We’ve all heard the saying about our fundraising database….”junk in, junk out.” That’s why putting some rigor around gift entry and pledge management can help lift all fundraising boats. With accurate data in the system your development team can accomplish a lot including: properly steward donors for their gifts, identify prospects, acknowledge donors in a timely and efficient way, and create meaningful experiences for supporters.

Keeping Your Database Healthy

Data Entry Defaults

Databases have come a long way in recent years. They are much more intuitive and can even help curb data entry error. Consider taking the time to set up your table and drop down defaults so everyone charged with gift entry has uniform and limited choices. Retire all the old campaigns, funds, and appeals so they are not accidentally chosen. Also, make sure to use your batch or import function so you can save a lot of time entering large numbers of gift. These items might take a few hours to set up in your database, but I promise they will save you time in the long run.

Pledge Processing

Anytime a pledge is entered, make sure to capture the pledge payment schedule (it should be mapped out in the pledge agreement). The payment schedule is the only way your database can notify you about sending pledge reminders. Accurate and timely pledge reminders send an important message to your donors — that the organization is sophisticated in its record-keeping. You might also consider revamping your pledge reminders quarterly (or at least bi-annually) so donors don’t get the same reminder repeatedly.

Capturing Detailed Information

When you get a gift in the form of a check, make sure to look at more than just the dollar amount. This is an opportunity to verify 1) the spouse’s name; 2) the address; and 3) phone number and email 4) and any additional information (like multiple acknowledgement) that you might not have in your database.  For future reporting, every entered gift should be coded with the appeal the donor responded to and the fund that the donor designated the gift toward.

Acknowledgements & Receipting

Donors need to know that the organization received their gift within 5 business days. Now, some readers might be furrowing their eyebrows at this statement, but it’s just good stewardship. This is where batch or import functions come in handy, they will help cut your gift entry time considerably and means acknowledgements go out quicker.  Many nonprofits, in an attempt to notify their donors as quickly as possible, have started sending a receipt of gift immediately and later sending a tailored acknowledgement (based on gift level) with a list ways for the donor to engage like educational seminars, tours, upcoming events, etc. This system makes a lot of sense especially in an age of digital gift giving.

Stay tuned for the next blog in this series: database utilization. Have questions about how to get started on the topics discussed in this blog post? Our Database Insights package can help. With Database Insights we review your database against dozens of industry best practices and provide a clear set of enhancements in the areas that need improving. Contact us today to see if Database Insights is right for you!