Hidden Treasures

A link at the bottom of a recent issue of the Chronicle of Philanthropy caught my eye just as I was about to close the page: “Shoe Shiner Turns 30 Years of Tips Into $200,000 in Gifts.” This is the kind of donor story that warms my heart, and often the kind that gets overshadowed by gazillion-dollar gifts to mega-sized institutions. I was immediately compelled to click the link to the original story, aired by local television station WTAE Pittsburgh, and I was rewarded with a story that was indeed heartwarming.

But in addition to the temperate cardiac benefits, the story also can serve as a reminder to evaluate your donor data in a variety of different ways. Like the shoe-shining philanthropist, generosity can sneak up on you if you’re not looking in all directions.

Any donor management software should provide ways to do this easily. In ResultsPlus you’ll find several key fields in the Folder table to help you measure some key pieces of information:

  • Lifetime gift amount – the TotalGiftAmt field stores a sum of all gifts ever entered into the program for a particular donor. Each time a gift is posted, this field is updated.
  • Lifetime gift count – the TotalGiftCnt field totals the actual number of gifts entered for a given donor. Each time a gift is posted, this field is updated.
  • Date of first gift – the FirstGiftDate field keeps track of the date of a donor’s first-ever gift. The field is populated when the first gift is posted and does not change.
  • Date of last gift – the LastGiftDate field is populated whenever a gift is posted for a particular donor. It is updated each time a new gift is posted so it always maintains the date of the most recent gift.

By combining these values, you can also measure the average gift for each donor and the length of time they’ve been supporting your organization.

And remember to gather and store anecdotal information to help connect with older, long-time supporters. They generally have more time to spare and perhaps more stories to share that will lead you to even more hidden treasures.

If you happen to use any creative measures to find hidden constituent treasures in your database, do post them. The best ideas are the shared ones!