Explore data-backed strategies that nonprofits can use to increase matching gift participation.

4 Data-Driven Strategies to Boost Matching Gift Revenue

Matching gifts have the power to skyrocket your nonprofit’s fundraising potential. For every dollar a donor gives, another dollar could be waiting to be matched by their employer. However, many nonprofits struggle with limited donor awareness of matching gift programs and inefficient processes for identifying eligible donors.

These challenges often result in missed opportunities to double contributions and maximize revenue, but fear not! We’re here to shed light on data-backed strategies for identifying more match-eligible donors and driving matching gifts to completion.

Chances are, you just need to take a closer look at your donor data, clean up your identification processes, and be proactive with marketing. With some simple adjustments, you can level up your matching gift game and increase your cause’s revenue.

Employ multiple approaches to identify match-eligible donors.

Corporate giving research indicates that 78% of donors are unaware if their employer offers matching gifts and what the program’s guidelines are. This means it’s up to your nonprofit to educate donors.

According to that same resource, using multiple methods to identify match opportunities leads to a 77% increase in the number of match-eligible donations identified. Here are some efficient ways to identify these opportunities:

  • Collect employer information from donors. Make sure you know where your donors work. Ask for employers’ names in donor surveys, event registration forms, and donation forms. That way, you can directly look into those companies’ matching gift policies.
  • Invest in matching gift search tools. These tools enable donors to easily search for their employers’ matching gift programs and find guidance on submitting match requests. In the next section, we’ll explore ideal ways to integrate these tools into the donation process.
  • Host donor outreach events. Host in-person or virtual events focused on matching gifts where your nonprofit provides information and answers questions about matching gift programs. These events can also serve as opportunities to securely collect donors’ employer data.

Above all, be proactive about marketing matching gifts. While you can look into companies that employ many of your donors, it’s impossible to research every donor’s match eligibility manually.

Instead, share informational posts on social media, mention matching gifts in all fundraising appeals, and post testimonials about the impact of matching gifts on your website. Urge supporters to check if their employers offer matching gifts, create helpful infographics, and share links to a matching gift search tool where supporters can research their eligibility. You can even tap into paid advertising to amplify your website’s dedicated matching gift page.

Integrate matching gifts into the donation process.

360MatchPro’s matching gift research indicates that 84% of donors are more likely to donate if a match is offered. Meanwhile, 1 in 3 donors will give a larger donation if they know their employer will match it.

There’s no better time to encourage donors to check into their eligibility than when they’re in the middle of donating! Simplify donors’ research as much as possible by integrating a convenient employer search tool into the donation process.

With the tool, donors can search for their employers and receive information about their matching gift program’s requirements for donation amounts, employee eligibility, and nonprofit eligibility. They’ll also see the rate at which eligible donations are matched, such as 1:1 (which is a dollar-for-dollar match) or 2:1 (which means an employer will donate twice as much as the original donation).

Here are some key places to embed this tool into your website and encourage participation:

  • Donation page. That same list of matching gift statistics states that 73% of donors will use a matching gift search field on a donation form. Embedding a search tool may even convince supporters to increase their contributions before hitting the “donate” button.

Embed an employer search tool into your donation page to encourage donors to research their employers’ programs.

  • Donation confirmation page. Give donors another chance to research their eligibility by embedding your search tool in your donation confirmation page. Knowing they have the chance to double the contribution they just made can encourage them to pursue a matching gift.
  • Post-donation follow-up. Encourage anyone who hasn’t submitted a request or verified their eligibility to do so with follow-up emails. For anyone who has submitted a request, send them updates as you track the progress of their match. Some matching gift software will even send automated emails, reminding eligible donors to submit their forms and donors with unknown match statuses to research their eligibility.

Highlighting matching gifts during the donation process shows donors that they can potentially double their impact. These reminders serve as a powerful incentive for donors to give and keep giving, because they know their gift will make a bigger difference than normal if it’s matched.

Use matching gift auto-submission to increase participation.

A tricky part of securing matching gifts is convincing donors to complete the match request form. They may want to multiply their contributions, but manually filling out a form for their employer can deter them. That’s where auto-submission steps in!

Offered exclusively by Double the Donation, auto-submission is the latest innovation in matching gift technology. Your software will do the heavy lifting by automatically completing donors’ match request forms. When donating online, all donors need to do is click a checkbox to opt into auto-submission. If eligible, the donor will be prompted to answer a few additional questions, such as providing their work email addresses, and the software will automatically submit their request form. That means less work for donors and more matching gift revenue for your nonprofit!

Auto-submission cuts down the matching gift process into three easy steps.

According to corporate giving software research, this technology is expected to help nonprofits yield an 80% increase in matching gift revenue. Be aware that this feature only works if companies use CSR software that integrates with 360MatchPro by Double the Donation.

Luckily, 360MatchPro is partnered with some of the most popular CSR software vendors, like Millie, POINT, Givinga, and Selflessly. Talk to your corporate partners who use these platforms to ensure they enable auto-submission, helping increase matching gift participation.

Append employer information for more accurate match identification.

Your nonprofit CRM houses valuable data, including donors’ employment details. You should collect donors’ employer information whenever you can do so naturally, such as through donor surveys, event registration forms, and donation forms.

However, people constantly change jobs, and their first thought isn’t necessarily to update their employer information with the nonprofits they support. That’s where data appending can help.

NXUnite’s data append guide explains the process of turning to an appending service provider who pulls data from external sources to correct incorrect and supplement incomplete data. They use supporter information you provide, such as contact information, to identify the correct individuals and pair them with their missing data.

