6 Tips to Make Your Database Work For You

Everyone who participates in the Meals on Wheels Direct Mail Fundraising Co-op knows that direct mail is an incredible source of new donors and immediate net revenue for their organization.

But did you know that the donor file you are building through direct mail acquisition can also be an excellent source of major donors? In fact, one Partner that we’ve been working with since 2000 has tracked 70% of their major donors back to a first gift to direct mail.

It often takes just a little time and energy to cultivate those relationships. But with limited time and staffing, how do you know who to talk to first? The answers are in your database!

Here are few tips to get you started:

Get as much data as possible. Nowadays, data is cheap. You can easily append your database with email addresses, phone numbers, wealth indicators, presence of children and other information that may help you find and contact your needle in a haystack. (In fact, that is a service we offer through the Co-op!)

Decide how many individuals you are able to steward and set that as your goal. Then define criteria to help you select those people from your database. For example, you might select donors with gifts over a certain dollar amount, years of consecutive giving or wealth indicators.

Look for opportunities to engage. Create a query that you can pull weekly or bi-weekly to identify if one of your targeted donors makes a gift (regardless of the amount). Then call to thank them or write a personal note.

Take note of changes in a donor’s giving pattern. If a donor sent a larger gift than in the past — recognize the upgrade. If the donor was an active giver who has not given in a while, call to find out if everything is okay. This person might need your help — or might be a great planned giving prospect.

Talk to them before they lapse! Run a query every three months of folks who had already renewed their support by this same time last year. If any of your targeted folks are on that list — give them a call. Call just to thank them for their support last year. Call to remind them that their support last year at this time made a real difference. Call to let them know of a critical need. Whatever the reason — just call!

Most importantly — track your progress. Because you have a clearly defined group of prospects, it’s easy to determine if your efforts are making a difference. Continue to refine your selects and your engagement strategies and go for the gold!