Donor management consists of the policies and procedures a nonprofit develops to manage information regarding its constituents. The constituents may be donors or they may be other groups such as prospective donors or volunteers.
The policies and procedures for donor management clearly delineate: what information to maintain; how to maintain consistent and accurate information; and who determines the application of various profile and fundraising codes to each constituent record. I feel pretty confident in saying that very few nonprofits spend the time and effort to develop these policies and procedures; yet doing so would save them countless hours of tedious work cleaning up a database that has fallen into disarray.
In teaching organizations how to use MatchMaker FundRaising Software, I have determined that information that an organization wishes to maintain falls into two distinct categories. The first category is basic information such as name, address, phone, email, etc. The basic information is fairly generic to all nonprofit organizations. Some organizations do a better job than others of collecting this information. The key is to create a vehicle to gather this data. If you are gathering information from a web site, have specific fields required. If you are updating records, send out a short information survey to constituents or call them and ask.
The second category is very specific to an organization. Information in this category can be related to the organization’s mission or operation. Data in this category is often referred to as profile information. For example, if an organization is an animal shelter, it might keep track of the kind of animal and breed that a constituent adopted. Profile information would include codes that signify if you are a volunteer, a board member, or a designated United Way donor. Fundraising values attributed to appeals and campaigns would also fall in this category.
Maintaining consistent and accurate information is something that should be easy. However, I have observed that with the high staff turnover at nonprofits, data easily becomes victim to the latest, often ill-trained person. It becomes incumbent on organizations to create policies for data entry and to have one person on staff that is responsible for overseeing the data entry. Because they have the greatest usage of the data, the chief development officer will most often serve in this role.
Having good robust data can truly make the difference to an organization’s ability to raise money. Taking the time to develop donor management policies will have a tremendous ROI.