New Year’s Resolutions for Your Donor Database

I bet you’re very busy with year-end goodness.  So am I, so I’m recycling an article that I originally wrote for and was published on the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Denver website in January 2013.

Every year many of us make New Year resolutions to better ourselves, so why not make resolutions for your donor database? Here are some suggestions that will help you and your database have a happy 2013 2016.

  • Get organized. Every donor database should have a policies and procedures manual.  I’m all for the “what happens if you are hit by a bus” theory on this one.  A good policy and procedures manual will ensure that things run smoothly when staff leave the organization.
  • Lose weight. Take a look at your database and the information it houses. Are you entering the same information in multiple places? Lose some database weight and clean the data you don’t need.
  • Get out of (time) debt. Are you doing things because that’s how you have always done them?  You know there has to be a better way and just haven’t had the time to figure out a more efficient way? Get out of time debt by setting aside the time to work smarter, not harder.
  • Quit smoking. Make sure that your database is being backed up on a regular basis.  Also test the backup often. You don’t want to find out that your backups don’t work after your database is destroyed. Are you wondering what this has to do with smoking?  It has nothing to do with smoking. You should quit smoking whether you have a valid backup or not.
  • Exercise more. Your organization probably paid a lot of money for the donor database software, so use it. Make the database do the work for you, sweating like Lindsay Lohan in court. Put away the typewriter, the index cards, and the Excel spreadsheets.
  • Learn something new. I’ve seen organizations skimp on training budgets, and the staff is left to fend for themselves. This not only makes life difficult for the staff, it also hurts the organization. If employees are not trained properly, they spend much more time than they should on tasks. Training also ensures that employees are working smarter, not harder, and can spend more time on other tasks, or better yet, on another resolution a lot of people have: to spend more time with family and friends.

Do you have any other resolutions you would like to make for your database?  Please share them in the comments below.