Ten Steps to Streamlining Your Fundraising System


Published on

The donor/prospect database sits at the heart of every nonprofit’s development operations. How you use it (or don’t!) directly impacts your daily work and, quite often, your overall fundraising success. Unfortunately, many of us find our database lacking. The good news is that the problem isn’t usually the software itself. The culprits are usually inefficient business practices and disorganized data – both especially common in the nonprofit sector. These are problems that can be solved! And it’s not rocket science, but you do need a plan. Luckily, we have one for you. The first step in getting more from any software is committing to the initial effort to improve it. Are you ready? Great! Where do you start? In this session, we’ll present a practical, actionable ten-step plan that will help you streamline your fundraising system and operations so they’ll more easily and accurately support your strategies.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • The donor/prospect database sits at the heart of every nonprofit’s development operations. As a fundraiser, how you use (or don’t use) your database has a direct impact on your daily tasks and, quite often, your overall success. Unfortunately, many of us find our fundraising system lacking. The good news is that it’s often not software limitations that slow down development professionals, but rather how information is processed through the organization and stored in the fundraising system. If your donor data isn’t coded consistently, or stored in a way that supports the reporting functionality you need, reporting and accessing data will be problematic.  The first step in getting more from any software is committing to the initial effort to improve it, and the ongoing process of maintaining it. Are you committed to making the changes? Great! Where do you start? The following ten-step plan will help you clean up your fundraising system so it will more easily and accurately support your strategies.
  • Clarify Objectives. Imagine a road trip. Deciding on a destination before you leave the house lets you plan a more comfortable and direct route. The same is true for your fundraising objectives. What are your goals? What current problems do you want to solve and which opportunities do you want to undertake? How can you make fundraising easier and more effective? What information do you need to get there?
  • Improve Knowledge and Skills. The more passengers that you bring along who can read maps, take turns driving and understand how a car works in case of a breakdown, the easier and more pleasant the trip will be. Before jumping into the project, invest in staff training on your fundraising software, on fundraising in general, and on nonprofit accounting. Focus on consistency and efficiency in your business processes.
  • Analyze Desired Outputs. Now it’s time to decide what you expect to do when you reach your destination; take your objectives and define them in terms of day-to-day deliverables. What specific prospect lists do you need to produce from your system? On what criteria will you be segmenting? What criteria will determine the acknowledgement letter that a donor receives? What reports will you need to demonstrate the efficacy of your fundraising strategies and to determine which to continue and which to retire? How frequently will you need these reports—daily, weekly, monthly, annually, for board meetings? Generating these outputs easily and accurately is the practical goal of your project. Clarity and specificity are critical. Vagueness at this phase or targets that keep moving can cause your project to flounder.
  • Determine a Code Structure. Are you equipped to reach your goal? Properly setting up the codes and fields in your software affects how easy or difficult it is to generate your desired outputs. All fundraising software programs include letter functions, query tools and dozens of “canned” reports. Each of these features can work wonders, but only if the information that you want to access is stored in the proper place for your software to find it. Don’t worry about how things are currently set up. Imagine that you have a blank slate.
  • Clean Up Codes and Fields. Time for a maintenance check! It’s likely that the ideal code structure that you have outlined differs from what you have in place now. You probably have a lot of table values you don’t use, even for historical purposes, or perhaps you don’t even know what they mean. Make a full back-up of your system (and test the restore process!), and then get rid of those values. It’s also likely that these values are not in the best fields based on the outputs that you want. It’s time to dive into your software’s more advanced features and move values around (again, after a backup!). Finally, add any new values that you need.
  • Develop and Document Processes. Now that you have everything cleaned up and running well, keep it that way. Determine the most efficient methods for inputting and maintaining your reorganized data. Establish clear responsibilities so everyone knows what fields they can change, and reinforce these guidelines with security settings if your software allows. Outline how certain types of information will flow through your department. For example, what path does a new prospect record follow? An address update? A new gift to be entered? Document the specific steps for inputting and updating information. An operations handbook will do wonders to promote accuracy and consistency.
