Checking for Duplicate Contacts On the Fly

How to keep your database free from duplicates without slowing down.

The demise of all donor and contact management systems (or CRMs) is the creeping addition of duplicate contacts.  There are many sources for duplicate entries, but every organization is bound to have a few that stand out.

Does your organization ever have:

  • Volunteers who do not check if a contact already exists in your database?
  • Multiple connection points with a supporter (e.g. volunteer, donor, events, etc.)?
  • Individuals from one household interacting with your organization separately?
  • Limited time causing you to rush through data entry?
  • Perfect keyboard skills (a.k.a. have you ever made a typo)?

However they get into your system, they erode and undermine the value of your donor data.  Aside from being just plain embarrassing, duplicate contacts cause more work, create unnecessary costs, and negatively affect your donors’ perception of how valuable they are to your organization.

The costs are simple and often small on the surface, but don’t forget about the lasting consequences. First is the extra printing, mailing, and labor costs when you are sending identical communications to donors. The more devastating cost is the impression you leave with the Donor.

How many of your supporters have ever thought:

  • “If they really valued me – why wouldn’t they see that they are sending me the same letter twice?”
  • “Are they really a good steward of my donation?”
  • “Why not just address the appeal to To Whom it May Concern?”

In the past, best practices revolved around reviewing your database at least annually, but those timelines always seem to be a little too flexible. When it happens, this process merges duplicates, verifies email and mailing addresses, and removes bouncing email addresses. Those are still valid steps and should continue to be done, but what are you doing before those audits?

Preemptive action should be your main focus. The best way to avoid the introduction of duplicates is to use a system that automatically alerts you at the time of entry of a possible duplicate. We like to call that “dynamic duplicate checking.” As you enter the last name of the contact you are adding, a strong database system will be scanning all your existing contacts and suggesting possible duplicates.  This does not slow down the entry of new contacts but can alert you quickly if a duplicate exists and allow you to take action.

Below is a screen shot showing the Dynamic Duplicate Checking in process.  As the user types in the first few letters of Smith, the system displays all the possible duplicates for that contact in the system.  This scan is checking both the main contact name and in the case of two name households, the second contact name.  Paying attention to these potential duplicates should greatly reduce the errors in your system.

live duplicate checker

It is important to periodically ask yourself… do you value each of your supporters? Are you a good steward of their donations?


If your organization is not using dynamic duplicate checking today, you should contact your DonorSnap representative to learn more about this feature.  If you are not currently using DonorSnap, you can learn more information by emailing Sales@DonorSnap.com or by participating in a live demo: Register for a live DonorSnap demo.

What is the Difference Between a Campaign and an Appeal?

If you are looking at the best strategy to raise money for your organization, cause or event, you might have heard the terms “campaign” and “appeal” used seemingly interchangeably. However, there are some important differences between a campaign and appeal that you need to be aware of.

On a very broad level, a campaign is the reason why you are asking for or collecting money, while an appeal is how you asked for that money. For example, your organization might be asking for money so you can expand certain services you provide, or go on a mission trip. Whatever the reason is, that is at the root of your campaign. It is the ultimate goal or objective you have for your organization’s fundraising, and the vision that you are selling to your potential donors.

Most organizations have more than one method they use to attempt to raise the funds needed to complete their campaign. These methods are your “appeals.” Using different approaches for your appeals allows you to go back at the end of the year to analyze the effectiveness of your appeals and compare them to each other or appeals you made in previous years. If a campaign is a set of all the fundraising activities you perform to achieve a particular objective, your appeals are those individual fundraising activities.

For example, let’s say you have an annual fundraising event, a Summer Appeal letter and drive, and several other smaller appeals scheduled throughout your year. By analyzing these appeals and comparing them year-over-year, you can get a better sense of how much money you can expect to raise, or what types of tweaks you may need to perform to make your appeals more successful.

Additional Ways to Categorize Donations

Generally, most donor management systems allow you to assign various categories to each donation.  As we mentioned above you may want to use the Campaign and Appeal fields to help you run reports on your donations and compare from one year to the next.  You may also want to use categories codes for:

  • Donation Type (such as soft credit, in kind or regular donation)
  • Accounting Code (typically a fund code tied to your accounting records)
  • Payment Method (check/credit card/PayPal/etc.)

