6 Donor Database Management Best Practices for Nonprofits
Sometimes, working for a nonprofit feels like you’re trying to juggle millions of tasks all at once. Some days it feels like you need to thank your donors, check in with your board of directors, and prepare an impact report all before getting out of bed in the morning.
But, with an intuitive donor database and a better understanding of how to manage your donor data, you can make your morning cup of coffee without stressing about everything on your schedule. By “donor databases,” we actually mean donor management software (DMS)—something that’s more than just a spreadsheet.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
- What is a Donor Management Software
- Top 5 Donor Management Systems for Nonprofits
- The Growing Need for Donor Management Software
- 6 Best Practices for Managing Your Nonprofit’s Donor Database
What is a Donor Management Software?
A donor management software is a tool for building and stewarding better donor relationships. An ideal DMS allows you to easily collect and store donor data, learn more about your donors and improve your donor engagement.
Gone are the days of using spreadsheets to track your spending and record campaign details. With a donor management system, you can streamline your nonprofit’s operations and monitor the progress of your fundraising campaigns. This makes it easier for you to create detailed reports, communicate with your impact with stakeholders and improve your nonprofit’s transparency.
Top 5 Donor Management Systems for Nonprofits
The ideal cloud-based donor management tool allows organizations to engage and build meaningful relationships with their contacts quickly. Keela offers all the critical features expected in a nonprofit-focused CRM, like donor management, email marketing, and reporting, but we give you so much more.
What sets us apart is the intelligence features woven into our software. These features give you insights like who to reach out to for each campaign, how much to ask them for, and when they will be most receptive to donation requests.
With our all-in-one CRM, learn more about your donors, fine-tune your communications strategy, get the most out of your donor data, and have an automated system in place for raising funds. Simply, Keela is your fundraising secret weapon.
Unlike more generic and multipurpose CRMs, Bloomerang is exclusively intended for nonprofits and is priced accordingly. They offer a range of plans for organizations with user bases from one donor, up to 60,000 donors.
Bloomerang helps you raise more money through features like prospect search, data analysis, donor engagement, and streamlined communications applications like Email Design and Distribution. More, Bloomerang enables you to increase donor retention, an absolute necessity of any donor management system.
3. Network for Good
If you are even a little bit aware of nonprofit software, you’ve probably heard of Network for Good. They were one of the first donor management solutions.
Network for Good is a little different than its competitors because it can serve three different audiences: nonprofits, companies, and donors. It provides a customizable platform that you can access via a web browser. It also incorporates a host of tools that help you engage donors and raise money by analyzing data to make better decisions.
Donor perfect is a DMS that can be accessed via a tab in your preferred browser. With no software to install and no servers to worry about, cloud-based platforms like this have become the industry standard.
DonorPerfect is essentially a donor database connected to a suite of tools that help with features for fundraising, marketing, communications, data collection, and more. DonorPerfect makes it easier for you to learn about your donors, communicate with them, solicit donations, and manage the ongoing operations of your organization.
Through their cloud-based software Kindful allows you to understand donors, communicate with them according to their preferences, and build lasting relationships that help everyone get involved.
While companies like Keela provide a spectrum of helpful tools built into their software, Kindful has prioritized integrations with third-party applications. This may be the DMS for you if you are looking for a simple fix for juggling a wide range of platforms.
The Growing Need for Donor Management Software
The nonprofit sector’s becoming increasingly competitive.
Since 1995, total donations by those in the highest income group have increased much more rapidly than those in other income groups, rising by about 9.2% annually. Despite this, the number of major donors has steadily decreased. In other words, it’s becoming harder and harder to secure the funding of a major donor.
Keela’s donor management software helps nonprofit professionals make enlightened decisions based on their donor data. In fact, after their first year of using Keela, users experienced a 46% increase in fundraising revenue and a 65% increase in new donors!
When implemented using best practices, your DMS can do wonders for your organization. The following are proven strategies that enable you to fully maximize your DMS, optimize all donor processes, and get the most value from your software investment.
Best Practices for Managing Your Nonprofit’s Donors Database
1. Choose an Integration-Ready DMS
Traditionally, nonprofit organizations use various software to manage their day-to-day tasks. There’s one system for accounting, another for managing volunteers, and the dreaded spreadsheets used to keep track of donations. When these platforms aren’t integrated, staff have to constantly deal with multiple versions of data, not to mention various headaches.