Luckily for nonprofits, these services extend to employment information. By appending employer information to donor records, your nonprofit can identify donors who work for companies with matching gift programs. This enables your team to target these donors with matching gift outreach, increasing the likelihood that they’ll get their gifts matched. Not to mention, this means you can avoid reaching out to previously match-eligible donors whose new employers don’t offer matching gifts.

Final Thoughts: Start Using A Data-Driven Approach

Now that we’ve shared our favorite strategies, it’s time to put them into action. Take the first step by incorporating matching gift information into your outreach and integrating helpful software into the donation process. Soon enough, more matching gift dollars will start rolling in.

Remember, every dollar matched has the potential to make a greater impact on your organization’s fundraising goals. Get started and unlock the full potential of matching gifts to support your mission!

This guide shares data-backed ways to improve employee morale at nonprofits.

3 Data-Backed Strategies to Motivate Employees to Excel

Nonprofits operate in a landscape where resources are limited and stakes are high. This makes it tough to set aside time to prioritize employee engagement. However, ensuring your team remains dedicated can directly influence your organization’s impact.

Fortunately, we have an abundance of nonprofit data and software available to understand the intricacies of employee engagement, and we’re here to share exciting opportunities for motivating your team.

Basing your employee engagement efforts on research can help unlock their full potential, driving them to excel in their roles and more effectively contribute to your organization’s mission. Now, let’s dive into our first strategy.

1. Use eCards As A Personalized Motivational Tool.

Employee recognition research indicates that 80% of employees are motivated to work harder when they feel recognized by their superiors, so recognize those who face challenges head-on and make the most of opportunities with our favorite strategy: eCards.

Also known as digital greeting cards, eCards allow you to recognize employees with a personalized, visually engaging virtual message.

Let’s look at how eCards can motivate your employees:

  • Celebrate milestones and achievements. eCards are versatile. Whether the eCard acknowledges a work-related accomplishment, birthday, or personal life event, sending thoughtful eCards demonstrates your nonprofit’s investment in employees’ well-being.
  • Create eCards that emphasize your organization’s mission. Your nonprofit operates with a strong sense of purpose, and eCards are an opportunity to promote your organization’s core values and appreciate employees who demonstrate them. By connecting an employee’s contributions to your nonprofit’s broader impact, you’ll create a deeper sense of fulfillment. Here’s an example of an eCard that does just that:

This employee appreciation eCard is branded with the organization’s colors and says, ‘Thank you for committing to our value: Compassion.’

  • Encourage peer recognition. Allow team members to send eCards to colleagues to acknowledge each other’s efforts. Not only will this boost morale, but it’ll also foster a culture of mutual support.

By infusing eCards into your everyday recognition strategy, you can create a work environment where employees feel valued and inspired to excel.

2. Create a rewards program.

Take your recognition strategies one step further with a rewards program. Around 75% of employees experience higher job satisfaction for 3+ months after receiving a thoughtful gift, and rewards programs help employees feel like they’ve earned those gifts.

Tangible rewards add an extra layer of motivation and don’t need to be extravagant. eCardWidget’s employee gift guide shares several thoughtful ideas for rewards that can motivate your team:

  • Gift cards to a restaurant, retailer, online marketplace, or entertainment service like Spotify
  • Company merchandise like t-shirts, hats, water bottles, and mugs
  • Health and wellness benefits like a stipend for a gym membership or fitness classes
  • Tickets to a sports event, concert, or cultural activity

You can manage this program manually, but we recommend automating the work with employee recognition software. These platforms help track employee performance and enable managers to identify and reward high-performing employees.

Try combining your recognition efforts by following up eCards with a tangible reward. For example, the individual who received the most recognition eCards during a performance period will receive a gift basket, or management may pick a few standout individuals to reward with branded apparel.

3. Streamline time-intensive tasks.

Repetitive and tedious work takes away employees’ time to focus on bigger projects that are more meaningful to your mission. Worse, it can even lead to employee burnout. Luckily, nonprofit technology is advancing every day and can eliminate this demotivator.

66% of employees claim they spend at least 2 hours per week handling less-than-productive tasks like sending project status updates. On the other hand, those who use automation tools and strategies can save a notable 3.6 hours per week.

Ultimately, choosing the right solutions and automating tasks when possible empowers employees to be more productive and successful in their roles, fostering a sense of accomplishment and motivation. Here are two solutions we recommend:

Data appends

Your nonprofit collects a lot of donor data, which can become outdated as people move, change their phone numbers, and get new email addresses. That’s where data appending comes in handy.

Instead of contacting donors to update their data, your team can outsource the work to a data appending provider. These services involve correcting outdated, void, or inaccurate data and supplementing existing data with information you don’t already have.

Here’s how data appending works with a service like NPOInfo:

  1. Select your services. Consider what gaps need to be filled in your database. This could include email addresses, phone numbers, postal addresses, birthdates, or employer information.
  2. Upload your records. Securely send your records to us with as much information as you can provide. We’ll use this information to identify your donors within our comprehensive database, so we can correct missing, outdated, or otherwise inaccurate details.
  3. Receive your appended records. We’ll return the updated information to your team and can even help you import the appended data into your CRM.

Enriching donor data provides your team with comprehensive, accurate donor profiles, empowering them to cultivate stronger donor relationships. Then, they can better tailor their fundraising strategies and do their jobs more efficiently, ultimately boosting employee morale.

Matching gift automation

Corporate giving is a powerful revenue source, and software makes it easy for your team to automate the matching gifts process. 360MatchPro’s nonprofit fundraising automation guide explains how matching gift software removes menial tasks from your team’s plates, empowering them to do more with their time and see a larger return on their fundraising efforts.

