Donor Management: 5 Ways to Organize Your Supporter Data
Donors are a major part of any nonprofit’s efforts—they are the ones funding your mission after all! It only makes sense, then, that smart nonprofits would have a strategy in place for managing all of the data that comes along with donor relationships.
Luckily, donor database software (also known as nonprofit constituent relationship management or CRM software) can help your organization make sense of your donor data by storing it all in one central location.
Even better, most CRM solutions have additional built-in features designed to help you build on your donor data and use it to develop smart strategies and cultivate meaningful relationships.
In this post, we’ll walk through five donor management best practices to help you organize your data in the most useful way. We’ll show you why it’s important to:
- Create robust constituent profiles in your donor database.
- Keep track of supporter engagement styles.
- Use giving histories to inform your fundraising appeals.
- Tailor outreach based on communication preferences.
- Integrate your database with your online forms.
With your CRM on your side, it’s much easier to manage donor information, so that you can have a clear picture of your supporter relationships. And as you know, the stronger your supporter relationships, the more successful your nonprofit will be!
1. Create Robust Constituent Profiles in Your Donor Database.
Before you can effectively use your supporter data, you’ve got to have data to use. That means you’ll need to do your part to make sure your constituent profiles are well-stocked with all the information you need to engage with your supporters in the best ways.
By now, you should already have the basic details stored in your donor database, including:
- Full name and preferred title (Ms., Mr., Dr., etc.).
- Email address.
- Phone number.
- Mailing address.
However, to really paint an in-depth picture of who your supporters are, you need to know more than just their contact information! Use your donor database to store data that actually helps you get to know your constituents. For example, you can add fields such as:
- Interests or hobbies. Have donors who go crazy for sports? Perhaps you can kick your peer-to-peer walkathon into high gear by turning it into a triathlon or obstacle course. On the other hand, if your donors show interest in culture and arts, a gala at a local museum might catch more eyes.
- Employer information. Knowing a donor’s job title can give you insight into their potential salary or capacity to give, provide a hint for skills they might be able to donate and help you determine which corporate giving programs might be applicable. Don’t forget to store workplace data for your donors’ spouses, too!
- Social media profiles. Keep an eye out for major influencers hiding in your database! Store the social media handles for your donors so you can associate social engagements with individual profiles. This is especially important if you’re launching a grassroots campaign, where social media ambassadors play an integral role.
When it comes to fleshing out donor profiles, the more you know, the better. Having a firm grasp on who your donors are and what they bring to your nonprofit can only help you create strategies that meet supporters exactly where they are.
2. Keep Track of Supporter Engagement Styles.
One of the easiest ways to analyze and organize supporter data is simply to pay attention to how constituents are interacting with your nonprofit.
More than likely, your organization offers a variety of ways to contribute to your cause. By breaking down which constituents are engaging in different areas, you can determine the best way to nurture those relationships, encourage supporters to stay engaged and extend their involvement to other areas, too.
For example, you should have separate strategies in place for all of the following segments of your constituent list:
- Event guests (and sponsors).
- Peer-to-peer fundraisers.
- Members of your membership program.
- Advocates or social ambassadors.
You can use your donor database to manage engagement histories for each of your supporters, making it easier to develop strategic plans for future engagement.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for sponsors for an upcoming fundraising event. First, you can segment your list to find donors who own their own businesses or hold a C-level position at their companies. Then, zoom in on donors who have a history of sponsoring or attending past events.
You can use this engagement history as a jumping off point for your sponsorship appeal. That way, you’ll already have a conversation piece (your past events) to use to encourage the supporter to get on board with your next fundraiser.
Not only will a more personal approach lead to a more successful end result, we can all but guarantee that your donors will appreciate that you remember (and value) their past participation. You’re sure to see increased engagement and retention because of it!
3. Use Giving Histories to Inform Your Fundraising Appeals.
Speaking of targeted appeals, let’s not forget another key piece of data you can keep track of within your CRM: donation history.
You should always log receipts of any donation transactions, including:
- The donation amount.
