• Ron Rescigno

How Deep Do We Dig?

That’s a question we get asked often. And it’s an important one when you consider that gathering, organizing, and analyzing data is the key to understanding how to maximize donor engagement and fundraising results. Whatever you want to know about donor behavior, campaign performance, trends, donor value, and more—it’s all in the data.

The challenge is knowing what to look for.

Here’s a real-life example of what we’re talking about:


Not that long ago, we were working with a client whose database was growing year after year. Normally, that’s a good thing. However, after a “deeper dive,” we figured out why the nonprofit was spending so much on acquisition. All it took was a look into their retention numbers. Sadly, the organization was losing donors at an alarmingly rapid rate. So, while the file was growing, it was overspending on acquisition to compensate for its retention problem.

As we set about to fix the retention issue, the organization was able to more efficiently invest in acquisition and cultivate a better performing file.


If not for our “deep dive” into their data, well, let’s just say they were glad we discovered what we did when we did.

The obvious answer, then, to the original question of how far is that you should be digging both deep and wide into your data in order to get insights that are actionable and learn more about current donor trends. Typically, that’s about five years of looking at year over year results, donor lifecycle, channel acquisition efforts, and any other metrics that may be of particular importance to your organization.

When Rescigno’s looks at past campaign data, we also account for any circumstances that could drastically disrupt a fair and balanced analysis like a change in laws, board of director policies, or political environments. All of these and more can influence performance, even if every other element of a campaign remains the same.