Studley Fundraising

“But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Carpenter and piano maker H.O. Studley created an amazing tool chest that has become legendary among woodworkers. Take a closer look! He crafted mahogany rosewood, ebony, and mother-of-pearl into an intricate design assigning a special place for each of his 300 tools. His creation includes flip up trays, hidden compartments, and multiple layers that efficiently maximize every space. It truly is a work of art. But Studley didn’t make his tool chest as an art project, he designed it to make his work more efficient so he wouldn’t waste time looking for a particular tool.

What’s the biggest organizational challenge in your development department? Can you say database? Your CRM constantly needs organization and attention to help your team work as efficiently as possible. Consider these three strategies to retool your database with a place for everything so you can put everything in its place.

Evaluate Your Records. How complete are your constituent records? Test a sample segment of 50 records of your key donors. If you have incomplete or inaccurate information for your closest friends, you most likely have many inaccuracies in your entire database. Review the contact information for each name. Do you have the proper salutation fields, spouse name, complete address, phone, and email? Do you know your donors’ relationship to your ministry and to other donors? Are gifts accurately recorded and soft credits assigned properly? Are campaign pledges and gift fulfillments clearly indicated? Are you aware of your donors who are deceased?

Establish Protocols. Once you see your weaknesses, focus on three areas to improve (a) Prospecting. Have you conducted wealth screening in the past two years? Do you have engagement strategies for your top prospects? (b) Coding. Do you track your various appeals and solicitations? Understanding donor motivation is extremely helpful. Do you record any attachment indicators like event attendance or volunteer participation? These data are helpful when analyzing the likelihood to give in a campaign. (c) Contact Information. Run your data through a National Change of Address service to ensure your list is current.

Maintain Consistency. Your database is a living, breathing resource that needs constant monitoring. When different people input donor information into your software, you risk inconsistency. Adopt a continuous improvement approach and update all donor information when you receive it.

Updating donor contact information is critical, but it’s just as important to record the details of each donor visit in a meaningful contact report. Don’t just record that you visited John and Mary. Share something you learned about their family, why they started giving, what connections they have, their giving interests, and what next steps you plan to take to draw them closer to a gift. Make the most of every donor contact by adding institutional knowledge about their passion for your ministry.

Response: Lord, please give us wisdom and understanding to maximize all the features of our CRM software so we can serve our ministry partners more effectively.

Think about this: We worry about being hacked because we don’t want to lose our data, but shouldn’t we be just as concerned about populating the donor information we are missing now?

Have a Spirit-led fundraising week,


Ron Haas has served the Lord as a pastor, the vice president of advancement of a Bible college, a Christian foundation director, a board member and a fundraising consultant. He’s authored two books: Ask for a Fish – Bold Faith-Based Fundraising and Simply Share – Bold, Grace-Based Giving. He regularly presents fundraising workshops at ministry conferences and has written fundraising articles for At the Center magazine and Christian Leadership Alliance’s Outcomes magazine.

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