Charities need not spend a fortune on major gift and donor research to get an accurate picture of the likely value of individual donors - if they use the information in their databases effectively, an NSPCC study has found.
An analysis of charity databases by Tim Hunter, deputy director of fundraising at the NSPCC, and John Sauve-Rodd of Rodd Associates, found a direct correlation between the number of interactions with donors and the value of their lifetime contributions. By targeting more valuable donors, charities could increase the value of investment in fundraising.
Hunter said that by analysing personal information and the number and type of interactions a donor has with the charity - such as volunteering, campaigning and purchase of merchandise - and combining these with paid-for demographic data, an accurate picture of the value of individual donors emerges.
The findings, revealed at the International Fundraising Congress in Holland earlier this month, meant that although some outlay on data from demographic services such as Mosaic, Prism and Censation was desirable, paying for more expensive donor research was not necessary.
Hunter gave the example of donors who had notified the charity of a change of address: "We know that means they are really interested in your organisation, which is a key discriminator of value."
Date of birth is the "holy grail of data collection" and was easier to obtain than information on income, said Hunter.
Combined with knowledge on household composition and moving home, it was possible to target people for legacy promotion, and to predict which legacies would "mature" within five years.