Home Church Management Spring Clean Your Donor Database

Spring Clean Your Donor Database

by Clay Harmon

Donor management software to organize your donor databaseNow 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 from your database. By doing some cleanup, you’ll save yourself a headache when it comes to donor management, following up with donors over the coming year, or engaging them in your donor stewardship plans.

1. Delete Old Or Outdated Information

When asking for information from your donors, are you asking for their fax number even though nobody sends faxes anymore? Organizations may get carried away with the quantity of information they ask from their donors. Sometimes potential donors will even be scared away by all the questions asked. It’s also important to remember 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 run into her at that event you’re throwing next month.

3. Talk To The People In Your Organization Who Are In Charge of Donor Management

If you’re not the one contacting donors, then talk to those in your organization who are. 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 manage your donors, you should be able to see if emails you sent were 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 or 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 the daunting task of donor management will run into the inevitable problem of housing information that is wrong or needs to be updated in their software. This is a fact of life when managing 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 for nonprofit or church management isn’t up to snuff? Then check out Aplos Software, which exceeds at catering to all the needs of nonprofits and churches.

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