Personal information your organization should prioritize to grow key donor relationships.

By Kyle Schnurbusch, Strategy Director

If you’re a fundraising professional, your organization’s donor management system is an essential tool to record and operationalize individual, corporate and foundation information. A great database enables you to be efficient in your work, and it can set you up well to renew and upgrade key donors’ gifts throughout the year.

There’s a lot of information on donors that can be collected and stored within a donor database, but certain information areas should be priorities to strengthen relationships, especially among your top 20% of donors, who give a large majority of total individual contributions. This information includes:

  • General demographic and contact information: Collect mailing address, email address, phone number, birthday, spouse and child(ren’s) names and birthdays, company name, education and professional background and household income.
  • History of giving and support: Track frequency of gifts, giving patterns, gift type, fundraisers participated in and the timing of gifts. Also, record service roles as a board member or program volunteer.
  • Giving motivations: Identity what about the organization’s mission, programs and history impacts the donor personally and influences them to give.
  • Philanthropic goals: Understand a donor’s long-term philanthropic desires.
  • Personal connections: Identify ways a donor is connected to other stakeholders and supporters.
  • Communication preferences: Determine how the donor likes to engage in communication, including email, phone, text or mailing. Identify the most appropriate times to reach out.
  • Digital interactions: (Although more sophisticated), record emails, social media posts, text messages or QR codes a donor has opened, completed or engaged with recently.

Based on our experience, these areas are what we believe to have the greatest utility for impactful communications and direct interactions across a spectrum of donor personas (accessibility of information plays a role in our thought process as well). Specifically for major donors, if the first four areas are known, your organization can grow its fundraising goals year-over-year.

An information-rich donor database is an exceptional tool to help any fundraising professional produce stronger, partnership-minded donor relationships for their organization.

For samples of donor-based fundraising projects we’ve worked on, visit