In particular, matching gift automation accelerates the process of identifying and claiming matches through powerful features, such as:

  • Automated match identification. Instead of manually researching and verifying matching gift eligibility for each donation, automation software instantly identifies potential matches based on the information donors provide.
  • Automated follow-up. Set trigger emails based on donors’ match status, reducing the manual outreach your team needs to conduct. The software will continue following up and drive matches automatically.
  • Auto-submission. Your donors can skip the process of submitting a match request altogether thanks to auto-submission, the latest innovation in matching gift technology. By clicking a checkbox while donating online, donors enable the software to fill out their requests automatically. That leads to more donors submitting their requests accurately and more revenue acquired.

Nonprofits Source’s online giving research has found that leveraging matching gift software leads to 77% more donations flagged as match-eligible, which can double or even triple your nonprofit’s donations. Even better, new auto-submission functionality is projected to yield an 80% increase in matching gift revenue. That means your fundraising team can accomplish more with less work!

These features ensure that matching gift opportunities aren’t overlooked, ultimately increasing your fundraising team’s impact and leading to greater job satisfaction.

Wrapping Up

From expressing gratitude to leveraging software to develop stronger donor relationships, you can boost employee morale at your nonprofit in several ways. When choosing strategies, take your employees’ preferences into account. You might even survey them to learn what ideas they’d find most impactful.

In any case, showing recognition and streamlining menial tasks are some of the most common ways modern organizations improve their workplaces. Start there and build an organization your employees are passionate about supporting.

A business professional uses a laptop located on a table with a notebook on it.

How to Protect Donor Data During Online Fundraising Events

Online fundraising events have revolutionized charitable giving, enabling donors from around the world to contribute to causes they care about with ease. However, these events come with a significant responsibility—protecting sensitive donor data.

There are stringent regulations in place to protect an individual’s privacy online, and failing to secure donor data can result in legal consequences.

In this guide, we’ll explore four strategies for protecting donor data during online fundraising events. Whether you’re hosting a virtual silent auction, walkathon, or gala, these insights will help you take a responsible approach to fundraising and foster trust with your supporters.

Use Secure Platforms

The first step in hosting an online fundraising event is to invest in secure platforms that can facilitate giving while protecting sensitive information. These solutions may include:

  • Event hosting platforms and websites: The platforms and websites hosting online fundraising events are susceptible to various cyber threats. Implement web application firewalls (WAFs) and encryption (HTTPS).
  • Payment processing systems: Payment processing technology is at the heart of online fundraising, handling credit card transactions and other payment methods. It’s crucial to ensure that these systems encrypt data and are PCI-compliant.
  • CRM software: A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system stores sensitive donor information, including contact details and donation history. To protect this data, conduct regular software updates.

Contact your software provider’s customer support team to inquire about their specific security measures. Understanding their security protocols will allow you to assess potential vulnerabilities and make informed decisions about your investment.

Implement Strong Access Controls

Access controls serve to safeguard donor data by regulating who can access, modify, or view sensitive information within your nonprofit’s systems. Take these steps to implement strong access controls:

  • Use strong, unique passwords: Encourage staff to use a password manager to generate and store unique passwords. Additionally, when asking donors to create login information for your event, ask them to create passwords that are difficult to guess by combining upper and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA): Require donors, as well as your fundraising team, to use two-factor authentication when accessing donation portals or event management systems. This additional layer of security helps prevent unauthorized access, even if login credentials are compromised.
  • Restrict access: Only authorized personnel, such as administrators and trusted staff members, should have access to donor records. Conduct a thorough audit of your team to identify who requires access. Next, categorize donor data based on sensitivity, assigning appropriate permissions to each user role.

To ensure the continuity of fundraising efforts, establish procedures for emergency access in case of unforeseen circumstances or personnel changes. For example, before hosting an elementary school fundraising event, you might designate all permissions to the principal in the event that the fundraising team is out sick.

Educate Your Team

When it comes to data security, it’s important to ensure that your team understands the importance of safeguarding sensitive data and knows how to prevent breaches. Provide guidance on how to:

  • Avoid phishing. Train staff to recognize phishing attempts, which are often used to steal login credentials or distribute malware. Emphasize the importance of verifying the legitimacy of emails and links, especially those requesting financial information or login details.
  • Maintain data hygiene. Clean and up-to-date data is easier to monitor and analyze for signs of suspicious or unauthorized activity. Implement data hygiene best practices, including removing duplicate, outdated, or inaccurate records, to maintain data accuracy and integrity.

It can also be beneficial to conduct hands-on training sessions for your specific software. School Auction.net recommends designating a software lead to provide insight into each tool’s security features before and during the event.

Limit Data Collection

During the event, avoid collecting extraneous information that could put donor data at risk or complicate your data management processes. In most cases, you will only need to collect:

  • Contact details: Gather the donor’s contact information, such as email address, mailing address, and phone number. These are essential for sending donation receipts, event updates, and future communications.
  • Payment information: For processing donations, you’ll need the donor’s payment details, such as credit card number, expiration date, and security code. Ensure that you use secure payment processing methods and comply with PCI DSS standards to protect this sensitive information.
  • Donation amount: Record the specific donation amount or contribution made by the donor. This is essential for accurately acknowledging the gift, maintaining financial records, and cultivating relationships with donors.
  • Gift designation: If donors have specific preferences for how their contributions should be used (i.e. for a particular program or project), collect this information to ensure their wishes are honored.

According to NPOInfo, you may also need to collect information about donor communication preferences. Be sure to obtain explicit consent from donors if you plan to use this information for marketing purposes or share it with third parties. This is especially important in regions with strict data privacy regulations.

