Donor management software should serve at the heart of most non-profits’ fundraising efforts. Having a fully-featured and easy-to-use system will positively impact your annual fundraising numbers.
1) Ensures diversity and sustainability of your fundraising efforts
While annual events and galas might bring in large infusions of cash, the ongoing outreach to both those who attend events as well as non-attendees is even more important. Good donor management software:
- Insulates you from possible event catastrophes. Imagine that your annual gala is inadvertently scheduled in competition with another event your donors want to attend like a football playoff game. Your donation platform can help you to identify and reach out to current registrants and past attendees with messaging and alternative ways to give.
- Supports steady cash flow with year-round fundraising. The better you are at collecting and leveraging data within your donor management platform, the less your organization must count upon the success of large, annual events. Sustaining memberships are generally funds you can count on; event income can vary more widely.
- Protects you from inconsistent volunteer efforts. Last year you may have had a rock star silent auction committee that secured amazing donations. This year’s volunteer crop may be enthusiastic, but less connected. If you used your system to set up a form where auction donations are submitted, you’ll have a list of potential donors to turn over to the new committee members for follow up requests.
2) Serves as a repository for donor profiles.
Knowing who your donors are allows you to reach out to them in unique and appropriate ways. Set up fields, labels, tags, groups or folders in your donation software that allow you to use your system as a CRM and create a profile for each donor. This data should include:
- Contact and biographical information: What is their birthday, do they use an alternate name, who is their employer and does the employer match donations, who are their spouse and family members, how do they prefer to be contacted (email, phone call, or text)?
- Custom labels/groupings: What committees have they signed up for, are they interested in volunteer opportunities or board service, what events have they attended in the past, what skill sets do they have?
- Opinions: Do you conduct an annual survey of your donors and volunteers? Some platforms include the ability to keep track of survey completions on a member’s Timeline.
Your system should allow sustaining donors to login and update their own profiles and credit card information. You can make certain fields available for donors to fill in while keeping others fields private for administrative use. Customize your renewal notice messages to encourage donors to complete their profile data.
3) Helps you nurture donor relationships
Not all donors like dressing up to attend a fancy gala. Some constituents might be busy people who want to support your mission, but prefer to spend their social time in other ways. Good donor management software will allow you to classify your members in different ways and reach out to them according to their level of interest. Some ways you might use your software to speak to these groups:
- Send an email invitation to past gala attendees for a VIP reception.
- Note who has filled out a online volunteer form; send them an email to see if they’d like to become sustaining members to further the organization’s mission.
- Create and assign labels to donors based upon their past involvement or interactions. Often the assignment of labels to sustaining members can be set up to be automated through use of event registration actions or form actions.
4) Keeps your board happy
Every non-profit board loves to see improvement. The ability to pull various statistics and numbers from your donation platform will help them have peace of mind and good feelings about the organization’s future. Some key metrics from your donor management software to share with your board:
- Annual income for events and number of attendees (compare year over year)
- Annual/monthly number and amount of donations
- Current number of donors at each donor level
- Number of sustaining donors who did not renew in past year
- Annual number of constituents who signed up to volunteer
5) Difficult software (and lack of training) puts your non-profit at risk
If your donor management system is difficult to use, your staff will be less likely to keep donor records current. Even if you have a good system, training your staff is key. Look for software that is easy to use and offers free training or encourages your staff to reach out for help. Here are some scenarios that could be created by lack of training or difficult software:
- Donors who made donations by check don’t get invited to the annual donor appreciation event because a staff member couldn’t figure out how to correctly enter a check payments into each donor’s record.
- Data provided to your board doesn’t reflect accurate event income because it was difficult to record at-the-door payments in your system.
6) Outdated software creates daily points of failure
These scenarios are even more likely to impact your organization because they are typically used daily by your constituents and donors:
- Donors abandon the donation process when they can’t do it on their phone because the text is too small, meaning your website or donation platform is not mobile-friendly. One 2017 study showed that 57% of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets.
- Donors respond less frequently to your calls-to-action because your email messages are not designed for mobile viewing. Another study shows that emails that don’t display well on mobile may be deleted within three seconds. More emails are now checked on phone versus desktop environments.
Guest Author: Amy Hufford
Amy Hufford is a Technologist at MembershipWorks. She has worked in non-profit technology for more than 20 years and has experience with a variety of donor management software.