Friday, November 19, 2010

Finding new donors

A really fun project I get to work on is consulting for Donor Services Group. DSG is a phone fundraising firm that raises money on behalf of non-profits; they're unique in that they place a huge emphasis on staff retention, which means that, while they're more expensive because of their higher salaries, they raise way more money than any other firm, and end up netting higher and not "burning" your list the way that many cheaper firms do. DSG retained me as a consultant to help them design a program to acquire more donors for non-profits. Parts of the project are under wraps, but I've learned some really interesting stuff that I'm excited to share.

Shameless plug: if you do phone fundraising, or run a call center of any kind, you should check out Impact Dialing's predictive dialer (that's my company). It's the best predictive dialer in the world.

Let's say you work for a non-profit, and you've worked really hard over the years to build up a base of donors who support your cause. Growth is slow, though: most of your donors have come through events, in which your existing donors brought friends along, and email campaigns, where your members have forwarded your appeals to friends who have donated. There's a way to accelerate your organization's growth without just waiting for more people to naturally trickle in: look-alike modeling.

Look-alike modeling takes a list of donors (or anybody, for that matter) and then tries to find people who, well, look like them. To do this, the modeling firm uses a database of just about every consumer in the US, with hundreds of attributes like age, income, purchases they’ve made, and such. They’ll match your list to their database, and then use statistical modeling to figure out what characteristics your donors have. They’ll use that model to “score” their consumer database, and then you can buy a list of the people with the highest score. These people are then good leads for fundraising efforts to bring in new donors.

Drop me a line at michaelrkn[at]gmail[dot]com if you work for a non-profit that’s interested in trying this out.