The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits

4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits

For smaller nonprofit organizations, one of the biggest challenges you can face is building out a robust donor management strategy.

After all, you’re working with a smaller budget and constituency than many of your peers. You might feel like there’s simply not enough time, capital, or opportunity to build out a comprehensive donor management approach at your organization.

Does this sound familiar? Then it’s time to take a step back and rethink your small shop’s donor management strategy. The fact of the matter is that there are lots of ways your organization can manage your donors as effectively and efficiently as a larger nonprofit.

In this article, we’ll review some of our favorite donor management strategies for smaller nonprofit organizations and show you how the right donor management software can make all the difference.

Your small nonprofit should:

  1. Choose a donor management platform designed for nonprofits.
  2. Build customized donor profiles and capture informative data.
  3. Segment your communications based on the data you’re tracking.
  4. Have a donor management standard operating procedure.

More effective donor management can be within your reach! Let’s dive into these essential strategies for small nonprofits like yours.

4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits

1. Choose a donor management platform designed for nonprofits

What is the key to smart donor management for small nonprofits?

Choosing a donor management platform that’s actually designed for organizations like yours.

All too often, smaller organizations feel like they need to piece together a patchwork donor data software suite across several systems. You just don’t have the time or resources to deal with the tedious task of exporting and importing donor data across systems.

The reality is that it’s far preferable to just find a comprehensive software that’s crafted precisely for nonprofits.

The right nonprofit donor management system should offer:

  • Robust CRM technology that includes giving summaries and timelines to help keep track of each and every one of your constituents.
  • Engagement scoring to see who your most dedicated donors are, and who might need additional stewardship.
  • Wealth screening to see who could be giving more.
  • Online giving capabilities in order to capture donors through your website.
  • Email marketing capabilities so that you can send marketing emails to different supporter segments in your database.

Ready to get started on your donor management software search? Check out Double the Donation’s top donor management software picks to get inspired.

Bloomerang_GuideStar_4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits_Header 2

2. Build customized donor profiles and capture informative data

The backbone of a strong donor management strategy is data. If your nonprofit doesn’t have the right information about your supporters, you simply won’t be able to manage them effectively.

For small nonprofits, having the right data on hand is especially crucial. When you have an accurate view of the makeup of your community and who your donors actually are, you’ll be able to execute more effective donor research and plan a better fundraising strategy.

You can never track too much information about your donors. Compile donor profiles that include:

  • Biographical and contact information. What is their informal name, date of birth, employer, gender, and contact information (including social media)?
  • Relationships. Who else in your database are they connected to? How are they connected?
  • Communication preferences. Would they rather receive a phone call or an email? What types of newsletter content do they prefer?
  • Customized data points. Create custom data fields for your donor profiles that capture unique data points central to your strategy, like alma mater or T-shirt size.
  • Affinity. How does the donor feel about your organization? Have you asked?

The bottom line? Choose a donor management system that empowers your organization to learn as much as it can about its supporters.

Check out Bloomerang’s guide on what data your nonprofit’s CRM can measure and start thinking of ways to craft your data strategy.

4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits

3. Segment your communications based on the data you’re tracking

Although having the right data on hand forms the foundation of your donor management strategy, it won’t do you any good if you aren’t leveraging that data into action for your cause.

One key way your donor management system can go the extra mile is by segmenting your communications using the data you collect in your donor profiles.

This will allow you to craft an expertly tailored communication strategy to get the word out about your small nonprofit.

For example, if you know who in your database are former students and who are current students, you should be communicating differently to those groups.

When you send the same newsletter, appeal, or gift acknowledgement to everyone in your database, it’s likely only going to resonate with a select few.

Bloomerang_GuideStar_4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small Nonprofits_Header 4

4. Have a donor management standard operating procedure

Finally, one of the most effective ways for small nonprofit organizations like yours to get more from your donor management strategy is to document that strategy.

As a smaller organization, the worst thing that can happen is for all of these best practices to exist only in the head of one dedicated staff member.

With turnover as high as it is in the nonprofit sector, you’re going to want to have a documented standard operating procedure for how the database is used.

Hopefully, organizational growth and not turnover will be the reason why database responsibilities get turned over from one person to the other. Don’t be afraid to let multiple employees use the database; just be sure they’re all following the same guidelines (for example, do you use St. or Street?).

With the right donor management strategies and tools, your small nonprofit will never miss out on key data insights. Now that we’ve reviewed these tips, it’s time to get started revitalizing your small shop’s donor management efforts!

4 Fundamental Donor Management Tips for Small NonprofitsJay Love is co-founder and chief relationship officer at Bloomerang. A 30-plus years veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman.

Topics: Small Nonprofits Donor Management