Guest Post: How to Use Your Donor Data Management to Increase Donations

By Sarah Tedesco, Executive VP at DonorSearch


Your donor data is more than information on who your supporters are. It can provide insight into your nonprofit’s networking opportunities and facilitate the long-term growth of your organization.

It’s vital that you manage your donor data, not just to maintain your current donor base, but to increase the size and frequency of the donations you receive.

Your donor data can provide key insights into how to best reach your donors. With hundreds of fundraising ideas to choose from, data-driven fundraising strategies are essential to choosing the ideas that will compel your donors to give.

Let’s break down how you can optimize your donor data to ultimately increase donations for your organization.



To ensure that your data is consistent across the board, you’ll need to develop a set of procedures to standardize your data entry.

Standardizing your data is important so that you — and anyone in your organization — can easily access the information that you need.

Inconsistent data will inevitably lead to errors, such as duplicate profiles, and will make transferring data across CRM platforms unnecessarily challenging. As fundraising technology develops, your nonprofit may need to upgrade to more comprehensive CRM software. Your data shouldn’t inhibit these growth-driven changes.

You can save your time and resources by tackling data entry on the frontend.

To standardize your data, you’ll need to consider:

  • How names will be entered (especially with challenges such as hyphenated last names).
  • The format for addresses (Street vs. St.).
  • How you will indicate deceased and lapsed donors.
  • Whether blank fields will be filled with a placeholder or left as they are.

These are only a few of the considerations you’ll need to take into account.

Centralize your data entry standards into a document that your staff can access.

You may also need to adopt procedures for online data entry. Donors who give through online donation forms may have their data automatically transferred into your CRM. You’ll need to ensure that their data matches your standards, even if donors have entered their information differently.

The bottom line: Standardize your data entry process so that your data is consistent and easy to access across the board.



After your data is in your database, it’s important that you take the time to clean it at least once a year.

Cleaning your donor data ensures that you’re reaching active donors with effective communications. Essentially, you can increase donations simply by ensuring that all of your appeals are relevant and are being sent to the correct donors.

A clean database is the foundation of your fundraising.

To keep your data neat, you’ll need to:

  • Consolidate duplicate profiles.
  • Remove lapsed donors who have been inactive for 2 or more years.
  • Check the accuracy of your donors’ contact information.
  • Eliminate unnecessary data.
  • Update outdated information.

Following these steps can help you accurately and effectively reach donors. After all, if you’re sending communications to the wrong address, using the wrong name, or reaching out to an inactive donor, then you’re wasting your resources.

The bottom line: Cleaning your data can help you invest your resources into donors who will respond to your appeals.



Once your data is organized, you can use it to better understand your donors. This final step is perhaps the most important when it comes to managing your donor data wisely.

A comprehensive CRM platform will allow different donor data fields to interact with each other, giving you a more complete picture of your donors. From this information, you can derive fundraising strategies that will be most effective for reaching and engaging your donors.

Let’s take a look at some examples of how your donor data can be interpreted to increase donations:


  • Determine your campaign structure. Knowing which types of campaigns will appeal to your donors is important for creating the most effective strategy. For example, if your donors show high engagement on social media, then a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign could optimize their extended social networks (this Fundly guide can help you get started).
  • Invest in the right software. Your donors’ preferred giving channels are important when it comes to deciding what types of fundraising software your organization should invest in. If you know that your donors enjoy giving with their debit cards, then offering more online donation channels or accepting cashless donations at events can help you receive more donations. But first, you need the technology to do so.
  • Optimize your donor network. Paying attention to your donors’ employment and personal connections can help you identify opportunities for corporate philanthropy, such as matching gifts, as well as potential major donors in your network.


Ultimately, your nonprofit can isolate the most relevant data fields so that you can gain the insights into your donors that will benefit your organization the most.

The bottom line: Your donor data can help you better understand your donors so that you can raise more with a targeted fundraising strategy.

Your donor data is the key to reaching your donors effectively. To ensure that you can use your data to its full potential, you’ll need to manage and maintain your data before you can interpret it.

Following all of these steps can lead your organization toward long-term growth and success. For more comprehensive information on important donor data, you can learn more with DonorSearch’s guide to prospect profiles.




Sarah Tedesco is the Executive Vice President of DonorSearch, a prospect research and wealth screening company that focuses on proven philanthropy. Sarah is responsible for managing the production and customer support department concerning client contract fulfillment, increasing retention rate and customer satisfaction. She collaborates with other team members on a variety of issues including sales, marketing and product development ideas.