Nonprofit Data Management Tips 

This post was contributed by Qgiv.

Quantifying the impact your nonprofit has on your community isn’t easy. While you can’t always track every single thing your nonprofit has accomplished, the data you can collect will help you make better decisions for your organization and fundraise more effectively.

There are a wide variety of data types you can track from donor data to marketing metrics. Donor data can help you better understand your donor base, meaning you can make more targeted appeals to specific groups of donors based on their giving history, wealth indicators, and demographic data. This data can also help you maintain better relationships with your donors, leading to an increase in your donor retention and higher participation in the fundraisers you plan.

Keeping track of your marketing metrics is helpful for executing effective marketing campaigns so that you’re never sending information out into the void. Email open rates, social media engagement, and paid ad clicks can help you determine what kinds of campaigns grab your donors’ attention, and what kinds of campaigns aren’t worth recreating.

Once you’ve decided to begin collecting data, you’ll need to figure out how best to manage it and keep it all organized. If you’re not quite sure where to start, here are some best practice tips for managing your nonprofit’s data!

Choose the right CRM software.

While an Excel-type spreadsheet has many excellent features, it can be a hassle to keep a large spreadsheet updated and well-organized as your nonprofit grows. If your nonprofit is finding that your spreadsheet is starting to get too difficult to manage, it’s time to start shopping around for constituent relationship management software.

First, establish what you’ll need your CRM for. Your CRM should be able to manage everyone involved with your organization, not just donors. From volunteers to event attendees, your CRM should make it easy for you to organize and update information for all of your constituents. 

Make sure your CRM software also allows you to track and catalog all of your donations, whether they’re made online or offline. It’s imperative that the software you choose has an intuitive user interface with minimal potential for user error for everyone who will be regularly processing donations.

If you also already use fundraising or event management software like Qgiv, it’s definitely worth it to see what kind of services your CRM can integrate with. Integrations will keep your CRM automatically updated so you won’t need to go in after an event or fundraising campaign to manually log participation and donations.

Define your goals.

It’s vital to establish what your goals are for collecting data. Start by taking inventory of where your nonprofit currently stands with your data management. What’s working and what isn’t? Is there data you’re collecting that isn’t relevant? Is there data you haven’t been collecting that you wish you had?

From there, consider what your overall goals are as an organization. How can this data help you reach those goals? What will you need to measure in order to evaluate whether your organization met your goals? Based on past data and information, are your current goals reasonable to achieve?

By answering these questions, you can easily determine where your weak spots are and how your organization can improve. Invite team members from across your organization to give their input about the data your organization needs and what would be most helpful for their work.

Figure out what kinds of data you want to track.

Collecting the data that matters will help you better engage with your constituents, which means more successful fundraising and higher donor retention. Keeping track of basic contact information, demographic information, and giving histories can help you segment your donors into smaller groups. Then, you can send more customized emails to different groups of donors to ensure that the right people are getting the most relevant information from your nonprofit at all times. This will increase trust and credibility with your donors and cut down on the number of people who hit “unsubscribe” when they see your emails in their inbox.

Logging interactions with your constituents like volunteer activity and event attendance can add a deeper layer to your donor base understanding and help you further segment your donors into specific groups. If a donor filled out your donation form but didn’t indicate an interest in volunteering for you, they might not be happy to receive lots of emails asking for volunteers for your events or general nonprofit work. However, if you have a donor who frequently participates in your fundraising events, then you know they will be interested in knowing when your organization’s events are and would probably be happy to be on an email list that keeps them updated on your event calendar.

Create custom reports.

While basic data reports are helpful for a wide variety of uses, custom reports can help you make better decisions based on more specific information. For example, while you might see that donors in their 30s use Facebook to connect with your nonprofit animal shelter, simply targeting all Facebook users in their 30s can be a waste of time. However, by layering information, you might find that pet owners in their 30s convert the highest on Facebook, which is a far more precise picture of your donor base on this social media platform. Get more specific with custom reports to ensure that you’re sending out information in the most effective way and to the right people.

Clean up your database regularly.

Just because a CRM helps you automate some of your processes doesn’t mean it isn’t due for a little clean up every now and then. Make sure you’re regularly decluttering your database to keep your nonprofit functioning at its best.

Begin by merging or deleting any duplicate donor profiles. Many CRM systems have their own duplicate record search tools which can be extremely useful for this task. Even if you have to perform a manual search, this is an extremely important maintenance task to perform regularly. If you decide to merge information from two duplicate profiles, take the time to carefully consider what unique information you should keep and what you can do without. 

Then, ensure your donors’ addresses are up to date with a wealth-screening tool. Many of these tools help you update information quickly by allowing nonprofits to upload donor information in large batches. This can help you perform mass updates on your active donor list very easily.

Decluttering can help your nonprofit avoid wasting resources and spending time and energy on inactive donors. Though it can be a tedious task, cleaning and purging your database regularly is essential for your nonprofit’s success.

Your nonprofit’s database is one of its most valuable resources. From resource management to building rapport with your donors and volunteers, collecting data will help your nonprofit run more efficiently and keep your constituents happy and informed. While managing and organizing your data might be an intimidating task, it can help you set the foundation for your nonprofit’s success. 

Looking to dive deeper into data management and decision-making? Check out these resources for more.

About the Author

Tiara is a writer by trade and a passionate supporter of nonprofits by nature. When she’s not typing away at her keyboard for hours, you can find her dancing (if you can call it that) at concerts, drinking copious amounts of English Breakfast Tea, and daydreaming about traveling the world.

Written by Gabrielle Perham, MBA