You may use any or all of these codes or none of them.  It depends on your organization and what you want to track.  For example, if your organization doesn’t record donations into different General Ledger accounts (something the accountants sometimes want) then there is no sense using the Accounting Code field.  Payment method can be used to reconcile deposits to your bank account from different sources (credit cards, PayPal, etc.).  Donation Type is especially useful if you want to track non-monetary donations (in kind).  It’s useful to know how much an individual or organization has contributed to your cause overall, but it’s important to know how much was in the form of money. This makes it clear what you can use for budgetary expenditures vs. material donations that are helpful in other ways.

DonorSnap provides all the aforementioned categories along with unlimited user defined fields. You are able to analyze and report on your contributions in any way that you need.  If you have specific questions on tracking donation information, contact a DonorSnap representative at   Sales@DonorSnap.com.

Common Problems that Could Damage Your Email Communications

(and How to Resolve Them)

Nonprofits across the nation continue to expand their use of email in communications with their donors and followers. However, many of these organizations are not aware of how many of their contacts never actually receive their messages, for a variety of reasons.

Below we outline a few of the most common problems that prevent your contacts from getting your messages, and how you can correct those issues.

Emails never getting opened

This is the equivalent of your letter or call to a contact going unanswered or unread.  If you consistently send information to an important donor and they do not open your messages, your communication with them is ineffective.  If they consistently don’t open your emails you may need to change your method of communication.  Maybe this particular contact prefers a phone call or a personal visit.  If they are critical to your mission, you need to reach out to them in a method they will respond to.

Getting caught in spam filters

 It is not unusual for newsletters or mass email messages to get caught in email spam filters. These filters are designed with the goal of reducing the amount of “junk” mail a person receives in their inbox. To get around a spam filter, you must first understand exactly how these filters identify what is and is not spam.

Typically, spam filters consider the following factors:

  • The recipient’s relationship with the person sending the message
  • The reputation of a particular IP address or sender domain
  • The quality and/or safety of the links included in the message
  • The quality of the subject line and content
  • The ratio of images to text and links to text

While there are many more factors that go into deciding what is considered spam, these are among the most common.

You will have a much easier time getting your messages around spam filters if you create high-quality content that doesn’t pack in too many links or images. This content should be professionally formatted (turn off your caps lock and avoid using too many exclamation points!), and should avoid spammy-sounding words and phrases. It also helps to only send messages to people who actively subscribed to your content. Using services such as Constant Contact or MailChimp can aide you in producing higher quality emails. They will review your email format and suggest ways to improve your chances of being delivered.

Bounced emails

There are several common reasons why emails bounce back, including non-existent email addresses, unavailable or overloaded servers, full mailboxes, and auto-responders or vacation responders.  This would be the equivalent of a return to sender in the days of regular mail. The intended recipient never even knew you tried to reach out to them.

Each of these problems has resolution strategies you should consider. For example, if the bounce was marked as a non-existent address, you should double check for typos. An “undeliverable” message might just mean you need to try again later when the server is back up or the inbox has cleared. An auto response or vacation response will likely provide you with instructions as to when you can reach the targeted person.

Email blocked by ISP

Internet service providers (ISPs) might decide to block emails from certain addresses if they look like spam, if they are sending messages to too many invalid email addresses or if there are technical problems with delivering the message.  This is the worst case scenario for an organization. Not only didn’t your message get delivered, you don’t even know that it wasn’t delivered. Similar to a letter sent to an old address that doesn’t have forwarding in place and you didn’t pay for return postage.  Fortunately, these problems are relatively easy to fix, as seen above.

There are tools that allow you to track the ultimate delivery of your email and whether that email was opened. When doing mass emails using systems such as Constant Contact, you can review the mailing and see which emails were bounced, blocked, never opened or opened multiple times. For specific emails such as Donation Acknowledgments, Pledge reminders and Annual Statements, having a tracking program linked to your emails will help you understand which emails are getting thru and which ones aren’t.

DonorSnap utilizes the latest software, SendGrid, with all of its outbound emails to give you the ability to track where the email is in the delivery process, if and how often it’s been opened and also provides the ability to resend a misplaced email. This will provide you with full control over the email process and, most importantly, let you know who is getting and who is reading your emails.

Remember – in the new age of electronic communication, you can’t assume that your message is getting through and read by your target audience.

