Best Practices

Nonprofit Donor Database Best Practices: 10 tips for success

Donor database donor profile illustration

Due to technology and the internet, awareness spreads faster with greater efficiency than ever before.

People who can afford to help through charity are starting to take notice of the problems that are prevalent in society. Nonprofit organizations have seen a 3% increase in charitable giving with donorship on the rise.

A proper database is absolutely mandatory to keep track of the growing number of new donors.

A lot of hassle can be cut down by utilizing these databases to their maximum potential so that you can quickly assess the donors and their contributions.

We’ve been studying donorship for a while and have accumulated quite a bit of knowledge. So here we are with some of the nonprofit donor database best practices that we have come across.

10 nonprofit donor database best practices

Data entry is the key to donor data management. There are several ways to go about this, the best of which are stated below.

1. Choose a donor database solution that fits your needs

There are a lot of donor database companies. If you want to grow your nonprofit organization, you have to choose one that fits your workflow and for your process.

Creating fundraising appeals is much more efficient when all the basic details of your donors are neatly arranged into the respective donor profiles, making your next annual appeal a snap.

Thinking of just using a spreadsheet for your donor database? Don’t. They’re inefficient. Learn why it’s time to ditch the donor spreadsheet to establish a proper fundraising strategy.

2. Add relevant donor data to the database

After you have picked out your software of choice, you have to start adding all your data to it.

There are some things that you must include, such as:

  • Name of your donor
  • Donor’s contact information
  • How often do they donate
  • How much do they donate each time
  • What payment methods do they use
  • What platform do they prefer for communication
  • How long have they been donating to your nonprofit for

3. Constituent profiles allow easy comparison and donor growth

With every constituent profile, a score will be displayed. The score will come with an arrow that will indicate whether this donor has been building their contributions, staying steady, or laying off.

The more of these profiles you can stack up in the CRM software, the better your growth strategies get.

Constituent profiles are the gems that you are trying to collect. The more constituents you stack up, the more insight you will have on donorship.

You will produce marketing strategies with more efficiency so that your organization grows at a greater pace.

Soon, you will be able to personalize communications based on the collective data and create more outreach, thus accumulating more money from donations.

4. Get the complete picture from donor databases

When you’re interacting with various people from various backgrounds, you need to sort out their ideas so that they benefit yours.

Now, you might be thinking about creating different programs for each category of people, but that might seem counterproductive because it will get a bit more confusing to get the big picture on their donation patterns.

Creating segments for information is inadvisable because it just leads to confusion. Keep all the profiles in one program so that you can readily detect any forming patterns based on people’s engagement history.

What’s a donor worth? Calculate your nonprofit donor retention rate with this guide, plus view tips on how to increase it.

5. Induce email marketing by incorporating surveys

Data is the currency in our techno era. So, the more data you can collect, the better will it be for your organization. Along with the basic information you collect, try getting out a bit more so that you understand your donors a bit better.

Design surveys for your donors and send them to the donors via emails. Ask for relevant data that will give you insight into their financial structuring.

Ask for their income, occupation, ideal career paths. Ask whether they are involved with any other charitable work and the leading causes they donate for.

But you don’t just have to stick to boring questions like that. Ask about their hobbies, and you will get to know a lot about what they value. From there on, you can customize your approach and donation requests for them.

6. Record and curate your data

There is nothing more instrumental for growth-focused nonprofits than a neatly curated database. So, implement proper data entry rules and restrict access to the database so that only the trained employees can change it.

Incorporate some retrievable measures as well. It is imperative to establish some backup procedures to retrieve files that get missing or deleted.

When you categorize the files, use abbreviated titles for them so that it is easier for you to find them. Also, make sure that you can take time to check the sequence of the data to check that nothing is out of place.

With sophisticated management and data tracking, your nonprofit’s operations will be more conducive to its growth.

7. Mark donors

The quickest way to glean the collected donor data is to keep marks on your donors according to their engagement levels. Mark major donors and the donors who you want to target with your outreach.

Also, mark deceased donors, and send them special condolences on relevant dates. It is crucial in maintaining relations with a deceased donor’s family who have decided to keep the donations running.

8. Merge duplicate/disorganized data

There is no particular benefit to duplicating data. In the long run, it will only create confusion for you.

Therefore, spend some time extracting data and then merge the ones that have a copy. In this way, you will be able to see all the records of a donor at once.

This will prove to be particularly useful if you have to contact one of them – having full knowledge of their donations will contribute to keeping the spark up in donor relationships.

9. Remove donors who don’t donate

Keep things simple by removing or archiving donors who have been inactive for some time. Databases have to be paid for.

Some database software services charge by the records you keep. So, if you remove the categories that aren’t useful to you anymore, you will be saving yourself some money.

But even if you aren’t charged by the record, removing donors is still a great option that can help you declutter your donor information and have the communication channel function at its best.

10. Share data with stakeholders

Donor database systems can help your relations with stakeholders. You win only half the battle on your own.

The rest you win with the help of the respected stakeholders of your company. So, please keep them in the loop by sharing the database with them.

Produce reports on every major donor and submit them to the stakeholders to assert the efficiency with which you are raising funds. Thus, they will be encouraged to keep their stakes in your company.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How is donor data collected?

Nonprofits examine the profile of the donor by looking into anything they can find. These organizations collect data from surveys, grants, interviews, giving history, records from previous donations, and any other records that are to the donors’ names.

2. What is dirty data?

Dirty data is the term that is used to refer to any erroneous data that is stored in a database. The data might contain misleading, inaccurate, duplicate records and even have files saved in an incorrect format. Any kind of mistake in the data makes it dirty.

3. Is donor management that important?

Yes, good donor management is an important asset for any nonprofit as it helps to get communications data on the donors and build meaningful relationships with them.

4. How does a nonprofit CRM help?

A donor CRM helps nonprofits keep and record all their donor data in one place so that it’s easier to design and implement outreach strategies.

5. Is it complicated to maintain a donor database?

It’s not complicated, but it will become a mess if you don’t keep your head straight. You have to know all the entry rules and use them religiously.

6. Should I keep all donor data together or create segments?

First, create a uniform donor database where all the relevant information about each donor is properly filed.

Then observe the patterns between donors and then create niched segments for donors with similarities. That will help you to customize your strategies and implement them in the most efficient way.

7. How do clean donor databases drive fundraising?

Clean database reports will help you detect patterns and trends very easily and thus develop a great sense of strategies that will work best with your donor profiles.

8. Are the donor records updated automatically?

No, you will have to arrange the data points in case of changes.

Otherwise, all the steps you have implemented to make the best use of your database will go in vain.

Keep updating the records of your donors and the donations that they have been making. Every time a donor contributes, manually upload his sheets to include the latest donation date and fill up the rest of the segments accordingly.

How will blockchain technology impact donor tracking? Along with accepting cryptocurrency donations, the blockchain presents new ways to track donors and donations.


If it’s in your mind to grow your nonprofit, then the first thing to start with is a good database. We hope the article has given you insight into the importance and the power of a well-maintained donor management system.

Utilize these nonprofit donor database best practices, and you will be able to grow your organization with great pace and tact.