Improving Operations, Part 4: Dust Off and Update Your Fundraising Policies


Today’s focus is on fundraising reports.

Is it the 5th day of our fundraising operations series already?! We hope that our last four posts have helped you utilize any extra time you might have during this extraordinary period. We’d love to hear from you, so let us know if you have questions or would like to talk to one of us about your challenges. Now, without any further ado, here is our final post for this series – go forth and tighten up your fundraising operations!

We all have them. Those reports that require just a little bit of manipulation outside of your database. We keep dumping exports into Excel and fiddle with the information over and over. We tell ourselves, “One day, I am going to fix this report.” That day has arrived! The goal of this exercise is to either automate the report in Excel or fix it in the database so it pulls correctly.

Make an inventory of all reports that need to be pulled weekly/monthly/quarterly/annually, including board and committee reports.

Let’s take a peek at every report and dashboard you generate for your organization. Is there duplication? Could some reports feed two birds with one seed? As you peruse your list: 1) note which ones need manipulation outside the database; 2) determine which ones can be fixed within your database; 3) highlight those that might be combined; and 4) star the ones that work well (celebrate those!).

This is an exercise in powering through! There’s a reason why you haven’t fixed a certain report and continue to have workarounds. Maybe you didn’t have the time or maybe it took some research that you haven’t gotten around to doing. Now is the time to fix that report. You might even have to use a different report to get exactly what you need. Just power through and remember that this is about being kind to your future self!

Sometimes the reports in your database can’t handle complex formulas or combine all the data you want into one beautiful report. So, we go to our favorite tool: Excel. If you find yourself exporting data to Excel and manipulating it every time you need a report, we have good news for you.

Once you export your data, put it into Excel. Name one tab “Data Goes Here.” Open another tab in the worksheet and name it “Report.” On this tab build the report you want to see, including your formatting and formulas. All the data you need for the report should be in the “Data Goes Here” tab so you can reference it in your formulas. Once you build the formulas, you should only have to export the data from your database and copy/paste it into the “Data Goes Here” tab. Voila! The “Report” tab will automatically update. (Note: Make sure not to change any columns in your export as you’ll break your formulas.)

Bonus Tip: Be a proactive report producer! We find that many database administrators produce exactly what is requested of them, nothing more, nothing less. You’re fulfilling your duties, but as the database administrator, you live in that database every day and see trends and opportunities that others may not. Be proactive and build reports to help your gift officers and director of development. They will be thrilled you took the initiative.

We hope this blog series has been informative! Please let us know if you have any questions – we’d love to help. You can schedule a free consultation with someone on the Databasey team or even request another blog topic.

Stay safe!

About Mary Hackett

Mary is a fundraiser & operations strategist who specialized in helping development offices create deep, meaningful experiences for their donors.

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