- The payment type (credit card, eCheck, check, or cash).
- The donation channel (online, mobile or text-to-give, event registration, etc).
- The specific campaign or project.
Hint: Your online fundraising software can automatically store this data if it’s integrated with your donor database (as we’ll discuss further in No. 5).
It seems simple enough, but keeping a record of your donors’ past gifts can actually do a lot for your strategy, particularly when it comes to planning your next donation requests.
For instance, you can use this data to:
- Ask for a realistic amount. If a donor has never given more than $50, it’s probably not a good idea to ask for $500 right off the bat. You’ll be more successful when you know what a donor is comfortable contributing. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t…
- Encourage donors to upgrade their gift. Try referencing their last donation amount to inspire supporters to give just a bit more. Show what a difference only a slight upgrade will make with examples of real-life contributions and their impact!
- Share the impact of their past gifts. When you know which campaign they’ve donated to, you can remind donors of what they’ve already achieved. By showing constituents you’re a good steward of their funds, you’ll be more likely to secure a second donation.
- Promote the best giving channels. Remind donors how easy it is to give by promoting channels you know they’ll love. Depending on their preferences, you can include a link to your donation form, your text-to-give phone number or an address to mail in a check.
As you probably know, the more targeted your fundraising appeals, the better. Tapping into your donors’ giving history can help you craft donation requests that perfectly align with their giving preferences (and help ensure you don’t leave any money on the table).
4. Tailor Outreach Based on Communication Preferences.
For nonprofits, fundraising is only half the battle. In addition to securing those all-too-important donations, you also need to have a plan in place for ongoing communication and stewardship to make sure donors stay engaged with your organization even when they’re not signing a check.
However, donor communications can be a fine line to walk. You want to stay in touch often, but sending too many messages can be overwhelming or annoying for supporters.
Even worse, you could be sending messages that get overlooked or ignored simply because they’re coming through on a channel that a supporter doesn’t use.
Avoid those pitfalls by putting the power in your supporters’ hands! Send out a questionnaire or ask them to manually update their constituent profiles with preferences for the following areas as well as others:
- Communication channel (such as email, text message or direct mail).
- Communication frequency.
- Area of interest (e.g., only messages about specific programs or opportunities versus general nonprofit information).
In addition to getting donors’ preferences on file from the start, you might also look into the data stored in your database or integrated nonprofit marketing software to find out if supporters are on board with your current communications strategy.
If you’re finding that donors aren’t opening your emails or interacting with social media posts, it might be time to reassess your outreach plan.
In need of marketing software to help you analyze your communications data? Check out the top providers that made Double the Donation’s list!
5. Integrate Your Database With Your Online Forms.
If you’re with us so far, you should be well aware of the fact that there are a lot of different types of donor data, and practically all of those different pieces of information can be vital to your fundraising strategy if used correctly.
However, the downside of all that data is knowing how to get it into your donor database in the first place! Luckily, there’s no need for concern—all you need is a nonprofit CRM with integrated or built-in online form-building capabilities.
Depending on your specific software choice, you may have unlimited options for the types of forms you can build, including:
- Online donation forms.
- Event registration forms.
- Volunteer sign-up forms.
- Membership application forms.
- And more!
The primary benefit of an integrated form-builder is that all of the data will automatically flow into your database and update your constituent profiles (or create new records) based on the form fields.
That means you can spend less time logging data in profiles and more time actually putting that data to good use.
Plus, when your software manages the data transfer process for you, you won’t have to worry that your profiles are out-of-date or inaccurate. If a donor makes a gift, buys an event ticket or signs up to volunteer, those activities will be instantly stored in your CRM—no data entry needed.
Nonprofit donor database software has become a game-changer when it comes to storing donor information and building more intentional relationships. When your strategy is backed by supporter data, you’re bound for better results than ever before.
Looking to learn more about how donor management software can help your nonprofit? Check out Salsa’s fundraising and CRM software solutions to see which features might align with your goals!
Dan Quirk is the Marketing Manager at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Dan's marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.