Are you using your database to its full capacity?
If you’re like every single charity I’ve worked with, chances are you’re not.
For many charities, databases can feel like a complete black hole – a mysterious time suck that just never makes sense. You may as well be staring at a blank screen.
For others, it’s a luxury – something that is too expensive to even make the investment.
But, when used properly, databases can capture meaningful institutional knowledge, help build relationships with your donors and streamline your internal processes.
Does that sound like the kind of relationship you want with your database?
So here are two reports to help you use your database to improve your fundraising, not just to input donations and issue tax receipts.
Cumulative Giving Report for Active Donors (this means the total life-time value of any of your current donors - how much they've given you, ever)
Without a database (or good reports), it’s easy to lose sight of a donor’s overall contributions to your organization. This report allows you to look at a donor’s lifetime commitment in giving, so you get a better idea of their “big picture” giving.
Run this report at least once a year to identify the top donors you should prioritize for meeting with in person, based on their lifetime contribution to your organization.
Use this report to customize communications to these people. If you’re sending an appeal (email or mailed ask), newsletters or other communications, you can group these people together to get a slightly different message than the rest of the people on your list. This is called segmentation, and it goes a long way in making your donors feel special to you.
Lapsed Donors (also known as LYBUNT - last year but not this)
Donors will stop giving, that’s natural and called attrition, but it’s not ideal. This report allows you to identify those who haven’t renewed their gift.
Run this report after an appeal to identify those who haven’t renewed and send them a special follow up appeal.
Identify top donors from this list and connect with them personally (ideally in person by phone is okay too), asking for feedback. Try to understand their motivations for giving in the first place and why they have stopped giving. This can give you great insight into how to improve your fundraising program. You aren’t asking them in this meeting to give again, you’re just asking for feedback to gain understanding.
These are just a couple ways your database can work for you. It’s not enough to have a database; you also need to ask it the right questions. These reports will save you time on donor care, and help you raise more money when the time comes to ask.
BONUS DATABASE FUNCTIONALITY I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT
It’s not a report, but a good database also allows you to set reminders for the future. If you just come back from talking to a donor and need to follow up with them in a few months, you can enter that into the database and it will send you a reminder when it’s time to follow up.