Donor management systems (DMS) are a vital tool for recording donor life cycle information. DMS software can help us recognize which donors are qualified for a major gift discussion, which need more engagement, and which may be approaching readiness to make a major financial commitment. But, these factors only scratch the surface of what information must be discovered to craft an effective and efficient donor strategy. What is truly meaningful to measure in your DMS?
Effectiveness and Efficiency
First, what does it mean to have an effective and efficient donor strategy? To be effective is to achieve your goals successfully. Ideally, the information we track in the DMS should be designed to enable the successful accomplishment of your next big goal with a donor.
To be efficient is to use the fewest resources possible to achieve the goal, including resources of time and personnel. Accelerating the time it takes to acquire a major gift commitment should be a primary goal of DMS usage. Information we track should enable us to make smarter donor engagement decisions as part of an efficient strategy.
Five Essentials You Should Track
What can a DMS measure that will be truly helpful in crafting an effective and efficient strategy? These five factors are critical to keep top of mind and can help generate ideas for engagement opportunities, people from the organization to involve, and more.
1. Personal Commitment
How committed is a potential donor to the organization, or a particular project or program? Measure and record this information using the Donor Commitment Continuum. Utilizing the Donor Development Chart, you can recognize what questions donors need “yes” answers to in order to increase their commitment and make a contribution. Use your DMS to measure this critical factor and remind yourself that every interaction you have with a donor should be designed to help him or her advance to the right on the continuum.
Interactions with donors should be tailored to each donor’s communication preferences—but how can we know and remember what those preferences are? The PDP personality profiles tool is a great way to acknowledge and understand personality differences, enabling more effective communications. Track personality profiles to record what motivates and demotivates donors, what information they are likely to want to know, and what types of stewardship activities will be best suited to their tastes.
Among a portfolio of qualified donors, what amount of time should be spent where? Tracking the priority level of individual donors is a critical component of efficient donor development strategy. Utilize the Priority Grid tool to balance phase on the Donor Commitment Continuum against financial capacity, determining what proportion of your own time ought to be spent in engagement activities with this particular donor. Looking across your portfolio, are you spending your time where it ought to be spent? Leverage the DMS to help set priority levels by tracking this essential factor.
Donors have a constellation of passions—and we may get distracted from remembering what they are as we discover them. Rather than fixating on any one past contribution or passion, we should continually ask donors about what is meaningful to them. Then, we should record any information learned about the passions that inspire donors. This information can enable us to locate philanthropic opportunities that match passions more easily.
A donor-centered process for facilitating commitment puts the donor’s perspective at the forefront. Considering the phases of commitment, utilize the Process for Facilitating Donor Development to recognize what kinds of engagement experiences a donor needs next. Recording this information in the DMS—and updating it as a donor cycles through the iterative phases—is essential to crafting a strategy that works and achieving your goals.
To learn more about factors that a DMS can measure to facilitate effective and efficient strategies, and experience a preview of an organization’s DMS that has applied these factors, view the recoding of the Measuring, Tracking, and Managing What’s Meaningful webinar that was conducted with the University of Minnesota on January 30, 2018.