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How Your School Can Leverage Donation Tracking: 4 Data Tips

As a school, charitable gifts from parents, students’ families, and other members of the community are what help you offer the best, most enriching educational experiences possible. This funding helps make things like fun field trips and school-wide events and celebrations possible.

But, are you doing all you can to secure as much funding as possible? In addition to choosing fundraising ideas that align with your audience’s preferences and promoting your campaigns, accurately tracking data can help make your fundraisers successful.

In this guide, we’ll explore a few tips your school can use to accurately track donations and gain insights to boost revenue.

Use the right fundraising software.

A key part of fundraising is accepting as many payment methods as possible, giving your supporters the flexibility and convenience to choose what works best for them. However, this can quickly become complicated from a financial and data-tracking standpoint.

For example, how can you consolidate data from multiple sources like the donation form embedded on your school website, third-party payment apps, and more? The answer is to select specialized school fundraising software that will track and aggregate your donation data. 

Solutions like 99Pledges offer reports that reveal highlights like total donations and number of participants as well as more granular, line-by-line details about individual donors. In addition to these reports, 99Pledges’ guide to kids’ fundraising ideas recommends using this fundraising tool because it:

  • Leverages digital fundraising, helping organizations offer more flexibility to how donors give.
  • Can expand your school’s fundraising potential by reaching geographically remote donors.
  • Allows for a lot of flexibility and creativity when choosing a fundraising idea.

Combined, these benefits mean that your school can launch creative, successful campaigns all while keeping a handle on its fundraising data.

Consider data appends.

Once you have the right solution in place and start seeing your donor data roll in, you might notice some gaps in the information. While you’ll be able to see basic details about donors, like their name and preferred giving method, you may not be privy to other information without performing a data append.

Data appending simply adds new information to your database, either by correcting and updating your existing file or supplementing it with information from external sources. Some of the most common types of data appends include:

  • Contact information appends: Collect donors’ contact information, including phone numbers, email addresses, and home addresses.
  • Employer appends: Learn who your donors’ employers are. This can be particularly helpful for securing matching gifts and other corporate gifts from their employers.
  • Demographic information appendsAppend information like donors’ age, gender, income, marital status, and more to build more targeted communication strategies.
  • Social media appends: Update and add information about donors’ social media usage. Then, you can use this information to learn more about them through their profiles, engage them via their preferred platform, and invite them to follow you.

So, what would using data appends look like for your school? Let’s say your school’s baseball team needs to fundraise to travel to an out-of-state baseball camp, and you decide to perform demographic and employer data appends. The former helps you choose the perfect baseball fundraising idea to excite and engage your target audience. The latter identifies donors who work for companies with matching gift programs so you can remind them to apply for a matched gift.

The best way to safely enrich your data—and keep it clean and organized—is to work with a professional service. Research and meet with candidates before selecting one to ensure you choose the right option for your school.

Keep data clean and organized.

“Garbage in, garbage out,” is a commonly used phrase in the computer science world that sums up the impact of using low-quality data. In other words, if your data is flawed, outdated, or poor quality, any insights or output from that data will be too. 

Proper data management and data hygiene practices can keep the garbage out of your database. Frequently audit your donation data to resolve issues like:

  • Duplicated entries for the same donor or donation
  • Incomplete information about donations
  • Outdated information (e.g., a donor moves and their address has changed)
  • Data formats not being standardized

Once you’ve corrected these issues, you can use your clean, accurate donation data in many ways. For example, use your average daily donation amount to make accurate predictions about whether you’ll reach your fundraising goal—and, if you’re not on track, make an effort to course correct. Or, follow Double the Donation’s advice and gamify the process by using a fundraising thermometer to publicly track your progress toward the goal.

Set up automated processes.

Finally, use your fundraising software and donation data to take some of the repetitive fundraising tasks off your plate. Automation can streamline repetitive, rote tasks like sending:

  • Donation receipts: These receipts are legally required for any cash gifts over $250, making them a pain point for many schools. However, automation ensures that donors receive accurate receipts immediately following their donation. Make sure the receipts include key information such as the donor’s name, the amount they donated, and whether the donor received anything in return for their gift.
  • Reminders to pay pledged donations: With pledged donations, donors pledge to give a certain amount at a later date. For example, you might hold a walk-a-thon and collect pledges based on how far participants walk. Automated reminders can prompt donors to donate the pledged amount or simply remind them that you’ll be billing the donation to them.
  • Thank-you messages: Cultivate long-term relationships with donors by sending them heartfelt thank-you messages. Choose an action, in this case donating, that will trigger a thank-you message within 24 to 72 hours. Don’t forget to make these messages genuine, personalized, and authentic. Greet the donor by name, mention their specific gift, and tell them how their individual donation will make a difference at your school.

When using automation, always remember to balance efficiency and convenience for your fundraising team with personalization. The last thing you want is for your school’s communications to feel cold or robotic.

While tracking your donations may seem like a minor step you could skip over, it’s critical to successful fundraising. To truly understand and efficiently engage with your supporters, make sure to choose a tool that will do the heavy lifting for you. Then, you’ll have easy access to data that reveals who your school’s supporters are, their giving habits and motivations, and ways to inspire them to give again and again.