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How to find the best donor database for your nonprofit

Ditch your spreadsheets and learn why you need a donor database to scale your organization. Plus, how to know which software is best for your nonprofit.

Rachel Ayotte
September 29, 2023
March 28, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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A successful fundraising campaign has numerous moving parts—to keep things organized, you need a donor database.

Below, we explain exactly why you need a donor database, what it can help you accomplish, and which software might be right for your organization.

Why do you need a donor database?

A donor database is often found within a contact relationship management (CRM) system, or a system that houses all the contact information of your donors. Think of it as a spreadsheet on steroids, where different points of information are held in "fields" rather than cells. 

The purpose of a donor database is to keep your team organized—yet it does so much more than that. Here are just a few ways your team benefits from a donor database.

1. Share supporter notes with your colleagues 🗒

Storing notes on your most loyal supporters within a Google Doc or an Excel spreadsheet on your desktop can get messy fast. 

A nonprofit donor database system, on the other hand, keeps donor profiles in one central place, giving all your teammates easy access to those relationships.

2. Keep track of supporter history 🎁

Donor communication takes place across multiple channels. With a robust nonprofit donor database, your organization can store all those activities in one place and get insight into supporters' behavior, including:

  • Giving history
  • Fundraising event attendance
  • Email correspondence
  • Phone calls
  • Social media interactions
  • In-person communication

3. Plan future campaigns and outreach strategies 📣

Understanding how supporters behaved in the past allows you to plan for the future.

Whether you’re looking to launch a new email marketing campaign or direct mail campaign, a donor database software can help you strategically plan for future initiatives by tracking:

  • Email marketing 📨 See which emails performed best by looking at metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribes.
  • Giving habits 💸 Personalize your appeals by understanding what a donor’s largest amount donated is, when they last made a donation, and frequency of their donations.
  • Attendance record 🕺 Optimize your outreach by reviewing which events donors attended and the event formats they prefer (virtual, in-person, hybrid).

⭐ Pro tip: Use an all-in-one marketing software that uses conditional logic to create donor segments (e.g., if a donor gives to our spring fundraiser, then send them a two-part email series), so you can get the most out of your data.

4. Keep your data squeaky clean 🧼

Using Google Docs to store important donor information makes your data prone to human error.

With a nonprofit donor database, your organization can use built-in data hygiene tools that validate contact information and surface duplicate contacts, so you’re never working with faulty information.

5. Run reports 📈

Reports provide an overarching view of your supporters (demographics, behavior, and history) and ongoing campaigns—all of which help you streamline your fundraising efforts. 

Most donor database software include custom reports functionality, so you can:

  • Generate individuals' giving reports directly from your dashboard
  • Create reports that include all online and offline donations 
  • Share reports as PDFs or via a unique link
  • Customize reports with your organization's logo
  • Generate year-end reports

Which donor database software is right for your organization?

If you expect to scale your organization, a donor database is non-negotiable. Fortunately, most software companies offer discounts for nonprofit organizations, making it a worthy—and affordable—investment. And some, (like Givebutter!) are completely free. 🥳 

When comparing different donor databases for nonprofits, you'll want one that:

  • Integrates with other platforms 🔒 To get the most from your database, it needs to integrate with your accounting, email marketing, and fundraising software (at a minimum).
  • Offers free migration 🔄 Many nonprofit donor databases offer free migration when you sign a contract, moving donor data from a spreadsheet or other CRM system to your new software solution.
  • Is known for customer support 📲 To update contacts, create your first reports, or keep track of donor activities, you may need direct and fast support (and not get charged an arm and a leg for it).
  • Is affordable 💰 Some donor management systems charge per user while others charge by the size of your database. Be sure the scaling price tiers work for your organization down the road. Better yet, use a free nonprofit CRM.
  • Comes with robust functionality 🔔 Search for a platform that offers donor segmentation, custom contact fields, filters, and table sorting.
  • Is built for nonprofits 💕  Look for a solution that offers features and/or reports related to donor management, online fundraising, donation tracking, donor engagement, and other tools related to nonprofit success.
  • Offers prospect research data 🔎 Some of the best CRMs integrate with tools like DonorSearch to help you reveal a donor’s giving capacity and other other actionable insights.
  • Integrates with marketing tools ⚒️ Find donor software that integrates seamlessly with your marketing automation platform (Givebutter’s all-in-one platform comes complete with CRM and marketing automation already built in!).

Givebutter, the best donor database for nonprofits

The right fundraising tools and technology strengthen your fundraising efforts, increase donor retention, and improve communication among your team. 

Givebutter’s all-in-one fundraising solutions come with top-rated donor management tools and the world’s first free nonprofit CRM. With Givebutter’s built-in donor database software, you get:

  • Unlimited data entry
  • Automatic donor activity tracking 
  • Giving history summaries and timelines
  • Preset and custom donor segments
  • Self-serve importing and migration

Givebutter's donor management suite is completely free to use and integrates with the rest of Givebutter's all-in-one nonprofit solution. With Givebutter, you can seamlessly raise funds, track donation history, and keep tabs on your contacts, all in one place and all for free.

Connect, engage, and fundraise—all in place

To see how the entire Givebutter platform can help you reach your fundraising goals, create your own free Givebutter account today.

Get started
Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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