Remember, protecting donor data is not just a legal requirement; it is a testament to your organization’s integrity. Remain committed to data security before, during, and after hosting a nonprofit event and you will gain the trust of your donor base.

The Power of Data: KPIs for Your Nonprofit’s Next Event

Events are a fundamental part of the nonprofit world. Whether they’re raising money, spreading awareness, engaging volunteers, providing education, or giving back to your community, events can be incredibly powerful. However, as nonprofit professionals like you know, events take a lot of time, energy, and money to execute, so you definitely want to do everything you can to ensure success and improve year over year. Collecting and acting upon data during the event planning process is crucial, as is monitoring important metrics that correspond to your nonprofit’s goals by establishing key performance indicators, or KPIs.

Let’s review some common KPIs for nonprofit events in four major categories: attendance, fundraising, marketing, and impact.


Attendance KPIs help you better understand the overall draw of your nonprofit’s events, both among your regular supporters and the general public, and track it year-over-year. It’s also useful to help you compare the response to the various offerings in your nonprofit’s event portfolio and inform decisions about continuing or discontinuing certain events. There are a number of KPIs to track related to event attendance, including:

  • Registration numbers. The sheer number of attendees for each of your events gives you a good idea about where your supporters’ interest lies in terms of event type and format, and where you should invest your time and effort moving forward.
  • RSVP response rate. Track the number of invitations you sent and the number of responses you received, in addition to the actual number of event attendees. This can give you valuable insight into the strategies you employ to invite potential registrants, your ticketing and RSVP process, and price points for registration.
  • Attendee demographics. The demographics you target versus those that actually attend paint a more detailed picture of your donor base for future marketing and donor cultivation purposes. For instance, let’s say you’re organizing a charity golf tournament. If you find that you get the best response from recurring donors or corporate partners, you can aim your future marketing efforts at these groups to boost your turnout.


The majority of nonprofit events are held with fundraising in mind, whether it’s the sole focus or just a component of another effort. To better understand how the fundraising outcomes of each event are affecting your organization’s bottom line, keep these fundraising KPIs in mind:

  • Total funds raised. This is perhaps the easiest metric to track, and helps you determine if you met or surpassed your fundraising goal for the event. Continuing with the golf tournament example, you’ll want to aggregate the dollars raised from golfer registrations, sponsorship sales, on-course games and contests, mulligan sales, raffle tickets, live or silent auction proceeds, and straight up donations to determine your gross funds raised.
  • Donation conversion rate. The donation conversion rate is the number of donations per number of attendees. The more attendees that responded to the ask to make a contribution to your cause, the higher your conversion rate. This metric helps you understand how engaged attendees are in the event and your cause and how you can make better asks during the event.
  • Average donation size. Look at the average size of the donations made during your event to glean whether your development team should focus on stewarding a few major donors or if you should more broadly target many, smaller donors.


Successfully marketing your nonprofit’s event is crucial to its success. Tracking metrics to help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing strategy lets you grow and scale your event year over year and make improvements to reach even more people. Consider using UTMs in any online marketing, which are a way of tracking where folks come from in online marketing campaigns, and tapping into analytics to get additional data about your marketing efforts. Here are a few marketing KPIs to consider:

  • Social media conversions. Social media has several KPIs you can track, such as post impressions, number of followers, and conversion rate. Impressions and number of followers can indicate how big of an online reach your event marketing has, while conversion rate can tell you how many of your followers feel inspired to take a desired action from your posts.
  • Email open/click-through rates. Email marketing is extremely effective if you can make your messaging compelling and inspire action, which is what your click-through rate measures. These metrics tell you the number of people that opened your and how many people click on your email’s calls-to-action.
  • Registration sources. Look at where folks are coming from to register for your event. Compare paper registration forms to phone calls to online registrations to determine the most effective ways to collect registrations in the future. Consider the time it takes for staff to process registrations and payments through the various methods to determine the most efficient ways moving forward.


The ultimate goal of your nonprofit’s events is to create an impact that furthers your mission, so it’s important to track metrics that show the direct results of the event. These KPIs could include:

  • Tangible outcomes. Determine how the dollars raised from the event will directly impact the populations you serve or the cause you champion. For example, the number of people helped, projects funded, or other specific outcomes achieved. If the event raised money for a specific project or initiative, be sure to share that information with donors so they better understand how their attendance contributed to the impact.
  • Donor retention. Measure how many donors who contributed to the event have continued to support the organization in subsequent months or years. A high donor retention rate indicates a successful event in terms of building long-term donor relationships.
  • Comparative analysis. Compare the event’s performance to previous events or similar initiatives to identify trends and areas of improvement.

How to Monitor KPIs

If collecting and tracking the above KPIs feels overwhelming, not to worry—technology makes it much simpler to monitor KPIs while keeping your data clean and up-to-date. A simple way to start collecting this important information is through feedback and surveys from event participants, donors, and volunteers and pulling information from your CRM or event management platforms.

Look for a powerful software solution that fits your nonprofit’s specific needs. For instance, charity golf tournament organizers should consider using golf tournament management software, like GolfStatus, so they can not only track the most relevant data, but streamline their event management strategies.

No matter what tech tools or software your nonprofit utilizes, ensure you keep data hygiene best practices in mind, such as regularly auditing your records. NXUnite suggests completing your dataset by appending missing information so you always have the best understanding of where you stand.

Final Thoughts

Data is powerful, and when collected and analyzed properly, can tell a story about your nonprofit’s events that sets you up for continued success. If you don’t have software in place to manage your nonprofit’s events, start by researching options tailored to the specific event and how the platform will help you collect and manage data. Next, do a deep dive into data hygiene practices and implement recommendations. Finally, determine a strategy for collecting the important data that inform KPIs that help your nonprofit reach its goals.

