The Rotary Phone of the Nonprofit World

August 2, 2013

rotaryRemember the rotary telephone? It’s cute. But it’s big and bulky and doesn’t even take pictures or keep your calendar for you.

Not too long ago, we posted “Nominating Committees: The Mix Tapes of the Nonprofit Board World.”

Today we’re talking about the rotary phones of the nonprofit world: Excel spreadsheets used to track your donors.

Investing in a “true” donor database will pay your organization back many times as you do the difficult but rewarding work of tracking trends, data, contacts, relationships with your donors—one of your most important assets.

There are many choices out there that are conscious of your organization’s budget and sophistication.

All of this talk about cultivating donors, diversifying your funding, strengthening your organization’s financial sustainability is not useful if you do not have a way to record gifts, preferences, contacts, campaigns and other data that is central to your success over time.

As Giving USA tells us every year, nearly three-quarters of all charitable contributions come from individuals. Correspondingly, unless your funding model is heavily reliant on government grants, you should spend most of your fundraising resources on individual donors. (And if your funding model is largely based on government support, investing in individuals is a wise move considering the changes we are facing.)

What are your choices out there?

Here are two resources for you. Both of them are made possible by Idealware, and both of them are free.

  1. A free webinar on Thursday, August 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
    35 Free and Low Cost Tools Every Organization Should Know About
  2. A free report comparing 29 different donor management systems.
    (This is from 2011, but is still very valuable)
    A Consumer’s Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems

We talk to nonprofits nearly every week who are struggling with an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of important donor data. For others, the only record of donors comes from the link we provided during the 36-Hour Giving Challenge.

Now, if your organization has a profile in The Giving Partner and serves Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte or Desoto county, please take just a moment to complete our short survey about this topic. We will share the report with you to help us leverage the knowledge in our own community.

-Susie Bowie
Community Foundation of Sarasota County


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