Harvesters Benefits From the Bounty of Data Analytics
In looking at how donors and prospective donors came onto the file and then at Harvesters' communication plan, the trio realized the two didn't fit, says Weber. People who were primed for giving might not be contacted until the next direct mail program came due—and that could take more than 30 days.
"You don't want to treat these folks like everyone else and throw them into the general mail program," Merrigan adds.
Based on the analytics, Harvesters made some big changes in the last two years. First, it tore down whatever silos existed between the four departments so data could be shared more freely across the teams. Heer notes that while Harvesters could make some educated guesses about donor activity before, the analytics gives the department managers better insight and gives her "some ammunition on some level of what we can budget for and how these different managers can work together" to achieve the nonprofit's goals.
One of the quick wins was development of an insert that provides details on volunteering with Harvesters, which goes into donation appeals to companies.
A bigger project was the development of a package that went to 24- to 36-month lapsed donors. "In 2008, they reactivated more 2005 donors than they did in 2007. Overall, reactivated donors were up 65 percent, and dollars from that segment more than doubled," says Merrigan.
And because of the strong tie between participation, donation and retention, Harvesters continues to develop ways to maximize communication on this front. For example, says Heer, when a church group volunteers, the volunteer department works with fund development to gather the names of all the people from the group who turned out, not just the person who coordinated the group. Heer then can get those prospective donors into the database and start promoting to them according to their levels of involvement.