Managing Your Donors: The Need For A Donor Management System

A donor management software (DMS) might be the best thing for your nonprofit since sliced bread. Pardon the cliché for a second and let us explain. DMSs are like really big filing cabinets that live in the cloud and track everything about your organization. We mean, like everything. Want to track emails from sales reps to prospective clients? Check. Want to set tasks and reminders to follow-up with product champions? Check. Want to send out an email to every person in your database informing of an upcoming campaign launch? Check.

We could stop this blog post here, knowing that we convinced you that a DMS is better than sliced bread and that you should implement one in your organization immediately. But why stop there, when we could hammer home both the importance and necessity of your organization leveraging the power of all your data in one place!

Ready to learn? Let’s go!

The Ability To Manage Potential Donors

Hands up if you’ve tracked event attendance, volunteer sign-ups, or alumni lists on a spreadsheet. Now – put your second hand up if you have misplaced or even lost a spreadsheet with important data. Okay – you can put both hands down.

We’ve all been there; we’re hosting an awesome event with awesome attendees and have awesome big dreams to take all their awesome names to follow-up for awesome donations. Everything is on track until you can’t find the list of attendees names. Your dreams and aspirations quickly fly out the window and you’re back to square one.

Now – let’s reimagine the same situation with a DMS. Host an awesome event. Take your awesome attendance sheet. Upload it to your awesome DMS. Leverage your awesome attendees and collect awesome donations. Easy.

A well-built and well-run DMS will allow you to seamlessly upload names and contact information, ensuring you never miss out on any potential donor. And if by some chance your computer crashes, the data exists in the cloud. That means you have a built-in security blanket in case something goes awry.

The Ability to Manage Current Donors

Okay – we covered people who are not-yet donors. How about we talk about your current and past donors? If you think that once a donor contributes to your organization, the work stops, you are wrong (but forgiven!).

The depth of technology has flipped the old adage of ‘one and done’. Rather, it’s ‘donate and cultivate’. Through monitoring and tracking past donors, you have the ability to upsell and leverage bigger gifts.

Consider this example of your donor Jeff.

Jeff attended your silent auction last year. He bid and won three items, which contributed $400 to your organization. Based on his behavior, Jeff would likely attend another silent auction. His actions demonstrate he has the capacity to contribute financially to your organization. When it’s time for your next silent auction, you’ll know who to invite first (Jeff).

Without a DMS tracking this information, you may have lost out on valuable details like Jeff’s behavior and financial capacity. With a DMS however,, you don’t have to worry about attendee information and you can ensure you are leveraging your events correctly.

The Ability to See Possibilities Within Your Database

This is a combination of the last two points – managing past donors and managing current donors. When your past donors, current donors, and prospective donors all exist in a central location, your organization can be strategic. Within your DMS, names, emails, and other personal donor data are at your disposal. This centralized data lets you segment and sort both potential and current donors in order to leverage them strategically.

Let’s look at another example.

You’re a university looking to solicit alumni who graduated between five and fifteen years ago. After searching your DMS, you have a list of all alumni who meet your criteria, complete with personal details. Now it’s time to get creative. Put on your segmenting hat and start looking at where your alumni live.

Perhaps you find a disproportionate number of alumni are residing in a major city two states over. From here, you could focus a grassroots campaign to engage those individuals with specific regional-based activities. This could include alumni pub nights or requesting their assistance with student recruitment. Involving and enticing graduates with activities directly related to their alma mater is an extremely effective tactic to leverage your organization’s mission while potentially procuring more donations.

Another example would be if a large number of high-net-worth donors all graduated from your university’s pre-med program. This is an excellent opportunity to reach out with a pointed gift ask involving raising funds for a new pre-med building.

These strategies are possible without a DMS. With a DMS however, you can aggregate and sort data in manners not previously possible. It allows you to take the data you have and leverage it to benefit your organization in greater ways.

The Ability To Monitor Every Interaction With Prospective Donors and Current Donors

Now that you have a glimpse into the tracking power of a DMS, it’s time to explore their monitoring power. Don’t worry though, this isn’t some big brother nonsense – it’s simply the ability to oversee every interaction your constituents have with your organization. This includes monitoring phone calls and emails, reading clients notes, setting alerts for changes in giving potential, and most importantly, seeing records of donations.

The ability to track everything is important. Just as tracking a sales pipeline is important for a for-profit organization, monitoring a donation pipeline is imperative for a nonprofit organization. An overhead view of incoming funds will greatly benefit nonprofits by enabling them to forecast accurately, see what pockets of donors contribute the most money and understand under-utilized and untapped constituents.

Don’t worry though, your DMS allows for visual representations of this information. You’re easily able to manipulate data into dashboards and graphs to compare and contrast information. This is great for ‘wowwing’ everyone at your next stakeholder meeting!

And don’t think that information-tracking is only reserved for donors! You can monitor employees actions as well. Concerned that your fundraisers aren’t making enough prospective donor calls? Worried that poorly-written emails are being sent to constituents? No problem! Your DMS will let you keep on eye on that as well.

The Ability To Leverage Information From Fundraising Intelligence Software

Now that we’ve covered why you need a DMS, we’re going to get even more granular. Many opportunities currently exist for you to enrich your organization’s DMS data with fundraising intelligence. What do we mean by enriching your data? Let’s do a tiny deep dive and find out.

One of iWave’s cornerstone features is its ability to score prospects across billions of points of data. This is an incredibly important feature when combined with the power of a DMS. Rather than combing through prospects and searching for information name-by-name, you can simply sort and arrange your entire database by their iWave score. This shows your prospects with the highest priority, based on a transparent score customized specifically to your organization. Pretty neat, right?

Fundraising intelligence doesn’t stop at prospect scores, however! It offers a variety of ways to leverage your current DMS.

For example, with iWave for Salesforce, you’re able to:

  • Prioritize prospects based on scores and ratings for propensity, affinity, and capacity to give;
  • Cross-reference any contact with billions of wealth, biographic, and philanthropic records.
  • Score and segment hundreds of records at once with batch scoring right from Salesforce.
  • Improve your communication with prospects and donors by understanding their complete profile.
  • Generate comprehensive scores for any prospect or donor — all within the contact record.

We recommend adding iWave (or any other fundraising intelligence tool) immediately before opportunities start to slip by.

What’s next?

Implementing a DMS is no easy endeavor. It takes both a financial commitment and a time commitment. Don’t be intimated though! Once fully operated, this DMS will change how you operate.

Curious to see one in action? Let us show you.


About the author: Patrick Bryden is iWave’s Marketing Manager.  From creating pitch decks for Nike and Mattel to starting his own water bottle company, Patrick brings over five years of marketing experience to iWave. With a strong interest in creative problem solving and finding efficiencies in everyday processes, Patrick’s never met a challenge he hasn’t liked.

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