Last week we began talking about the use of technology in fundraising and our focus was on the
organizational website. Today, we will continue the discussion as we discuss donor databases. Now,
before you think, “my organization is not big enough,” or “my organization doesn’t have enough
donors,” and click out, I want to encourage you to continue reading. I think you may find that a donor
database can help you grow a bigger organization and more donors.
A donor database can help you keep track of your donors and know who your best donors are. It can let
you know at a glance what fundraising efforts were most effective and which ones did not work so well.
It will allow you to make notes about your donors so that you can remember pertinent information
about them (perhaps the name of their spouse and children? Or the fact that they like to vacation in
Bermuda) so that there is a continuous log of information that will be in place when you leave the
organization. In this case, a donor database really becomes a mechanism for good organizational
stewardship. And…, one of the best features of a database, it will also help you track those donors who
But, before you respond that you don’t have the funds available for a database and that your
spreadsheet is working just fine, I want you to know that a good database does not have to cost a lot of
money. Sure, there are lots of really nice and really expensive systems available, but some of the less
costly systems work just as well (if not better).
Spend some time researching the available systems before you make a decision. Just remember, to be
effective, it has to be used. So, one of the most important considerations is whether or not it is user-
friendly enough to be used by those who need to use it.
What key information does a database need to include?
Full name of the individual
Contact information (Address, phone, email address, etc.) Additionally, you may want to note
social media accounts as social media is going to continue to play a huge role in fundraising.
Spouse if married
Donation history (how much, for what appeal, etc.)
Connections to the organization – Are there connections to board members or staff? Are there
projects they are particularly interested in supporting? Are they a volunteer?
Employer if known – Many large businesses will match gifts made by the employee so knowing
this information can allow you to leverage additional gifts.
Notes – This is a great section where information about contact with the donor can be noted,
As you look for a reasonably price system, just be careful, Free is not always Free. There are free options
available that will require significant levels of technological support which may end up costing more in
the long run.
And, remember to keep the system confidential. Since there is a lot of personal information about
individuals in the system, you will want to limit who has access to it. Most systems will allow you to give
different users different levels of access. It is your responsibility to protect the privacy of your donors.
Take the plunge, begin looking at database options to determine the best fit for your organization. There
are so many options, there is sure to be one that will fit your budget. Contact us if we can help!