Database Management

Another tool for the nonprofit toolbox includes having a database like MS Access to help manage your donor and subscriber information. For Charlottesville Tomorrow, they implemented a unique system that allows them to send targeted email messages and fundraising campaigns to their donors and subscribers.

“Initially we launched in 2005 with a high-end platform that integrated the donors and subscribers in one online database. While that was ideal, in order to reduce operating expenses, we switched to a separate e-mail marketing system and have linked that to an offline database built in Microsoft Access. We require subscribers to our weekly e-mail updates to provide a physical mailing address. Why? So we can mail them an annual fundraising campaign letter. The people that know our work best are those reading our weekly e-mails, and that email is the primary driver of visitors to our website each week,” Wheeler said.

For Wheeler’s staff, using the MS Access database provides them detailed information of how they interact with their subscribers and donors- tracking items such as event invitations, donations, campaign letters sent, referral sources, etc. As a result, they can create customized fundraising letters and e-mail messages.

According to Wheeler, this database tool has helped their bottom line.

“In this climate of difficult fundraising for non-profits, our third annual campaign at the end of 2010 yielded our best results. Comparing 2010 to 2009: our number of donors increased by 47%; average gifts increased by 16% to $148; and our net revenues increased by 55%. While our success isn’t solely related to the database platform, it wouldn’t be possible without it. I’ll admit keeping the two platforms synchronized takes a bit of work and technical knowledge for importing and exporting the data, but it pays off to have that capability in your organization,” Wheeler said.