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The 2 most important questions for new donor management users

Posted January 21, 2019 by Timi Paccioretti

new donor management questions

Is your nonprofit new to donor management software? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. Many Little Green Light customers report that they are working at a nonprofit that has never used a dedicated donor management solution prior to LGL. This often means there are lots of questions on where to begin. This article offers guidance on how to use LGL effectively from Day 1.

Answering these 2 important questions can help you get a quick start on using your new donor management system.

Ready? Let’s go!

Question#1: What do you most want to accomplish right now?

One thing that you may have already realized about Little Green Light is that it has lots of functionality. That can be really cool. But trying to tackle it all at once can be overwhelming, to say the least, so I recommend breaking it down into manageable pieces. Think about why you decided to adopt a donor management system. What specific problems are you trying to solve? If your list is long, prioritize which problems you need to tackle before you do anything else. Then choose one or two items to work on first.

Here are some examples of goals our customers have shared with us:

  • We’d like to send out donation acknowledgments in a timely manner
  • I need an easy way to produce mailings and keep track of who received them
  • We want to make it easy for our donors to contribute online
  • Our organization has data in multiple locations/sources, and we need to consolidate it so we can ensure that we are reaching everyone that we need to
  • My organization’s first solicitation letter was just sent, and I need to report to our board on how we’re doing on a monthly basis

Once you’ve figured out what you need to accomplish first, think about the data that needs to exist in LGL in order to do so.

Then head to the LGL Knowledge Base to find practical articles on accomplishing your tasks. By successfully accomplishing one of your goals, you’ll feel that much more capable of tackling the next one.

Question #2: What information do you need to maintain in your database?

Often when an organization decides to use a donor management system, the first order of business is thinking about how to move the data they’ve already collected into the new system.

However, before you start thinking about how to move your data, first think about what data will be useful to maintain in order to achieve your goals. Data about your supporters can be a goldmine, but it can feel more like quicksand if it doesn’t provide you with useful insight into their engagement with your organization.

What are some basic data points that are important to maintain in your donor management system?

  • Your constituent’s name and contact info. Note: Even if you don’t have current contact information, you can still add the data to LGL. Just be sure to check the “Inactive” checkbox so that the invalid data does not get pulled into mailings you generate in LGL. (Tip: Having last known address can be useful for locating new address info, so it’s helpful to keep that data even if it’s out of date.)

Inactive address tag

  • Your constituent’s affiliation with your organization. Are they volunteers, members, or event attendees? There’s nothing worse than being faced with a list of people and not having any idea about what their relationship is to your organization! By adding this information to their record using the Groups category in LGL, you’ll easily be able to sort your database by these affiliations when needed. Note: Group values can be customized to your organization’s needs. You can use the ones that LGL provides or you can create ones that are specific to your organization. Also important to know: constituents can be assigned more than one Group value, allowing you to see the multiple ways a constituent is engaged with your organization. You may find our article, Best Practices: Using Groups in LGL, helpful when using Groups.


  • Gift Info. To take full advantage of LGL’s searching and reporting capabilities, you will want to store, at minimum, the gift date and the gift amount of each gift received.


Tip: As soon as gift data is added to a constituent record, the record will be tagged as a donor. LGL automatically assigns a Giving Status of “Active” or “Lapsed Donor” to the record based on the date of their last gift. Because this happens automatically, there’s no need to create a Group value called “Donor”.

Do you want to capture more detail about that gift? You can set up gift coding to capture the purpose for which the gift was given or use an appeal or an event to identify which activity generated the gift.

Tip: Check out our article Organizing your campaign, fund, event, and appeal categories for tips on how to code gifts in Little Green Light.


It’s important to remember that you need not do everything your donor management system is capable of all at once! You can start small and grow your use of the database as your needs grow and your time allows.

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