Identify Sports-Specific Fan Interests

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Posted on 2022-04-04

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Women’s sports participation and viewership has shown continued growth at all levels, youth to professional sports teams. A particular Fanalytical client (a Big Ten institution) has a long tradition of excellence in women’s sports in their conference, culminating in consistent conference championships and the pinnacle of athletic excellence: national championships. In most resource-intensive sports programs with pandemic inhibited ticket sales, NIL, and other competing programs, targeted donations are critical to ensure scholarship and operating budgets. Fanalytical provided data-driven insights and guidance to enhance women’s sports-focused giving.

In order to help boost funding for the women’s sports programs, the athletic department partnered with Fanalytical to turn data and analytics into a superpower. The problem stemmed from over 2,000 lapsed or churned women’s sports donors over the past eight years. Fanalytical then helped the athletic department identify lapsed or churned donors who would be most likely to return as a donor, as well as current donors who have shown an affinity to women’s sports.

Lapsed Women’s Sports Donors

 A lapsed donor is one who has donated “some year, but not this year nor last year” (also commonly known as SYBUNTs). In other words, there is a minimum two-year drop-off from the most recent donor activity.  One approach to identifying key lapsed donors who are most likely to return to donating is to model the behavior of previously lapsed donors that also returned.  Fanalytical refers to this as Look-alike Modeling.    

Fanalytical deployed a look-alike model combined with data exploration techniques for women’s sports lapsed donors, called a “Winback Analysis.” This analysis revealed, that for this particular fan base, nearly 25% of the lapsed women’s sports donors, continued to engage with the athletic department via other channels and programs. In this same vein, most lapsed women’s sports donors for this institution only donated once in their lifetime of engagement. Moreover, lapsed women’s sports donors who previously gave a single donation over $47 were three times more likely to return. These insights were significant contributors to the model and analysis. 

Churned Women’s Sports Donors

A churned donor is one who donated “last year, but not this year” (also commonly known as LYBUNTs). Similarly, through the use of a look-alike modeling, Fanalytical found donors most likely to renew. In sports organizations, renewals are essential to maintaining revenue streams, and therefore there is a heavy focus on most-at-risk accounts. Similar to the findings of the Winback Analysis, the most impactful factor for at-risk donors was the number of independent donations. That is, the additional focus should be put on donors who made their first gift. Getting the donor to the second gift was the most significant action this institution could take. The resulting model heavily weighted this characteristic.

Net New Women’s Sports Donors

Although renewals are significant, new donors are also coveted. The institution’s leadership put an emphasis on expanding the women’s sports donor base. Typically, there are two paths to expanding a donor base: 1) External donor acquisition 2) Identifying current engaged fans who are most likely to donate. The most direct path would be to convert actively engaged fans into donors. Similarly, an exploration exercise and look-alike model helped to identify active fans who would be likely to donate to the women’s sports funds. As a result, the analysis identified hundreds of active, event participating fans who had a high propensity to donate.


 The collection of analyses supported the women’s sports donors campaign.  The campaign helped grow the number of donors to the program’s women’s athletic funds and scholarships by 68%, compared to the baseline 5% growth from the previous year. There were 3,573 unique donors to the women's sports programs, including 235 net new donors. Fanalytical’s look-alike model was able to determine potential donors with up to 70.8% accuracy. That is, seven out of 10 of the highest likelihood donor prospects actually donated. Talk about precision! 

These donors did not just walk through the door with money in hand. Fanalytical’s insights coupled with the athletic department’s marketing and sales teams executed tailored messaging to these targeted segments. After weeks of targeted micro-campaigning, our collective efforts resulted in a significant revenue impact.

But what is most important is how the analyses are tailored to this particular fan base? Every fan base is unique and likely has a different set of characteristics that drive engagement. You may be wondering why $47 was the significant cutoff? Or how many of your lapsed donors are still actively engaging in other ways?

The next question is, how can Fanalytical’s analytics products help drive women’s sports donations for your programs?