As our sector continues to navigate new challenges, the Campbell & Company team has paused to reflect on our own best practices and strategies. We recommend taking the time to evaluate your internal structures and systems, including your database. In this spirit, we encourage you to ask: “Are we managing our data effectively?”
While most nonprofits track data on their constituents, like donor bios and giving history, simply collecting that information isn’t enough. It may even waste time as you sift through pages of data entries. Without effective data management, you miss out on insights that could lead to better understanding and, ultimately, better fundraising.
A strong data management plan gives you the ability to set appropriate goals and leverage data that illustrates how you are advancing your mission. It also helps you identify your best prospects, most effective outreach strategies, and opportunities for upgrades.
With all this in mind, we provided a few guidelines to consider as you evaluate your data management.
What functions do you need your database to perform? What reports and dashboards are essential for your team? Below, we outlined a few must-haves for all organizations.
As simple as these steps may seem, many organizations are not tracking everything they should be. Track all communications and interactions, including any proposals or opportunities along with ask amounts and ask dates. This includes:
When it comes to major donors, make sure you enter your plans for each one into the database. That way, your whole team can see them. And don’t forget—your database is only accurate when you use clean data that has up-to-date essential information, like prospect names and addresses.
A data management plan serves multiple purposes. It keeps team members on track amid numerous distractions, and it can also help you advocate for more resources when you need them. As you develop your plan, ask yourself these questions:
Throughout this process, talk to your frontline fundraisers about what they need and work with your database manager to find solutions.
There’s a strong relationship between effective data management and effective fundraising. Take a beat to question how you’re managing your database and solidify a plan—we guarantee it will be time well spent.
For more advice, take a look at the three-stage process our Strategic Information Services team created to help you use donor data to develop a crisis fundraising strategy. And if you’re looking to add a new tool to your team’s arsenal, check out Campbell & Company’s fundraising planning software, Beam Insights.