The Nebraska Community Foundation works with community, organizational and donor-advised affiliated funds serving 250 communities located in 80 counties. NCF and its affiliated funds have reinvested $269 million in Nebraska since 1994.
One of the first tasks to take on as you develop a marketing strategy is to create one database of all of your contacts, donors and potential donors. This may involve gathering lists of names and addresses from a variety of sources. It is important for each affiliated fund to have only one central database from which to create mailings and other communications. In this way, you update information only once, and you can create personalized mailings by merging letters and addresses into your fundraising letters. You can also track giving histories, birthdays, e-mail addresses, and much more.
If no one on your Fund Advisory Committee has experience with database creation, try to find someone in the community who can help. School administrators, librarians or people with local businesses may be able to help get you started. Let them know that you are asking for help only with setting one up—and that you will input all the information.
Two of the most commonly used programs are Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access. There are many other programs on the market, but many computers already have these two programs installed. Get help in learning how to work with these programs. Take a short course at your community college, or use the Microsoft tutorial online.
Here is a short list of fields (types of information) that should be captured. In sophisticated databases, there may be dozens of fields containing specific information. Note that the first name and the last name should always be in separate fields.
|Prefix||Example: Dr., Mr., Ms., Mr. and Mrs., etc.|
|Middle name (or initial)|
|Suffix||Example: Jr., Sr., III|
|Title||Example: President & CEO, Manager|
|Address S_2||Example: Some locations require more than one line for the street address.|
|Main Contact||Typically, the most appropriate person to sign a letter or solicit a contribution|
|Notes||This may be any additional information about the contact|
While the Nebraska Community Foundation provides an accurate accounting of all gifts to your affiliated fund, you are responsible for managing and cultivating your relationships with your contacts and donors. For this reason it is a good idea to develop relational tables that contain information about a donor’s giving history and pledges.
With Microsoft Access you can create relational tables (called subdata sheets) that track donations and pledges from each donor.
An example would be a payments and pledges table that contains the following fields:
|Method||Example: Check or automatic bank withdrawal|
|Notes||Example: Memorial Gift for John Doe|
|“Do” Date||This is the date that you should write a letter or make a follow-up call|
|End Date||This defines the date that the pledge should be paid in full|
The time you invest in creating and managing your central database is well worth the initial effort it takes. Your donors are used to getting personalized service from the businesses they patronize; maintaining donor profiles with up-to-date, accurate information will add credibility to your organization and to your cause!
“Steve and Bev wanted their charitable giving to have long-term impact, but they were concerned. They didn’t want to bog down their children with administrative work – they wanted to give them the opportunity to enjoy the fun part of charity,” said attorney Christin Lovegrove. “I knew that NCF would be the perfect avenue.”Read more →