Achievement, and sometimes hosts Ezekiel Taylor scholarship recipients at his home to provide guidance and assistance via their college years.
So, why does this particular donor’s story matter to the wider non-profit world? There are millions of Americans like Mr. Brooks, and DonorSearch can help you find them. Of course, most organizations don’t have the chance to formally interview donors as the AP project did, meaning they tend to rely on what they “know” about donors, which may be badly out of date—or simply incorrect.
To this point, DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell explains, “As we develop customized algorithms for each client, there’s always a big moment where light bulbs start to go off in people’s heads. They realize, ‘Wow, so that drives engagement!’ Seeing the learning happen in real time is gratifying for both the DonorSearch AI team and our clients themselves.”
The variables that demonstrate a correlation to engagement are included in the algorithm utilized by DonorSearch AI to process and score members of the community. Yet unlike traditional models, this algorithm can extend to dozens of variables, and moreover, the algorithm becomes more accurate over time through the power of machine learning and constant refinement of the model. The result is an engagement score, which typically uncovers many prospects who have never been properly considered by an organization. In practice, this means putting the names of strongly engaged prospects in the hands of your fundraising team.
Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco adds, “DonorSearch sets out to bring fresh insights to each nonprofit we work with. Time and again, we find that every nonprofit desires a clearer picture of its community, and it’s been successfully proven for organizations in all fields that the answer to the question of ‘Who is most engaged to my mission?’ is in the data.”
To learn just how we can help you better understand your own community and what matters most to it without the benefit of extensive AP interviews, please contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future success every day, consider a career with DonorSearch.