Donor Database – Five Reasons You Need One

Whether you are just starting out or you’ve been established for a while you know that keeping track of your donors┬ácan be very time consuming. Entering in their gifts, demographics and more can often seem pointless in the long-run with no perceived value.

However, when done right, a donor database can help you greatly increase revenue for your ministry or nonprofit organization both from maximizing current relationships and establishing new ones. A properly managed database gives you access to a wealth of information that is vital for any size organization – whether you have 10 donors or 10,000.

There are a ton of great options out there for donor databases (you shouldn’t be using Microsoft Excel anymore), which we will cover in-depth in the next post in this series, but today we wanted to focus on five reasons you need a donor database.

1. Know The Donor Relationship History

One of the biggest things a donor database allows you to do is quickly see a donors history with your organization or ministry, giving you a wealth of knowledge when analyzing that relationship. This gives you insight when making a call to a donor or connecting with one in-person who you haven’t seen in a while. Knowing answers to questions like the following gives you a springboard from which to structure your conversation:

  • How long have they been giving?
  • How often do they give?
  • What is their average amount of giving?
  • When was the last time they gave?

2. Finding Donors who have Stopped Giving Quickly (Lapsed Donors)

Donors stop giving for many valid reasons – maybe they’ve found a different organization that more closely aligns with their personal vision – however often times when someone stops donating to you it probably means one of the following has occurred:

  • They simply forgot to continue sending in their check or going online to give
  • They don’t feel valued by the organization
  • They don’t receive enough communications from the organization
  • They don’t feel like their money is being used wisely

Knowing what donors have stopped giving, when they stopped giving, and being able to see other demographic information allows you to catch these donors before they are “too far” gone. If you can catch a lapsed donor early in the process, you can figure out what it is that caused them to stop giving. Many of the clients we consult didn’t notice a donor had stopped giving for many months and even a year or more until they met that donor again in person.

3. Locate Donors who could Give More

The best donor databases allow you to a beautiful thing called Wealth Analytics – essentially it will automatically analyze every donor against publicly available databases like real estate, stocks, etc. to see which donors in your database have greater financial capabilities. However, you can do this too in a smaller scale way by having essential information.

What donors gave to you once in the past but haven’t given again? What donors gave a small gift and then a really large gift?

There is a wealth of other information you can analyze to locate donors who could potentially give more to support your mission if they were properly approached.

4. Analyze Communications Strategies

We are big proponents of tracking every communication with a donor. The better softwares will automatically fill in a donor profile for when they open an email from your email campaign, receive a direct mail piece, or visit your website. However, you also can put in this information manually. Knowing what donors are opening your emails more frequently or visiting your website gives you insight into which ones to reach out to and begin growing the relationship with.

Also, knowing your communications with each donor gives you insight into which ones have not been receiving regular communication from you – giving you a heads up that you should connect with them more so they don’t lose interest.

Finally, it will give you a clear picture of who is not opening your information – who always deletes your emails with opening them etc., so you know how to tailor unique communications to that person.

5. Keeping Notes on a Donor

Keeping relevant notes of each donor you interact with, especially ones close to the organization, gives you wonderful insights to how to best communicate with them in the future.

Making note of basic things like their families names and ages, kids interests, personal hobbies, professional goals, etc. gives you a conversation starter for the next meeting as well as makes the donor know you care about them as a person, and not only as a donor.

Additionally, keeping notes of areas of ministry or nonprofit work they are interested in, areas of your organization they love, or questions that have asked in the past gives you strategies to approach them in the future. At some point did they mention they love kids programs? This is great to know for if you start a kids program, because now you know to go back to that person and invite them to be a part of something they are interested in.


The benefits of a donor database system could fill a Top 100 list, and we will share more reasons in the future, but we earnestly believe every organization, missionary, or ministry should have a fundraising database in place. In the next post we will cover options for you whether you have 10 or 10,000+ donors.

If you’d like a free consultation on how a donor database system could help you better connect with donors and raise funds get in touch with us today! We love strategizing with missionaries, nonprofits, and ministries on how to build strong relationships with their donors and grow fundraising revenue.

 

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