Why a Donor Management System is the Secret to Streamlining Administrative Work

June 17, 2022

This could be you.

An outbox full of emails flawless in tone and design. Calls answered efficiently with confidence and precision. Day-to-day operations without a hint of smoke and fire. And still with time in the day to help build relationships and impact someone’s life.

Because in the end, isn’t that what so many of us are here to do - to make a difference?

Of course, admin work is important. It’s why charities put nine percent of their funding towards it. But there’s a way to save time, so passionate charity workers and volunteers can do more mission-based work.

And it starts with the Donor Management System (DMS).

Along with helping you centralize your donor’s data, create targeted emails, and a plethora of other helpful functions, CanadaHelps built the DMS to help reduce the effort and money spent on admin tasks. That way, charities like yours can focus on fulfilling your mission.

Below we’ve outlined three areas and provided a checklist so you can start getting organized and streamlining your admin tasks with the DMS.

  • Make prioritizing part of your morning routine:
    The DMS dashboard provides an immediate snapshot of the activities, emails and other tasks you’ll need to tackle. Identify and prioritize what needs to get done so you can feel confident about the day ahead.
  • Calls, emails, and other communications:
    Learn how to personalize calls and emails efficiently using your donor data and email template builder in the DMS.
  • Database maintenance:
    Regularly keep your donor’s data clean and maintained so you can pull accurate data about your donors when you need to.

By the way, feel free to print the checklists below. Start doing these on the daily and you’ll feel almighty in no time.

Make prioritizing part of your morning routine

Your Tasks: Prioritize upcoming activities for the day
Reply to new and urgent emails
Review the latest contributions
Cadence: Every morning

Regardless of if you’re an admin or have another role at a charity, from time to time, many of us have helped out with admin tasks. And the most experienced of us know prioritization is the key to efficiency and success.

With the CanadaHelps DMS, you can streamline your morning routine from the moment you log in. Viewable from the Home screen is the DMS dashboard where you can get a snapshot of the most important upcoming tasks. 

In the dashboard will be an array of Dashlets. These are mini-reports and widgets that provide high-level insights into your donors. You can use Dashlets to prioritize what activities, emails, and other tasks you need to complete for the day.

If you haven’t set up your DMS dashboard yet, here’s how to get started with preconfigured dashlets!

Once you have your Dashlets set up, here’s a simple routine to get the most out of your mornings.

Prioritize upcoming activities for the day

Many of us spend so much time thinking about how to start the day. In the DMS dashboard, your upcoming meetings, scheduled calls and other tasks are now housed in one place. We’ve taken the effort out of planning so you can focus your time on executing.

How to do it:
In the Activities Dashlet, sort the activities by date to see upcoming scheduled calls and meetings.
Plan your day around these meetings. Be sure to reserve enough to prepare for high-priority meetings with major donors, board members, and other VIPs.

Reply to new and urgent emails

Donors, supporters and stakeholders expect timely communications from charities. With email functionality built into the DMS, charities won’t need to be switching back and forth to multiple tools. Give your fingers a rest from alt+tabbing (or option+tabbing if you’re a Mac user) so you can focus on writing the perfect email.

How to do it:
Go to the New Email Replies Dashlet to find the newest emails and click on Inbound Email to start replying!

Review the latest contributions

Whether you need to send a thank you email or update the donor’s information based on their latest gift, you can view your donors’ recent contributions to help you make the right decisions quickly.

How to do it:
With the Latest Contributors Dashlet, charities can review the ten most recent contributions received.

Calls, emails, and other communications

Your Tasks: Filter incoming calls
Send other emails as required
Update activities to help ensure seamless internal communications
Cadence: Throughout the day

Almost all incoming communications go through a charity admin, or whoever's helping in this capacity. Whether it’s calls, emails or meetings, these individuals must be conscious of how they speak, write and carry themselves as they represent the charity.

Therefore, streamlining communications is not just about speed; it’s a balance of efficiency and personability. 

You can achieve this balance with the DMS by filtering and prioritizing calls based on existing contact information. Leverage the power and flexibility of the CanadaHelps email template builder, and you’ll be able to send branded and attractive emails in a fraction of the time and effort that it would normally take to build. And by regularly updating donor activities, such as meetings, calls, and other interactions, sharing donor insights with your team becomes easier than ever. 

Filter incoming calls

As the admin or someone in a similar role, you’re likely the first point of contact before a caller speaks to someone else in your organization. 

