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Every new year brings an opportunity to dream big and plan even bigger, both for us as individuals and for the organizations we serve.

Whether you’re a fundraiser, a prospect researcher, or the head of advancement, Affinaquest wants to help you rock your organization or institution’s fundraising goals this year. We’ve put together a list of five ways to help whip your fundraising efforts into shape in 2022, making it your best year ever.

1. Put your fundraising energy where it matters with effective data enrichment.

There never seems to be enough time, money, or energy to go around, especially in non-profit fundraising and higher education advancement. To make your limited resources stretch as far as possible, it’s critical to utilize them strategically.

Data can play a huge role in helping to prioritize your prospects and your work, and nobody does fundraising data like Affinaquest. Prospect research teams organize data for more precise fundraiser action, but starting with–and maintaining–the right data is key.

Overall, data enrichment and analytics help to build a strong foundation by ensuring that constituent data is as clean, accurate, and as complete as possible. Once you have the right data in place, the possibilities are endless: that data allows you to make smarter, better-informed decisions about your work and strategies.

Affinaquest’s Data Enrichment tools draw on hundreds of publicly available data fields (contact information, interests, employment, etc.) to provide fundraising and advancement teams with a clearer, more complete picture of your constituents before you ever reach out to them (learn more about Affinaquest’s approach to data enrichment). We use a robust identity resolution process to ensure that the data we find is matched to the right person in your database, too, helping you to avoid embarrassing and time-consuming mixups.

Our Analytics tools build on this good data to offer trusted insights, including wealth scores and gift capacity ratings. You can use these to successfully:

  • Identify and recommend top major giving prospects,
  • Segment your donors for targeted appeals,
  • Pinpoint opportunities to move your donor relationships forward,
  • and much more.

The more complete, accurate information you have, the better conclusions you can draw from the data, and the more you are empowered to make the right moves at the right time. That, of course, means better fundraising outcomes, helping you to crush your 2022 goals.

2. Embrace the power of digital.

Fundraising has been moving in a digital direction for years, relying more and more on social media, mobile fundraising, video calls, and online giving. The COVID-19 pandemic has only elevated our reliance on these tools, shifting us to a new normal. The Chronicle of Philanthropy says that half of non-profits recently surveyed planned to host both virtual and in-person events in 2022, and many reported that online fundraising was helping them to reach more new donors.

2022 is the year to fully commit to the power of digital.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you completely throw out all traditional engagement methods. Regular phone calls, handwritten notes, personal visits, and in-person events, educational opportunities and programs, when safe, are still crucial to a comprehensive fundraising and outreach strategy.

However, supplementing traditional events and meetings with social media and opportunities to convene virtually provides alumni and donors with new and different ways to get connected, no matter where they are.

In Florida, the communications team at the University of Central Florida works with “student influencers” – current students with large followings on social media – to promote the campus and highlight the student experience through videos, posts, and other content for Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. These videos not only act as a student recruiting tool, but also captivate alumni and other community members..

In a fall 2020 webinar put on by our colleagues at ALUMinate (now part of Affinaquest) in partnership with the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), CASE revealed that virtual events had enabled many institutions to deepen their alumni relationships and to engage new alumni and volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the results of a recent survey. These virtual events included both events that had been previously held in person as well as programs uniquely innovated for a digital audience.

These digital strategies might be helping to engage a whole new demographic of philanthropists, building a pipeline to future major gifts too. At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, digital fundraising efforts have brought in “a lot more young and tech-savvy donors.” Among other things, UNLV has used online video platforms to send personalized stewardship messages to their donors online, delivering a meaningful personal connection via the internet.

Great constituent data is critical in facilitating this connection, whether online or in person. An email campaign is only as good as the addresses you send it to, and you can’t know how successful your efforts are – or even who is most engaging with you online – without data.

Affinaquest’s Central Intelligence tool is essential for pulling together data from across the institution, ensuring that you see the full, up-to-the-minute picture of your constituents’ relationships to the organization. Each night, the tool gathers critical data from across all of your systems, addresses issues like duplication, and produces a comprehensive record. We call this one true and complete listing the Golden Record, and it serves as a central point of reference for your constituents with all the critical information you need in one place.

Paired with Central Intelligence and the Golden Record, our Data Enrichment services further supplement that data, providing you with the contact information and other details you need for effective outreach, no matter the method.

3. Amplify your donor dollars with matching gifts.

According to data from GivingUSA, corporate philanthropy totaled nearly $17 billion in 2020. That number includes everything from corporate sponsorships to volunteer grants, but matching gifts make up a significant portion of the total, around $5B every year.

At Affinaquest, we believe that the matching gifts figure could be even higher. Nearly two-thirds of companies offer to match their employees’ giving, and we estimate that as much as $10B in matching gift funds go unclaimed every year.

So while your donors may be giving loyally and generously, they, and thus you might be missing out on the chance to make an even bigger impact. Many companies match their employees’ donations at a 1:1 ratio, with some matching at a rate that triples, quadruples, or even quintuples the original gift. With a 5:1 match, a $1,000 gift could quickly turn into $6,000 for your organization.

One of the biggest barriers to maximizing your matching gift revenue is awareness. Many donors don’t even know that their company will match. Thus, matching gifts should be a central element of your conversations with donors and prospects (we have some tips for how to do that in the post How To Educate Your Donors About Matching Gifts).

