The Mikuska Group  

Where are your memories stored?

Last month, our blog talked about the importance of databases for your fundraising program – keeping track of donors and your relationship with them.

But there’s an even greater reason to have a robust database. It becomes your institutional memory.

Think about it. If most of the knowledge about your organization is in the head of your long-time executive director, you have a big problem. It’s not only about the fact that only she knows certain facts and history – and that no one else can take advantage of that knowledge – but what happens when she retires, wins the lottery or goes to a different job?

Your memory bank needs to be permanent and continuously populated with good data and notes on:

  • volunteers, including board members
  • donors – individuals, corporations, foundations
  • potential donors
  • clients/alumni
  • suppliers/vendors
  • staff

Over and above basic demographic data and donations, record:

  • Interactions – visits, phone calls, correspondence
  • Relationships:
    • who’s linked to whom? e.g. family members, employees and employers, what other boards do people sit on etc.
    • who has a relationship with them from your organization – executive director, development staff, program staff, volunteers
  • notes about conversations that indicate a donor’s preferences e.g. come back and talk to me in six months, I only want to receive the e-news, etc.
  • reminders
  • etc.!

Assign someone to be responsible for the database and to train others to input data. Make guidelines for everyone to follow in collecting and inputting information. Make sure everyone is aware of privacy rules. Anyone in the database can ask to see their record so keep it respectful.

If you don’t have a good institutional memory, start now. Because if it walks out the door tomorrow, you’ll be starting from scratch.

Julie Mikuska



Blog Archives

Articles By Category