Learn more about how data analytics can be used in the financial management of your nonprofit.

How Donor Analytics Inform Nonprofit Financial Management

Your nonprofit likely collects many different types of data on its supporters. Between the donor profiles in your CRM, your online donation page, registration forms, feedback surveys, and marketing conversion data, there is a wealth of information available for your organization to use when making strategic decisions.

However, all of this data contains untapped potential unless you draw applicable conclusions from it. These insights are collectively known as donor analytics. Jitasa’s guide to donor analytics divides these insights into four major categories: giving, engagement, demographic, and predictive analytics.

Donor analytics can inform many areas of your nonprofit’s operations, including financial management. To help you get started, this guide will discuss four major areas of your organization’s financial management strategy that can benefit from data-driven insights, including:

  1. Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness
  2. Evaluating Expense Budgets
  3. Cultivating Major Gifts
  4. Improving Donor Retention Rates

As you adapt the tips in this post to your organization’s needs, keep in mind that financial management and fundraising are closely linked. A data-driven approach to bringing in and handling funding maximizes your nonprofit’s ability to further its mission. Let’s dive in!

1. Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Begin with the end in mind.” When your nonprofit plans a fundraising campaign, you should consider how you’ll determine if you succeeded after the fundraiser ends.

Donor giving and engagement analytics from past campaigns can help you figure out what concrete metrics to use to measure your fundraising success. In addition to the total amount of revenue you generate, some common data-driven fundraising metrics include:

  • Donor participation rate. You can either measure this on an overall level or break down participation rates by supporter segment to gauge donor engagement.
  • Average gift amount. While it’s helpful to know your overall average, you could also categorize your donations into small, mid-level, and major gifts to find the average amount in each tier.
  • Lifetime value. Analyzing information about each of your donors allows you to better understand the efficiency of your fundraising efforts per donor. You should calculate your overall fundraising return on investment (ROI) after each event or campaign, but also measuring your ROI per supporter can help you determine who your most valuable donors are.

Although giving analytics are discussed most often when it comes to fundraising success, keep in mind that monetary donations aren’t the only way supporters provide value to your organization during a campaign. Donor engagement analytics, such as volunteer participation, event attendance, and in-kind donations, provide a more complete picture of how supporters help further your organization’s mission. So, your fundraising campaign goals should take both giving and other forms of engagement into account.

2. Evaluating Expense Budgets

Your nonprofit’s operating budget is one of the most important documents for effective financial management because it predicts your revenue and expenses for the coming year. Most organizations categorize their predicted revenue by source and break down expenses into program, administrative, and fundraising costs. Your administrative and fundraising expenses together make up your nonprofit’s overhead.

You might have heard of the 65/35 rule of expense budgeting, which states that nonprofits should plan to spend at least 65% of their revenue on programming and no more than 35% on overhead. In reality, this breakdown will look different for every nonprofit. 

It’s best to treat the 65/35 rule as a flexible guideline and instead focus on leveraging donor analytics to expand your organization’s program spending and reduce overhead. This process could take many forms, including:

  • Analyzing engagement rates for various communication methods. You can lower your organization’s spending on marketing by focusing on the channels with the highest conversion rates and taking the communication preferences donors have expressed into account.
  • Exploring corporate philanthropy opportunities. Appending employer data lets you know what companies supporters work for and what philanthropic programs those companies have. This information can help you take advantage of corporate sponsorship opportunities to offset event planning and administrative costs.
  • Playing to individual donors’ interests. To allocate more resources toward your programs, consider asking supporters to donate to initiatives that align with the individual interests listed in their donor profiles. For instance, if an environmental nonprofit knew that one of their supporters was passionate about education, they could ask that donor to contribute to their initiatives to teach elementary school students about recycling.

As you consider these data-driven strategies to allocate your expenses more effectively, keep in mind that your spending still needs to align with available cash flows. A nonprofit accountant or outsourced chief financial officer (CFO) can help predict cash flows and create a range of possible scenarios to ensure your estimates for overhead and program expenses are realistic.

3. Cultivating Major Gifts

Another commonly cited guideline when it comes to nonprofit finances is the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of individual donation revenue comes from the top 20% of donors. While these percentages may vary for each organization, they show that major gifts are critical for your nonprofit to bring in funding.

The main purpose of predictive donor analytics—data-driven conclusions that provide insight into donors’ future involvement with your cause—is to help identify potential major donors through prospect research. DonorSearch’s guide to major gifts recommends analyzing both wealth and philanthropic indicators to identify major donor prospects:

  • Wealth indicators demonstrate that a prospect is capable of making a major gift and include data points such as net income, stock ownership, political giving, and real estate holdings.
  • Philanthropic indicators show whether the prospect would be willing to support your cause. These indicators include past donations, volunteer hours, event attendance, and board membership either at your organization or with other similar nonprofits.

While your donor database can serve as a starting point for finding major donor prospects, you’ll likely need to use specialized wealth screening and prospecting tools to build an accurate list. Predictive analytics can also be useful once you start soliciting major gifts, since they help you tailor each fundraising ask to the individual donor.

4. Retaining Donors Over Time

Donor retention has multiple financial benefits for your organization. Not only is it more cost effective than acquiring new donors, but it also provides more sustainable funding for your organization.

There are several ways to use supporter data to refine your nonprofit’s donor retention strategy, including:

  • Sending personalized thank-you messages that include donors’ preferred names, giving amounts, and other details about their history with your organization.
  • Providing recommendations for future involvement based on each donor’s past engagement.
  • Regularly updating supporters’ contact information so they never miss your emails, phone calls, texts, or direct mail messages.

