Smart Engagement: Work Smarter, Not Harder

Smart Engagement: Work Smarter, Not Harder

December 22, 2020

This article summarizes a podcast hosted by Raj Khera, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer of WealthEngine, and Blake Groves, VP of Products and partnerships at Salsa Labs. Blake offers several timely fundraising tips for nonprofits struggling to fundraise in the face of resource constraints.  

Fundraising Tips Despite Resource Constraints

Nonprofits encounter numerous challenges caused by limits on staff and other resources. These resource constraints contribute to the following issues:

  • Pressure to balance the necessity of continuing to meet organizational needs despite budgetary and other resource shortfalls 
  • Limited budgets going toward supporting the mission rather than advancing marketing initiatives
  • Funding cuts resulting in remaining staff having to adapt to wearing “many hats” 
  • A conflict of priorities between gaining new supporters and retaining current ones
  • “Not enough time in the day” for effective fundraising

Smart engagement emphasizes devoting more time to those supporters who are most willing and able to give. Rather than spreading a wide net, target specific supporters with customized messaging. Focusing on who will best achieve your marketing goals results in effective fundraising campaigns. 

The implementation of smart engagement enables nonprofits to work efficiently, not harder. Blake asserts that for fundraising success, nonprofits must “cut through the clutter and noise.” Organizations must understand their donors and know where they are on their fundraising journey. 

Blake emphasizes that smart engagement begins with data. Combine this data with the appropriate technology to identify and interact with your prospects. The right strategy comes from knowing your audience, their interests, and donation capacity, and includes “day to day techniques.”


Targeting the Right Prospects and Supporters

Technology makes it easier to target and familiarize yourself with prospects and donors. Gathering and using data to create specific messaging will vary. Blake proclaims, “Smart engagement technology is not a single piece of technology.” 

Blake asserts Salsa Labs partners with WealthEngine to develop automated, targeted data and messaging. The propensity to give (P2G) score and additional wealth indicators on WealthEngine’s WE9 platform are proprietary data analytics tools. These features identify supporters and prospects’ ability to give and their giving histories. 

The Wealth Score assigns a number from 1 to 10 to each supporter. The score reflects a person’s wealth, giving capacity, and inclination, intent, and affinities.

The two scores help nonprofits focus on the most qualified prospects and donors. You can set and adjust scores for specific donor types including major gift donors and annual donors. Your fundraising efforts are made more efficient by focusing on high-potential donor groups. 


While data technology has changed, the traditional cycle of targeting donors hasn’t. Every nonprofit organization utilizes some form of the following cycle:

  1. Target potential donors
  2. Connect with donors
  3. Convert donors
  4. Understand the data
  5. Rinse and repeat

Blake remarks that machine learning improves this cycle to better meet fundraising goals. He further states that leveraging technology enhances “the ability to do the targeting” when “prescriptive and automated” methods are used.

Organizations can’t achieve all of their goals, initiatives, and campaigns, even with all of the necessary data and fundraising tips. The prescriptive method looks at compiling donor data to direct the next actionable step of a fundraising strategy. Instead of getting overwhelmed pursuing a range of donors, focus on those who can make the biggest difference. 

A key component of the prescriptive method is the use of automation. Blake gives an example of how important automated reminders are in reaching and engaging donors:

“The system lets you know, ‘Hey, Raj did something with us.’ We know Raj is a good supporter; you should call him rather than wait for that monthly report. Having a system alert you, do automated messaging, and automatically score supporters, lets me know these are my best prospects and I know what I want to do with them.”

Even with the data, your ideal supporters may not be who you expect. They may be overlooked. Machine learning helps expand your search for these supporters. 

Blake gives an example of targeting the wrong donors: 

“Imagine your best supporters happened to be in their mid-50s. They have kids in college, and they have an interest in social reform. I want to look at finding look-alike audiences for prospecting.” 

Blake suggests asking, ”How do I find other people that look like them in terms of profile, interests, and wealth scoring? How do I find those people so that I can say, ‘Well, these are my best supporters?’”

Blake goes on to ask whether his system can identify and alert him of his ideal prospects. Additionally, he wants to know their engagement levels and how he can move them toward a higher ask. Blake suggests people in their 30s with no kids in college could prove to be a key demographic that should be looked at to identify and target top supporters.

Choosing The Best Campaign Strategy

Blake relies on what he calls the “five minutes from concept to completion” idea. He explains, “I should be able to create a new donation form specifically targeted to that campaign within five minutes.” He can pick a template, find the data, and push out the content using automation tools. 

Blake suggests easily putting together a donation form featuring smart asks. This technique allows the donor to easily click the form to generate a specific ask. 


 Having a “Day-to-Day” Strategy

The amount of technology and data can be overwhelming. When you analyze the data and present it in an actionable way, it becomes powerful and manageable. Blake states data is valuable but numbers aren’t as useful if they can’t be immediately acted upon. 

Some successful, actionable strategies are virtual galas and mini-galas. COVID has made these events necessary; ingenuity and adaptability have made them an effective fundraising tool. These smart engagement strategies allow virtual community-building around shared interests.

Only invite specific supporters. The small number of targeted invitees makes virtual mini-galas successful and cost-efficient. These online events focus on the invitees’ common interests, familiarity with the organization, and giving capacity.

Peer-to-peer initiatives are another actionable smart engagement strategy and fundraising tip. It embodies the “word of mouth” concept. Identify and target loyal supporters who will share your organization with their networks.

Data identifies ambassadors and machine learning streamlines donor communication and engagement processes. WealthEngine can gather, analyze, and incorporate data into your nonprofit marketing initiatives. For more information about how WealthEngine can help your organization optimize its fundraising potential, contact us for a free demo today.