Small nonprofits don't have to settle for small solutions. Learn how to maximize the efficiency of your donor management strategy with these tips.
At SimpleTexting, we believe that small bandwidths and budgets should never limit an organization’s ability to communicate. Especially when what’s being communicated relates to life-altering work.
In order to put our beliefs into action, we’ve worked up a quick guide with pointers to help optimize donor management within small nonprofits or even just budget-conscious groups!
Small Nonprofit Donor Management Explained
While SimpleTexting isn’t a nonprofit organization, we do have several team members with NPO backgrounds and a passion for philanthropy. This gives us a unique lens into the communication needs across the industry.
For the sake of this guide, we’ll begin with some definitions. While there’s no real standardized scale defining a nonprofit’s size, we’re basing our definition of “small” on the IRS’s 501c3 classification of NPO’s with an annual operating budget less than 1 million dollars.
According to recent data from Guidestar, these “small”, grassroots nonprofits actually make up a majority (66.3%) of all the nation’s NPOs!
Taking a look at a sample organizational budget from a small nonprofit, you can see that the annual budget for advertising and donor management material is only about $4,000. We’ll use this figure as our baseline budget for any donor management tips we share.
And of course, as we outline our tips, it’s important to highlight the activities we believe fall under the donor management umbrella. Mainly:
- Cultivating new donors
- Updating and thanking existing donors to maximize retention
- Detailing contact information and keeping track of donor activity
- Managing donor traffic sources and gift sizes
- Monitoring engagement frequencies
- Setting fundraising goals for yearly budget proposals
4 Small Nonprofit Donor Database Best Practices
Whether you utilize donor management software or not, here are some essential tips to make sure you do the most you can to effectively manage your database.
1. Create a Segmentation System
Take your collective list of donors and find ways to segment them. Some of the most effective ways to tier your list are by monetary contributions, length of time as a donor, or engagement. The purpose of segmentation resides in the idea that each donor should be served differently depending on their relationship with your organization.
A segmented donor database makes it easy to send targeted materials that read like messages to an individual rather than a mass call to action. By creating donor-centric content you’ll receive a far more impressive ROI, and a segmented database is the first step.
2. Diversify Communication Channels
Just as it’s important to have different messages for different donors, it’s equally key to have different ways of disseminating those messages. While direct mail has long been the favorite approach, many nonprofits have adopted digital alternatives.
The best rule of thumb—let your donors tell you! Survey your audience and learn their communication preferences. A/B test your emails and give texting a try. We can say with confidence that hundreds of nonprofits who have made the switch to SMS find that donors, employees, and volunteers alike are grateful for the update!
3. Focus on Fostering Informal Engagement Methods
With larger nonprofits, engagement tends to be focused on high-value pursuits lik support from foundations or high-net-worth-individuals. However, small nonprofits tend to see success when they scale down their engagement efforts towards the everyday online donor. Instead of pouring money and manpower into wining and dining the elite, time can be better spend encouraging conversation on social media, participating in local events and movements like #GivingTuesday, hosting lunch and learns or volunteer events, and more.
Opening your world to donors can create a platform for conversation that does more for you than elbowing for a seat at the table of a foundation.
4. Record Your Donor Management Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Smaller nonprofits tend to have one designated “keeper” of all things donor management. While it’s great to have a go-to-resource, you want to make sure your organization keeps spinning on its axis without this person. The best way to do this is to document your SOP.
In your SOP, include information like how to run queries, how to identify and tag segments, set reminders, and run budgets.
Suggested Fundraising Databases For Small Charities
We’ve referenced donor management software a few times in this blog. Not only can it be a helpful automation tool, but it doesn’t always have to break the bank. When searching for the right tool to fit your budget, consider our tips from above.
You don’t need to pay for all of the bells and whistles as long as you can find a software that:
- Can segment your donors
- Can automate reminders for communication
- Allows for notes to be input on a donor’s profile to signify engagement touches or life changes
- Potentially integrates with tools like SimpleTexting or Mailchimp to make sending messages a snap
Here are a few of the top-rated programs that will run your organization less than $100 a month.
1. Aplos– $49/month
Basic services include fund accounting and giving statements for members. A commonly used tool for churches.
2. Blackbaud Fundraising– $99/month
Cloud-based donor management software capable of streamlining data, reporting, and administrative processes all in one platform
❌ Free version
❌ Free trial
3. Bloomerang– $19/month
Another cloud-based donor management solution built to decrease donor attrition and increase revenue.
✔️ Free version
❌ Free trial
4. DonorPerfect Fundraising Software– $89/month
DonorPerfect can help you manage donations, contacts, receipting, reporting, email and fundraising initiatives from a single system. Bonus features include automatic monthly giving, integrated online donation forms, dashboard reporting, Constant Contact email, auction management tools, and a network of integrated partner solutions.
✔️ Free trial
There are solutions out there for every budget, which brings us to our final tip—never settle for less. We’ve been lucky enough to witness nonprofits move mountains with even our smallest paid plans. The important thing is to advocate your worth, the rest will follow!
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