By regularly reaching out to donors in a personalized way, you’ll let them know that your organization values them as individuals. This allows you to build stronger relationships with each of them, leading to higher retention rates.

While donor analytics can inform various aspects of your nonprofit’s operations, financial management is the most essential way to apply these conclusions. This is because financial management is the foundation of all of your nonprofit’s activities, including fundraising, marketing, supporter engagement, and more. Whether you’re planning next year’s budget or looking for more sustainable funding methods, make sure your efforts are data-driven.

Explore the fundamentals about donor cultivation in this comprehensive guide.

Donor Cultivation 101: How to Build Lasting Relationships

Your nonprofit works day in and day out to bring its mission to life. A big part of that is inspiring supporters to donate, attend events, and volunteer for your cause. Although, it doesn’t stop there. From there, you have to steward them and inspire them to stick around for the long term. As a fundraiser, you need to know the donor cultivation cycle inside and out, including everything from locating prospects to inspiring them to continue giving.

At NPOInfo, we understand the importance of establishing relationships and then effectively leveraging donor data to fuel those connections. We know it takes a lot of patience and persistence. For new and seasoned professionals alike, cultivating donors can be challenging. After all, every donor is different!

Our goal with this guide is to demystify the process, so you can build genuine relationships that last. To help, here’s what we’ll cover:

Your prospects and current supporters deserve a positive experience with your organization. Taking steps to establish and steward lasting relationships will go a long way in building a sustainable future for your nonprofit. Let’s dive in.

Get a quote for our data append services to cultivate donor relationships.

Donor Cultivation FAQ

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of the donor cultivation cycle, let’s explore the fundamentals of what cultivation is and why it’s vital to your everyday work. That way, you’ll have the foundational knowledge you need to craft a comprehensive plan.

What Is Donor Cultivation?

Donor cultivation is the process of establishing and strengthening relationships with prospective and current donors over time. The term describes how you identify potential donors, inspire them to give, and steward meaningful relationships with them.

Effective cultivation involves a range of activities, including personalized communication, effective donor recognition, engaging events, and volunteerism. Every stage of the cycle is fueled by insightful data your nonprofit collects, such as donors’ wealth capacities, giving histories, and contact information.

The ultimate goal of donor cultivation is to create a sustainable base of loyal donors who support the organization’s overall mission and goals.

What Are The Goals of Donor Cultivation?

While each nonprofit pursues a different mission, every organization’s reason for cultivating donors remains the same: they want to establish and deepen relationships with those who believe in their cause.

Let’s break down that overarching objective into a few key goals:

  • Engage donors: The cultivation process helps create engagement opportunities that encourage interaction with your organization to learn more about your mission, programs, and impact.
  • Build trust: Your donor cultivation efforts will build rapport with donors when you demonstrate your organization’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and responsible stewardship of donations.
  • Retain donors: Effective cultivation means you can retain donors and inspire them to stay engaged in your activities. The cycle involves maintaining regular communication and recognizing their contributions.
  • Boost donor lifetime value: As fundraisers, we all know that donor attrition can be costly. Instead of letting new donors churn, following the donor cultivation cycle religiously will allow you to inspire donors to stick around. By convincing them to give again and give large gifts over time, you’ll increase their lifetime value.

The core goals of donor cultivation include engaging donors, building trust, retaining support, and boosting donor lifetime value.

Overall, thoughtful donor cultivation means you can establish a reliable foundation of support.

How Long Does The Donor Cultivation Cycle Take?

The length of donor cultivation varies depending on your organization’s goals, each donor’s interests, and the level of engagement.

Donor cultivation can take several months or years based on these facts. Know that it’s an ongoing process, so donor cultivation never really “ends.” It’s essential to understand that cultivating strong relationships with supporters is a long-term investment that requires patience, commitment, and consistency.

What’s The Difference Between Donor Cultivation and Solicitation?

Donor cultivation is the process of building relationships with potential donors, while solicitation is the direct request for a donation. Cultivation precedes solicitation and focuses on engagement, education, and relationship-building, while solicitation is the ask for a gift.

Think of cultivation as the fun stage where you get to personally know your donors and what drives them to give. Once you understand their motivations and gain their trust, you can make a tailored ask based on their needs.

Breaking Down the Donor Cultivation Cycle

As professional fundraisers, we’re always chasing the coveted “golden” donation. Even once someone donates, we must continue building relationships and maintaining trust. That often means repeating stages, which turns donor cultivation into a cycle. We’ll break the donor cultivation into 5 steps.

It’s important to note that the cycle is ongoing, and donors can move in and out of each step depending on their interests and engagement level. To properly cultivate donors, your organization should continuously assess where each individual is in the cycle and adjust engagement strategies accordingly.

This graphic breaks down the donor cultivation cycle into 5 steps.

Step 1) Identification

The first step in the donor cultivation cycle is to identify potential donors. This stage requires finding people who have the capacity and interest to support your cause.

To create a list of prospects, consider everyone in your network who might support your mission. They might support your work via volunteering or some other method. You can also assess board members’ and donors’ networks to generate this list.

Step 2) Research and Qualification

Once potential donors are identified, your organization qualifies them by assessing their giving capacity, philanthropic interests, and likelihood of supporting the organization. This step in the donor cultivation cycle helps you prioritize which donors to engage with more deeply.

