Why You Should Create Your Own Mini-Donor Database - If You Haven't Already
Subscribing to a grants database like Foundation Directory Online, GrantStation, or GrantWatch is par for the course in the nonprofit world for good reason - it’s needed to support a steady grant writing campaign. However, as important as this subscription is, I feel it’s equally important for nonprofits to create their own mini-donor database. Why?
Simply put, it’ll improve your record keeping and future grant writing efforts.
Larger subscription databases give an onslaught of information it takes time to sort through, even using advanced search options. Everything you find won’t be a viable option for your nonprofit because of the eligibility requirements.
If you create your own mini-donor database though, you’ll be able to reference back to proven viable options quickly and easily (even if you don’t have a subscription to that grant database anymore). These will be funders you already have established a relationship with, which always makes it easier to request and receive additional grant funds.
Moreover, you can use the database to keep track of funders with a low public profile, who don’t have a website, email, or phone number to contact them by. There are more family foundations and trusts out there like this than you might think, and they can be your nonprofits biggest supporters!
So what should you include in this database? I’m glad you asked! It’s primary focus is to support your fundraising efforts, similarly to a grant calendar. But where a grant calendar focuses on potential funding opportunities and the application process, this document focuses on donors you’ve received funding from and any details about the funder you can use to strengthen your relationship. Details like:
Funder name & address (physical & web)
Their giving focus areas
Date of last grant award received
Project that grant award was for
Contact person at the organization
Their preferred forms of contact
Last communication you had with the funder
Personal details that can strengthen your relationship (ex. A running joke, bonding over drinking tea, a favorite season, little details that come about in your communications which aren’t work related, but show a connection beyond work.)
Now you may have noticed from this list of information to include that it’ll require some frequent maintenance to add new funders or update existing funder profiles. Those updates may seem annoying, but they’re well worth it when it comes time to find a funder because you’ll be able to tell at a glance if you should approach them and what to mention when you do approach them that’ll remind them of your history working together.
And if you have all this information in different columns of a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to organize your spreadsheet by your needs to easily find a funder by name, focus area, last year you received funding, etc.
So does your development department (however big or small it is) have a donor database of grant funders? If you do, do you include any information that isn’t listed here? If you don’t, are you going to create one to support your future grant writing efforts? Why or why not?
Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can all learn from each other.
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next week with another article!
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