Using Your Database to Its Fullest Extent

There are many development shops out there that invest in a big, beautiful database – the “Cadillac” of databases, if you will. But most shops we work with don’t utilize the database to its fullest extent. In fact, it typically serves as just a repository for gift information and donor addresses. Of course those are critical pieces of information to capture, but databases today are built to do much more. Databases help all levels within the development department be successful, not just database administrators and gift entry professionals.

To utilize your database, you need the proper security rights and settings. Work with your database administrator and articulate what you want to do with the data, and s/he should be able to help you accomplish your goals. Without information–the ability to capture and pull insight from the data–fundraisers cannot be successful.

Annual Giving

With today’s robust annual giving tactics, your database is the “one stop shop” for looking at the holistic view of how donors are philanthropically engaging. Whether they are enrolled in monthly giving, responding to direct mail, or purchasing items at events, record this information; there are a multitude of ways to utilize your database to track, measure and benchmark your efforts. First and foremost, make sure to record all giving appeals, event invitations, and other communications that include an ask (even if it is soft) on the constituent records.  This allows you to fully understand what each constituent receives and how they experience the organization. When gifts come in through those channels, you will be able to see your results through appeal and event analyses.

Major Giving

Public-facing fundraisers need a toolbox to be successful, and the database is one of the best tools. This is where you find new prospects, record your significant cultivation tactics, and keep track of your solicitations and proposals. Being able to query and export information is critical for all major gift officers because this is how prospects are identified and proposals tracked. Another important resource for major gift officers is having dashboards built where relevant information can be accessed in real-time.  It’s all about information and quick access is critical.

Leadership

Today’s fundraising databases are built with a multitude of reporting and querying options. Leadership should be equipped with monthly relevant reports that accurately reflect dollars in the door, number of donors, aging and receivable pledges, appeal performance, new donors, and any other priorities. To put results into perspective, you might consider requesting reports that show you metrics to date next to where the organization was at this time last year. That will depict how departmental efforts are fairing.

Stay tuned for the next blog in this series: constituent management and tracking. 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!

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