Who is Nellie’s Shelter?

Nellie’s shelter is a community-based feminist organization that operates within an anti-racist, anti-oppression framework. They are committed to social change through education and advocacy, to achieve social justice for all women and children.

Nellie’s Mission is to operate programs and services for women and children who have and are experiencing oppression such as violence, poverty, and homelessness.

Problem statements

Data for Good hosted two virtual back-to-back data nights for Nellie’s shelter, bringing together participants with a diverse skill set to provide data-driven insights for the following questions:

  1. Identify the demographic of the individual donors
    1. most-probable age-group of donors
    2. Gender of the top 10% of donors
  2. Understand donor patterns
    1. most common day/week/month of donation 
    2. Preferences for the type of donation

Participants utilized anonymized constituents, donation and gender data sets to find answers for Nellie’s shelter.

Data and Insights – What did we learn about Nellie’s shelter donor demographic

On average, the ratio for Female-Male donors was 70/30 across all years. However, there was a significant increase in male donors from 19% in 2018 to 28% in 2020

The majority of the donors were identified as around the age of 40.

Ontario is identified as the major donation region in Canada. The largest total donations came from affluent, predominantly Caucasian neighbourhoods in the GTA.

Women were more likely to donate and give higher donations in the downtown and central Toronto and North York region. Relative to female donors, male donors’ participation was higher in downtown than central Toronto.  

The retention rate calculated as a “proportion of donors from the previous year that donated in the current year” was pretty consistent over the years. For example, 29% of the organizations that donated in 2014 also donated in 2015.

Analysis of overall donations and time of the year:
December seems to be the peak time, as it accounted for 29% of overall donations. 

Here is what we know about the top 10% of donor:

72% are female

Education background predominately post-secondary, almost 71%

Widows or single women form most of the donor base, up to 78%

Brainstorming highlights with participants

Q: Based on the Demographic identified, what are the important KPIs that Nellie’s Shelter should focus on in the next 5 years in order to increase their donation trends?

For better tracking of annual donation amounts:

  • Fundraising ROI 
  • Average donation amount [annual donors] trend 
  • Year over year growth in donation 
  • Donation seasonality trend

For better understanding of the donors: 

  • Annual donor acquisition and retention rate
  • Census data: monitoring donation hotspot areas (e.g. by donation amount) to conduct local advertising

To obtain digital marketing/footprint measures: 

  • Conduct precise targeting to send the most relevant messages to the different donor groups
  • Analyze on social media presence e.g. through google analytics


Q: What are some easy-to-implement data-collection tools/strategies that could be used for collecting data, going forward?

Strategy: To expand current fundraising channels 

    • Potential options: walkathon/marathon; 50-50 raffle similar to Toronto humane society; 
    • Partner with other organizations to provide career counselling, e.g. YMCA

Strategy: To increase Digital Presence 

    • Collaborate with marketing partners for digital survey 
    • Increase social media presence (e.g. focus on Instagram to attract younger donors/volunteers)
    • Starting to build digital wallet options to collect donation online from individuals along with campaigns

Strategy: Employ tools to understand Donor Demographics  

    • Similar to personal donors, also collect data on organizational donors, such as postal code, % of women employees, major field of services, etc.

Q: What other data should Nellie’s Shelter be collecting in order to improve operational efficiency and storytelling methodologies?

Census (by FSA) population demographics, political(provincial, federal), employment and economy: to conduct precise targeting campaign

Canada’s Federal Electoral Districts: to connect with donor postal code stats

City of Toronto Open Data

Charitydata.ca: to understand financial situations of other charities and conduct benchmark analysis 

Namsor: to link donor name with an estimation of their gender and ethnicity 

HousingNowTO: to understand housing market in Toronto and available rental units 

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: to obtain housing research and market data 

CityPlanTO: to understand Toronto city planning status

TO Housing Secretariat


“The information from Nellie’s data night was so insightful and lots of the data was a surprise. I know other organizations will benefit from going through the exercise.”
Ingrid Graham , Director of Development, Nellie’s Shelter


Interested in working with Data For Good? Get in touch with us! contact@dataforgood.ca