Making Fundraising and Donor Management Easy

Fundraising can be an exciting process. I’ve seen unimaginable amounts of money come in right before deadlines, which saved staff positions and helped to make incredible years. The celebration in those moments will be memories that I will never forget.

Unfortunately, the fine details of fundraising aren’t always so exciting. Reconnecting with people to remind them of pledged donations could be the equivalent to pulling teeth. Printing, stuffing, and mailing annual contribution statements is something many hope to pass off to interns or volunteers entirely. DonorSnap gets it and is here to help. Here is a glimpse at two important tools that will help you collect more donations and cut processing time down to practically zero.

Recurring Online Donations

  1. Build an online form integrated with your payment processor account, and give your supporters the ability to automate their giving.
  2. Schedule donations based on a time frame or without an end date entirely.
  3. Let the donor choose how to give by using either a credit/debit card or their bank account via ACH.

Recurring Donations Example Form

The tool is so easy to use that if you can use Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can build a great looking online recurring donations form.

After you’ve created your recurring donation form, place a link to it on your website, in an email, or embed it right on your website. We take care of all the hosting details and send all of the donations scheduled through the form right into your database for review. All it takes is one form submission and your donors can be set up to continue their giving for a lifetime.

Email Contribution Statements

I can’t imagine the time and work it takes for a small nonprofit to process and mail out their end of the year contributions statements. It’s one thing when you have an entire development team taking on the challenge, but for some organizations, we’re talking days or weeks of nonstop administrative work. It is in these moments that you realize how wonderful technology and mail merge are. Now imagine incorporating email into that equation… you’ll probably feel the urge to give a sigh of relief. This is exactly what the email contribution statements can do for your organization.

Email Contribution Statements

DonorSnap has built this feature right into every database. No matter how many contacts you are tracking, you get to use email contribution statements. The same contribution statement generator that you have been using is what makes up the start of this tool.

Next, add in the ability to customize the email that your statements are attached to using merge fields from your database. This means you can personally address each person in your email. You can generate all of your statements and then email them with a single click. The savings in postage alone could be enough to pay for your DonorSnap subscription this year. If it costs $0.50 per letter (not including your time and paper cuts!) compared to the cost of an email (free!)… you can do the math.

If you’re not already using DonorSnap to manage all of your donors, members, and volunteers, feel free to check it out and see how it can save your organization time, money, and effort. Visit the getting started page to view one of our free overview webinars or to get signed up today.

Add a Donate Now Form to your Facebook Page Tabs

Recently we have discovered an even further value for DonorSnap Forms – Facebook Page Tabs. Creating a new Facebook page tab out of a DonorSnap Form is easy enough that any user can implement it. Whether you feel your organization could benefit from a “Donate Now” Facebook tab, a “Join our Mailing List” tab, an “Event Sign Up” tab, or more, follow the step by step guide below. In a matter of minutes, your Facebook page will have an integration with your DonorSnap database.

Donate Now Form as a Facebook Tab

Step One: Create your form

If you aren’t already using DonorSnap for your donor management, you’ll need to sign up for an account first. After you’re signed up, you’ll be ready to create any number of forms that you need. For more help on creating your forms, watch the online forms tutorial video here.

Step Two: Sign up to be a “Facebook Developer”

In order to create your own Facebook Page Tab App, you’ll need to be granted access to the developer area. Don’t worry if this sounds scary. Just keep following the directions and you’ll find it foolproof. You can also brag to your friends that you have developed a Facebook app for your organization.

To sign up, go to https://developers.facebook.com and click the button in the top right corner as shown below. Follow the prompts and verify your account.

Register as a Facebook Developer

Step Three: Create Your Facebook Tab App

After you are verified, you’ll need to go to https://developers.facebook.com/apps to start creating your tab app. Click the “+ Create New App” button at the top of the screen and continue through the prompts confirming that you accept the guidelines and that you are human.

