This article explores what data appending is and why nonprofits should consider using this service.

What is a Data Append and Why Does it Matter for Nonprofits?

Today’s marketers rely on customer data to make informed decisions to inspire interest, increase engagement, and ultimately sell their products and services. 

In the nonprofit space, nonprofit marketing and fundraising professionals stand to gain from strategically collecting, maintaining, and leveraging the donor data stored in their organization’s CRMs. But your supporters move, get new email addresses, and their information changes over time. That means your data can quickly become outdated, which is where data appending swoops in to save the day.

Updating and gathering data manually can be a taxing process, but data appending uses automation to streamline the work for you. We’ll clear up confusion surrounding the process to help you transform your CRM into an effective tool your nonprofit’s fundraising and marketing efforts can rely on.

Enhance nonprofit fundraising by appending donor data with Double the Donation.

What Is A Data Append?

A data append is the process of adding missing or updating existing data points in an organization’s database. The process involves comparing the information in the nonprofit’s current database to that stored in a larger, more comprehensive data source. Data append services use external data sources to fill gaps in data, including:

  • Contact details
  • Demographic data
  • Behavioral information
  • Employment details

All kinds of organizations use data appends, including for-profit businesses, charitable nonprofits, and political campaigns. For example, have you ever gotten a text message promoting a candidate in an upcoming election even though you can’t recall sharing your phone number with any political causes? Chances are they got your information—your name, phone number, and political party registration—from a data append. 

For nonprofits, specifically, data appends allow them to maintain clean donor data and gain more comprehensive insights into their supporters when they have limited information. Ultimately, accurate data can help your organization learn more about your supporters, leading to better tailored fundraising and donor cultivation strategies.

Why Is Data Appending Important?

At its core, data appending enhances your data quality by filling in gaps and correcting inaccuracies. With this information, you can strengthen your donor management and make the most of each dollar spent on your data append. 

There are all sorts of situations nonprofits might find themselves in where a data append is the right answer, including:

  • Missing key information. Do all of your nonprofit’s various forms require supporters to complete all core fields? For instance, your email newsletter subscription might only ask supporters for their name and email, meaning you’ll miss all of those supporters’ phone numbers. Not to mention information you’re unlikely to ask supporters for but is still useful, like demographic data. 
  • Current information is outdated. As mentioned, your supporters aren’t static, and many donors aren’t going to think to update your nonprofit when they change addresses, start using a new email, or even change their names. An append keeps you up to date, helping you maintain your connections to each supporter over time. 
  • Data got lost. It’s not ideal but it happens: your nonprofit lost data when migrating systems, something with your technology went wrong and information needs to be deleted, or someone just made a mistake and got rid of data you needed. Appends are your nonprofit’s lifeline in these scenarios. 

But beyond simply cleaning up your donor database, you stand to benefit a lot from the appending process. Backed by accurate and complete data from the append, you can:

  • Personalize outreach: Marketers use data to personalize communication, content, and offers to match each recipient’s needs and preferences. Customizing outreach to suit individual donors makes for a memorable supporter experience. Appending demographic and behavioral data can help nonprofits personalize communication.
  • Update contact information: When a supporter’s information does change, appending emails, phone numbers, and other contact information allows you to stay connected without needing to get in touch with them. 
  • Cultivate donor relationships: Sending appeals based on accurate data allows you to present valuable engagement opportunities and communicate that you care about each individual donor. When you send messages that fit donors’ interests and demographic details, they’re more likely to respond positively to your outreach.

Ultimately, data appending can enhance your understanding of supporters, which will shine through in your outreach. With your append, you get the data you need to drive greater fundraising outcomes and forge stronger supporter relationships.

Enhance nonprofit fundraising by appending donor data with Double the Donation.

How Data Appending Works

At the surface level, data appending seems like a simple process, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to ensure accuracy and completeness. For the most part, your provider will take care of all the nitty-gritty details, such as gathering the data, ensuring it’s accurate, and formatting it to easily fit into your CRM. 

NPOInfo’s guide to data append services offers a look behind the scenes of what your provider will do to make sure the data will be usable for your nonprofit:

These are the steps a data append service provider will follow.

  1. Format the data from the nonprofit to be consistent, usually in a comma-separated value (CSV) format, in order to be analyzed correctly.
  2. Upload the data into a single file and send it via the service’s secure file transfer protocol.
  3. Match the organization’s database with the data in the external source by using your donors’ unique identifiers, such as their names, addresses, and phone numbers.
  4. Enhance the data by filling in missing information and correcting inaccurate data based on the corresponding records in the organization’s database.
  5. Verify and validate the appended data to ensure accuracy and completeness. This ensures the supplemental data is high-quality and will be useful for the client, which in this case is your nonprofit. 
  6. Send the data file to the client to be downloaded for their use. The file can be offered in essentially any format your nonprofit needs.

