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One Organization. One System for Donor Information.

Keeping all your donor information in one place is essential to good relationship building and good fundraising.

One Database
Forty years later - it's a reality.
I recently listened in on a webinar about blending offline and online fundraising. The webinar was led by some really smart people in the field and for almost the whole hour I listened carefully and nodded along at the great advice. But then came the final question about how to best integrate information about online and offline donors.

The answer? “Ideally you have a single CRM system that lets you keep track of one donor as one donor—regardless of how they came to your organization or how they give. But that’s not often possible. So just be really meticulous in keeping track of your data in your different systems.”

It was a listen-only webinar so the bellowing “Nooooooo!” that escaped me was heard only by my coworkers, and not by other webinar participants.

As far as I’m concerned, keeping all your donor information in one place is essential to good relationship building and good fundraising. If the donor management system you have doesn’t allow you to do that, get a new system. Period.

If the email provider you use doesn’t integrate with your donor management system, get one that does. Period.

With the array of email providers out there (check out our latest report if you don’t know your options), most of which integrate with at least one of the major CRM systems in use for nonprofits, there’s no reason to maintain two or three separate data sources.

Your donors are the people who make your work possible—never mind paying your salary—and to keep your relationship with them healthy, you need to know who they are and keep good records about their relationship with your organization. To do this you need to:
  • Have a good tool for tracking all the information about all of your constituents (at Groundwire we are partial to Salesforce)
  • Use that tool—and only that tool—consistently
  • Commit staff time to keeping that information accurate and up to date
  • Make sure you know how to get information out of the database as well as put it in—I find that a lot of the resistance to using a new system is that people don’t understand how to easily access the lists and reports they need. So they start keeping a separate list that they do understand.


Your event planner may balk at giving up her table captain spreadsheet and your volunteer coordinator may not want to mix his volunteers (kept in his Outlook contact list) in with your donors (usually because of mistaken ideas about asking volunteers to give donations. But that’s a different subject). Your major gifts officer may want to build a wall between his donors and the rest of the database.


Don’t let them do it.

It’s painful, but not as painful as explaining to Mrs. Major Donor Former Board Member why your major gifts officer called to update her on a campaign for which she was a key volunteer, or why she got three invitations to one event and two of them were addressed to her and one was addressed to her and that guy she divorced 18 months ago.

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