How to Turn Data into Magical Marketing Materials Donors Will Love

Our world knows no shortage of statistics. But data is simply facts and figures if you don’t know what to do with it.

For example, I know Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell holds the team record for receptions in a single season (83). But I still can’t figure out if I should play or sit him in my fantasy football league.

I’m lucky, however, to work with a whole bunch of people who are masters at applying research to daily life. For us, “daily life” focuses on creating direct mail and digital marketing campaigns to help hundreds of nonprofits raise planned gifts. So recently, I asked our creative and research teams to share a few examples of how they collaborate. First I’ll cite the research, then show the practical application:

Fact #1: The majority of donors (66%) give because they say “It makes me feel good to help other people.”


Find ways to reinforce the emotional satisfaction that comes from giving. Appeal to the common goal of leaving the world a better place. At Stelter we’ve found that, in most cases, mission-based stories drive stronger results than highlighting the tax or financial benefits of charitable giving.

Fact #2: The majority of donors (60%) prefer to give to local nonprofits versus national (30%) or global organizations (10%).


We used variable data printing to personalize the letters, above, to supporters of a regional food bank. The pink type indicates where details were changed to localize the message to the county in which they lived.

Fact #3: Donors spend significantly more time on certain websites than non-donors. The highest ranking website for donors is Facebook.


Donors like to share, shop and learn online, perhaps to a somewhat greater degree than non-donors. Our research also shows that people who plan to leave an inheritance are plentiful, and many see themselves as ordinary. Introducing estate planning topics to this audience through Facebook is a cost-effective way to build your pipeline of planned giving prospects.

Transforming data into actionable ideas is one of the most powerful ways to boost your marketing efforts. For more ideas, register for the 2016 NCPP conference in Dallas, Oct. 17-19, and be sure to join Stelter’s Cheryl Sturm, marketing and research director, and Zach Christensen, creative director, as they present “Data to Design—Using Research to Drive the Creative Process” on Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, let us know how you’ve tackled the data challenge in the comments below.

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