When we set out to create Bloomerang, we wanted to do something that was focused, honest, and beneficial to the nonprofit marketplace. There was an early decision to make sure that every person at your organization could get the benefit of donor information, no matter how much revenue is generated. We figured that an organization’s ability to pay is tied more closely to the number of donors they have, rather than the size of the staff.

However, the number of donors an organization solicits can be an unclear metric.

What is a constituent?

One person? A couple? An organization? A household?

Additionally, how this definition is defined can have adverse effects on how organizations use the database. When every record is counted, there is pressure to combine spouses into one record. This causes problems when you need to track information on more than one account (“was Bob the alumni, or was it Karen?”) or need to communicate with one of them individually.

The best way is simple: 1 record = 1 person.

If you have a name and a way to contact that person – an email address, phone number or physical address – you should track them on their own record. This allows you to know what and when you’ve communicated with this person.. The key to this approach is having the ability to join these people in a household. That way, if you do treat them as one “giving unit,” you can choose to communicate with them jointly.

This past weekend, Bloomerang made a change to back up these best practices: records joined in a household will only count against your license level as one constituent.

Enjoy, and happy fundraising!

Ross Hendrickson

Ross Hendrickson

Co-Founder and CEO at Bloomerang
Ross Hendrickson is a co-founder and the CEO of Bloomerang. Prior to co-founding Bloomerang, he served as Product Manager for Bostech Corporation and later Avectra. Ross serves on the Horizon Council, the young professionals leadership council of the Indianapolis-based nonprofit Conner Prairie. He graduated with a B.S. in Economics & Engineering Science from Vanderbilt University.