Database Management: Manage Your Donors & Boost Impact

A feature image for a blog post on database management for fund raising.

When I started Savant-Garde, I didn’t take into account the number of submissions the magazine would get, not to mention how my team and I were going to keep track of them all. It wasn’t until I was helping with TENT’s online data management course and was introduced to a web series focused on building databases in excel that I became familiar with the benefits of database management. I then realized it’d be best if I built one to keep track of the magazine’s contributors and once it was complete, I immediately felt more organized and aware of the tasks that needed completed before the first issue could be released.

When it comes to your non-profit, creating a solid database to manage your supporters will only help you with your future goals. I find the hardest part is figuring out what information you need. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you develop a strong donor database.

Know Who Your Supporters Are

To really take advantage of your donor database, you’re going to want to obtain more than just contact information from your supports. Try making additional segments that answer the following:

– Interests and hobbies. Being aware of this can allow you to cater outreaches/ marketing campaigns.

– Social media profiles. You could potentially have influencers in your database and not even know it.

– Possible employer information. Their job titles can give you insight into their capacity to give.

– The last time they donated and the amount. Knowing when and what they donated previously can help you determine what they might donate in the future.

– The last campaign or program they donated to. Staying up to date on what worked before can help you decide how to approach them once again.

Basically, the more data you have, the easier it will be to develop strategies that’ll help you re-establish communication and hopefully attain continued funding.

Understand the Variety of Supporters Interacting with Your Non-Profit

Obviously, you’re going to have more than one way someone can contribute to your organization/ project. Examples being:

– Donors

– Volunteers

– Special guests/ sponsors

– Peers

– Social ambassadors/ influencers

Make a separate database for each; this could be simple as a separate tab in excel. By keeping track of these separate parties, you can determine the best way to continue relationships and encourage long-term support by being aware of their engagement history. This will allow you to generate more personal interactions and make contributors feel valued.

Donor Management: Best Practices

Once you’ve built your database and you’ve determined what kind of information to put into it, there are a few things you want to keep in mind to ensure your donor database stays effective.

– Security and trust. People are providing you with their personal information and they’re trusting you with it. Make sure the data you collect is secured. If that means you need to

create a database with a password, do so. That also means you should trust the people you have working with that information.

– Consistency. Keep the data you collect organized. This will make things easier when you need to find specifics and will counter any chance for duplicates. For more tips on how to keep your database organized, check out this article.

– Update often. Make sure you keep the data you’ve collected up to date. People’s phone numbers and addresses can change and you want to be sure you’re reaching out to the right person.

– Make backups. Technology is amazing, but it isn’t always reliable. Things happen. Backup your data onto more than one device. This will save you a headache later, if your system ever decides to shut down on you. Just remember to make sure it’s secure.

Determine the Best Donor Management Software for You

Microsoft excel and google spreadsheets can be used to make a simple database, but there are other database management software options out there that will make certain tasks easier.. That being said you should keep these few things in mind before you settle on one:

– Is the donor management system non-profit focused? If the system is non-profit focused, it will already have an idea of your needs and the language you use to converse with contributors.

– Is it user friendly? You want the system to be easy to use and painless when it comes to training others to use it.

– Does it measure and report results? Having a system that gives you additional data in a quick summary is always nice.

– Will it cost you anything? Sometimes systems provide service plans with additional support and options, but they can add up.

– What kind of customer support does it provide? Make sure you check the reviews on the system, to see how easy it is to get clarification from their support, when others had trouble in the past.

If you’re able to follow all of these tips, you should have a solid database that will help you maintain strong relationships with contributors, and you shouldn’t have any trouble achieving continued support for your non-profit.