But while matching gifts should be easy money (you’ve already done the hard work to engage the donor, after all), we know that there are challenges to the process too. Affinaquest has tools to help.

As a starting point, professional data is included in the hundreds of fields that we offer through our Data Enrichment services. Knowing where your constituents work helps you to identify matching gift opportunities from the very beginning.

In addition, Affinaquest maintains matching gift policy information for more than 23,000 companies as part of our AffinityX2 Matching Gifts solution. That library of information allows us to automatically identify eligible donors through Auto Match, which also tracks the status of the gifts and links them back into your CRM. Our Match Lookup tool empowers your donors to look up their employers as part of the online giving process, promoting matching gifts and giving donors the information they need to request the match, while also automating messaging to encourage your donors to complete the process.

Our research indicates that potential donors are 84% more likely to make a gift if there is potential for it to be matched. By prioritizing matching gifts, you likely aren’t just increasing matching gift dollars; you might increase the donations you can expect from your constituents themselves as well, getting you to those 2022 goals even faster.

4. Build relationships with your new pandemic donors.

In May 2021, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported on 2020 giving numbers, noting that overall giving had increased by 5.2%. Even more importantly, the total number of donors also went up by 1.3% in 2020, reversing a downward trend that had persisted for years.

Not every organization necessarily benefitted from these increases; the report indicates that fundraising dollars went down at most non-profit organizations. However, the increase in both donations and donors still suggests that people rose to meet the moment in 2020, and it is critical that fundraisers at benefitting institutions now do the same.

New donors represent a new, golden opportunity for the organization. While some of these donors could end up being one-time contributors, others may be open and ready to build a long-term relationship with your institution. At a minimum, every institution should be stewarding these new donors, expressing gratitude and their impact with an annual report or impact letter.

But one of the best ways to build a strong relationship with your new donors is to understand why they gave in the first place:

  • What was it that prompted a new gift or a significant increase in 2020 or beyond? Was it a new initiative or a sudden need, such as student grants to offset the economic effects of the pandemic? Did something happen or change in your donor’s life that prompted the gift?
  • What connections do your new donors have to the organization or institution? Do they know another donor, a member of your board, or someone on staff? Are they alumni of your institution or its programs?

When we know why they gave, we can better determine how new donors might fit into major and annual gift fundraising efforts.

For prospect researchers, that means identifying those new donors, estimating their giving capacity, and, if appropriate, recommending them for a portfolio based on their giving, known history, and connections. For annual giving officers, it’s adding them to appeals or, as the Chronicle suggests, encouraging recurring gifts to keep them engaged. For major giving officers, the next step may be initiating outreach to build a deeper relationship and ask those questions directly.

Affinaquest’s Central Intelligence and Data Enrichment tools can help to identify new donors, estimate wealth and capacity, link new gifts and records to existing donors (preventing an embarrassing “introduction” to a loyal constituent), and give you the information and tools you need for effective outreach too. Together, these tools will help you start 2022 off on the right foot with these new donors.

5. Curate a custom experience for your constituents.

Whether we realize it or not, much of our day-to-day experience is curated. While attending a conference a few years ago, I discussed Calgary, Alberta—a place I had never been and wasn’t actively planning to visit—with new acquaintances. Soon after, I was inundated with travel ads for the location, encouraging me to come to the Canadian city.

Algorithms are always at play in the background of our online experience, determining what to show and what to omit based on our individual needs and interests. Whether this is good or bad is a complex question, but the fact remains that it is our new reality—and it has its benefits.

A curated experience allows us to cut through the noise, more quickly getting to what we want or need out of our engagement. This is true whether we’re talking about the ads we see online or the relationships we hold with non-profit and higher education institutions.

By thoughtfully guiding your alumni, donors, and prospects through an experience that is customized for them, you can deepen or expand their relationship with the institution, leading to greater engagement and bigger donations too. It might be as simple as inviting a local business leader and fundraising prospect to serve on your advisory board. Or sending basketball tickets to one constituent, who you know is a fan of the team, and ballet tickets to another, who studied dance in college and still delights in the art.

Curation is simply about presenting the right engagement opportunities to the right people at the right times, but it only works when you know your donors well enough to successfully target their interests. And that requires data – lots of it. Affinaquest’s Central Intelligence serves as a central hub for data gathered all across the institution, producing a Golden Record of trusted data for each constituent. With Data Enrichment, we can feed in helpful data from other sources as well, using our unique identity matching algorithms to ensure accuracy. And Advancement RM, our advancement-driven CRM, offers a central place for that data to live.

How Affinaquest Can Help You Amp Up Your Fundraising in 2022

2021 was a big year for Affinaquest. We expanded our company to bring in new tools, resources, and expertise and build a comprehensive suite of data management and fundraising support and better serve our fundraising and advancement clients. In addition, we’re committed to automation, efficiency, and scalability in advancement data management, without sacrificing the quality of our solutions. This expansion has uniquely positioned Affinaquest to help your institution rock its fundraising goals in 2022 and beyond.

To schedule a demo of Affinaquest’s products and platforms, visit affinaquest.com and connect with our team today. And, from all of us at Affinaquest, happy new year!