The best donor management software should always integrate with other systems and platforms. This ensures that your data are synchronized across the whole organization. Your DMS should be able to automatically collect information from various sources and eliminate duplicate data, saving you time and Advil in the process.
Keela integrates with services like QuickBooks, MailChimp, PayPal, Stripe, and many more to make sure all your data lives happily under one roof. Our all-in-one CRM integrates with all the right tools that will support you as your organization grows.
2. Set Up Automatic Donor Profile Updates
Like modern customer relationship management platforms (CRMs), DMS enables users to create donor profiles that automatically update whenever new information’s entered.
With an updated donor database, nonprofit professionals can improve engagement and increase donations in the process. What’s more, you can accurately customize and personalize communications and reports to deliver a more personalized experience to your donors in just a few clicks.
In most cases, DMS comes with an integrated CRM module designed to simplify your donor data management process. Integrating your donor management software with a CRM platform allows you to collect contact information automatically, pledges donated, and communications. If you’re looking for CRM software to complement your DMS, this list of CRM solutions is a great place to begin your search.
Like a CRM, your DMS should allow you to analyze and visualize data, create actionable insights that help you to implement your fundraising tools and strategies.
Create Your Nonprofit’s Donor Persona Profile
Donor personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal donor. Use this FREE template to identify the key attributes of your donors so you can improve the way you communicate with them.
3. Gather the Donor Data You Need
Your DMS needs to be filled with recent, reliable information if you want to maximize the value of your investment. That said, you don’t have to know everything about your donors to manage them effectively. Here’s a list of essential donor information you need in your database:
- Date of birth
- Employer details and job titles
- Contact information
- Preferred communication channels
- Relationships and households
- Donation History
Over time, as you develop your donor relationships, you can gather more secondary information that’s specific to your organization’s strategy:
- Shirt size
- Alma mater
- Hobbies and interests
- Fundraiser notes and opinions
- Religious affiliations
- Political affiliations
- Volunteer history
- Event attendance
- Social media profiles
- Career milestones
Always remember that gathering more than what you need will leave you with too much information to track and manage. Stick to what’s most important and make the most of it!
4. Segment Your Donors
As you gather relevant donor data, you’ll be able to understand and better prepare for the differences among your donors. Some donors are into racial advocacy, some are into the arts, and some might even be into after-school programs for class hamsters. Everyone’s different, and a generic donor database layout just won’t cut it.
If you want to drive donor support effectively, you need to segment your donors and personalize your communications accordingly. Studies revealed that recipients open and read emails with personalized emails more often than those without. Higher engagement and response rates for your fundraising appeals will lead to more campaign revenue.
It’s so important to analyze your DMS’s data, occasionally to understand more about your donors. Your insights will provide you with actionable goals, like segmenting your donor database by preferred communication style and giving history. By understanding your donors’ preferred communication habits, you can engage them much more efficiently.
Consider conducting surveys by email to know how your donors prefer to be communicated with. Keela’s Forms allow you to create customizable surveys for your stakeholders.
When drafting and analyzing your survey results and working with other communications data, consider the following factors to align your communications with your stakeholders’ preferences:
- Frequency: The rate at which you send out messages (e.g., weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.) will affect the success of your communications strategy.
Review your survey results to understand how often your constituencies wish to be contacted. An email management platform such as MailChimp provides you with metrics to understand the frequency at which you’ll maximize factors such as open and click rate.
- Method: Everyone is different. Your millennial constituencies may want to receive updates via email, while those from the greatest generation may want to receive letter mail. Ask your donors how they prefer to be contacted (e.g., phone, email, letter mail, etc.)
- Topic: Find out what issues your donors are most interested in to keep them more engaged and informed on their favorite areas (e.g., upcoming events, organization updates, impact stories, etc.). Use your surveys and email analytics to paint the complete picture of what works and what doesn’t
- Text size: Always be mindful that some of your constituencies may be vision-impaired. After all, we all forget to put on our glasses sometimes. Experiment with your text size and observe how it affects your click and open rates. You may be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Understanding these factors will help you not overwhelm your donors and give them more of the information they want to receive.