Enhancing digital literacy, online communication and fundraising skills
Trends in the country about the topic
Most of the NGOs in Romania still use excel spreadsheets as the main way to store data about their donors, sponsors, volunteers and beneficiaries.
However, in the last 5 years, bigger NGOs started to use dedicated databases, since the volume of individual donors and local sponsors has increased dramatically, as opposed to international funding and grants. While at first they tried the approach of building their own system, this proved to time and resource consuming (they needed to spend large amounts of money on these platforms or they used volunteers which left the organization leaving the system in dire need of updating).
Salesforce, CivicCRM, DonorPerfect and Mycrosoft Dynamics are the most used CRMs in Romania right now, thanks to their ease of use and special prices for the NGO community.
Thanks to the good practices these kind of NGOs provided and the accessibility of these platforms, currently, even smaller NGOs, with hopes in growing a database of donors started using them and prepare for the future.
A child protection and service NGO does one of the best donor care in Romania. With a team of dedicated professionals they manage to provide assistance to 20.000 individual donors.
Using a combination of Salesforce and Mailchimp, they always have a good overview of the organization’s fundraising efforts, can access in a minute a donor’s history, can send targeted messages to donors based on their gift history. They implemented a donor care route for all their recurring donors based on the mechanism through which they were acquired, an upgrading algorithm for their most consistent donors and an re-engagement strategy for the donors that stopped giving, or they do so sporadically.
Title: Donor Management Tool
Short Description: The tool was build using the Salesforce CRM in order to manage donors, sponsors, volunteers and other kinds of contacts.
Financial Target: -
Amount Raised: -
No.1 Learning Outcome: Building an easy-to-use database that can manage more than 100.000 donors.
Focus / mission: Child protection and services
We started working on this project in 2014 when the NGO already had a generous database of donors coming from different FR campaigns, and about 24.000 of potential donors and sponsors, in conclusions the process had 2 major steps: development and cleaning up.
The database had to be design to:
Contain donors and donation from various donation mechanisms: SMS, Direct Debit, Direct Mail, Online Donation
Support features of single and recurring donations
Signal donors from multiple campaign sources and those passing a certain sum of money
Compute the ROI of fundraising campaigns and methods
Notify users of recurring donation errors, debiting problems
Generates reports about the donors and their donations
Generates reports about the performance of the organization (attrition and no-payment rates, comparisons between organizations, donor profiles, donor journey)
Integrate or easily migrate data from different output sources (card processing systems, ARC direct debit, PayPal, bank systems, SMS processing company)
Integrate with mailing system in order to automate the donor journey designed by NGO
The main target group for the project were the people working in the FR department in order to make their job communicating with donors much easier.
Campaign goals (financial and non-financial)
The main goal was to build an easy to use, reliable system that can manage more than 50.000 donors.
Campaign outcomes (financial and non-financial)
The database, right now holds:
16.000 recurring SMS donors
2.150 online onetime donors (+650 PayPal donors)
450 online recurring donors
8.500 direct debit donors
400 corporate donors
12.000 clean database of potential donors
11.000 clean database of potential sponsors
500.000 euro worth on donations from individuals
600.000 euro worth on sponsorships
Milestones, turning points, key decisions
We started developing the system together with the FR department, both of us having experience (us in database developing and managing, them in the FR and donor care), so the process was a very enjoyable one, the biggest challenge being developing custom reports for the organization’s particular style of reporting.
Since than, the biggest challenge, and the most time consuming one, was training the new people in the department. More than that, the biggest turning point is in the process, when about 80% of the current team is newer than 6 months in the organization.
Learnings and takeaways
While working with this NGO and multiple others, we discovered that a good leadership is key in making this kind of platform work, because the learning curve of using it, and the time involved into inputting the right data is high can be sometimes frustrating for the users since the results are seen, not immediately, but in a number of months.
So, without a leadership that strongly encourages the development and usage tends to be forgotten.
Developing this kind of a platform is a big task and, unfortunately, fully automating all the process on inputting the data cannot be done without the usage of third party applications that may or not be available in a specific country.
For an NGO to use the tool described above, they need to apply for the Salesforce licences provided by the Salesforce Foundation. After that they can contact us, the Association for Community Relation, for consultancy on the use of the platform, for data migration, for implementation of dedicated functionality and training.
Another solution is to access on the Internet the vast number of resources provided by the Salesforce platform in how to use and develop based on their product, since it can be use right of the box and basic implementations can be done with no technical skills needed.
Trends in the country about the topic
In Germany, more than 100 providers offer the management of donor data. The standard set of services are:
Search over Database
Thank you Message Generation
Integration of Office (Word Outlook)
Import of Bank Data
Some providers have more extensive functionalities, such as:
API for external service providers
Extended Reporting (eg Repetitive Donor Behaviour)
Complex Donor Base (eg several donors for one organisation)
One of the more extensive software suites is the Grün/Spendino Integrated Fundraising Suite, which combines fundraising tools (both offline and online) with campaign- and project management modules.
They worked together with the Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe, an association to support the victims of accidents. The association has more than 29.000 staff members, 1.3 million members and more than 700.000 repetitive donors. The supporter database was split over several regional networks, responsible for membership accounting, regional mailings.
A new system was established which included an automatic synchronization between regional databases and federal database. Donors were identified based on topics - this changed the way the association communicated with the donors from random mailings to mailings with specific interests.
After "the ask", donor care is the most important thing in fundraising. But how can you say thank you to your donors if you don't know who donated how much, when and for which project. And even if you can, how long does it take you to parse those huge excels files? That's where a good database comes into play, which, with a couple of automated procedures and integrations can do that for you, quickly and reliably.