  • Maintain Data Integrity. It is useful to audit your work after you have entered information before you generate lists and reports. A series of simple queries or reports can quickly uncover common errors that you can correct before they show up in your outputs. Each correction becomes an opportunity to refine your processes and documentation, or to provide incremental training to users. Raiser’s Edge® Audit Queries and Periodic DutiesYOUR ORGANIZATIONAQ Board MembersThis query checks the roster of constituents who are current board members. Run the query monthly and visually check the list against the current board. If any members have gone off the board in the last month, replace their constituent code with Individual. Do not simply add the Individual code below the Board Member code. Add the Type of Individual code Former Board Member. AQ Gift Coding AuditSort the output of this query of all the previous month’s gifts by Campaign and then by Appeal. Scroll through the output and make sure that the gift codes agree; that is, there may be certain codes that should only be applied in conjunction with other codes. Sort a second time by Gift Amount (descending order) and review again for accuracy of major gift coding. Discuss any questionable coding and make any changes before reconciliation reports are run. AQ Inactive/NVA Constituent Made GiftThis query checks for constituents marked Inactive or No Valid Address who gave a gift last month. Click into each record and evaluate the circumstances. You may need to go back to the gift documentation and look for an updated address. AQ Sounds Like <CITY 1>AQ Sounds Like <CITY 2>This is a series of queries that look for misspellings of cities in the Preferred Address in the YOUR ORGANIZATION area: <CITY 1>, <CITY 2>, etc. Go into each record and correct the spelling of the city. AQ State is CA; ZIP is Wrong or BlankThis query searches for preferred state of CA and the ZIP code is less than 90000, greater than 96200 or is blank. Go into each record and correct the address as needed. www.usps.com has a ZIP code finder. AQ Preferred City is BlankThis query looks for records that have something in the address lines but the Preferred City is blank. Does not include deceased or no valid address constituents. If the city cannot be defined, mark the address as bad and if necessary mark the constituent as having no valid addresses. AQ Preferred State is Blank This query looks for records that have either the City or ZIP Code populated but no state. Does not include deceased or no valid address constituents. If the state cannot be defined, mark the address as bad and if necessary mark the constituent as having no valid addresses. AQ Ind with Preferred Address Type not HomeThis query looks for individuals who were added last month with a Preferred Address Type that is not Home. Scroll through the results and look for any addresses that should have the Address Type of Home. Double-click into those records and make the change to the Preferred Address Type. AQ Org with Preferred Address Type not BusinessThis query looks for organizations that were added last month with a Preferred Address Type that is not Business. Scroll through the results and look for any addresses that should have the Address Type of Business. Double-click into those records and make the change to the Preferred Address Type. AQ Assigned Solicitor ListThis query pulls all records with an Assigned Solicitor relationship with a blank Date To (indicating a current relationship). Its purpose is to check that the solicitor’s portfolio is up-to-date. The query is sorted by assigned solicitor and then by constituent name. If any solicitors need to have their portfolio updated, double-click into the record, go to the Assigned Solicitor Relationship and put a Date To on the relationship (and a comment if needed). AQ Incomplete Actions This Year To DateThis query looks for actions this year to date that have not been marked completed. If any should be marked completed, this can be done one action at a time or via a global change if the volume is high enough. AQ Contacts with no TypeThis query checks for contacts of organizations that do not have a Contact Type. Double-click into each record to determine if the Contact should be an Executive or Key Staff. If the contact should not be considered a contact any more, uncheck the “Contact?” box. AQ Contacts with Constituent RecordThis query checks for contacts that have their own constituent record. Check to see if the contact really needs his or her own record. If not, break the link in the relationship (so that the contact relationship stays intact) and then delete the extraneous constituent record. Other Periodic Duties FrequencyTaskMonthlyUpdate date ranges in applicable STANDARD queries.QuarterlyRun two Duplicates Report using these criteria. Assign the list to one person to work on or assign smaller pieces to multiple staff members. This project will not be completed in one quarter but the list should get successively smaller.Individuals: Last Name 10, First Name 5 (targets duplicate individuals). Organizations: Org Name 10, Address 5Individuals: Last Name 10, Address 5 (targets duplicate members of the same household). Organizations: Org Name 10, Address 5SemiannuallyReview process documentation and reports portfolio. Update as needed.AnnuallyInactivate Campaigns, Funds and Appeals that have not been used for three full fiscal yearsAnnuallyDelete queries that have not been run in 15-18 months.AnnuallyAudit Type of Individual codes for Staff. Update records as needed with Former Staff and add new codes to new staff.  
