Are you sitting up straight in your chair or are you slumped over, head jutting forward as you stare at your computer? Your posture will have a lot to do with how well you feel at the end of the day. The same is true with fundraising (or anything really!) Good habits or practices lead to good results. But when we talked with our clients and conducted our wider informal survey of fundraisers, we heard that some of the bad habits fundraisers should leave behind in order to have a successful 2019 simply have to do with less-than-ideal work practices:
1. Taking shortcuts.
Some shortcuts are smart time-savers but others truly backfire in the end. This happens when we decide it takes too much time to fill in all the fields in a CRM donor profile (like title, addressee, salutation, phone number, email etc.). It happens when we change a salutation to just include a spouse’s name, rather than adding a spouse relationship. I’m sure you can think of other shortcuts that cut corners but actually create issues down the road. A CRM is meant to be the repository of all the information about your donors—but while you may know something about a donor, that doesn’t mean your colleague or the person who eventually replaces you does. Take the time to add all the information available to your CRM. At Wisely, we know that robust information is the best information – not because we’re data geeks but because we’ve seen the issues that happen when people keep information in their heads.
2. Putting information “somewhere in the database”.
Yes, you should be proud of yourself for recording all the information somewhere, but if it’s not in the proper place, it might not be as useful as you think it is. Like taking shortcuts, recording information in the wrong place – for example, recording everything in a note on your CRM because you don’t know where to put it—will only confuse and complicate your data. It does take time and effort initially to understand your CRM (and to make sure your whole team understands your CRM), but inputting information in a consistent matter means that nothing gets lost or missed in reports, and that donors aren’t under- or over-communicated with. It means you don’t send the same letter separately to two spouses because you didn’t correctly link their profiles.
3. Overcomplicating records.
We encourage our clients to adopt the KISS principle—keep it simple, silly!—to their database. While specifics are really important, most of the time, information can be stored under large umbrellas rather than keeping it all distinct and separate. For instance: rather than having 50 separate organizational records for each of the employees in one organization, set this up as a single organization with 50 employees. Similarly, a gala, a walk and a holiday party are all events, and can be classified and stored as such. Avoid creating unnecessary profiles or endless action types to prevent frustration, confusion and a messy database.
We promise that learning to put information in the right place, and then doing so, will actually save you time and aggravation, and will lead to better results when it comes to your fundraising—it’s a great activity for a quiet snowy day.