Today, nonprofit supporters have more opportunities to connect, learn, and give through more channels than ever before. This attention-fragmented world makes it extremely difficult to reach donors, and when you are able to engage them, they expect a whole lot more from you.

First and foremost, they want assurance that you know who they are. And, they want to know their contributions are valued. They expect a full accounting of where their money is going, and specifically, how it’s helping you achieve your mission.

Barriers to Knowing Donors

Given this is the “new reality” for fundraisers, it’s surprising that about half of donors surveyed in the recent Abila Donor Engagement Study feel that the organizations they support don’t take their preferences into account when communicating or appealing for donations.

Many nonprofits point to significant barriers, such as collecting and working with data, lack of expertise, issues with time and prioritization, and challenges with technology, as justifications for not jumping on the data bandwagon alongside their corporate counterparts.

What Data is Most Important?

If this isn’t enough to contend with, there’s also the question of what data is important and actionable, and what data is just “white noise.”

The fundraising experts at Abila have devised a list of 12 “must haves” when it comes to donor data.


Here’s a sneak peek at three:


Knowing donors’ vitals is the foundation of effective fundraising, and enables you to create engaging and sustainable fundraising programs. Gather as many vitals as possible, including name, address, phone number, and email. Capture this information in one centralized system, like a constituent relationship management (CRM) system or donor database. This may require you to pull, cull, and de-dupe from multiple sources and systems, but it’s worth the extra effort.


Having donor employment data opens the door to infinite opportunities to extend your message and mission. By making the connection personal, you’re more likely to benefit from company matching gift programs and corporate sponsorships. Plus, you can begin connecting donors together in new and different ways for more targeted appeals.

Gift Type

Nonprofit supporters feel most engaged through the act of giving money, according to the recent Abila Donor Engagement Study. So, it’s vitally important to practice donor-centered fundraising if you want to keep supporters connected to your mission. Know how individual donors like to give. Direct mail? Online? Inkind? And, keep in mind, just because someone gave online once doesn’t necessary mean he or she prefers that method. You need to ask.

Get access to all 12 donor data “must-haves” by attending our upcoming Donor Dozen webinar. Register here!