Key Pieces of Database Info

Earlier this week I talked about the importance of knowing where to put donor information in your database. Today I want to talk about what information I’ve found to be the most inconsistent and, by keeping that data relevant, how much more powerful your database can be.

Most of the inaccuracies I find are in simple contact and personal information: addresses, phone numbers, and emails. How many donors have you lost touch with because you don’t have any way to get a hold of them anymore? Have you ever made a follow-up call only to find out the person you’re calling for is now deceased? That’s a mistake you do not want to make twice. The most valuable information I input into Raiser’s Edge often goes in as a note with text describing insights I’ve learned about a specific donor. These insights can be as simple as their daughter playing soccer or a story he tells you about why the mission of your organization is valuable.

There is value in keeping this information so you don’t have to ask the same questions every time you talk with the donor or when you have staff turnover. But think of how valuable it could be if, before you talk with a large business in town, you could search and see how many of your donors work at that business. An employer will listen better if they know that they already have a number of employees that are giving to you. It is not a significant challenge to put education information under the education tab, or current work info under the employer tab. But this can make a huge difference in your work.

Take the time to learn where these key pieces of information should be stored in your database and then keep them there. It takes just as long to write something on a post-it note as it does to insert it into the database.

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4 Responses to Key Pieces of Database Info

  1. Joe Garecht says:

    It’s also so important to note that fundraising (or donor) databases are INTEGRAL to the success of every fundraising organization / non-profit, even the smallest and most local. Don’t make the mistake of trying to use Excel as your fundraising database. Once you get over 100 or 200 donors, find a fundraising-specific database package!

  2. […] Small Change… Key Pieces of Database Info A great post from Jason at Small Change about maintaining and utilizing the information you collect […]

  3. Elliott says:

    The question is, though, if all you have is a donation with an address and (maybe) phone number on a check, how do you get this other information? What if you don’t even have employer information?

    I think it’s valuable to say, “it’s good to keep as much info on your donors as possible” but I think getting the non-traditional info is the hard part…

  4. Jason Dick says:

    Great points… Some of that non-traditional info is really hard to come by. One place I go for employer information is OpenSecrets.org, if someone gives a political contribution they are required to include their employment and this can help in figuring out that question.

    I agree that the non-traditional info can be hard to come by and sometimes is the most valuable. But to simplify things I think it’s valuable to keep whatever info you have up-to-date even if it’s just their name & address.

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