  • Build a Portfolio of Outputs. You are almost at your destination. You have good code structure, a clean database, and great business practices; now you can set up the lists, letters and reports you have been waiting to use. Start with the simple outputs, but don’t wait too long to go after the complex ones, even if you won’t need them immediately. If there is a glitch in how you have set things up, it is always better to know early when it’s easier to fix, rather than in a few months. Ideally, outputs should be set up so that many people can run them, not just the experts. This frees up the experts’ time to explore new and interesting areas of your software, and it allows everyone broader access to the software features. We call this democratizing the database.
  • Bring Your Colleagues into the Fold. Throughout this trip, you have likely asked colleagues to come along—to participate in decisions, test out features, and listen to your trials and triumphs. Now it’s time to share the rewards of all your hard work. You can train staff and management in a group format or one-on-one, but a combination of both usually works best. Use the operations handbook you have created to keep the training consistent. It introduces your documentation and establishes the habit of using it as the go-to reference.
  • Put It All into Practice. This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to implement, refine, repeat. As you start to roll out your revised software, tweaks and adjustments will be required along the way. You’ll discover that what worked in testing might need changes in your live environment. You may find even better ways to do things, and you’ll want to incorporate those into your documentation and ongoing training. Of course, over time, fundraising strategies will shift and those changes will require adaptation as well. It’s an exciting and engaging trip and you’re now well equipped to handle it all. Enjoy!
  • Ten Steps to Streamlining Your Fundraising System

    1. 1. t<br />10 Steps to Streamlining Your Fundraising System<br />
    2. 2. Introductions – You!<br /><ul><li>Why are you here?
    3. 3. What questions do you have?
    4. 4. What are your goals for this session?</li></li></ul><li>Intro Slides / Who is HC<br />
    5. 5. What should fundraising software allow you to do? <br />Store information<br />Easy, intuitive <br />Retrieve information<br />Consistent, easy, reliable<br />
    6. 6. What does your system need to support your needs? <br />Clear Objectives <br />Based on your vision<br />Sound Coding <br />Supports reporting and list generation<br />Consistent Processes <br />Efficient and documented<br />Appropriate Staffing <br />Clear roles and good training<br />Collegial Relationships <br />With other departments, particularly accounting<br />Computing Resources <br />Adequate computers and network, technical staff <br />
    7. 7. 10 Step Plan<br />Clarify Objectives<br />Improve Knowledge and Skills<br />Analyze Desired Outputs<br />Determine a Code Structure<br />Clean Up Codes and Fields<br />Develop and Document Processes<br />Maintain Data Integrity<br />Build a Portfolio of Outputs<br />Bring Your Colleagues into the Fold<br />Put It All into Practice<br />
    8. 8. Clarify Objectives<br />What are your goals? <br />What problems do you want to solve<br />Which opportunities do you want tackle? <br />How can you make fundraising <br />Easier?<br />More effective? <br />What information do you need to get there?<br />
    9. 9. Improve Knowledge and Skills<br />Fundraising Software Training<br />Fundraising Strategies<br />Non Profit Accounting<br />
    10. 10. Analyze Desired Outputs<br />
    11. 11. Clarifying Outputs & Objectives<br />Work with fundraisers and executives to determine their needs:<br />What information do they want from the database?<br />How often? <br />In what format?<br />To whom should it be distributed?<br />Reports (internal, Board, public)<br />Lists (LYBUNTS, Top Donors, Prospects, Solicitors, Mailings, <br /> Event Invitees)<br />Prospect Cultivation<br />Contact Management<br />
    12. 12. Output Portfolio - Sample<br />