Heavily dependent on thorough prospect research, this stage allows you to determine whether the prospects you’ve identified will be high-capacity donors for your mission. Donorly’s prospect research guide explains you should look into two types of data during this stage:

  1. Capacity (wealth) markers: These data points indicate a donor’s financial position and help predict whether they’d be a high-capacity donor for your nonprofit. Examples of capacity markers include real estate ownership, stock holdings, and business affiliations.
  2. Affinity (warmth) markers:  These data points show whether a donor might be interested in supporting your mission based on their experiences or values. Examples of affinity markers include political involvement, and demographics.

If you find that you’re missing any of this information, that’s a strong indication that you should conduct a data append. You’ll be able to fill in information that’s inaccurate or missing from your CRM, whether you need to append demographic details, wealth indicators, or contact information. Doing so will help you paint a complete picture for each prospect.

Step 3) Cultivation

Here comes the fun part: getting to know your prospects! This step in the donor cultivation cycle is where you begin forming a relationship with each potential donor. This might involve activities like:

  • Sending personalized communications that appeal to their interests
  • Inviting them to your nonprofit’s events or tours
  • Promote volunteer opportunities

The goal of this stage is to educate the prospective donor about your nonprofit’s mission, programs, and impact. To cultivate donors, you’ll need to use this stage to build trust and rapport, positioning your organization as trustworthy and impactful.

Step 4) Solicitation

Once you’ve sufficiently cultivated a relationship with a prospect, it’s time to make a direct ask for a gift.

This may involve making a face-to-face request, sending a fundraising letter or email, or making an online appeal. It all depends on the individual’s communication preferences.

In any case, the solicitation should be personalized and aligned with the donor’s interests and giving capacity. Take a look at the philanthropic and wealth indicators you found during the research stage. Then, tailor your ask to fit their budget and appeal to what draws them toward your organization.

Step 5) Stewardship

You’ve successfully acquired a donation. Wonderful! The work isn’t done yet. After all, it is a donor cultivation cycle.

After receiving a gift, your nonprofit should engage in stewardship activities, including:

  • Thanking the donor with a personalized thank-you email, handwritten letter, or a gift for impactful donations
  • Acknowledging their gift’s impact on your beneficiaries
  • Reporting back on how the funds were used to further your mission

One of the biggest considerations in your cycle is how you’ll sufficiently steward donors since this directly impacts retention. The key is timely, consistent, and genuine communication. After all, they clearly already believe in your mission.

Even after you steward donors, you’ll need to enter them back into the donor cultivation cycle, so you can upgrade them. Over time, you’ll strengthen your financial stability and build a reliable base of donors.

5 Donor Cultivation Strategies

While understanding the general donor cultivation cycle is certainly helpful, you need some concrete strategies that tailor your plan to your audience. Let’s walk through five of our favorite ideas.

This graphic outlines some of our favorite donor cultivation strategies, like eCards and data appending.

• Offer Unique Fundraising Opportunities.

One of the keys to inspiring donations is to offer unique fundraising opportunities. Our favorite option is donation eCards. Everyone loves receiving a greeting card, even more so when the proceeds go to a good cause!

You can create eCards branded to your mission that donors can send to their loved ones, either letting them know they gave in their name or challenging them to donate too.

Alternatively, create cards for special occasions that anyone can buy. That way, you can help supporters celebrate birthdays, say thanks to their loved ones, or send well wishes with holiday donation cards.

Sell fundraising eCards like this one to cultivate donors and inspire them to donate.

Then, you have a few ways to sell them to donors. Fundraising Letters’ charity eCards guide explains you can offer them in three ways:

  1. Use eCards as integrated donation forms. Add eCards directly to your site’s donation process. With this approach, a donor selects their preferred eCard, chooses a donation amount, adds the recipient’s contact information, and supplies their payment details.
  2. Sell eCards as fundraising products. If you have an online fundraising store, add your eCards and sell them for fixed rates. Donors can browse your collection, personalize the eCards, and send them to loved ones.
  3. Add eCards to your donation confirmation page. Embed your eCards into your giving confirmation page. While you can promote the reward before someone donates, it can be a fun surprise if a donor doesn’t know they can send an eCard until it pops up on the confirmation page.

The key to this donor cultivation strategy is to leverage a strong eCard creation platform. We recommend eCardWidget for its user-friendly design tools and fundraising features. The platform makes it incredibly easy to sell digital greeting cards for your cause. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to incentivize donors to give (and keep giving)!

If you're looking for unique fundraising and donor cultivation strategies, create and sell eCards to donors.

• Ensure You Have Updated Donor Data.

Your donor data is crucial to the donor cultivation cycle. Beyond your initial research, you’ll need to maintain sufficient data to ensure your communications are delivered and based on accurate information.

Common donor data we recommend consistently monitoring include:

Proper donor cultivation requires robust supporter profiles with accurate data.

  • Contact information: Consistently update postal addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Accurate contact details are essential for effective communication and engagement. Otherwise, your messages will go undelivered.
  • Giving history: Track donors’ giving history, including the amount, frequency, and date of their donations. You can then use this data to identify giving patterns and generate targeted fundraising appeals.
  • Demographic information: Collect demographic information about donors, such as age, gender, and income. Knowing this information will allow you to craft appeals tailored to their budgets and programmatic interests.
  • Donor preferences: Your nonprofit should track donors’ interests, values, and philanthropic preferences. Knowing this information can help tailor engagement efforts to each donor’s individual needs and build a deeper relationship.

Note that data appends can help you acquire any missing or outdated information in your CRM. Essentially, this process involves cross-checking the information you have with an external comprehensive database to ensure you have the right information.

Invest in your donor cultivation strategies by getting a quote for our data append services.

• Maximize Impact With Matching Gifts.

One simple yet highly effective way to cultivate donors is with corporate matching gifts. As a form of corporate philanthropy, matching gifts multiply the gifts your donors give. If their employer offers one of these programs, their donation to your nonprofit might be eligible to be matched, effectively doubling their contribution.

