How to Keep Good Records about Donors to Your Nonprofit
After you begin attracting contributors to your nonprofit organization, your donor records become your most valuable fundraising tools. Individuals who give to your organization once are likely to continue giving for three or more years. If you thank them, address them as if they’re part of your organization, and generally treat them well, the size of their gifts is likely to increase over time.
Working with foundations, corporations, and government sources is a different story. In their case, you want to keep clear records of your original project goals and outcomes, project budget, and due dates for any required reports. Although these sources may not be willing or able to support your organization year after year, their future support is more likely if you’re a conscientious grantee who submits reports on time and keeps clear records.
You can create a simple database on a set of index cards by recording names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, patterns of giving, and personal information (such as whether a donor knows one of your board members or whether he or she is married and has children).
Of course, these days we like to keep databases on computers. You can spend lots of money on commercial database programs known as fundraising software. You can find out more about appropriate donor software that’s right for your organization’s size and systems by following articles in Idealware’s electronic newsletter or by searching the information at TechSoup.
However you keep it, guard your donor database carefully and invest the time necessary to keep it up-to-date. It’s one of your organization’s most valuable resources.