Best practices: Transferring historical gift data into your online database

Posted December 10, 2014 by Timi Paccioretti

We often receive requests to share best practices on a variety of topics, and this particular question may resonate with those of you considering a move to Little Green Light or another online database. 

The question

As a small and young nonprofit, we are considering a move to an online database. We need some “best practice” advice about how to add our historical gift information, but we haven’t kept consistent track of campaigns or appeals. Is the best practice to lump them into a “Historical giving” category or not to categorize them at all?  

The response (from LGL co-founder, Chris Bicknell)

In this type of case, we recommend giving yourself as much information as possible while remaining practical about the level of detail you can achieve. While you may not have enough detail to determine specific appeals or events, it is likely you have enough past information to categorize giving according to campaigns and funds, and possibly even gift types and gift categories.

Note: This article offers some good ideas on how to set up campaigns and funds (as well as future appeals and events).

It is likely you’ll be able to decide, from your paper files, whether or not the gift was in support of operations, capital improvements, or endowment (your campaigns). Additionally, you likely have notes on what purpose the money was to be used for (your funds). You probably also know whether it was a check, stock, or credit card (payment types); a gift, a pledge, an in-kind donation, or something non-philanthropic like a ticket (gift types).

Overall, we recommend spending some time planning your approach to campaigns, funds and appeals/events, and other gift-related information first. Then as you enter data, do your best to fill in as much as you can while not bogging down your process. Additionally, consider spending more time getting information accurate for your more important (larger, long-term) donors.


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