Fundraising Habits

The 3 Data Fundraising Habits That Are Holding You Back

Apparently 12% of all gym memberships start in January—a new year offers us a chance at a fresh start. Whether you work out more this year is up to you, but when it comes to fundraising, we’ve got some other new years resolutions in mind. We’ve been talking with our clients and recently conducted a wider informal survey of fundraisers to find out what bad habits fundraisers should leave behind in order to have a successful 2019.

You may have seen the infographic we put out just before Christmas. We’re going to expand on each of these habits and roll them out over the next few weeks so that you can adopt better habits a few at a time.

The first group of bad habits to leave behind have to do with data.

  1. Not using your CRM.

If you got coal in your stocking at Christmas, it might be because you’ve been using rogue spreadsheets or Word documents to keep track of donors, donations and plans, rather than putting your notes and actions in Raiser’s Edge. Why does this matter so much? There are a bunch of reasons, most of which have to do with hurting the donor relationship:

  • Inaccurate information can lead to accidentally excluding or including people from mailings or events.
  • Information can get lost altogether if it’s been kept on one fundraiser’s personal drive and that person leaves the organization or their computer crashes.
  • Donor dollars spent on purchasing a CRM are wasted if you don’t use the tool.
  • Your organization isn’t able to get good data to predict donor behaviour – the more and better data you put into your CRM, the better you can predict your donors.

(One quick tip about using your CRM: if you don’t know what a code is for, ask before using it!)

  1. Deleting old data.

While it might seem like deleting old data is a good thing, like recycling things you no longer need, this is, in fact, a no-no. Historical records help you understand your relationship with donors. They’re also helpful for maintaining a future with donors too—you can’t run a search for someone’s new address without the old one, you need old addresses to run duplicate searches and wealth engines. If you’ve been over-zealous about cleaning up records, this year, resolve to stop deleting constituent IDs and other old data from your records.

  1. Backdating.

That elf on your office shelf whispered to us that some fundraisers engage in a practice that really has to go: backdating actions. We’d all love to claim that surprise donation for $50,000 as the result of our ask, but this is a bad move. Entering an ask amount after a donation has come in so that the ask seems to match the gift is actually unhelpful in the long run. Sometimes donors give more than what they said they would give (or what you asked them to give) and sometimes they give less. As well as being wrong —and something you’re likely to get caught out for—backdating also doesn’t help you understand a donor’s historical capacity or mindset for giving.

Maybe you’ll get to the gym a couple more times this year, but we at Wisely encourage you to strengthen your data muscles in 2019—and we’re happy to help you do so!

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