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“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another…to a leader…to an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined one tribe or another.” – Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

As Godin states, we all like to join a tribe – and where there’s a tribe, there’s data! But how can we and our clients use this data decisively? Data – big, open, private, protected – there’s a lot to deal with. And today’s fundraisers are being challenged constantly to find ways to connect with and understand their donors and to find new ways to reach out to potential new donors…. Grow the Tribe!

What’s Important in Your Data

There are numerous ways that nonprofits can use data to identify and nurture their tribes. You’re likely already in the habit of asking yourself:  Who are our donors? Are they loyal? How can we engage with our supporters? How can we use the data available to attract and target potential new ‘tribe’ members?

Here are 4 keys to making good use of your data:

1. Make sure it’s accurate.
Bad data will lead to bad results. Enough said.

2. Know your target group.
Donors, like members of a tribe, come together based on what they have in common. Regular analysis of your house file is called for in order to find out what your tribe looks like. This information provides insight into donor trends, giving behaviors, lifetime revenue, and demographic commonalities, as well as multi-donor likelihood and the overall retention rate.

3. Keep it fresh and relevant.
Remember that change is the only constant. The members of your tribe are changing, and the world is changing around them. While donor profiling provides a wealth of information, it needs to integrate with CRM systems in order to be effective. There is also the ‘big’ data generated by digital devices such as smartphones, which can lend an understanding of what makes people altruistic, when they give, and to whom, and can also be used to personally tailor communications with supporters.

If charities can target individuals with personalized messages which appeal to their beliefs and lifestyles, then they are more likely to evoke positive responses.  

4. Be fast and flexible.
Speed is the currency of the day. As donors change, as fundraisers test, and as new concepts come online, it is vitally important to have systems that are quick and flexible to take advantage of learnings and advancements. If your system for capturing and reacting to information can’t keep up, then you are always chasing the latest trend.

Your tribe is waiting.

Data is necessary to make effective decisions and solve problems. Intelligent data usage means employing the right reports, systems, and analysis to ultimately craft personalized communication, to reach the right people, at the right time, with the right message.  

Paul Noonan is Managing Director of Data Services at Innovairre Communications, which supports more than 500 nonprofit organizations around the world. For more information about capturing, maintaining, and maximizing the impact of your donor data, contact us at Answers@ Subscribe to our newsletter here, and follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.