If there’s one thing we advocate for on the Donorly Blog, it’s donor data tracking. We’re interested in data hygiene, the uses for fundraising, communications, and sales data, and choosing the CRM that’s right for you. Of course, none of that matters if you’re not staffed to successfully keep your data organized and clean in the right tool, in a way that is actually useful to you.

Nonprofits of all sizes are no strangers to the feeling of being overworked and understaffed, stretched so thin doing good work in their communities that it can be difficult to make time for things like data management. But as we all know, bad data (or worse, no data) can have serious negative implications for your fundraising efforts down the line.

So, we’ve put our heads together and come up with a few helpful strategies for staying on top of tracking (and cleaning) your fundraising data, even when you’re understaffed.


  1. Share Responsibility: While consistency in your data entry is absolutely key, by setting up a set of protocols for how your data should look, you can easily split bigger projects up into smaller component parts—especially if those bigger projects involve an overall cleanup of your data, such as merging duplicate profiles, adding salutations, or linking spouses who may have separate profiles in your system.

  2. Get Everyone on the Same Page: When it comes to those important notes on donor interactions—the ones that can so easily miss getting entered into your database when there are too many other things on your plate—create a set of expectations for how your Board, Senior Leadership, and other colleagues share information with you. Nothing can derail your workflow quite like having to drop what you’re doing to enter notes from a meeting with a donor, so create a process that allows you to organize your time, and prioritize your task list, without missing a beat in terms of getting important data into your CRM. That might mean all notes come to you via email with a specific subject line, or perhaps they are written on a form you provide and dropped in your inbox. Whatever you choose, make sure that you get buy-in from all the stakeholders who are going out on all those lunches, coffees, and meetings.

  3. Protect Your Time: Sometimes it can be difficult to focus on the little details when there are so many other big, and urgent, tasks on your plate. Try setting a meeting on your calendar for the hours that you’re going to use each week for data entry and clean up. This should be separate from your gift entry, and should consider big projects, like de-duping, as well as important little details, like notes on donor interactions. Not only will this put you in the mindset of focusing on one task for the next hour, but it will show your colleagues who share your calendar that you’re unavailable for meetings or other projects during that time frame.

When there are too many things to do, and not quite enough time in which to do them, it is easy for donor data maintenance to become the last item on your list. Try the strategies we’ve suggested above (and if you have other ideas, please let us know!), and hopefully you’ll be able to really put your donor data to work.

Photo by Marco Verch is licensed under CC BY 2.0