Many organizations rely on donations from individuals and businesses to meet operating expenses, making the relationship between organization and donor a significant priority. These groups frequently rely on donor management systems to maintain contact with donors and maximize donations. Donor management typically includes the entire process of identifying a potential donor, persuading the prospect to make a donation, and then encouraging the donor to continue his financial support. Groups that receive a significant amount of income through donations often use the services of fundraising consultants or specialists, as well as donor management software packages, to increase or maintain contribution levels. Since the advent of the Internet, these software packages have become increasingly sophisticated, offering a range of features that, combined with the expertise of a knowledgeable fundraising expert, can greatly increase the amount of money donated to a cause or organization.
Organizational fundraising can be a huge task, as it usually involves persuading an individual or company representative to give money to a group without the expectation of repayment. While there is a huge human factor in donor cultivation, as personal contact with major donors is a crucial element of successful fundraising campaigns, the process also requires structure. Good donor management incorporates a system by which contact with donors is constantly monitored and evaluated to allow the development of the best approach to dealing with individual donors and encouraging ongoing contributions. These approaches may include offering incentives to donate, such as event invitations, premiums embellished with the organization's logo, as well as other perks and privileges for generous contributions. In addition, donor management often involves publicly recognizing donors by naming them in the group's publications or including their name on a physical donor wall at the organization's headquarters.
Due to the complexity of managing hundreds or even thousands of relationships with financial contributors, many organizations invest in donor management software. These software packages vary in features, but typically integrate databases that include donor information and a history of contact with the ability to track a donor’s pattern of giving. Employees and consultants who are responsible for donor management can refer to this information when making decisions about targeted campaigns or engaging in direct communication with individual donors. Other features that are often included in this type of software include contact management capabilities that allow groups to conduct email or postal direct mail campaigns or to identify good times to call a donor on the phone. Some packages even include online fundraising tools, such as a back-end system that can be connected with the organization’s website to encourage online donations.