Wednesday, 13 January 2021 16:45

How to Manage Your Donor Database

Whether you’re managing or working for an established nonprofit organisation or are building one from the ground up, you want to have a way of managing every single donor who gives you money. It doesn’t matter if a donor contributes $5 now and then or $100 or more monthly. Knowing who they are, where they live and other pertinent details about them will help you better organise your fundraising efforts and bring in more money for your organisation.


Knowing in people why people’s are giving — or influencing their decision not to give — can help you better understand the reputation of your organisation.


Here’s how to make the most of your organisation’s donor management tools by building a database that allows you to maximise your donor relationships.

How to Build a Robust Donor Database Using Dynamics 365

The more you know about the people who support your organisation, the better you can target them and make appropriate fundraising requests. Knowing in details can help you figuring out who to focus on when you’re trying to plan out the next plan for increasing your donor database.


The first step in building a robust database is deciding what information to include for each donor. The next step is to standardise your method of data entry so that the information is as complete and accurate as possible. Try not to have multiple systems in place as this will confuse you and your team with myriad set of data coming from different sources.

1. Choose a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Program

Your donor database is only as strong as the CRM program you use to manage it. It’s relatively common for nonprofits to start out using multiple systems to communicate with constituents. That’s especially true if you engage with a variety of people, such as volunteers, donors, corporate sponsors and so on. While it might make sense to have separate programs for donors and volunteers or to keep information about individual donors separate from information about corporate donors, it can also lead to a lot of headache and confusion.


It’s difficult to see any areas of overlap when you’re segmenting information. For example, you might have a group of volunteers who are also donors, but it can be difficult to discover that if they are siloed in separate donor and volunteer databases.


For that reason, it’s best to use a CRM program that have the 360 degrees ability to record and track all variables at the same time efficiently.


Here are a few things to look for when using CRM:


How many constituents you can track: Consider the size of your donor and constituent base before choosing a program. Some programs are designed for smaller organisation and is not fitted to bigger one. Pay attention to how far the system can accommodate your needs and how flexible it can be utilised to your working level degree.


How many users the software allows: It’s also a good idea to note how many users from your organisation can access the software. Modern CRM system has a new user management system called Software-as-a-service or SaaS.


The features available in Dynamics 365: What do you want to do with your donor database? Will you use it to communicate with donors, or do you want it to be a collection of their data? Some advance system such as Dynamics 365 is able to accommodate ticket management and event management embedded into the main CRM system.


2. Create Donor Profiles

On the second step, it is time to profiling your donor with all important variables that can build up to your key decision on the later stage. The necessary information you should have about each donor includes:

  • • Name and contact information (Incl. Social Media Profile)
  • • Frequency of donations
  • • Average Donations
  • • Communication preferences
  • • Activity (Donor,
  • • Payment methods
  • • Length of relationship with Constituent

By learning more about your donors, you can start gathering basic pieces of information and help you plan with engaged events and fundraising. Try to learn more in depth about your constituents:

  • • Their household income
  • • Other nonprofit activity, such as where else they donate or volunteer
  • • Their hobbies
  • • How they found out about your organisation
  • • Household information, such as who they live with and if they rent or own
  • • Occupation information
  • • Why they support your organisation

3. Standardise Data Entry

A proper set of data with decent uniformity creates a solid database and to keep everyone using the CRM system on the same page.
You might want to limit your data with certain rules such as:

  • • What to do if information is missing
  • • What abbreviations to use and what they mean
  • • How to name or update the file after each edit or addition

Once you’ve set up your database, it’s essential to check it over frequently to make sure the records are still up to date. Learn more about data sync with ability of activity automation in the background to save up most of your resource time.

Better Donor Data Management

To get the most out of your donor data, you’ll want to standardise your internal procedures for data entry and management, clearly document these rules, and train your staff to use them. There are heaps of capabilities in modern CRM like Dynamics 365 for non profit that enable user to automate journey or business processes especially during data inputting.


It is a important step to do to ensure a neat data input process is in place already in the beginning of everything. You will understand that it’s worth the extra effort in the beginning before a user ends up with a huge spreadsheet of 2,000 addresses with different formats. You get the picture.

Better Data Entry

If the donor data you put into your CRM is messy, your results will be, too.
To make sure all relevant donor data appears in reports and is properly formatted for mail merges, you should establish rules for how data is manually entered and set standards for formatting. For processes that are unique to your organisation, you’ll need to formulate your own internal standards. Rules are required to be created as integral part of CRM business processes.
Below are important variables that your organisation need to agreed upon creating business processes in the CRM and putting it into standardised convention naming, as follow:

  • • Names
  • • Addresses (Especially states)
  • • Donation Dates
  • • Spouses and Households
  • • Job titles (Dir, Dr, etc)
  • • Phone numbers
  • • SIC Code for industry type

Beyond formatting, you’ll want to capture the same information for all of the contacts in your database. Anyone entering data should always include as much information as possible. Entering this information consistently means that your reports will give you a more complete picture of your donors.

Annual Audits of Your Database

Data discrepancies are inevitable. With various staff handling and inputting data over the time can create a different set of data and different types data set. It will influence the integrity of your organisation data and there are potential cracks that one can fall into.


Make sure this annual audits is in place and your organisation invest time and money into staff training. Apply greater discipline in constituent data management, and create systems of leadership accountability for data. The proper use of audit tools to keep constituent data clean and consistent, is eventually what keep this fresh in staff mind.


It will lead to better time management, less staff turnover and better accountability in overall database management. Data management is a discipline that must be constantly monitored and updated over time.

Next Steps to Improve Donor Data Management

Aligning your leadership, inviting the right database stakeholder participation, and managing change at your organisation are not easy. But they’re a valuable investment of your time when faced with fundraising challenges.


Predictive and dynamic technology tools such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 can help Development staff focus on the highest value strategies, and reliable data help staff analyse and plan appropriate fundraising goals and techniques. And less time spent in customer services and records management means more time spent in productive dialogue with donors.