Selection Requires Identifying Key Data and Functions

Over the years I have identified numerous pieces of data that my clients have requested for their advancement systems. I have categorized those into a number of areas and am starting to post them here.

Remembering the two laws of Successful Consulting (you know: 1) Don’t tell them everything you know, and 2) …) I’ll be putting this info on my blog site in a piecemeal basis. But the categories that I’ve used over the years have included:

  1. Individuals – data and functionality for every person and organization in your database (the 90% that give you 10% of your $$$’s AND the 10% that give you 90% of your $$$’s)
  2. Major Prospects – the unique and special data and functionality for the 10% that give you 90% of your $$$’s  – you know the folks, the ones with a Van Gogh in their foyer or library. These are the folks that you want to know most about since they are the ones that can/may give you the most.
  3. Corporations and Foundations (and any other organizations) which have contacts that you want to track for grants, matching gifts, underwriting and other special interests in your mission.
  4. Volunteers/Solicitors – information on the people (NOTE:I may use the word people referring to both individuals and organizations) that help with events, campaigns, and other very helpful and involved folks.
  5. Events – information and functionality related to inviting, registering, ticketing, feeding, entertaining, housing, travelling with, etc. for either fundraising or stewardship activities. This has to do with tracking the people attending, the facilities/venue of the event, tracking revenue & costs, dealing with Quid Pro Quo items, and many other items.
  6. Campaigns and Appeals – information and functionality for the purposes and vehicles that you use in fundraising. Setting goals and tracking the results against those goal. Are you dealing with a specific campaign to raise $$$’s for a library renovation or a comprehensive campaign raising capital, endowment, scholarship, and program $$$’s?  And are your appeals via phone calls (with a Telethon or not?), via e-mail, via snail-mail, via events, via personal visits/contacts, via “crowd sourcing”, or any other appeal. And again you want to capture not only who got the appeal but who gave to it and how successful it was.
  7. Gifts and Pledges – information and functionality related to the success of your fund-raising efforts. Obviously you want cash and batch controls over those gifts which may be cash, credit card, property, securities, in-kind and so on. You may get the $$$’s up front or the donor may pledge to give to you over time. And there may be “Hard” (legal) credit as well as “Soft” (recognition) credits. And how about matching gifts, memorial/honorary gifts, gifts split to different designation, and so on. And probably you want these gifts to flow through to the organizations financial system. And if you are wise, you’ll provide receipts and acknowledgments for the gifts and reminder notices for the pledges. This is one of the most complex aspects for any advancement system, so pay attention.

This could go on forever, so I’ll stop here and promise more details about each of these areas and also add in:

  • Grants Management
  • Membership
  • Direct Mail
  • Internet Advancement
  • Endowment Stewardship
  • and other data and functional areas.

And all this is just for your advancement system. How about General Accounting and other areas?  Hang in there.

I’d welcome any comments/questions via e-mail at  And please sign up for my periodic blog posts in the space in the column on the right!

SDG, Charlie Hunsaker
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