Why your database is your most important tool

Why your database is your most important tool

Often underutilized and sometimes the source of frustration, your fundraising database has much more to offer than simply a placeholder for donations. Strategic planning, prospecting, and communications come to mind as three highly valuable uses for your CRM, and given the right configuration and organization of your data, all totally doable.

On strategic planning
What is working and what isn’t working when it comes to the efforts your organization is putting forth to cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding your prospects and donors? Tracking this data in your CRM will enable to you to make better decisions around what you should keep doing, what adjustments you need to make, and what strategies you need to ditch.

Keep track of the constituents who are receiving your appeals and event invitations, and well as the results. If you are in the midst of or starting a major giving campaign, document each and every interaction, as well as intended interactions with those prospects within your CRM so that you have the full picture of your efforts to compare against your outcomes.

On prospecting
Mining for potential new prospects is a big benefit of having an organized and complete CRM. Donors who have given multiple years in a row, as well as constituents who have been engaged in other ways (i.e. volunteering, participating in events, etc…) are just a couple of places to start when considering expanding your initial prospect list. Once you take that list past the identification stage and on to the research stage, use your CRM to track each step towards the appropriate solicitation. Using a moves management system for your pipeline within your CRM keeps the full picture of engagement of your constituents in one place, and this will save you time and energy down the road. In the CRM Little Green Light, for example, tasks and contact reports serve as that moves management system, and when combined with the goal feature, the entire cycle is tracked and can be turned into a valuable report.

On communications
Knowing your audience and communicating with them in a way that is appropriate and personal is so important but can feel daunting when you are embarking on pulling data for a big mailing or appeal. When segmenting your data for the first time, start small. Create up to three segments that are easily distinguishable, such as LYBUNTS, SYBUNTS, and non-donors. In Little Green Light, for example, segments can be created and constituents can be easily added to each segment within the appeal, and the system will ensure that a constituent doesn’t fall into multiple segments. Set up your custom messaging within your templates and run your mailing straight from your CRM. If three segments are too much, stick with one segment, but pull out one small group, like LYBUNTS or even consecutive donors, for a custom test sample.

In any fundraising strategic planning, your CRM should be one of the top tools and incorporated into all of your action items. It should give a holistic picture of your constituents and the relationships they have with your organization and, if cared for properly, can be key to increasing your contributed income.

by, Carrie Grote
Off and Running Fundraising Consulting, specializing in Little Green Light CRM