Double the Donation’s donation matching guide explains that there are a few key times to promote corporate giving during the donor cultivation cycle:

  • During the donation process: Donating is when engagement is at its pique. Share information about donation matching by adding a snippet about it on your donation form and adding an employer research tool to your confirmation page.
  • Throughout your website: Prospective and current donors alike will turn to your website for updated information about your cause. No matter where they are in the donor cultivation cycle, encourage them to check their eligibility. You can also design a page devoted to explaining matching gifts.
  • Across communications: Donor cultivation requires open communication. From your social media posts to your monthly newsletter, mention donation matching whenever you can!

Regardless of timing, promoting matching gifts is great for inspiring initial donations and encouraging donors to take their existing donations further.

Make sure you have accurate employer information for your donors, so you can follow up with match-eligible supporters and cultivate lasting relationships. Learn more about this process with our guide to employer appends for nonprofits.

• Proactively Thank Your Donors.

Showing appreciation is crucial for inspiring donors to stick around. When you treat your existing donors with respect, the word will get around to prospective ones as well.

Make supporters feel valued by consistently recognizing their generosity. Here are a few donor recognition ideas that work for any organization:

  • Thank-you eCards. While great for fundraising, eCards are also a fantastic recognition strategy. Sending a personalized eCard can help communicate that individual donors are valued and appreciated. Create one or two thank-you card designs you can send whenever someone gives. Then, personalize the message sent with each eCard with the donor’s name, giving amount, and a message from your team.
  • Donor gifts. From branded merchandise to full-out donor appreciation events, gifts can help cultivate relationships with existing donors. Re:Charity’s guide to donor gifts recommends picking gifts based on donation tiers. After all, donors entrust you because they respect your ability to spend fundraising revenue properly. For example, a personalized eCard is great for someone who gives $25, while a gift basket is more appropriate for someone who gives $1,000.
  • Impact reports. Creating an impact report that highlights the organization’s accomplishments and the impact of donors’ support can be a powerful way to show appreciation and cultivate donors. Within your report, include statistics, stories, and testimonials that demonstrate the organization’s success thanks to donors.

Beyond post-donation, reaching out during other times of the year lets donors know you’re thinking about them. Connect with them during the holidays and other special occasions to reiterate your gratitude for their continued support. Remember, timely and consistent communication is key for effective donor cultivation.

• Encourage Other Forms of Engagement.

When it comes to donor cultivation, other forms of engagement outside of donating can be just as meaningful. A couple of ways that can help you build meaningful donor relationships include:

  • Volunteerism: Sharing volunteer opportunities can be an effective way to grow support. Volunteerism allows donors to engage with the organization on the ground level and provides opportunities for them to use their skills and expertise to support the cause.
  • Events: Build a sense of community around your cause by hosting regular events and inviting committed supporters. Hosting events such as tours, volunteer events, or donor appreciation events can help donors feel more connected to your work. Events provide opportunities for donors to meet staff, learn more about your work, and see the impact of their support firsthand.

Overall, getting donors involved in other areas of your organization can help them understand why financial support is so crucial. Plus, they’ll see that your nonprofit views them as more than a funding opportunity.

Aside from asking supporters to get directly involved with your nonprofit in new ways, you can also increase their engagement by reaching your donors and target audiences in more places. This involves expanding your nonprofit’s network of partner organizations and corporate sponsors.

Consider the direct touchpoints that your supporters have with your nonprofit. Right now, they might include hearing about you from friends and family, making a first donation, attending an event, receiving ongoing updates and appeals, giving recurring donations, volunteering, or having one-on-one chats with your development team. But if you can find ways to grow deeper roots in your community and reach supporters outside of these direct interactions, you can become a more meaningful, recurring part of their lives.

For example, consider these indirect touchpoints you might foster through expanding your nonprofit’s network:

  • Establishing workplace giving programs with local businesses
  • Securing event and campaign sponsorships from businesses
  • Partnering with other organizations in the community to co-host programs and events
  • Lending volunteer power to public institutions like libraries and parks with special events
  • Weighing in on public issues and state and local policy developments that relate to your mission
  • Joining debates and roundtables hosted by other groups in the community
  • Offering free educational programming in partnership with peer organizations and community groups

Each of these strategies can grow your audience, strengthen your partnerships, and ultimately make your nonprofit a more central part of your supporters’ lives. When your organization is recognizable as an active player in the community, engaged with businesses, community groups, and governments, you can foster longer-lasting and more meaningful relationships with donors.

Corporate giving programs are among the easiest ways to get started expanding your network and building more touchpoints with donors. That’s because they’re mutually beneficial for both your nonprofit and businesses, which receive public recognition and increased employee engagement as a result of giving back to the community. It’s a win-win!


Pro tip: Kick off your relationship-building efforts by digging into your data! If you have records of donors’ employers (or can secure this data through an append service), see if any businesses crop up repeatedly. Research their corporate giving programs, promote relevant opportunities like matching gifts to those donors, and then reach out to the business to express your thanks and discuss additional partnership opportunities.

Final Thoughts on Donor Cultivation

Effective donor cultivation looks different for every organization. Beyond understanding the fundamentals of the cycle, your nonprofit will thrive by experimenting with different strategies like thank-you eCards and data appending.

Remember, the cycle is an ongoing process. It never truly ends. Rather, you need to re-enter donors into the cycle every time they give, so you can maintain those relationships and upgrade their support.

As you refine your donor cultivation strategies, check out these additional resources:

Leverage our data append services to build your donor profiles and cultivate donor relationships.