We hear you loud and clear! As we quarantine and work from home, clients keep asking how they can take advantage of their time to engage in database and gift cleanup.

Our answer: Part 3 of our 5-part blog series on how you any amount of extra time – large or small – can be used wisely to shape up your fundraising operations and database.

We’re talking today about gift cleanup.

More than anything, we encourage you to implement a gift coding structure that allows you to: 1) see what channel inspired a gift; 2) honor donor designation; 3) build comprehensive reports for data-driven decision making; and 4) reconcile with your friends in Accounting. Building a coding structure to accomplish all of these outcomes isn’t always easy, but here are some ways to get started:

Campaigns and Appeals.

These are Development’s “real estate” in a gift record, and help you understand why people made the gifts they did and how to then report on those gifts. Campaigns should mirror your big budget categories like Capital, Events, Annual Fund, Major Gifts, etc. If gifts are coded in this manner, you’ll always be able to see where you are compared to budget. Appeals should focus on your fundraising efforts like Gala, Year-End Appeal, Spring Event, etc. These will allow you to track how each appeal fares and whether they’re viable. In your gift cleanup for both campaigns and appeals, ask yourself these questions and make changes appropriately:

  • Do any of these need to be inactivated?
  • Is the nomenclature consistent?
  • What gifts are missing codes in either (or both!) of these fields?


These are Accounting’s “real estate” in each gift record. All Development funds should match the ones in Accounting’s database. If they don’t, it might be a big reason you have trouble reconciling each month. Reach out to Accounting to get a list of all current funds and match them up to yours. Then inactivate any that aren’t on Accounting’s list. This exercise should be completed annually.


With pledges, we’re looking for two specific items: first is that every pledge has a corresponding payment schedule. Second is to review what’s still collectable. Let’s tackle payment schedules first. Pull a list of all pledges that have no payment schedule (payment schedules generate reminders!). Ask the gift officers to review the list and reach out to their donors to establish schedules. Then you can turn your sights to aging pledges. Pull a list of all past due pledges, and ask the team to review for what’s viable and what should be written off. Always coordinate write-offs with Accounting.

Matching Gifts.

Aren’t matching gifts the best?! One of your loyal donors works for a corporation that will match their gift; what’s better than that? The challenge with matching gifts is that the donor will either let you know of a matching gift or you’ll assume that they’ll turn in their employer’s matching gift paperwork, so you enter a matching pledge into your database that never comes in. Pull a list of all open matching gift pledges and review them with your team. If you have a good relationship with the donor, you might ask them to submit the paperwork to their employer (if there’s still time). Otherwise, you’ll need to get those aging pledges off the books. Don’t forget to coordinate with Accounting.

There are so many simple ways to shape up your gifts, these are just a few. What are your favorite gift clean-up tips? Comment below to share your thoughts!

And if you missed Part 2: 8 Ways to Clean Up Constituents in Your Database go ahead and take a look.