PMA Consulting, LLC

Mining for Dollars: Cracking the Mysteries of Your Donor Database

As nonprofits search high and low for new sources of funding, they may be neglecting one of the best sources for gift prospects – the organization’s own (and often neglected) donor database. 

A simple database query may uncover a number of recently lapsed donors who only need a phone call or personalized letter to renew their support.  Lapsed donors are generally considered any past contributors who have not made gifts in the last 12-18 months.  Reactivation of lapsed donors should be an important part of any donor recruitment and development strategy, especially during a poor economy.  Lapsed names are free to “acquire,” and reactivated donors can be easier to pursue than new donors simply because the organization had a relationship with them at one time.

Lapsed donors are not the only group that may need your immediate attention.  By analyzing donor giving data, an organization can learn a number of things about its active supporters.  For example, a contributor whose giving has gradually declined over time may no longer feel connected to the organization or its mission.  A donor who has escalated giving may be ripe for major gift cultivation.  Long time support may indicate a future interest in making a bequest.

While giving data can tell us much, for too many nonprofits, the fundraising database only captures information about gifts.  A strong fundraising database should grow to include records for suspects and prospects, as well as indicate relationships between records.  To put it another way, a database is only as useful as the flow of data that populates it and the reports it generates at the appropriate time. 

In Charlotte, NC, the company behind Donor2 fundraising database software has recently announced a 6-year contract with Indiana University that seeks to demonstrate the power of interrelationships and data collection.  At IU, Donor2 “aims to integrate the management of relationships – with constituents ranging from prospective students to alumni and donors — and the management of donor data.”  With the Admissions, Student Services, Advancement and Alumni Relations departments all pulling data from the same system, many more opportunities to segment information will be possible.

Patton McDowell  & Associates offers a Database Diagnostic Assessment that can uncover multiple ways to raise additional funds now, as well as strengthen data gathering for the future.  Contact us and we’ll be glad to coach you on how to harness the power of your donor database.