Tag Archives: donor data

Data Collection: Dropping the Ball on Future Opportunities

Donor Master Records

The donor data is in good form; it’s clean, standardized and duplicates have been removed.  The next step is to examine what has been collected. This would qualify as relationship building content and management / decision making data.

Without going into unique requirements too deeply, let’s look at some of the basic pieces of information that create value for a fund development department. We all understand contact information. This includes phone numbers, email addresses, a home address for private donors and a company address for businesses.

Full addresses are usually easy to collect, but phone and email can sometimes be elusive. Acquiring this information may be dependent on what is requested when the ‘Ask’ is being made, or when a donor turns up in person. When a donation is from a non-private donor, the opportunity exists to contact the organization for complete information.

An address lets you contact a donor for a donation, invite them to an event, or send a newsletter. With a phone number, we can contact them personally to say thank you, ask for their support, or invite them to participate in a focus group. Email provides the opportunity to send an eNewsletter, inform them about upcoming events and direct them to a website to further build their interest or send a donation.

How often is some of this information incorrect or simply non-existent? Opportunities lost are not the fault of the software, but the lack of a comprehensive plan to capture data necessary to build a fund development program.

Contacts

Every business, association, foundation, church or service club will have contacts that perform certain tasks.  These contacts are people who interact on behalf of their organization, with the charity. One definitive list that identifies why these people are beneficial, needs to be built and used by all department members.

With one list versus multiple lists, contact information can be kept up to date.  Staff members can move to new positions without leaving holes for the organization to attempt to fill. Contact information for organizations needs to identify ‘who and why and how’ a person or a position, is instrumental to the charity. Qualifying contacts makes access fast and accurate.

Information from the software can be exported to keep email tools and address books up-to-date. When you think about the contact information you collect, think about how this impacts on your ability to keep your community informed by ‘telling your story’, advocacy opportunities and donor support.  Communicating with your ‘audience’ is important to keep their interest and maintain their commitment.

 More Information is Required

This discussion represents only a small part of a much bigger picture when it comes to the type of information we need to ‘flesh out’ the database, making it a powerful entrepreneurial resource.  The ability to run comparative reports on giving history based on business or personal demographics, or select groups of individuals or organizations based on areas of interest, all impact on new opportunities and fund raising dollars.

Incomplete data collection is often supplemented by written notes, comments in emails, or saved in the memory of a staff member … all of these are inaccessible and inadequate as a method of retaining valuable organizational memory.  As part of this project we introduced the 15 second rule.  Accessing what you need in 15 seconds can only be done through the software, the use of a system of coding and a strategy to capture need to know information accurately.

Two areas expand knowledge of our donors. First is the use of the Communications tab to record relationship building information.  Photographs, major gift plans, social networking sites, web sites, web downloads, power point presentations and more can be linked directly to a private or corporate master record.

Second is Dickens, the contact manager.  Dickens records important points of contact that need to be shared organization wide without restriction. Think professional when you think of Dickens.  It takes a moment to record a verbal or electronic transaction. The time is hardly an imposition when you consider the alternative … the loss of valuable historical contact data and of course we look at the benefit …a comprehensive picture of contact activity.

This is the path forward thinking charities are taking as they look at their not for profit organizations from a business perspective.  Personally, we applaud the effort and commitment of the management team involved.  It is no easy task to do a self examination and make changes.  The outcome will find more time freed up for fund raising, less stress and more enjoyment in providing the services they offer.

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The Perfect Storm

Nothing seems more mundane than discussing a donor database. It is, however, a discussion that more clients are having as they realize the value of quality data in their search for funding.

Really, what is the purpose of a donor database?  It keeps track of your donors and what they have donated. It provides a spot for notes and relationships; and it records receipts and gifts designated to specific areas. Okay, this all sounds good but is just being good, good enough or is good really complete.  These are the questions we helped answered for a client who wanted to take their donor database to the next level.

The client is a progressive charity that supports a vulnerable sector within our city.  They have recently expanded their services.  Their funding comes from private individuals, companies, service clubs, associations and foundations.  Government does not fund them.

The renewed interest in the management of their donor data was two fold.  First was the issue of acquiring more dollars to support their programs; the second issue dealt with better use of staff time as some tasks seemed to take far more time than one would deem reasonable. This takes time away from more productive activities and can impact on morale and some other periphery issues that they wanted to alleviate.

A key factor that motivated this renewal was their management team.  They had the perfect storm in a positive way.  They had a group of managers who were all on the same page, keen to make improvements and willing to put in the effort to make change happen.

This situation was a consultant’s dream. No deadwood, speed bumps or road blocks to deal with, just a group of individuals open, interested and ready to commit to working smarter not harder in the pursuit of their common goals.

More and more, we see clients who come forward to make a strategic change in how they view and manage the use of their donor database. They need to take data from a keyboarding input task to a fund development level.  At a fund development level there are many more things that can be done at the point of entry of any piece of information that makes it useful now and valuable in the future. Data is no longer one dimensional but multi-dimensional relative to its use as an entrepreneurial resource and a source of intelligence.