A guest post by Gabrielle Perham at AccuData
Most nonprofit professionals understand how important donor data can be. After all, these metrics are your roadmap to improving donor communications, fundraising strategies, and dozens of other important functions.
But just because you understand the importance of data doesn’t mean that you’re storing or using it effectively. In fact, over 76% of nonprofit organizations have yet to develop a dedicated data strategy, and many struggle to effectively manage their donor databases. To help you cut through the clutter and make the most of your data, consider these top nonprofit database management tips:
- Perform data audits
- Standardize data entry and management
- Implement cybersecurity measures
- Invest in data enhancement
- Optimize marketing and outreach
Even if your database is well-maintained, these nonprofit data hygiene and management strategies can help you boost functionality and leverage your data to its fullest potential!
Perform data audits
How are you supposed to begin addressing problems in your nonprofit database if you don’t know what they are?
According to Re:Charity’s data hygiene best practices, data audits are one of the first and most important steps of conducting a cleanse of your data records, giving you a high-level overview of specific issues, systemic weaknesses, and the overall health of your database.
Data audits are good at exposing inaccurate and outdated information. Plus, this diagnostic check-up should also expose areas of your database where your current data management practices are the most ineffective.
Standardize data entry and management
Effective nonprofit data management is about far more than just conducting mass database cleanses every so often. Instead, create a standardized process for recording and managing data. This can go a long way to make information quicker to find, locate errors more easily, and prevent mistakes before they happen.
For example, you might:
- Standardize entry for mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers.
- Standardize abbreviations for common titles, numbers, and phrases.
- Standardize and record protocols for verifying information, removing incorrect or redundant information, and reporting system issues.
These measures should cut down on time spent during your data audits, prevent a build-up of widespread system errors, and ensure that your data is clean, secure, and accurate.
Implement cybersecurity measures
As mission-based organizations funded by public goodwill, nonprofits are especially vulnerable to the negative press brought on by fraud and hacking scandals. To protect your donors and your nonprofit database from these online scams, implement nonprofit cybersecurity measures, like:
- Get an SSL certificate for your nonprofit website, which should repel data fraud, boost public confidence, and increase website traffic
- Leverage PCI-compliant payment tools, which abide by official credit card security standards to offer the highest levels of payment data protection
- Educate staff on how to identify and address fraud, such as dealing with phishing scams and suspicious emails
For specialized tips and guidance, you may even invest in a professional nonprofit data service, which can carefully review and provide expert strategies to protect and manage your nonprofit database.
Invest in data enhancement
Beyond dealing with “bad” or “dirty” data, another important aspect of database management is strengthening your data. This is where data enhancement, or data append, can provide a powerful boost to your data strategies.
Data enhancement is the process of pulling data, such as donor demographics or geolocation, from external resources to enrich your outreach and marketing techniques. To conduct a data append, take a look at these critical steps from AccuData’s guide to data enhancement:
- Outline your organization’s marketing goals, noting what data is most important to achieve them.
- Partner with a professional data provider to enrich your data.
- Compare your internal with external datasets to align these records.
- Pull external data to integrate with your internal records, creating a richer outlook of your donors.
Once you’ve dealt with important issues in your nonprofit database, an effective data append can help to take your data strategies to the next level. In particular, it can strengthen donor outreach, improve your nonprofit SEO practices, and refine your nonprofit marketing strategies.
Optimize marketing and outreach
Once you’ve properly cleaned, refined, and enhanced the information in your nonprofit database, it’s finally time to launch data-driven strategies for the benefit of your nonprofit. For example, consider these fundamental techniques to improve your nonprofit data marketing:
- Use predictive modeling to anticipate future donor behavior and build more effective outreach.
- Segment donor data, grouping donors by characteristics that would best inform your marketing strategy.
- Set key performance indicators to measure the success of your campaigns.
Nonprofit database management is about more than just tidying up your records—it includes the collection, upkeep, and use of your data to more effectively market your brand and appeal to donors. With these data-driven insights, you should be able to confidently tackle the challenges in your nonprofit database, acquire new donors, and inspire greater donations than ever before.
Gabrielle is the Director of Marketing for AccuData Integrated Marketing. She joined the organization in 2017 and possesses more than 15 years of experience in strategic marketing, branding, communications, and digital marketing. She earned a B.S. in Marketing and an M.B.A in Marketing Management from the University of Tampa.