Do you know who your donors are?

I venture to say that the most important part of a nonprofit is it’s people. The people that financially support the cause, the people involved with carrying out the mission, the people that are served through the organization’s work. People are the life blood of a nonprofit. People need to have the privilege to know about the missions that we give our life to. What’s keeping this flow of awareness? What’s keeping nonprofits largely in the dark? THE LACK OF PROPER DATA MANAGEMENT.

Volunteers
from Flickr vastateparkstaff

Yep I said it. DATA MANAGEMENT. I’m talking donors people and the databases we track them with.
I’ve seen it far too often, actually in every nonprofit I’ve came in contact with. Small organizations are working time-and-a-half to care for their clients and keep up with the day to day responsibilities. Far too often we are under staffed and over-goaled, trying to change the world one Social Worker at a time.
So here’s my stance. Stop putting out fires, they’re always going to be there, and take the time to maintain AWESOME donor contact.

Donors want to be involved. They want to be contacted and they need to know that their support is important. They need to know that they are needed to make this organization work whether it’s through in-kind and financial donations, volunteer support, or just sharing the news with others.

I did a little research. Although I still use it, Excel sucks! If you want to treat your supporters with the awesomeness they deserve, you’re gonna need to step it up. What happens if your supporters donate more than once, or have multiple mailing addresses. How do you keep up with how they prefer to be contacted and what their specific interests in your organization are? Not through Excel.

NTEN did an Awesome report, A Consumer’s Guide to Low Cost Data Management. On a side note, wow I sure am posting with personality ;)… but since so many of us don’t have time to read reports, we’ll let the blog do the work.

First understand your options:
Do you need a system to track donors or everyone, including volunteers and event attendees? Do you know you can choose from online or installed systems? Some systems let you do mailers directly; others require you to export the donor information. When choosing a system, you have options for reporting and creating queries. If this is important to you, make sure your system has the option. One thing that I find very important is ease of use and technical support. Your nonprofit needs to be able to learn to use the system easily and get help when needed.

So what did NTEN find to be the best system for the price? They couldn’t say. They said that out of the 33 systems they reviewed, they all had pros and made sense. The most important thing that your organization can do is find out what’s important to them and take the leap and start keeping up with one of the most important part of your organizations.

Although NTEN didn’t name one, If you’re looking for the basics, and your organization is small but growing a great option at a great price is Giftworks.

Let’s Do it!

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2 thoughts on “Do you know who your donors are?

  1. Hannah,

    This is a critical issue for nonprofit organizations and almost no one talks about it. Great choice. The project group that is dealing with funding for small nonprofits needs to take a look at your article!

    Databases are critical for more reasons than just fund raising and donor development. Most nonprofit organizations are required to keep data on their programs, clients and services in order to talk to funders about what they do and report services to public organizations. When a reporter calls you to talk about the work you do for an article, you will have much more impact if you can talk about data regarding your work.

    So for many nonprofits the same database program provides a place for all their information. You might want to look at salesforce. It profides 10 free licenses for nonprofit organizations. It’s not simple and there is a learning curve, but it’s really flexible and powerful. Good job.

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