Nonprofit Technology
Donation Management

5 Critical Donor Management Tips You Need To Start The Year Off Right

Published by in Donation Management

In 2014, 2015, and 2016, I skipped making a New Year’s resolution because I believed that as long as I didn’t make one, I wouldn’t break one.

2017 is already different.

As a New Year resolution, I’ve decided to knuckle down to work on my time management skills. Time management has always been a struggle for me since I was child and recently this struggle has come back to haunt me.

I was born with ADHD, so it is natural that I would struggle with time management, but I know that it shouldn’t rule my life. After extensive research, I have found many tips and time clock software applications that I now use to make better use of my time.

My work and personal life are already benefiting.


Productivity goals aren’t unique to cooperate writers like myself—in fact, in many conversations that I’ve had with nonprofits when recommending nonprofit software, their number-two goal (after fundraising) is increasing efficiency. Mixing efficiency with donor management is often the ultimate goal for getting the software in the first place.

Unfortunately, many nonprofit managers don’t know where to start.

Search no further. You’ve come to the right place.

Consider this list of donor management tips as a list of resolutions your nonprofit ought to adopt and start 2017 the right way.

1. Cut down on “emergency” fundraisers

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If you’ve received emails from any sort of political campaign or politically aligned nonprofit, you know all about our impending demise, right? Each fundraiser email reads like a the cardboard sign on the chest of a stereotypical city corner doomsday prophet.

While studies have shown “messages of losing” to be a winning strategy for online fundraising, further evidence suggests that this strategy might not last forever.

Millennials tend to have a distaste for the inflammatory and disingenuous. This point was argued by Adam Conover, the host of TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything while speaking at a conference on Millennial marketing.

Conover argues that the reason his show is so popular is because he seeks to treat his audience as rational and intelligent adults, rather than pander and play on their perceived emotions.

What I gather from his talk, the success of his show, and the research he uses to back up his theses, is that Millennials (also speaking from experience, being a Millennial) dislike narratives of phony panic and incendiary rhetoric. Just like the boy who cried wolf, eventually people tune out the panicked messages out of irritation or exhaustion.

Don’t treat every fundraising email or letter as a desperate cry for help, but rather as a friendly request and appealing to the intelligence and good nature of your donors. Don’t lose current or potential donors over hyperbole. Instead, present an honest case backed with facts about why their donation will impact your organization and your cause.

2. Consolidate your software use

If you are using multiple software applications to manage your donors, you are wasting resources and potentially losing donor information in the process of researching, communicating with, and requesting funds from your pool.

Instead of housing your mailing lists in NeonCRM, tracking your donations in Databank, and housing your volunteer lists in Google Sheets, try consolidating your system under a single software application.

Donation Management Software Recommendations

(all hold a four star rating out of five or higher)

Using multiple applications for the purpose of managing your fundraising campaigns increases the likelihood of lost, duplicated, or outdated information.

All of these hiccups mean more time correcting mistakes and less time spent organizing your campaign and collecting donations. Your donation management software should make like the Beatles and… come together.

For further information, Blackbaud has created this detailed guide for consolidating databases.

3. Clean out old/duplicate donors from your database


Say you’ve decided to act on my last tip and now you are working on consolidating your software applications, but in the process you discover tons of old or duplicate profiles. Before you go ahead with the consolidation, it is best to erase these donor profiles in order to keep your lists organized and up to date.

Here are some useful tools for cleaning up lists:

If all else fails, there’s always the trusty “Ctrl + F” key command to search lists for certain dated entries you wish to erase. Happy spring cleaning!

4. Segment your donors

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You know what would’ve made your cleanup job even easier?

Donor segmentation.

Segmentation is the separation and organization of subjects, in this case, donors, into groups based on specific criteria or characteristics. Kind of like a donor Sorting Hat dividing everyone up into their corresponding houses!

Some characteristics you could consider to sort your donors under include donation levels, donation years, country, regions (northeast, midwest, etc.), one-time donors, and returning donors.

Splitting up your donors based on these characteristics (and any others you might define for your specific nonprofit) will help you find donor information faster, organize your campaigns, and target specific groups with precision. These segmentations also make finding unintentional duplicates or outdated profiles far easier by keeping several smaller lists rather than one giant mix of donors.

5. Follow a donor profile checklist

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When dealing with large contributors, it’s best to keep a detailed profile of whatever personal information you are able to gather on them.

This information will help you determine when and how to approach them on future donation requests by targeting their interests, taking their income into consideration, and assessing their social standing with others. In order to make sure you build effective profiles, it is best to develop a donor profile checklist which details all information points you must cover.

Sample Checklist:

  • Full Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Mailing Address
  • Donation Level
  • Facebook URL
  • Twitter URL
  • LinkedIn URL
  • Income Estimation
  • Donation Frequency
  • Known Associations
  • Interests

The more you know about your donors, the better you can serve their interests as donors as well as your own as a nonprofit.

Do you have anymore tips?

Once you’ve put these donor management tips into action, why not address your donor retention? Here are five donor retention strategies you can use to make sure your fundraising stays on the up and up.

Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to find something I may have missed. Are there any other valuable donor management tips that I overlooked in this list? Be sure to let me know in the comment section below!

Looking for Donation Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Donation Management software solutions.

About the Author

Nick Morpus

Nick Morpus

Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.


Comment by Jayden coleman on


Great Article!!

Cut down on “emergency” fundraisers , is something that is never discussed but is so important. At GiveCentral we feel donor segmentation is a pre-requisite for all the success of all future donor communications and management. We have covered some popular methods of donor segmentation non-profit associations can use other than the one listed here

Let us know what you think!

Comment by Jeremy Covert on

I couldn’t agree more Nick! Especially when you mention millennials, we have grown up with the ability to see way too much information. So in the world we live, I think millennials value rationality and logic.
One more tip I might add, would be to focus on building relationships with donors. The more engaged they are, the more likely they will progress and be committed to the non profits mission as well.
All-in-one software does increase maximum efficiency, but it should be simple as well. It doesn’t make sense if you have the tools, but don’t know how to use them.
A great software that is affordable, simple, and functional.

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