A nonprofit’s database is the goose that lays golden eggs. Feed it, groom it, keep it healthy.
I read on a blog yesterday that now that social media’s here, nonprofits really don’t need to have an email database. I think that’s way premature. Email—and even direct mail—aren’t dead. And they may never be. So don’t stop caring for and honing your database. Start adding social media information to it, too.
It’s very rewarding to create fabulous communications; but it’s just as important to communicate with the right people. You have to know who they are and be able to reach them—through social media, email, snail mail, telephone, etc. And you have to know their history with your organization, their preferences and interests.
Maintaining and growing your database is the way you’re able to establish and build long-term relationships with donors, clients, supporters, volunteers, and others important to your cause. That’s crucial to your sustainability.
Databases are living bodies of information. It takes constant work to keep one in tip-top shape, but the alternative is wasted time, effort, and money…and occasionally, irritated supporters. (How many times do I receive two or three of the same communications from a nonprofit that hasn’t purged its list to remove duplications?)
Even if, as a communicator, you’re not in charge of your organization’s database management, get involved. A good database is fundamental to your success. I’ve rounded up a few good articles that can point the way. Invest some time and thought into making sure that your database is accurate, effectively segmented, easily accessible and searchable, and consistently well managed.
10 Commandments of data management for nonprofits (John Kenyon)
Five symptoms of list decay (Frogloop)
Best practices for managing a database (Robert Weiner)
8 tips to strengthen your database (Network for Good)
If you have any relevant advice from your own experience, or other resources on this topic to recommend, please add them below.
CC photo credit: Mykl Roventine