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Optimizing Fundraising Success: 8 Essential Database Best Practices

You’ve done the cost-benefit analysis, and it’s clear—the value of a database for nonprofit fundraising far exceeds the modest set-up and maintenance expenses. But what does using a database for fundraising look like in practice?

In each step of the fundraising process, a database streamlines and simplifies your work—for both individual and grant fundraising.

The following best practices will help your team maximize these efficiencies and your fundraising success:

  1. Prospecting: Log your prospects, including background research and briefs, so you never have to reconcile multiple prospect lists again.
  2. Relationship mapping: Share prospect and donor lists with your board and senior leadership to map relationships. Then add contact links when you find internal relationships with donors, so everyone interacting with the donor understands who has a connection with them.
  3. Donor interests and preferences: Categorize donors by interest area and log individual preferences, such as whether a donor prefers email or in-person asks.
  4. Correspondence and regular updates: Pull reports of donors by interest area, giving level, or prospect status to quickly customize an impact report. Add donors to your regular supporter email list and see who is interacting with your content—and may be ready to make another gift. Depending on your database, you may even be able to have donor correspondence automatically logged to individual records when you hit send.
  5. Meeting prep: Make meeting prep a breeze by logging donor notes and research in advance. Since the data is viewable by the whole team, anyone can easily use this background to prepare meeting briefs.
  6. Making the ask: Your detailed donor profile will guide you in customizing your ask and logging the results. And if a donor says, “I want to give, but can you remind me again in a few months,” you can log the task so your team will be on it when the time comes.
  7. Know when gifts come in and how: For every gift, you’ll know the date it was received and how it was received, for example, via check, wire, credit card, stock gift, etc. Depending on the type of database you use, you may be able to set up automatic syncing for online donations and between accounting and development records, saving even more time.
  8. Donor cultivation: Between donor correspondence, background notes, tasks, and gifts, you’ll always know where you stand with each donor. No more guessing. No more trying to remember.

Tracking all data, outreach, and contributions in a centralized and secure database will help guide your current and future executive directors and fundraising staff for years to come, maximizing your organization’s fundraising success and long-term sustainability.  

Additional Resources 

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

About the Author

A grant writing expert, executive and development coach, fundraising consultant, and national fundraising trainer, Mandy Pearce, launched Funding for Good, Inc. in 2009 to equip organizations with the skills and tools needed to become successful and sustainable. Mandy has taken her passion and expertise for fundraising to the development field and shared it with individuals and organizations for over 23 years through executive coaching, strategic and development planning, capital campaign planning, seminars, and specialized consulting programs. Mandy’s dynamic teaching style brings thousands of people annually to her presentations at conventions, trainings, and workshops, in person and online. Her business model is centered on her key values: honesty, efficiency, direct communication, and bringing dollars to local communities.

Profile Photo of Amanda Pearce, CFRE