FUNDRAISING SUPPLEMENT | More than just a deposit: donations processing, a strategy in itself

 Processing donations is no longer a simple process. Or perhaps, more accurately put, if an organization wants to maximize the recruitment of new donors and the retention of current donors, it shouldn’t be.

By Patrick Durbano

The field of nonprofit competition is getting crowded. In fact, according to the Canadian Revenue Agency, there are over 86,000 registered charities in

With that added competition for donor contributions, today’s savvy nonprofit is leveraging every bit of information it can garner from each and every donation. They have realized that it is not enough to simply keep data and send a few mailings. Effective donor stewardship is a carefully crafted strategic process that includes the use of specific information about donors to help organizations target appeals, invitations, face-to-face interactions and mission-related information to individual interests.

In addition, with the technology that is available today, the savvy donor expects no less than a fast, error-free, duplication-free deposit of their cheque and acknowledgement of their donation. It’s a pretty simple equation; make a mistake or process items too slowly, and risk losing that hard-earned donor forever. The problem? Because of time and resource constraints, many nonprofits make processing mistakes and/ or neglect to capture vital donor data that may be the key to future campaign success.

From the simplest donations to the very complex, each donation processed should not only be handled with accuracy and care, but also with a strategic purpose that goes beyond simple depositing and caging/lockbox processing.

And yet, with the constraints on today’s nonprofit staff size, many are forced to involve program and fundraising staff in donation processing and data capture as part of their daily jobs. Is this really their area of expertise? Is this really what they were hired to do? Imagine how much more effective they could be at their jobs if they were not burdened with the time-consuming work of these in-depth tasks. Imagine how many more donors they could meet face to face. Imagine how many more people could be served by each nonprofit’s mission.

Keeping all of this in consideration, many nonprofits are rethinking their approach to donation processing, caging and cashiering. Many are migrating their solicitation strategy to the Internet for easier and more accurate collection online. And even more are beginning to outsource their donations processing for direct mail, events and even daily mail to partners with the expertise and capabilities to convert the entire complex process into a stream of detail that flows seamlessly from the donor through the outsourced provider to the nonprofit. It is true that, for most, the concept is a bit of a revelation following decades of managing staff, temporary help, volunteers, reams of paper to deposit and record, and hundreds of individual cheques to copy. Today, they benefit immediately from accelerated donation posting and acknowledgement, the elimination of time-consuming manual keying of donor information, as well as the consistent and comprehensive capture and feed of data to their own constituent management system.

Further widening the advantage gap is the fact that the old guard still follows a “steam pipe” model in which marketing, advertising, donor service and others have delayed or limited access to data that comes in through caging and cashiering operations. Even worse, many nonprofits are just simply letting information go because they can’t keep up with it all.

These organizations open a donation envelope from a pledge event, record the amounts, credit the participant and move on. They are often forced to forgo on gathering information on all of the people who sponsored the participant because it takes too much time. And if they do take the time to capture the extra information, they either spend highly valuable staff time to accomplish the goal or use the risky practice of letting volunteers do it for them. It’s a direct marketing nightmare and can be a killer when it comes to acknowledgements, issuing timely official tax receipts and prize fulfillment. Plus, the nonprofit loses the opportunity to add new potential donors to their database.

Although it may be touted as simply the next logical step, today’s caging and cashiering has evolved to a donation processing art that is a full generation ahead – with workflow management, image archive and delivery thrown right into the mix

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. The functionality automates the whole donations process including special exceptions such as change of address requests, credit card donations, matching gift processing, split designations and group collections. And the data itself can provide for supplemental donor documents such as reply cards or appeal letters, which can be sent automatically based on preference, all while continuously offering the nonprofit organization what they have long craved for – data that allows them to learn more about their donors and gauge the success of their various appeals.

From there, advanced donation processing helps nonprofit organizations feed their various donor management systems simultaneously. This means they can better steward donors, proactively respond to donor requests, tailor appeals and even directly trigger prize fulfillment for an event right out of the imaging process without lifting a finger. Imagine not having to go back and recount how many additional prizes need to be sent, and not having to procure, pack and mail them. It can all be done automatically as part of the process!

The bottom line for every nonprofit is that they need to continually strive to increase the general effectiveness in meeting their mission. Each and every group is committed to providing more service for more people each year – helping more people, saving more lives, creating a better world. The idea behind today’s outsourced donation processing solutions is that the nonprofit can allow external experts to focus on back-end operation and efficiency while the organization focuses on its very own mission. And the revelation is that it is more than just an idea; it is an actuality whose time has come. Advanced donations processing is here and is changing the game when it comes to maximizing missions for organizations across the entire nonprofit spectrum.

 

CDS Global is a world leader in end to end business process outsourcing, and serves several of the largest nonprofits in North America. For more information about CDS Global’s nonprofit solutions visit www.cds-global.com/nonprofits, call toll free at 844-237-7456 or mail info@cds-global.com

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