Is It Time for a Check-up?
In every nonprofit’s life, there comes a time when questions arise about the general health of its database.
This could come as a result of a new initiative to push the organization ahead. It could stem from a mandate to raise additional funds within a certain period of time. It could be a desire to increase brand awareness among donors and prospects. Or perhaps the organization has recognized the need to identify, communicate and track its audiences’ activities.
In any case, your database will play a key role in enabling your organization to effectively monitor activities, better solicit funds and reach intended goals.
That said, is your database system — and your data itself — strong enough to deliver just what you need to move your charity ahead?
Many organizations believe that once the database is built, the system is on auto-pilot. In fact, you should be checking your database and its contents on an annual basis to make sure it’s tuned just right. Let’s examine the state of your database by asking some critical questions.
1. What is your nonprofit’s “business”?
What is your primary mission? What types of activities are conducted on a regular, irregular or one-time basis? How do you construct your fundraising activities? Do you hold events? Do you issue tickets for those events? Do you have an online community of users? Does your organization publish a magazine or newsletter? Do you offer a catalog of products? What is the extent and depth of your direct-mail operations?
Begin your analysis by making sure your current database system meets your current day-to-day operating needs.
2. What does your organization want to do?
Take a step back to assess your business overall. Quite simply, what do you do and how do you do it? How is your organization changing in terms of its fundraising objectives, needs and future programs? These changes might indicate that you have outgrown your existing systems, data needs and reporting requirements. Modifications, overhauls and enhancements might be in order.