One of the fastest ways to lose a donor is to let them feel like they are not valued or important. It is vital that you record your donors giving history, preferences and links to your organisations, so that you can personalise your interactions and show them that they have been noticed. While a donor database is an essential tool when it comes to donor-care, it can also be a massive liability if not carefully managed.
As someone who has worked in direct marketing over many years, I have seen too many complaints linked to data, many of which could have been easily prevented. Some people get really annoyed if you get their name or title wrong – especially if they have already asked you to correct it. Others can get angry if you fail to record and act on their preferences – if they asked you to mail them just twice a year or contact them only via email and you mail them every quarter. And what about the people who asked you to stop contacting them? Granted if they don’t want to hear from you, it’s unlikely they will donate but that’s not the point (and what about the wasted resources spent contacting these people and dealing with their frustrated complaints?).
So maybe it’s time to spring clean and review what processes you have in place to care for your donors at a most basic level:
- Have an agreed system in place for updating your database – if a donor requests a change, what is the process for making the change and capturing the fact that they have been in touch? I’ve experienced issues where the person taking the calls was recording the fact that a call had been made with a change of details but did not make the change in the database – creating the same problem again and again.
- Are you using all the fields in your database correctly? Is the title recorded in the title field for all records? Do you have a uniform way of recording the address?
- Ensure you record all donor preferences – if a donor has requested contact only via email, this should be flagged in your database. Then when you pull your contact list, this preference must be clear.
- How do you capture ‘do not contact’ requests? You may wish to keep these contacts in your database for analysis purposes but again, their preference must be captured and acted on.
- If you have multiple people accessing your database have a list of ‘dos and don’ts’ for everyone to refer to – this ensures consistency in recording information and making changes.
- How do you record and act on returned mail?
- What processes do you have in place to dedupe your contact lists to prevent duplication or remove deceased people or people who have moved?
A great database is the starting point for a great relationship with your donors – you need to have the basics right to ensure you contact the right people, at the right time, in the right way. Given our exposure to a wide range of database systems, OKP is happy to provide advice on getting the most out of your data-base system or help you determine which system is best suited to your organisation’s needs. For more information please call 1300 721 799 or email enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.