New Year, New Data Audits

Happy New Year! I hope you had a moment to pat yourself on the back after a busy and successful end-of-calendar year. But there’s never REALLY down time in fundraising, is there? Now that the checks have been deposited, thank you notes have been sent and reports have been run, it’s time to refocus and regroup.

January is a great time to take a look at your database and perform a few important audits.

  1. Missing fields: we all have it – it’s just a matter of finding it. Do you have missing fields? Sometimes constituents are added without a gender. Maybe you have a few missing zip codes here and there. This one is simple – choose the field you think may have missing data and build a query around this field being “blank.” Then you will know if you have a handful of records that need to be updated or a larger project at hand.
  2. Donation data: it’s always good to have checks and balances of donation processing to improve accuracy. Now is a good time to take a look and think about your data. Are your codes for donation giving you the power that you need to report? Have you developed new programs that don’t quite fit into your code structure?  Take inventory and see what works and what might be missing.
  3. Contact info: did you receive a pile of undeliverable mail from your year-end appeal? Or maybe a handful of bounce-backs from your email solicitation? Make sure to check and update these records in your constituent database and any other services you use such as your digital marketing platforms. Taking these small steps will reduce your costs in sending mail that will never reach its intended target!
  4. Codes/Attributes: just like donation data, now is a perfect time to reflect on what codes and attributes are most useful to you. And more importantly, are they working? Are there new pieces of information you’d like to see or see in a different way? Maybe you just started a new series of events and want to track attendance or perhaps you just began utilizing prospect research and want to track your findings. Look at the big picture and see how these details can aid your overall goals. Then come up with a plan for it!

What are some other ways you plan to audit your data? If you have ideas but need help implementing, reach me at!

Tips for researching foundations better

iWave recently published a guest blog about ways that you can better research and raise more money from foundations. No, this isn’t typically the time of year that development professionals have time to dive into research for new foundations; but this is definitely worth a read or at the very least, a bookmark.

Foundation funding is as integral as it is challenging for your annual budget. When you have a great relationship with a foundation, receiving the right grants for the right projects can happen seamlessly; but when you are searching for those new funders, that’s where the research comes in handy. Take a look at some of the great tips for researching foundations and how you can make the most of your precious time!

Now that you have some ideas, reach me at to get started achieving your foundation research goals!

Fundraising after a down year

Forbes Nonprofit Council is at it again! In spite of a down year in fundraising, there are a few streams of revenue that can help turn things around.

Take a special look at the data surrounding donor-advised funds, major donors, #givingtuesday, corporations and foundation giving, and year-end December giving, and things might not look as down as you might imagine. So be creative and consider how to engage your most loyal donors, branching out with Giving Tuesday, and making connections with foundations.

If you need help in finding those important connections to new funders or learning more about your current funders in order to ramp up for December giving, reach me at!

2020 Nonprofit Trends

Forbes Nonprofit Council recently released a list of possible trends that we may see in 2020. Check out the article to see some of the out-of-the-box ideas for the coming year:

We may see more revenue in the categories of earned income, partnerships, use of technology and one of my favorites – my women of color in leadership positions. Does your organization have plans to include any of these as new initiatives in 2020?

A little advice to use outside the classroom

As I begin preparations for the Spring semester of Patterns of Patronage at the University of Delaware, I find myself continually coming back to the same question: how can I improve upon my first semester of teaching? And whenever I determine one of the many answers to this question, they often relate to fundraising and my consulting business.

First, there are many, many (many, many) ways that I could improve the way I teach, keep students engaged, and provide the most useful “real world” experience for them. But what it comes down to first and foremost, is setting the scene. Creating the mood for the class to draw attention away from everything else going on in the world. I found this article Small Change in Teaching: The first five minutes of class to be really helpful.

Opening with a question! Asking for students to write down answers about what they previously learned (in this class or another)! It’s so simple and yet so effective. When you think about it, these are ways to actively engage the students in participation in the here and now, setting the stage for discussion and dialogue.

This same thought process can be used in so many aspects our professional lives outside of academia. Think about meetings: next time you are leading the meeting, start with a question. Or ask everyone at the table to write down their answers (to be shared or not). You may be surprised at the attentive and thoughtful answers and how they will guide the remainder of your meeting.

How else could you utilize this advice?