How to Ensure Your Donor Database is Top Notch

Yay, donor databases!

Yay, donor databases!

So, you’ve decided to start a donor database. This is a big decision! We applaud you for taking that dive into the world of big data so your nonprofit can be the best that it can be. If your organization is having difficulty determining what data will benefit its fundraising efforts, have no fear! MortarStone is here to help ensure that your donor database gives you everything you need and more!

Get donor names and emails whenever you can!

If you don’t feel like you’re asking for names and contact information on a regular basis, you’re not asking enough. Think to yourself, “Are there any ways that we may be missing an opportunity to collect information from potential donors?” The answer is often yes. In order to gather as much information as you can, always have a sign-up sheet readily available at all of your nonprofit’s events and on all pages of your website. If you want to get a little more creative in your information gathering attempts, host a raffle or a silent auction.


However you plan to gather information, it’s important to note that you should NEVER make it necessary for someone to provide information in order for them to participate. Make it easy for contributors to provide what they feel comfortable with, but never trap them into providing more than that.

Send out surveys!

After you’ve gathered names and email addresses, send out surveys to your growing list. Surveys allow your organization to gather demographic data about respondents that you would struggle to find with only a name and email address. This demographic data can include age, household income, giving history, and other interests outside of your organization, and can help you plan for every single thing that your nonprofit does.


When you’re planning a survey, ensure that it’s pointed at your donors and NOT at your organization. Asking people for information about how you’re doing as an organization makes the survey about you and not about them, which ultimately leads to less responses. People inherently love talking about themselves, so ask them things like, “How can we make YOUR experience with us better?” or “Tell us what YOU need from us.” These types of survey questions will elicit more honesty and more responses.

Update, update, update!

You’ve now got a ton of email addresses, names, and demographics scattered throughout your inbox, sign up sheets, and business cards. But that alone is not going to do you any good! The most important thing to do when creating a top-notch database is to keep it updated! Do not put data entry off until it’s convenient. If you keep putting off this important yet tedious task, you’re not going to have the information in your database when you need it.


Whenever you get home from a big fundraiser, set aside time the next day specifically for updating your donor database. Whenever you get a new business card or contact, put it in your database right away. At MortarStone, we make this step easy. Whenever you update one of our compatible donor databases, the information is pulled automatically into MortarStone. This will save you the time of having to update both databases individually. It will also allow you to generate reports with your newly gathered data right away. You will thank yourself for updating your donor database constantly, especially when you need to pull statistics quickly.


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