Donor Databasing

BioDiesel PEPY Mobile ~ Pic by Tamara!

So I’ve been pretty ill these last few weeks. It is very hot & humid here in Siem Reap right now and even though I drink water with electrolytes all day long - I still seem to get symptoms of  severe dehydration - really intense headaches, etc. The communications manager has been really understanding though and has agreed to let me work remotely from a hotel with AC for awhile - at least until my health improves - which so far it has. Yay! 

I think it is always a little scary to get sick in a foreign environment - because it is so hard to isolate the exact cause. Is it some bug that is biting me? The water I’m drinking? Something I am eating? The heat? A pre-existing condition? But I’ve found that as long as I listen to my body and am gentle with myself - which sometimes means changing environments for a bit, I can usually keep myself healthy and happy.   

Anyways, today the rest of the team is out near our new office location in Kralanh. I am back in Siem Reap culling through the Donor database. 

Note to new Non-Profits: you may not realize the importance of keep good Donor records and segmenting your database based on Donor needs / preferences. But just like in ANY industry, not all stakeholders are created equally. Not all customers like to be treated the same. Not all Donors prefer the same level or type of stewardship. While we can’t please everyone all the time, in the information age, we can do our best to keep track and exceed our stakeholders expectations. This is especially true for Donors and Volunteers, who are essentially contributing to your cause without asking for very much in return. Make sure to recognize them, appreciate them, respect them, and try to understand them as best you can….   

Of course for an organization that involves more than one or two people, this is a two part process: first you keep good records and data, second you do your best to interpret that data. So right now I am working in a lengthy excel spreadsheet and trying to infer insight into Donor behavior for the last three year and half years. Hmmmm?

On the very simplest level you want to know who your FUNDRAISERS are, apart from your Donors, although typically they are Donors as well. Your Fundraisers are the group of stakeholders who are highly committed to your cause and are willing to solicit funds from THEIR friends, family, and co-workers (who may not be aware of your organization at all.) They may be willing to throw or participate in events to raise money (think marathons, bike rides, etc..) They may even be willing to ask guests at their wedding or anniversary to donate to your cause (instead of bringing traditional gifts that they may not need or want anyways.) At the minimum, you should know this group well, because they are not only the roots of your network of Donors and future Donors - they are also the most likely source of future Fundraisers and Volunteers!

At the Donor level, what does it mean when someone donated a large sum once and then never donated again? Were they happy with the experience? Was it a favor to a friend? Did they have the funds to contribute one year, but then couldn’t afford to contribute the next? Did they change email or mailing addresses and thus haven’t heard from you since 2001? Hmmm? Obviously having a bit of database space, a field or two, in your internal records for explanations of phenomena like this will help your efforts. 

Other pieces of data that might be useful include which Donors work at companies with employee matching donations. You may find some donations from companies in your database that are actually tied to a group of employees or even highly committed fundraisers. This is really useful information to know! Also, just some general demographic, psychographic information is always helpful. For instance, are your Donors soccer moms? 20 / 30-something techno-friendly urbanities? Families? Baby boomers? Retirees? Teachers? Liberians? Vegan Contortionists who have a strong preference for Modern Art? You get the idea. This kind of information will help you find new Donors that may be interested in your cause, as well as better determine what sort of stewardship and communications existing Donors might prefer. 

Ok, that’s all for now, back to work….

Besos y Abrazos from the heart of Cambodia! 

Aimee