3 Ways A Donor Database Can Help You Raise More Money

kkrThank you to Kathie Kramer Ryan for today’s guest blog post. Kathie has 15 years of frontline fundraising experience. A former development director, Kathie is now a Coach and Consultant who enjoys sharing her knowledge of nonprofit management and fund development with other fundraising professionals. You can learn more and find fundraising tips from Kathie at ArroyoFundraising.com.

donor database, raise more moneyDoes your organization use a database to track donors and donations? If not, you can boost your fundraising results and move your organization to the next level by switching from spreadsheets and hardcopy donor files to a real live donor database!

Here are 3 ways a good donor database can help you streamline fundraising efforts, become more donor-centered, and raise more money for your organization.

1.  Store and retrieve vast amounts of information.

Databases are designed so you can easily access all stored information about your donors and their donations, including contact information, donation amounts and frequency, program interests, campaigns supported, and much more. No more storing business cards, vcards or notes scribbled on napkins—once you’ve added the info to your database, you’ll always know where it is.

You can also track when you meet with your donors and what was discussed. Critical communication documents can be uploaded, including emails, letters, proposals, pledge agreements, etc. Having everything in one place sure is handy!

And everyone in your organization—provided they have access to your database—will have access to the same information, which improves staff efficiency, accuracy of information and consistency of donor communications.

2.  Segment your donors.

Segmenting donors allows you to send optimized and targeted communications and solicitations to each of your key donor groups. Of course, you want to send personalized letters to your major donors, and perhaps include a handwritten note. Your database will allow you to easily query for these top donors so you’re not making the mistake of sending your biggest donor a mass produced letter!

For year-end solicitations or other asks, you can segment your list according to giving levels and possibly volunteer status. Examples of segmented groups include current Board or advisory committee members, former Board or advisory committee members, major donors, lapsed donors, etc. Then you can tailor your communications in a way that will be meaningful to each donor group.

3.  Identify your highest and most loyal donors.

Knowing your top donors enables you to target exclusive communications to these key supporters. You can recognize them in a special way. Top donors will include those with significant cumulative annual giving in addition to one-time major gifts.

Loyal donors are those who have supported your organization for a long time, although not necessarily at a high level. For example, a loyal donor may have been sending a $25 check to your organization every year for 20 years. Loyal donors, as you may know, are good candidates for a planned gift. Your loyal donors should also be recognized with targeted communications. Perhaps you’d even host an annual recognition event for your long-time loyal donors?

In addition to the above, a donor database will help you to build a fabulous fundraising plan for the next year. The more you know about your current donors and their gifts, the better you will be at predicting future giving. For more ways to track your donors and their giving, you can read, Max Your Fundraising Results Using Measurable Metrics.

If your organization does not currently use a donor database, but you’d like to explore getting one, this article from Idealware is a good place to start:10 Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases (And How to Avoid Them).

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About Rich Dietz

Rich Dietz has spent his entire career working both in and with a wide variety of nonprofit, political and government organizations as well as technology companies focused on the nonprofit sector including Sage Nonprofit, Convio and KIMBIA. It is this unique background and experience – working directly in nonprofit organizations AND working on the technology side – that allows him to better understand and assist nonprofit organizations with their technology needs. Richard holds a M.S.W. from the University of California – Berkeley as well as a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA.

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