Fundraising software is crucial in your development office. It can be your very best friend one day, and your biggest frustration the next. How many times have you generated addresses for the mailing only to see some addresses have not been updated, names are missing, or someone who has passed away is still on the mailing list? How many times has someone asked to see the gift report, but you can't remember how to run the query? How many times have you been out at an event and heard some important information about a donor that would greatly effect what you send them? All of these things can be prevented, and keep your database AND YOU looking On Fleek.
Here are some tips to stay On Fleek:
1. Enter donor information timely! Don't wait for months thinking you will get to it someday. It has to be a regular habit. I think once a week is a great goal. Besides - the donors need their acknowledgements ASAP! (That's a topic for another day.) When you capture donor information from an event, as a result of a gift, or from a board member's prospect list, it is so important to get it entered ASAP. Things change so fast - treat this task like a 4 alarm fire! It needs to be the top priority. Sometimes you can find a great volunteer to be your database expert. I was lucky to have 2 of these! Jennie Lou and Karen. They both helped me keep my database up to date. They came once a week, and I would have a stack of things ready for them to enter. If you can think of someone who would enjoy that, ask them! If a volunteer isn't a possibility, and if you are already so behind that you feel "ON FLUNK", you have to turn your UN into an EE, and use a Monday or a Friday each week to chip away a little at a time.
2. Take the software training! Most support programs come with an education track - make time to learn how to use your system. Is it fun? Not always. Will it make a difference in how well it works for you? Most always. It is so important to invest in the training, and you get the bang for the buck! If you never truly learn it, how will you ever make the most of what all the software can do? It keeps your data organized. You learn how to generate the reports you need and the most efficient way to enter your donor information so you can run the reports. You will save time by being consistent with all they teach you. Make the time to take the training.
3. Update! Update! Update! Always update your notes and information that effects your donors. Did you see a grantor while you were at lunch? Did you see your best donor when you were in the grocery store? Did someone mention the important anniversary date of your big sponsor's business? Did someone pass away? These are the things that have to be entered each time you get back to your desk. I know I could have done a better job of this! I was not diligent in my database notes - I had been in my position for a long time - so it was all in my head. Now, I can't help but wonder if those who are there now have enough information on each constituent. The notes you place in the database will be the memory for the organization. Always update!
If your organization doesn't have a database yet, there are several good ones to choose from. All of them can enhance and support you as you develop relationships with your donors, but none of them can do all the work without your commitment to keeping them On Fleek.
Do you need some database software recommendations?
There may be some new software peer groups started by our local AFP chapter. I'll post that info when those are finalized. And always - feel free to email me, and I can help you figure some things out! firstname.lastname@example.org.