donor database software

Whenever I speak around the country to professional fundraisers I am often asked what is needed to be part of or added to donor database software for it to be the most functional.

In other words, as our friend “Jerry Maguire” so aptly states, what does it take to “complete” the system…

After being asked so many times, I thought it would be beneficial for all of this blog’s wonderful readers to know what are the most important. They are in alphabetical order below in order to avoid potential disagreement over ranking order:

1. Donor Database Software Integrated Email

Your organization’s email communications has become so vital that it cannot and should not be a separate system! Email has become the core of the communications for many donors young and old as you strive to build relationships.

Even after a face to face or telephone based interaction, a personalized follow-up is a vital link to the next touch point in the future. As you peruse any constituent’s record you MUST be able to see all such touch points in chronological order. This illustrates the relationship build.

Lastly, the insightful reporting from email – such as “opens” and “click-throughs” – should be part of the full picture of the donor.

2. Integrated Fund Accounting

I truly believe the days of limping through the preparation of financial statements without true fund accounting for registered nonprofits are going to end soon.

In the past low end commercial accounting solutions such as QuickBooks were often used because of the high cost and complexity of true fund accounting solutions. This forced nonprofits to design workarounds for various fund restrictions, transfers, etc.

With solutions like Aplos and their real time integration into databases like Bloomerang, such compromises can be a thing of the past.

3. Integrated Knowledgebase with Your Donor Database Software

The ability to search out answers to common questions or even not so common questions is becoming the norm for all top-level commercial databases.

This is now the case among better donor database software. The knowledgebase house user documentation, downloadable help sheets, concise training videos and direct chat or email communications with professional support.

4. Integrated Prospect Research

To be an effective aid in even entry level major gift fundraising access to tools and data devoted to prospect research is vital.   Such integrations allows look-ups as you are viewing any constituent record, especially just prior to any personal interaction.

The integration allows this data to housed in a real time manner so it never outdated. This is key to being the most prepared for any major gift proposal preparation and/or discussion.

5. Regular NCOA Processing

It is hard to avoid being blunt here, but if you are mailing to the constituents in your database on any sort of a regular base and you have more than a few hundred names you need to keep up with address changes!

One in seven people in our country move annually. The post office makes it easy to keep up with those changes and to keep you addresses ready for bulk mailing rates. This should an automated process with your database performed a minimum of once per year!

6. Social Media Integration

We move from one of the old reliable forms of communications – snail mail – to one of the newest in social media. Being able to track the use of social media with your donor database software is becoming more important by the day. This is especially true as your outreach spans younger generations.

Once again, the term integration means you can avoid manually trying to track this.

7. Website Integration

Last, but certainly not least the real time linkage with your web site is essential. The basics here are email sign-ups, online giving, and event registrations. This should be a direct instant path to the database for all data and none of the three functions mentioned should ever take the prospect or donor away from your web site.

The next wave of integrated tools will go beyond financial and sign up transaction data and move into tracking the number and amount of time any of your constituents spend on your web site. This provides insights so numerous as to require another blog post in the future!

There you have it: seven ways to “complete” your donor database and improve you and your organization’s fundraising success in such a way that even Jerry Maguire would be proud of…

The Buyer's Guide to Fundraising Software

Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.