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Nonprofit Databases: 10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Investment

8 min read
January 12, 2024
Allison Smith headshot
Allison Smith
Content Marketing Coordinator, Neon One
nonprofit database: a woman showing her laptop that shows her nonprofit's website

When you invest in software, you want to get as much out of that investment as possible. Your nonprofit database is no exception. This new technology should make your job easier and make organizing donor data simpler.

It can do exactly that! Here’s how to make it happen.

What Is a Nonprofit Database?

A nonprofit database is a dynamic, multifunctional platform designed to help nonprofits manage their relationships with donors, members, volunteers, and other constituents. 

There are so many ways your nonprofit can use a nonprofit database—also known as a nonprofit CRM or donor database. The best nonprofit databases come with tons of features that let you go beyond simple donor data management.

In this article, we’ll cover ten ways you can use a nonprofit database to help your organization grow and improve your constituent relationships:

  1. Manage Donor Records
  2. Email Automation
  3. Simplify Direct Mail
  4. Keep a Call Log
  5. Make Accounting a Breeze
  6. Build Donation Forms
  7. Process Payments
  8. Volunteer Management
  9. Create a Store
  10. Event Management

You’ll also learn how Neon One’s nonprofit database product, Neon CRM, makes utilizing these features a breeze.

1. Manage Donor Records

The most clear-cut use for a nonprofit database is to maintain a collection of records on your donors.

By using a nonprofit CRM to house your donor records, you can maximize the amount of donor information you keep on file while also keeping those records clearly organized and easy to find. 

Storing as much information on your nonprofit’s donors as they’re willing to provide will help you cultivate, maintain, and strengthen your donor relationships.

For ideas on how to keep your nonprofit database organized, check out the resource below.

2. Email Automation

Email is one of the most important and most commonly used communication methods for nonprofits. That’s why one of the most useful features of a nonprofit database is its email marketing capabilities. 

The email system within a nonprofit CRM allows you to simplify and automate the work of sending engaging personalized emails to your audience. Imagine how long it would take to send individual thank-you emails to your donors if you had to do it all from scratch every single time. With email automation, donors can be contacted efficiently and effectively.

In Neon CRM, these automations are called workflows, and there are many different kinds of workflows that can be applied to your email system.

In addition to automating a thank-you email after any donation is received, you can set up a workflow in Neon CRM that also automatically sends a welcome email when a person donates to your organization for the first time.

Not only that, your Neon CRM email system will pull the donor’s name (and title, if needed) into the email they receive. This makes the donor feel like they’ve received a unique and personal email even when they are actually part of an email list.

3. Simplify Direct Mail

In addition to email, you can also use your nonprofit database to organize mailings to your constituents. 

Although experts are divided on whether direct mail is still an effective fundraising strategy, there are all sorts of reasons your nonprofit may want to send letters. For starters, direct mail is more personal, and creative print materials can stand out in ways emails don’t.

Neon CRM’s mail system allows you to choose from five categories of letter templates: account, donation, event, membership, and store. You can choose which options you’d like to switch on and which you’d like to disable. 

With Neon CRM’s automation features, you can set your system to generate printable letters when a certain event occurs, like a donor’s birthday. 

If you have your system set to send donors a letter on their birthday, Neon CRM will auto-generate your donor’s birthday letter for you using the template you’ve pre-selected. Then, it will be added to your letter merge queue, where you can view the generated letter, print it out, and even print your mailing labels.

Learn more about best practices for sending direct mail to donors by reading the resource below:

4. Keep a Call Log

You can also use your nonprofit database to keep track of which donors you have called and assign employees tasks to complete donor calls. It can be easy for tasks like this to fall by the wayside at a busy nonprofit, but a call log can keep your team accountable for completing this important aspect of your donor outreach.

In Neon CRM, you can track call history using the “Activities” task management feature. “Activities” allows you to create an activity, assign it to a staff member, tie the task to an account you want to call, set the due date or time of the task, and change the status to indicate when the task has been completed.

