Do you feel like your supporters are a mystery? Are you unsure about what motivates them and unclear on how to inspire them? Do you find yourself guessing, and assuming, and throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks?

There’s good news.

Your donors are already telling you what they care about, how they want to engage with you, and what inspires them most. You just have to listen.

Introducing Donor Signals

Everything a donor does and says about you is a signal. It’s a piece of information about what makes them tick. While no one signal should inform your entire strategy, when viewed together, signals help you understand each donor’s intent.

Once you start listening to your supporters’ signals, you’ll be able to engage with them in a much more meaningful way. Instead of guessing what they’re interested in, you’ll know, based on data

We know that donors drop off when they receive irrelevant messages and inappropriate asks. Being responsive to your donors’ signals allows you to cut through the noise and attract (and keep!) their attention. It helps you make better suggestions and offer them more of what they want. This, in turn, can influence retention, lifetime giving, and more. 

3 Kinds Of Donor Signals

So what are these donor signals, and how can you listen to more of them?

1. Donor Signals You Observe: Digital Behavior 

How are your supporters interacting with you online? The web pages they visit, the emails they click on, and whether or not they complete an online donation are all signals about what they care most about, and how they want to engage with you. 

With tracking pixels like The Responsive Listener, email tools, and a responsive nonprofit CRM, you can transform your donor’s digital behavior into actionable information. 

You can:

  • Automatically tag donors based on the CTA or topic they engage with and then automate follow-up. 
  • Use those tags to segment communications, build donor journeys, or create specific campaigns. 
  • Test landing pages and email messages to get more precise information about what will perform best with your unique audience. 

Observing your donors’ web behavior turns your website into more than a repository for information about your programs. It becomes a vehicle to learn more about your supporters. 

When you know that they spend more time learning about one program over another, or find that 70% of the supporters who make it to your donation page abandon their gifts, you’ll be able to create specific strategies to build engagement, drive donations, and connect more meaningfully. 

2. Donor Signals You Invite: Surveys and Interviews

Communication is a two-way street. Asking your supporters for feedback is a great way to get more information about what matters to them. Regularly inviting your supporters to talk to you gives you more opportunities to be responsive.

If you’re looking for concrete information, like demographics and communication preferences, use a simple survey to collect it. Surveys can also be a good tool for gauging donor satisfaction, how informed or involved supporters feel, and whether they prefer one thing over another. 

Interviews are another way to open conversation with your supporters and a good source of stories and emotional information. Asking people what originally brought them to your organization and why they continue to donate will give you a deeper perspective on your supporters and their motivations. 

Once you’ve collected this data, you can start to look for patterns to inform your strategy. Use the words supporters use to describe their feelings to create marketing and communications that speak directly to them, and people like them. 

3. Public Information: Data Append

There is a lot of information out there. Social media profiles, real estate data, corporate filings, public giving data, and other online data sources can all combine to give you a richer profile of each person in your database. 

The information that you observe directly from donors, and the things they tell you, should always be trusted over third-party sources. That said, data appended to your CRM can help create a fuller picture. 

Wealth data helps you understand the financial capacity of your donors. Integrating your CRM with a vendor like DonorSearch can help you gain insight into donors’ charitable giving activity, real estate holdings, political giving, business affiliations, stock ownership, and more. Social media scraping pulls public data from social media platforms into your CRM. This social data can be used to fill out donor profiles, identify influencers in your database, and learn more about your supporters’ interests and preferences. 

Stop Guessing, Start Listening

Collecting all these signals creates a more comprehensive picture of your donors, and gives you more data to work with. With more information, you have more opportunities to personalize engagement, making your fundraising more and more relevant and effective.

Does your nonprofit technology give you the visibility into donor signals that you need? Virtuous is designed to help nonprofits respond to their supporters’ signals and leverage their data to drive donor connections and grow mission-critical funding. 

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Virtuous is the responsive fundraising software platform proven to help nonprofit organizations increase generosity by serving all donors personally, no matter their gift size.

“Virtuous truly understands nonprofits and the importance of our mission. And their open access to data and built-in custom reports gave us access to the data we need.”
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Chief Information Officer