Donor management or client relationship management, best known as CRM, is something you need to know about. (I promise to never use an acronym in a post without first saying what it is. I can’t tell you how annoying that is when people assume you know what it stands for!)
CRM is quite the buzzword, err, buzz acronym. Rightfully so. It is this magical concept of practices and strategies used to manage and analyze your donor data throughout the relationship, with the goal of using that data to raise more money, be more effective and execute your mission. To many small nonprofit organizations, it really does seem magical, because it’s hard to harness and implement effectively when you have very little money to spend on administration and fundraising.
I’m going to share with you some tips on how to use your accounting platform to start collecting and storing critical donor data until you can budget time and money for a donor CRM platform.
There are quite a few accounting platforms out there, but at the core of most of the products available, you should find these 4 basic functions that will allow you to use your accounting platform as a donor management tool.
1. Enter all your donations as Invoices or Receipts. I’ve worked with many nonprofits that batch entry their donations as a deposit transaction to the corresponding revenue account instead of first creating an invoice or sales receipt and then creating a deposit record. By selecting your donor and creating a new invoice or receipt transaction, you can now run customer reports that give you valuable insights on donations and other revenue activity.
2. Use the Notes section in your Customer List. While this may not be a reportable field in most accounting platforms, it’s better than nothing! Every time you send a note, make a call or have a meeting, be sure to update the notes section so you have a record of your interactions. When you do finally set up a CRM platform, you’ll have the information to migrate to the new system. Some accounting platforms, like Quickbooks Desktop, even have ‘To-Do’ sections that you can use to track activity.
3. Set Up Product/Service Items. This is where you can track campaign information and ultimately run reports that can show you how diversified your revenue streams are. For example, if you have a Spring Fundraising Gala where you sell event tickets, raffle tickets, auction items, etc. you can enter them individually as service items and nest those separate revenue generators under a master category called Spring Fundraising Gala. Now, when you run a report you’ll be able to see quantities, amounts and donors for each of those product/service items. When you set these items up you will map them to specific revenue accounts in your chart of accounts.
4. Take advantage of internal email and mail merge functionality. Most accounting platforms have the option to email anyone in the customer list or export information for a mail merge. The email option is my favorite because it’s fast and free. I encourage you to take the time to customize your client facing templates for receipts and invoices so that you are making a good impression when interacting with them. You should also be customizing the email message that accompanies the receipt or invoice.
These are a few easy steps you can put into your accounting processes that will help you in your quest to build relationships with your donors and understand where your revenue comes from. When it comes time to implement a donor CRM system, you will have the data at your fingertips to take your development efforts to the next level.
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