Go to the Contacts tab to pull up the caller’s profile. Once you’ve clicked into their profile, you can view if there are notes about them, their existing relationships, and other insights that help you decide how to handle the call.

In addition, you can also help your team by leaving new notes about the caller before you transfer the call.

How to do it:
Once you receive a call, go to the Contacts tab and check if an existing contact exists. You can perform an Advanced Search of the caller’s phone number. Alternatively, you could also ask for the caller’s name during the call to look up their profile.
If the caller doesn’t appear as a contact in the DMS, you may wish to prioritize this individual as a potential new donor. In the DMS, click on Add Contact to enter this contact’s information so your team can begin your donor stewardship process.

Send other emails as required

Even after going through your morning emails, you’ll probably send at least a few more throughout the day. 

In addition to sending individual emails, you may be tasked with sending bulk emails such as a newsletter or an announcement.

To streamline your email processes, CanadaHelps provides you with email templates that just need to be updated with your charity’s branding. Simply drag and drop blocks to customize your templates that you can save and reuse for various types of emails.

How to do it:
Charities can start customizing their email templates by going to the Administer tab and clicking DMS Templates.
Send individual emails to contacts by clicking the Actions button from an individual’s profile.
Bulk emails are sent from the Draft, Schedule, and Manage DMS Mails function in the Administer tab.

Update activities to help ensure seamless internal communications

From volunteer hours to meetings, admins can help their team track and access the details of various activities directly from the DMS. You even have the option of adding custom activity types.

Thus, this function is a powerful internal communications tool that lets your team share accurate information easily.

How to do it:
Once clicking into a contact’s profile, click on Activities and select the appropriate activity to add. This could be a call, meeting, or even a custom activity.
To add custom activities, navigate to the Administer tab and select Activity Types.

Database maintenance

Your Tasks: Update contact segments
A quick check of duplicate contacts
Cadence: Once a week

Data maintenance isn’t the most glamorous part of the job, we get it.

But it’s such an important part of the donor stewardship process. In fact, it’s so important that marketers have a term for database maintenance… and anything that has to do with organizing data - it’s called data hygiene.

Data hygiene is the foundation necessary to pull accurate donor insights.

And with the DMS, CanadaHelps has made data hygiene a breeze. You can start by updating donor segments and cleaning up duplicate contacts to keep your database current and ready for the team to pull reports and insights.

Those interested in a deeper clean can read more about how to organize your data in three steps.

Update contact segments

A segmented donor list is vital to helping your team pull the donor insights they need to run successful fundraisers and events.

Thankfully, the DMS makes it easy for charities to segment donors, even if your team needs to do it retroactively.

While it’s likely that the donor-facing fundraisers in the organization will have already segmented them, it’s still a good idea for those in an admin-like role to review these entries and help ensure data isn’t missing.

Depending on your charity’s size and capacity, you can either update the contact information yourself or delegate these tasks back to the team.

For example, you may want to check that the 50 volunteers who signed up by email for an upcoming 2022 Summer Baking Fundraiser campaign have been segmented correctly in the DMS.

Once in the Contacts tab of the DMS, you can perform an Advanced Search to pull a quick report with the following criteria in the dropdowns.

  • Display Criteria: AND
  • Contact Tag(s): Volunteer
  • Campaign: 2022 Summer Baking Fundraiser

This method is much faster than searching by individual names or emails. Any discrepancies can be easily identified by comparing the DMS report to the original list.

How to do it
Go to the Contacts tab and select the Advanced Search function.
Select the criteria for your Groups in the Advanced Search sections to filter your search results.
Select all results and add the individuals to an existing Group.

A quick check of duplicate contacts

Another check you should be doing every week is reviewing for duplicate data.

This ensures that the team isn’t accidentally pulling insights that include incomplete or duplicate data in the results.

CanadaHelps built a Mass Merge function to automatically detect all possible duplicate contacts or organizations within your DMS without any extra user input.

How to do it:
When you’re ready to perform your weekly duplicate contact check using the Mass Merge function, go to the Contacts tab and navigate to the Advanced Actions dropdown.
Select Merge Duplicate Individuals to identify and merge individual contacts. Repeat using the Merge Duplicate Organizations function.

These are just some of the many ways to use the DMS to streamline admin tasks. As you get more comfortable with the DMS, try building custom reports to pull insights specific to your charity or role. Best yet, you can add these reports as custom Dashlets directly to your dashboard for greater accessibility!

So get even more out of the CanadaHelps DMS by adding custom Dashlets to your dashboard. Don’t miss out on the donor insights you could be learning about just by logging into the DMS.

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