Now that the holiday season is over – a time when most nonprofits and churches see the majority of their giving – it’s time to evaluate the quality of the donor information you accrued over the recent months, and whether it can be updated, corrected, or outright removed. By cleaning up your database, you’ll save yourself a headache when it comes to following up with donors over the coming year, or engaging them in your donor stewardship plans.
1. Delete Old Or Outdated Information
When you’re asking for information from your donors, are you asking for their fax number, even though nobody sends faxes anymore? Sometimes organizations will get carried away with the quantity of information they ask from their donors, and sometimes potential donors will even be scared away by all the questions asked. It’s also important to remember that the more information you collect, the harder it will be to ensure everything stays up-to-date. You should be eliminating questions that won’t be properly utilized and stick with collecting the information you know is important.
2. Contact Your Contacts
Most organizations will contact their donors, whether it’s to make an ask or to continue their donor stewardship, but how often do organizations ask whether the information Donor Smith provided three years ago is still up-to-date? It’s not a bad idea to send out an email every once in a while asking your contacts if anything has changed.
Though this point flies in the face of the previous one, asking for updates from your donors provides an opportunity to learn more about the people giving to your organization – Mary changed her name last year because she got married? This can be a good conversation starter if you ever run into her at that event you’re throwing next month.
3. Talk to the people in your organization who are contacting donors.
If you’re not the one contacting donors, then talk to those in your organization who are and ask them to make a habit of verifying donor contact information whenever they contact donors, or whenever donors contact them.
4. Fix the Marked As Spam/Bounces
If you’re using a software platform (like Aplos, for example) to send out emails to your donors, you should be able to see if what you sent was marked as spam. Usually this means you need to reevaluate the message you’re sending, and whether it can be improved. There are also situations where an email you sent was automatically marked as spam because it closely resembled other spam emails. Either way, this means it’s time to decide if you need to approach how you contact your donors differently.
There are also times where the email you sent bounced, or couldn’t be delivered because the email no longer worked. (This is also information you can see with Aplos). The first thing you need to do is figure out why the email bounced. Is it because the domain the donor is using, like Gmail or Hotmail, is down? Has the donor deleted their email address? Sometimes it can be as simple as the donor writing/typing the wrong email address when they donated.
All it takes is some research to answer this question. Don’t let bounces pile up without taking action – work to correct the problem as soon as you see it.
Anyone who has to manage an online database will run into the inevitable problem of housing information that is wrong or needs to be updated. This is a fact of life when running an organization. If you want to stay on top of this issue, then utilize the four methods described above.
Do you feel like the software you’re using to manage your organization isn’t up to snuff? Then check out Aplos Software, which exceeds at catering to all the needs of nonprofits and churches. Click here to learn more.