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News & Press: Member Insights

Set Your Nonprofit Up for Success: 7 Data Management Musts

Monday, May 6, 2019  

By Joe Klimek
CEO of SofTrek, developer of ClearView CRM fundraising software.

Data management is the crux of your nonprofit’s fundraising campaign strategy. In order to successfully manage your nonprofit, you need to have clearly organized and understandable data. The best way to accomplish this is to utilize the right tools.

As a nonprofit fundraising officer, you are aware of the challenges you face tracking and managing your donor data — but you also know how valuable that fundraising data can be. You do not want to find yourself sifting through spreadsheets or switching between twenty different systems just to hunt down your nonprofit’s data.

Help your organization learn more and more from its fundraising campaigns and continually refine its strategies by following these 7 data management musts:

  1. Invest in a configurable CRM.
  2. Know what data you need.
  3. Maintain and clean your data.
  4. Segment your donor data.
  5. Value integrated fundraising tools.
  6. Look for data import and export capabilities.
  7. Be prepared to go mobile.

Managing your nonprofit’s data can be a stressful task, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s dive in and get you prepared to boost your nonprofit’s success with effective data management!

Invest in a configuarble CRM

1. Invest in a configurable CRM.

Managing heaps of data can sometimes be challenging, but with a configurable CRM, or constituent relationship manager, you will be able to manage more data with less effort on your part. Your CRM software will house and organize your donor data for you.

Make sure your nonprofit software is designed specifically to meet your needs. Be careful to only adopt software that is tailored for nonprofit fundraising.

Don’t find yourself caught with your hands tied behind your back, unable to report and manage the data you need because your software does not allow you to personalize the data fields you capture.

You should be able to tailor-make your data network based on aspects, such as:

  • Past giving
  • Age
  • Location
  • University or professional affiliation
  • Donation preference
  • Communication preference

You may be wondering: now that I have collected the data I need, how do I make sure it is organized properly?

No matter which software you choose to integrate into your organization’s fundraising process, you need to make sure it presents data based on your preferences. You should be able to organize, arrange, and sort your data based on your nonprofit’s priorities.

A configurable CRM will streamline your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and reduce the time and effort that you put into data management.

Know what data you need

2. Know what data you need.

You could record any and all information about your donors that you collect and tuck it away in your CRM for future use. But, this practice can result in an abundance of information that is neither relevant or useful to your fundraising team.

While you should record basic donor information that will tell you who is giving to your organization, the majority of your donor data should point toward their capacity and affinity to give to charitable organizations.

  • Donor capacity is the individual’s ability to give charitably. This can be determined by an examination of their net worth, gleaned from information on their business affiliations, stock ownership, and real estate holdings.
  • Donor affinity is the individual’s willingness to give to your specific organization. You can determine this by looking at philanthropic indicators such as giving history, political giving tendencies, and relationship to your nonprofit’s cause.

Keep in mind that a donor’s willingness to give is markedly more important than their ability to give. After all, someone might be the richest person in the world and still not choose to donate to charity. You need to properly assess both aspects to properly plan your fundraising strategy.

You may be wondering: I know that a person’s giving history is the best indicator of their future donations, but which specific data points do I need to track?

The trick to tracking donation history is easy, just remember RFM:

  • Recency of their last donation. When did they last give?
  • Frequency of donation. How often do they give?
  • Monetary value of donation. On average, how much do they give?

Your data should tell you everything you need to know to set your organization up for a successful fundraising campaign, and not bog you down with needless information.

To learn more about donor management software and its uses, click here.

Maintain and clean your data

3. Maintain and clean your data.

If your organization has been around for a long time or has a rapidly evolving donor base, it is likely you have a lot of data in your CRM that is no longer necessary. The key to successfully managing your donor data is to keep it up-to-date.

To optimize your data management, do a little spring cleaning once a year to check for, and remove, outdated or redundant entries. Also, if you change the fields of data that you capture, this will help you see what information you do not have on your previous supporters.