On your nonprofit’s end, the process is much simpler. From the nonprofit perspective, all you need to do is send your constituent information to a provider. You can streamline the process by taking the time to clean your database beforehand by removing duplicate information, unnecessary data, and donor profiles you don’t need (such as the information of deceased and long-since lapsed donors). 

But if you just want to send your data append provider your database information in its current state, you can do that, too. Whatever the state of your database, your service provider will take it from there! 

Types of Data You Can Append

As a nonprofit marketer, you’re likely flooded with new data points at every turn. With all the constituent data you collect through volunteer registrations, event sign-ups, and donations, it can be challenging to filter it down to the most helpful details.

When it comes to data appending, we already know the burning question on everyone’s mind: What information is actually worth appending?

Before getting an append, ensure you know which information will actually propel your marketing and fundraising efforts forward. While the append service will be happy to take you as a client, purchasing data you don’t need is far from the best use of your nonprofit’s resources.

Of course, what is the right data depends on your nonprofit’s unique situation. To help you get an idea of what you should request, here’s an overview of the most common types of data nonprofits need from appends:

Types of donor data points to append

As the graphic shows, there are a wide number of specific data points you can get from an append, but all of these can be sorted into roughly three categories.

Contact Information

Like we’ve touched on, your constituents move, change their phone numbers, and get new email addresses all the time. Having accurate contact information allows you to successfully deliver appeals and stay in contact without interruption.

Leverage data appending to verify contact information, including:

  • Phone numbers. Contacting donors via text or phone call is one of the most personal ways you can connect with your supporters. It also opens the door to innovative fundraising strategies like text banking and text-to-give. Phone number appends ensure you have the right phone number for each supporter at all times.
  • Email addresses. Email marketing remains one of the most lucrative digital marketing avenues for nonprofits. Whether you’re making fundraising appeals, sending out volunteer schedules, or providing an update on your latest project, make sure you have the right email addresses for supporters with this data append.
  • Postal addresses. Digital marketing might be the default for your outreach, but some supporters still prefer the personal touch of direct mail. Plus, knowing people’s addresses allows you to send them engagement opportunities based on their location, such as inviting nearby supporters to in-person events and remote ones to virtual activities. Ensure your solicitations, thank-you letters, and event invitations are delivered to the right addresses with a postal address append.
  • Social profiles. As a marketer, you know the immense power that social media holds to connect you with a global audience. Get in touch with current supporters and inspire them to share your cause online by finding their social media profiles. Boost your presence online by reaching out to loyal supporters to ask them to follow you and share your posts. 

Communication is the foundation of nearly all nonprofit’s fundraising efforts, making this one of the most helpful types of data appends. If your email bounce rates have skyrocketed or you get sent straight to voicemail, a data append can verify whether you have the right contact details for constituents.

Employer Data

We can’t emphasize the importance of corporate philanthropy enough. Between matching gifts and volunteer grants, your nonprofit has a lot to gain from promoting these opportunities to supporters.

However, to promote these opportunities to the right supporters who actually qualify, you need accurate employer data for constituents. That’s where an employer append comes in handy. NXUnite’s guide to data appending explains that knowing employment details empowers your team to:

  • Uncover corporate giving opportunities. Knowing where your donors and volunteers work enables you to find their employers’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) guidelines. Then, you can determine your supporters’ eligibility for matching donations and volunteer grants.
  • Identify corporate partnerships. If several of your supporters work for the same company, that’s an indicator that the business might be a strong candidate for a corporate partnership, such as a sponsorship or an arranged corporate volunteer day. Use that information to kickstart a conversation with the company. You might even have supporters facilitate introductions with company leaders.
  • Estimate wealth data. While not a direct wealth indicator, knowing who employs your donors and what their roles are can help you estimate their incomes and giving abilities. Though append services can’t provide you with donors’ salary information, some may be able to provide job titles, which at the very least lets you know if a donor is working in an entry-level position or has risen to a senior management position. 

Between driving donor engagement and establishing meaningful corporate partnerships, employer appending has quite a few benefits worth looking into. We recommend pulling this information if you’re looking to tap into the world of corporate giving or need help identifying major giving prospects.

Enhance nonprofit fundraising with an employer append from Double the Donation.


A supporter’s demographics can give you insight into their backgrounds, values, and philanthropic priorities. This type of data append allows you to extract important background details like:

  • Net worth
  • Ages and dates of birth
  • Gender
  • Ethnicity and race
  • Marital status
  • Political affiliation
  • Lifestyle attributes like hobbies and interests

Whether you want to send a birthday gift or verify contacts have a certain political affiliation, demographic data appends allow you to deliver highly personalized outreach that speaks to supporters’ interests.

Other Resources to Explore

Appends provide nonprofits with the data they need to strengthen their support relationships, build lasting connections, and make strategic marketing decisions. Supplement and update your database with the information you need to stay current with your supporters’ busy lives. 

The right append for your nonprofit depends on your engagement strategy and current data-gathering practices. Curious to learn more about data appending? Check out these breakdowns on specific append types: 

Enhance nonprofit fundraising by appending donor data with Double the Donation.