On today’s blog, hear from Andrea Groner, Donor Relations & Stewardship Coordinator. Get to learn all about the ins and outs of clean data keeping and why accurate information is essential to keeping the BBBS mission going!
I’ve been working for and with nonprofit organizations my whole life. My drive to serve inspired me to do two years of AmeriCorps service, get a Masters in Philanthropic Studies from IUPUI, and eventually become part of a professional fundraising team. I’ve always admired the amazing and robust experiences that Big Brothers Big Sisters has been able to provide for it’s Bigs, Littles, families, and donors – and the beating heart behind those experiences and services is clean, reliable data.
When describing data-centric jobs to your peers, you usually see their eyes glaze over followed by a question – usually along the lines of “Doesn’t that bore you?” Quite the contrary. My job is different each and every day, and I’m constantly finding new and interesting ways to show our donors how much we truly appreciate and care for them – through data.
On the surface, my main jobs are to process donations and ensure that our donors are thanked in a timely fashion, prepare massive mailing lists, synthesize reports ,and generally manage our donor database of over 40,000 people. But if you look a little closer, data can tell such a rich story of people and their motivation to help others.
There are so many reasons that someone chooses to transform their community using BBBSCI as an avenue, and the more information we have about our donors, the more customized and personal their communication can be. We want to make sure we’re sharing information that is relevant to THEM and makes them feel great about the impact they have. There are hundreds of factors that could change how we talk to our donors, such as:
- Were they a former Big Brother/Sister?
- Where did they go to school?
- How often do they give?
- What kinds of stories are they interested in hearing?
All of these questions can change what we send them, how we send it to them, and when we send it based on their attributes and individual preferences.
Furthermore, the data we get helps us be better at our jobs here at BBBSCI. Reporting on our efforts helps us to rely on evidence and facts, rather than the opinions of others. It’s through studying these trends that we can answer important questions:
- Are we engaging our donors all year round?
- If there is a slower month, how can we activate our supporters and get them excited to give again?
- What fundraising tactics work well for us?
- What doesn’t work as well, and how can we improve it?
Our database is a living, breathing organism that is forever changing and continuously telling us ways we can improve our efforts as fundraisers – we just have to listen to it.
However, my favorite part of the job, personally, is the stewardship element. While we truly care deeply for each and every one of our donors at BBBSCI, 40,000 people can be a lot to keep up with. That’s why I take great, painstaking care to ensure that important details about our supporters and their relationships are remembered and documented. I scour hundreds of Google Alerts and local publications each week for news about our top partners and donors to make sure our teams are always informed of what’s going on around town and that we are sensitive to the needs of our supporters.
In the end, keeping good data allows us to better care for people. Sometimes it’s something as little as remembering to reach out and congratulate a supporter on their wedding anniversary. Other times, we may hear of someone’s passing and, through the data we’ve kept, figure out who knew them to pass along our condolences. Sometimes it’s remembering to send a hand-written birthday card on the same day each year or taking the time to call someone to congratulate them for a promotion at work. None of these sincere, personal touches would be possible without a good, thorough database.
And ultimately, we want to thank our supporters in the most customized and personal way, because our donors don’t give to us because we’re awesome – they give because they’re awesome and it’s my job to show it. How lucky am I?
Andrea Groner is the Donor Relations & Stewardship Coordinator. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-472-3714.