Try purging your system of donors whose support of your organization has lapsed or who have passed away so that you can focus the efforts of your fundraising team. Your team will be able to appeal to donors who are most likely to give to your organization and not waste time pursuing stale leads.

Consider running your donor data through the NCOA, or National Change of Address Database. This database will inform you of any donors whose information is no longer accurate and help you eliminate invalid information.

If you want to learn more ways to enhance your data management, check out Double the Donation’s nonprofit CRM guide.

Segment your donor data

4. Segment your donor data.

Donor segmentation is the process of dividing your donor population into smaller groups based on shared characteristics. This practice will enable you to take large masses of data and discern patterns that can be turned into actionable insights for your fundraising team.

Your nonprofit’s data management team should be using your data to better understand your donors and strategize how to appeal to them during the upcoming fundraising campaign. Don’t let your donor data go to waste or remain indecipherable.

With smaller groups of like-donors, you will be able to see the demographics of who donates to your organization and deduce what you can do to appeal to more individuals who would fall into this category.

Your donors could be segmented based on any number of factors, including:

  • Communication preference. Know which donors respond to direct mail, social media, email, etc. This will reduce the number of wasted communication attempts you make.
  • Event attendance. If an individual has attended your events in the past, you can prioritize their invitation for upcoming events.
  • Volunteer participation. Look for donors who also have a history of volunteering for your organization. These donors are likely very loyal to your cause and should be valued accordingly.
  • Method of giving. Know which donor prefers to give via check, cash, in person, online, or via direct mail. This will help you when you are making your ask.
  • Basic demographics. Understand who donate to your organization by looking at demographic information, such as age, gender, marital status, location, etc.

Learn how to understand not just the individual who donates to your organization but also the trends in your donor network as a whole by effectively utilizing donor segmentation strategies.

Value integrated fundraising tools

5. Value integrated fundraising tools.

Your data management strategies should not end with collecting the donor and fundraising data. The best CRM software will equip you with the tools you need to analyze your data and develop fundraising strategies. ClearView CRM’s donor database management software comes fully equipped with third-party integrations that seamlessly interact with their API, or application programming interface.

You’ll need different types of integrations depending on the variety of tools you’re already using and depend on. In general, look for a CRM that has integration features for:

  • Nonprofit accounting
  • Online fundraising
  • Giving analytics
  • Payment processing
  • Prospect research
  • Digital communication and marketing

As you search for ways to strategically utilize your donor data, you cannot forget to make sure you have the tools to efficiently do so.

Look for data import and export capabilities

6. Look for import and export capabilities.

While a CRM does effectively house and manage your data, you should always be prepared in case you need to import new or existing data or export your data to disperse to others.

The right data management system will be able to import data, including gifts and payments, membership status, and online fundraising records, from other sources. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for a system that will automate importing. You don’t want to find yourself manually, painstakingly importing files one-by-one. The automated importing will allow you to load large batches into your database without constant supervision.

Exporting data is equally useful for many reasons. Paired with the importing features, it will allow you to:

  • Extract the data you have gathered.
  • Transform the data via an outside source (i.e. NCOA processing, prospect research, accounting updates, etc.).
  • Load the updated data back into your database seamlessly.

Don’t settle for a CRM with limited capabilities. Let your data management become exponentially easier with the help of a CRM with a powerful, robust set of tools.

Be prepared to go mobile.

7. Be prepared to go mobile.

As your fundraising capacity grows and you become more and more engrossed in your fundraising planning, you will need constant access to your data. Your data must be manageable on-the-go to guarantee you never find yourself at a loss for information.

It is not always easy to lug around a laptop. People are increasingly turning to their phones for every technology need. Not all CRM portals are designed for mobile use, so make sure your CRM is mobile responsive and will be easily accessible to you from wherever you are.

With this capability, you can manage your contacts and view and organize your donor data so you never find yourself without the necessary information when fundraising inspiration strikes!

Data management is without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of running a successful nonprofit. Without easy access to current, relevant information, you would be unable to properly strategize for any fundraising campaign. Follow these 7 data-management tips and make sure you are fully equipped to successfully avoid any obstacle your fundraising team may encounter.


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