Arts fundraisers are carrying more responsibility than ever; as their organisations feel the effects of economic uncertainty, development teams are frequently being asked to achieve more with less. If you and your team are spending hours and hours immersed in admin, research and record-keeping, you may be sacrificing valuable time that could be spent cultivating prospects and stewarding donors.
Your CRM tools should be working just as hard as you and your team do, so that you can spend the majority of your time raising money, not buried beneath admin or digging through unfocused data. Imagine being able to see the whole history a donor has with your organisation in a single view, rather than trawling through historic paper records, old emails and the like. When you have all of the information in one place, you’re in a much better position to direct your team’s resources where they will be most effective at bringing in much-needed revenue.
Getting relevant and actionable data out of your system requires a commitment to exercising ‘best practice’ when it comes to inputting data. In this blog, we’ll explore what best practice looks like when it comes to managing your fundraising data, how it can have a substantial impact on you and your team by saving you time and supporting strategic decision-making, and how spreading best practice across a whole industry of fundraisers will make the sector stronger and more resilient.
What is Best Practice?
Anybody who’s involved in fundraising knows that it’s a cyclical process, which doesn’t end when someone gives you money. Once a person or organisation has funded you, how you spend the funds and your ability to steward that relationship determine whether they’ll support you again. So much of fundraising is about managing relationships and timelines, which is why it’s absolutely vital to keep organised, comprehensive records of your funders’ past touchpoints and your future ‘moves.’
With that in mind, you want to make sure everyone in your team takes a consistent approach to recording these significant touchpoints. This impacts on all stages of the donor cultivation cycle; here are a few examples:
- Prospecting: the more detailed information you have about a person or organisation and their relationship to you, the more informed you can be when deciding who (and how) to pursue for support.
- Cultivation: remaining aware of each potential funder’s engagement, to ensure you don’t accidentally start the cultivation process from scratch with someone who’s already donated in the past.
- Legacy giving: making sure your colleagues know how to record legacies in ways that make sense to you, your team, and (should you move jobs at some point down the line) your successor, and ensure each legacy-giver is stewarded in their lifetime.
Effective, efficient management of your data (all of the information you want to capture about donors, funders and prospects) is key to fundraising best practice. The more thorough and meaningful information you have, the more efficiently you can apply your time and resources to cultivating those prospects. Having the confidence to trust your data, and allow the insight it provides to guide your strategic decisions - these are the result of your CRM working for you and your team. Achieving this confidence requires some initial effort, but will ultimately save you time down the line and - most importantly - help you raise more money.
Implementing Best Practice
Here are a few suggestions for how you can put best practice ideas into practice. This isn’t a finite list, but should hopefully set you on the right path:
If you know there’s room to improve how your team captures and reports on information, but you aren’t sure how to enact change, take a look at the people around you who could advise. Talking to someone in the sector who you know and trust is a great start. If this is your CRM provider, help yourself by asking for guidance on best use of their tools. The likelihood is that they have engaged many similar teams in your position, and can advise based on experience with other teams in the industry, or else put you in touch with an organisation who would be able to offer some insight.
Don’t forget about the expertise available elsewhere within your organisation, though. Chances are you’re not the only department using your CRM tools, so it’s worth talking to your marketing and front of house teams to get their thoughts as well. Putting more heads together is always a good way of capturing and making use of the best data.
Make use of tools and resources
Consider whether specific tools (such as reports, process documents, or supplementary training materials for your team) would help your effort, and work with your CRM provider to have those configured for you if they don’t already exist.
At Spektrix, we’re always trying to make our fundraisers’ lives easier. We’ve recently published an extensive range of new guides that lays out best practice for key fundraising activities, from managing memberships to cultivating corporate sponsors and more. Existing Spektrix clients can find that here. With our collective experience and expertise in fundraising, we’ve produced comprehensive content that should feel as informative as having a one-to-one conversation with a Spektrix Support Consultant. Of course, if getting in touch with someone directly is more your style, then you can do that too by giving us a call or dropping us an email.
Put good data in, get good insights out
Ultimately, your data can only provide you with insight if you trust it, and the best way to trust it is to ensure you’re capturing information correctly and consistently from the beginning. Once you and your team have confidence using your CRM tools, subsequently trusting the insights revealed by the data you report on, you will be in a position to make strategic judgments based on those insights, such as:
- Knowing which donors have a propensity to uplift their regular gifts, or which prospects are most engaged with your programme.
- Developing an informed moves management plan for individual prospects.
- Examining all your past touchpoints with a trust/foundation to determine whether they are worth applying to.
- Understanding giving patterns from years past, in order to determine the best time to run a direct mail campaign that people are most likely to support.
Share across your team
Sharing common ways of working will strengthen your team, making you a cohesive, effective fundraising juggernaut! At the very least, it will help you work smarter (not harder) to achieve your fundraising goals. The results will be targets met and exceeded, a more financially secure organisation and, a more robust, agile cultural sector.
To recap: when asked to achieve more with less, your fundraising teams can’t afford to be wasting time. Your CRM should provide the insight you need in order to make strategic decisions, and when armed with knowledge you can trust, your time can be much better spent engaging prospects one-to-one and raising money for your organisation.
If you’re an existing Spektrix user, check out our comprehensive suite of fundraising guides, or else get in touch with our fantastic Support team. We have loads of experience and expertise in fundraising, and are always keen to help you get the most out of your system tools.
If you’re not a Spektrix user, the same principles apply! Talk openly with your CRM provider about how they can better support you to get value from your data, so that you have all the insight you want in order to make the most informed decisions possible.
If you’re not already using Spektrix and are interested in finding out more about our tools and consultative support, drop the team a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
Prior to joining Spektrix, Anne spent five years as a fundraiser for Battersea Arts Centre where she harnessed the power of data to cultivate new donors. Since then, Anne has leveraged her experience in delivering countless fundraising consultations with clients of all sizes, all across the UK.