Why improved data management should be your 2021 New Year’s resolution

Howard Lake | 4 January 2021 | Sponsored posts

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January is typically a time of reflection, setting personal goals and professional objectives with the ambition of making the year ahead “the best one yet”.  If you are currently in the process of brainstorming what your objectives could be, then it’s worth taking the time to review your supporter experience and consider whether your existing fundraising database and CRM software helps, or hinders, you.
The relationship between charities and donors has always been valuable, but over the past ten months non-profits have had to lean on the public like never before. Around half of the charities who participated in the Status of UK Fundraising Report said they had launched an emergency appeal in 2020 and Civil Society reported that due to COVID-19 67% of charities changed the way they communicated with regular donors.
If you are wondering how donor communications and fundraising software link together, then consider the following scenarios:
·       You’ve launched a new fundraising appeal and sent out an email campaign to your supporters with an urgent ask. However, your contact lists contain lots of duplicates, so people end up feeling bombarded and unsubscribe
·       You want to thank supporters by sending out direct mail or thank you letters; however, you haven’t correctly mapped your data fields, so you are left with a pile of mismatched ‘Return to Senders’
·       Your database hasn’t been cleaned or updated for a while, so you’re constantly sending emails to old or discontinued email addresses. This results in a negative mark against your @domain name, so more of your emails get trapped in spam filters and result in low engagement rates
These are just a few examples, but if any seem familiar then it could be down to having outgrown your existing database and fundraising CRM – perhaps it’s time-consuming for your team to update or that they can’t access it whilst working from home. Both will result in poor quality supporter data in your fundraising CRM, which will hinder your donor relationships.

Scoping out new software when you’re a small charity

If you are part of a small charity, then the idea of scoping out new fundraising software could be daunting as you want to meet expectations and deliver on your mission, but still do so within your budget. Meeting these criteria can be difficult and so many organisations find solutions that fit certain requirements, like cost, but that end up sacrificing quality and service. When deciding on how much to invest in new software, try to weigh up the long-term potential such as could it save time, improve certain practices or even lead to higher ROI by delivering campaigns more effectively. This will help you to manage expectations and to determine the value you want from the software.
Here are some of the things you should look out for when selecting fundraising and donor management software:
·       Make sure you select a software solution that’s designed specifically for your needs and the way you and your team like to work – think of a CRM as Cinderella’s slipper, you need to look around in order to find one that fits perfectly. Any reputable provider should allow you to try before you buy, so be sure to get a free demo and ask for a free trial
·       Ask providers for references so you can directly speak to other, similar charities who are using the tools on offer
·       Chat to the people at your organisation that will be using the tool – it must be intuitive for them to use otherwise your supporter records will quickly go out of date. Keep in mind who the day-to-day users will be and engage them in the process of choosing the right solution
·       Quality reports are a key feature of any donor database system, so ensure your solution allows you to pull the accurate information you need quickly and easily
·       Will your team be able to access it from wherever they’re working? Think cloud-based! Cloud-based technology essentially means your fundraising CRM can be accessed as long as someone has a secure internet connection. Perfect for any colleagues who are working remotely
·       Make a list of your key requirements and then another list of what would be nice to have, so that the solution you invest in meets all your needs and your budget
·       Check that your solution comes with great ongoing support and training

How to choose a cloud-based CRM

If re-evaluating your fundraising software does become a 2021 priority, then Blackbaud has a free eBook that is available for all charities to read and download called How to Choose a Cloud-Based CRM. It’s an annual eBook that is designed to help you navigate the process of scoping, selecting and even implementing a new CRM.
To get your copy of the eBook, visit

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