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Donor Databases

Having the right donor database with accurate data is one of the best tools for successful fundraising.

Why is this?

Just about any donor database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can hold your data. A spreadsheet can hold your data. But having the right system for your organization can make all the difference in how you manage your communications, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of your donors. This is truly about managing your donor relationships.

Fundraising is a team effort. The world’s best fundraiser cannot be successful without the support of the right database and database manager. If you are a team of one, then find a way to get help with managing your database. Consider a contractor, an intern, or a volunteer.

Do your research and talk with your colleagues before choosing your CRM. What are the pros and cons of the system they use? Which reports do they find most helpful? How do they rank their post-purchase tech support?

The information you gather will help you define your needs and select the best database for your organization.

  • What information needs to be tracked?

  • What types of reports are needed?

  • Who needs access to the database?

The following are a few systems I’ve used and can recommend.

Here’s a link to another source for CRM comparisons.

Some examples of basic data to import to your new CRM are:

  • Donor’s name

  • Family and other relationships: spouse, children, friends, employer

  • Donor’s contact information: home and business addresses, email addresses, phone numbers

  • Preferred method of contact. Do they only want one email once a year?

  • Donation history: how often, how much, when, payment method.

Tips for a successful data management:

  • Enter accurate data on a timely basis

  • Update data regularly, check for duplicate records

  • Create guidelines/procedures for data entry

  • Segment donors for fundraising appeals

  • Use donor reports to analyze giving efforts

  • Establish coding system as part of your procedures to identify donors in various ways, such as “Do Not Solicit” or “Deceased.” Do not delete records.

Keeping your donor records up to date is a key strategy for successful fundraising. Have good data means you are positioned to elevate your fundraising efforts to raise even more support.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

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