    13. 13. Determine a Code Structure<br />Good Coding – The Heart of A Great Database <br />Donor / Prospect Codes<br />Demographics<br />On the Constituent Record<br />Financial Codes <br />On the Gifts<br />
    14. 14. Clean Up Codes and Fields<br />Record-by-Record<br />Internal Tools<br />Modifying Tables<br />Queries / Selects & Global Changes<br />External Tools <br />ETL – Extract, Transform, Load<br />Export, Modify, Import<br />
    15. 15. Develop and Document Processes<br />Developing Processes<br />What are you doing now? (Flowchart!)<br />What’s working / what’s not?<br />Identify - Where can we improve?<br />Prioritize - What should we improve first?<br />How little / much pain?<br />How easy/hard to solve?<br />
    16. 16. Your Procedures Handbook<br />Why? <br />Clarity, Consistency<br />Content <br />Entering People, Organizations and Gifts. Getting info out!<br />Audience <br />Fundraisers and Executives, Front-line Staff / Data Processing<br />Decisions<br />Conversations to have / Decisions to make, Discussion process<br />Format<br />easy-to-understand + easy-to-use = better likelihood of adoption<br />
    17. 17. Maintain Data Integrity<br />Weekly / Monthly  <br />Gift Coding Audit<br />Board Members<br />Inactive/NVA Constituent Made Gift<br />State is XX; ZIP is Wrong or Blank<br />Preferred City (or State) is Blank<br />Ind (Org) with Preferred Address Type not Home (Biz)<br />Assigned Solicitor List (Active Relationship)<br />Incomplete Actions This Year To Date<br />Contacts w/ no Type OR w/ Constituent Record<br />Quarterly<br />Duplicate Report(s)<br />Inactive Gift Codes<br />Unused Queries / Lists<br />
    18. 18. Build a Portfolio of Outputs<br />Direct Mail<br />Campaign ROI Analysis<br />Segmentation / Package Testing<br />Major Gifts / Planned Gifts<br />Solicitor Performance<br />Revenue Pipeline (New / Pledge Payments)<br />Matrix Reporting<br />Campaign Performance Comparison<br />Campaign Giving by Week (or Month/Year)<br />Data Entry<br />Individual Donation Detail<br />Batch Summary, Daily Deposits<br />Acknowledgment Letters and Receipts<br />
    19. 19. Training: Bring Your Colleagues into the Fold<br />Role Specific<br />“Need to Know” & “Just In Time”<br />Topics:<br />Overview –primer, tying it all together<br />Constituents – Primary & Secondary Data<br />Gifts – Entry & Viewing<br />Fundraising Tactics<br />Lists – Who am I looking at / working with?<br />Reports – How are we doing?<br />
    20. 20. Put It All into Practice(Wash, Rinse, Repeat)<br />Initial Streamlining Project<br />Road Map<br />Adjustments – first 3 months<br />Check-in / Next steps - 6-month mark<br />Annual Review<br />User Group<br />Ongoing Training<br />Learning More (Forums, Peers, Professionals)<br />
    21. 21. Streamlining Projects – Meta-Issues<br />Staff Buy-In & Management Support<br />Streamlining / Implementation Team <br />In-House / Outsourcing considerations<br />Choosing the Right Time<br />Financial Resources<br />Computing Resources<br />
    22. 22. Heller Consulting’s Free Resources<br />Getting Started on Raiser's Edge<br />10 Steps to Implementing Raiser's Edge <br />Evaluating Your System<br />Evaluating Your Raiser's Edge System<br />10 Steps to Streamlining Your Fundraising System<br />Getting to Know Your RE System<br />Your RE DBA - Qualities & Considerations <br />Organizing an RE User Group<br />Organizing Your Data<br />An Organized Donor Database<br />Raiser's Edge Coding Best Practices <br />Financial Goals and RE Codes <br />Reconciling with Accounting<br />Clarifying Communication between Development and Accounting<br />Streamlining Business Processes<br />Constituent Data Flowchart<br />Gift Processing Steps<br />Donation Flowchart<br />How Many Gifts Can Someone Process in a week?<br />New Rules for Automobile Donations <br />Supporting Fundraising<br />Top 10 Raiser's Edge Reports<br />Managing Fundraising Mailings<br />Creating Segmented Prospect Lists and our Segmentation Spreadsheet<br />Major Gift Income Transmittal<br />Top 10 Donor Recognition Questions to Answer Before Your Capital Campaign Begins<br />The ideas and information presented here are the sole property of Heller Consulting - San Francisco, Chicago, New York - www.teamheller.com<br />
    23. 23. Closing Slides<br />