The Association Blog

News, ideas & inspiration from industry leaders


Major Donor Bootcamp: Modeling & Advanced Analytics

September 7, 2022, Karla Baldelli

Building a successful major donor program can feel like training for a marathon.

It’s a long and winding road, but the journey is so rewarding. What’s better than connecting on a meaningful level with major donors and getting those transformational gifts for your animal welfare organization?

Just like preparing for a marathon, building a strong major donor program takes hard work, dedication and a healthy mix of training. Great runners don’t just run—they strength train, they stretch, they practice breathing exercises.

And a great major donor program isn’t just built on relationship skills. Don’t get me wrong, relationships are a VERY important piece. But there are a few key things that support this. Today, I want to focus on analytics and modeling.

Why analytics and modeling? A few reasons:

  • Limited time, staff and budget. If you’re feeling fatigued, modeling and analytics can take some of the weight off your shoulders. Plus, you can spend more time on the activities you love most—like connecting with donors.
  • It’s important that we’re talking to the right donors. Why waste time doing anything that won’t help you reach your goals? Find prospects who are the right fit for you and your goals.
  • Shortens the major donor timeline to 18 months–3 years. Admittedly, major donor programs take time. But modeling and analytics help you kickstart the process and stay ahead of the pack by strategically targeting the best prospects on your file.

Now that we’ve covered the value of adding modeling and analytics to your regimen, let’s spend a little time discussing the science behind why and how it works.

AI identifies the key attributes in your file

What do your current major donors have in common? What are the key attributes that make them more likely to give a large gift? Using AI, we can assess your major donor file to answer these questions and then apply that logic to your entire donor file, uncovering new prospects.

Modeling ranks and scores deciles of donors to show potential

Once you’ve identified the donors to target, it’s now time to rank and score them to help prioritize your efforts. A Major Donor Model can help predict the likelihood of upgrading from regular or mid-level donor to major donor.

You’re able to provide a list of prospects for major gift officers

With this information in hand, you can strategically assign the highest deciles to officers and the lower deciles to receive high-touch packages that require less of a lift. This allows you to strategically focus your efforts, avoiding the fatigue or burnout of your major gift officers.

From there, we can begin to add on: crafting an effective communication strategy and focusing on the stewardship of these valuable donors. While I won’t dive into these two points just yet, I will discuss them in detail in my upcoming webinar with The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement.

To learn more, register for our webinar A Bigger, Stronger Pipeline to Major Gifts at 3 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Sept. 14. See you there.

Learn More

Upcoming Webinar, 9/21: Convincing Animal Lovers to Give to People
Upcoming Webinar, 9/28: Monthly Giving Doesn’t Happen By Chance
Blog: Don’t Let Inflation Slow You Down
Blog: 4 Simple Stewardship Practices

Image: 200 Degrees/Pixabay

About Karla Baldelli
Karla Baldelli, Vice President, Donor Engagement at RKD Group, is an elite nonprofit fundraising executive with a 25-year career in mid-major donor fundraising, engagement and stewardship. Her experience includes transformational roles with JDRF, Coast Guard Foundation, American Heart Association, Arthritis Foundation, The Salvation Army and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Since coming to RKD, she has helped organizations implement holistic mid-level programs and execute virtual events. Karla believes in keeping the donor experience at the heart of all fundraising efforts, which results in more inspired giving and increased revenue.

Leave a Reply