Create a New Facebook Tab App

Next you’ll see the app creation form and your App ID on top. Make sure to note this number, because you’ll need it in the next step. Click the Page Tab check mark and fill out the form with your information. Make sure to fill out the following fields as directed:

  • App Domains: “donorsnap.com”
  • Sandbox Mode: Disabled (if you enable it, your tab will only be visible to administrators)
  • Page Tab Name: This can be whatever you would like your tab to be labeled on your Facebook page.
  • Page Tab URL: Paste your DonorSnap form link for the specific form that you would like to use.
  • Secure Page Tab URL: Use the same thing as the Page Tab URL
  • Page Tab Edit URL: Leave blank

Fill out the form to create your Donate Now Facebook tab

Step Four: Install the Facebook Page Tab App

Now that your Facebook Page Tab app is created, you’ll need to install it on your page. To install it, you’ll need to enter the following address into your browser, but make sure to replace “Your_App_ID” with the number that you wrote down in the step before.

https://www.facebook.com/dialog/pagetab?app_id=YOUR_APP_ID&next=https://www.facebook.com

If you entered the URL correctly, you should be presented with the following page. Select your organization’s Facebook page and click Add Page Tab.

Select your Facebook Page

Step Five: Your new Donate Now form is now a tab on your Facebook Page

That’s it. Now go to your Facebook page and see your new tab available to collect donations or whatever else it was designed for.

Your Donate Now Facebook tab is live

For more information, please refer to the Facebook Page Tab App tutorial. When you finish, let know how you’re using your form on your Facebook page by commenting below.

Not using DonorSnap yet?
Sign up for one of our free webinar demonstrations to see the software in action.
Ready to be set up with your own database? Sign up for your new account now!

 

Putting Your Linkedin to Use, Finding Board Members and Donors.

I am overwhelmed by the amount of information that Linkedin provides. Until recently I thought of it just as a job seeking site. What I learned last week at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Minneapolis, MN is it is a much more powerful tool than I had imagined. I took a few notes by Anthony Pisapia Director of Development and Programs at Tech Impact.

Let’s start with your network.

Linkedin Maps
Linkedin has a system for visualizing your own network.

The six degrees of separation rule still stands. If you are looking for potential donors or influential board members, it is likely that those who you already know have a contact that would be a good fit.

Your 1st degree connections should be people you actually know and feel comfortable enough  to ask them for a favor.

If in your network a current board member is connected to a potential donor, you should feel ok asking for that introduction.

 

Tip: Ask for introductions outside of Linkedin, such as in an email or a phone call.

I am not strict on this rule for a couple of reasons. First, you can download the entire contact address book of your Linkedin connections. This is good for developing an email list and for CRM information. Second, potential volunteers and donors may be following you personally. Knowing you through Linkedin may give them the encouragement to connect.

Get your members to promote your organization.

Linkedin Volunteer Section
Provide information for your board members to add into their profile.

Browse through the profiles of your board members and volunteers. Where does it say they are part of your organization? They can add information about their participation in the volunteer section.
For patrons and fans of your organization. They can promote you in the Organizations section of Linkedin.

Organizations on Linkedin

Tip: Provide the text you want them to put into their Linkedin Profiles. Make sure your organization and staff profile is updated.

Tap into your alumni network.

Linkedin Alumni NetworkYour alumni network is strong. When you click on a school it shows you options such as years attended, industry, location, etc. Use this to your advantage when identifying potential board members and donors.

Add reminder notes to profiles.

Reminder Notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a conference or meeting someone, check out their profile and add information about your conversation with them. They will not be able to see what you have written. This is for your personal information only.

Tip: Use the Linkedin App for notes and reminders before you head out to a meeting.

Did you know that you can add DonorSnap as a skill on Linkedin?

DonorSnap Skill
Go to Edit Profile, Skills, Add DonorSnap.

 

A Story of a Lifetime Volunteer

Photo by Catherine Scott, 2008

My Grandma Amy is a lifetime volunteer and donor. She has inspired me to volunteer throughout my life and showed me the need to give what you can to charity. I asked her to be a DonorSnap contributor and write about why she cares to help out in her community. I see my Grandma as a good example of the caring donor that many nonprofits would love to have as part of their support network. I asked her to write a bit about why she spends her time and money helping out people. This is what she had to say… Continue reading “A Story of a Lifetime Volunteer”

Google Apps Now Free For All Nonprofits!

Screen shot 2013-02-26 at 9.29.50 AM

One of the biggest hurdles for nonprofits to overcome is how to pay for and incorporate advertising  technology and web hosting into their organization. Many nonprofits may already be a part of the Google App system but there is still an application and approval process that takes months to go through.

Today Google announced that it will make all Google Apps available to ALL nonprofits. Some of these Apps would include Google Analytics, Youtube, Adwords and email services. For details and information on how you can register for these products click here.