Nonprofit Spring Cleaning Part One – Tackling Your Donor Data

8016192302_0e9c4b7170_zSpring is finally here, and after the winter we’ve had in Boston, it’s about time.  Spring is a time for new beginnings. It’s a time to clean up, throw stuff out, and make room for improvements.

Many of you may take on spring cleaning projects in your home. Here are a few spring cleaning projects you can do that will benefit your nonprofit organization.

Clean up your mailing lists
Did you have an influx of address changes, returned mail, and bounced emails after you sent your year-end appeal? Now is a good time to clean up and update both your direct mail and email mailing lists.

Update and improve your donor database
Your donor database is an important tool and it needs to be up-to-date and filled with accurate information about your donors.

Your database isn’t just a place to keep addresses and gift amounts.  Use it to its full potential.  Segment your donors, and record any personal information such as conversations you had with a donor and their areas of interest. 6 Quick Tips to Clean Up Your Donor Database and Keep It Humming

Don’t cut corners when it comes to data entry and managing your data. 8 Tips to Strengthen Your Database to Help Build a Strong Donor Base 

Invest in a good database, if you don’t already have one.  Here’s more information to help you find a database that’s right for you. Finding the Right Donor Database for Your Nonprofit 

Get in touch with your lapsed donors

As you go through your database, you may notice some donors who didn’t donate in 2014. Reach out to them.  Maybe they were too busy to donate at the end of the year.

Send these donors a personalized letter or email. Let them know you miss them and want them back.  Go back at least a couple of years, although at some point you may want to purge certain donors from your database. The elusive lapsed donor: devise a plan to get them back

Be ready for your next mailing

Don’t wait until right before your next mailing to clean up your donor data. Even though it’s tedious, have someone who’s familiar with your donors (your development director?) go through your mailing lists and database to see if you need to make any additions, changes, and deletions.

Be meticulous. No donor wants to see her name misspelled, be addressed as Mrs. when she prefers Ms., or receive three mailings because you have duplicate records.

Getting your mailing list and database in order is crucial if you’re planning a spring appeal or event.

Make spring relationship building season

Even if you aren’t planning a spring fundraising drive, this is a good time to continue to build relationships.  Plan to mail a thank you post card or short update.  Mail is generally better than email, because your donors are more likely to see your message, but if your budget doesn’t allow it, send something by email.  Either way you want all your donor info in tip-top shape.

Take advantage of your time between campaigns and tackle your donor data.

Photo by Justin Grimes

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