Which CRM is right for me? Take this 6-question quiz to get a customized list of CRM vendors that will best fit your nonprofit based on your budget, size, and functionality needs. Click on this image to take the quiz!

5. Make Accounting a Breeze

Most CRMs, including Neon CRM, have an integration with accounting software. With a well-set-up donor database, a sync between your CRM and Quickbooks cuts down on time and repetitive data entry tasks for your accounting team.

Learn more about Quickbooks and Neon CRM in the article below.

6. Build Donation Forms

Donation form design is a crucial part of any nonprofit’s fundraising success. An optimized donation form helps people follow through with their intent to donate.

In Neon CRM, this is as easy as using our drag-and-drop form builder, which allows you to easily customize your donation form to fit your needs. The system supports unlimited donation forms and segmented or specific appeals, which means you have lots of opportunities to experiment with different messaging and experimentation.

With some simple testing, you can determine how things like page design, calls to action, imagery, and form fields affect the size and quantity of donations you receive

With a segmented appeal, you can make donation forms that appeal to individual groups of donors (also known as “donor segments”). If you’re sending an appeal that targets major donors, you may want to send them a donation form with higher suggested donation amounts than your standard form.

You can also create a new form that speaks to a specific appeal. If you’re launching an emergency campaign to cover your health clinic’s unexpected move to a new address, you can create a unique donation page and form that emphasizes the specific issue and includes elements like a campaign thermometer that tracks progress towards your fundraising goal.

7. Process Payments

Most nonprofits have some sort of infrastructure built in to process and organize transactions. Some may require integration with payment processors like Stripe or Paypal, but other CRMs—like Neon CRM—also have their own payment processors available.

An in-house payment processor can simplify the process of pulling your transaction data. When working with an external processor, the transaction data may take many days to sync. With an in-house payment processor like Neon Pay, your transaction will process faster.

8. Volunteer Management

There’s more to a nonprofit than its donors. Non-monetary supporters of an organization, like volunteers, often receive less recognition than donors do, but their work is no less vital to the organization’s success.

Having a volunteer management system in your nonprofit database allows you to successfully run your volunteer programming and keep track of volunteer stewardship efforts. In Neon CRM, you can take volunteer applications, create timesheets, and send volunteer communications.

Learn more about how to optimize Neon CRM’s volunteer management features with this video.

9. Create a Store

Did you know that some nonprofit databases have the capability to host an online store for your nonprofit? If your organization is interested in selling t-shirts, books, or digital resources, the Neon CRM store functionality can help make that a reality by hosting your online store.

Within Neon CRM, you can use the store feature to sell digital files or ship physical items for sale. Once you’ve completed the store setup, you’ll get a store link that you can send your constituents and place on your website.

Learn How to Set Up a Store Here

10. Event Management

Lastly, use your nonprofit database to manage events. With a robust nonprofit CRM, you can create an event page that provides people with important details about your event, accepts registrations, and sells tickets.

Keeping event management within your nonprofit database allows you to track event participation in your donor records. Depending on the database, you may even have settings that allow you to create a record for each person who registers. 

In Neon CRM, there are additional settings you can toggle that allow donors to signify a household or organization relationship with another donor on file, which allows your nonprofit to gain better insight into your event attendees.

Discover a Nonprofit Database Full of Features

A nonprofit database is an incredibly valuable tool that every organization should have at its disposal. Without it, many of your nonprofit’s efforts and information will be disjointed, making all your work to support your mission harder than it needs to be.  

If you don’t already have a nonprofit database, which nonprofit database feature are you most excited to try?

Want to see what Neon CRM can do? Join a live group demo for an overview and Q&A.

Join a Group Demo

infographic showing ten ways to use a nonprofit database with icons representing each
infographic showing ten ways to use a nonprofit database with icons representing each

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