What makes up your CRM?

What data do you collect?  Well, I collect all kinds of data on my prospects, donors and the gifts we receive.  However, if I were starting a CRM from scratch what would a collect? First, I would decide what the primary data is I need for every entry.  The minimum I would collect on every person I was adding to the database is the following:


First Name

Last Name


Street Address







Addressee (Formal Name)

Connection to Charity (donor, prospect, volunteer, board member, etc.)

Besides the basic data fields, you might consider adding these fields. They will help with reporting, prospecting, and cultivation. The additional fields, I recommend, include:

Mailings Sent

Spouse information


Work Information

Giving Interest

Social Media Handles



Those are the fields I would collect whether the individual is a donor or a prospect. If the data comes from a donation, I would add the following gift fields. Gift fields should include the data that you need to thank donors and do basic financial reporting.



Receipt Amount (helpful with events)


Giving Vehicle (what was the gift in response to)

Gift fields have a few basics that you have to have simply to thank and to do the most basic reporting. To do more advanced reporting and to assist you in reconciling with your finance department you should add the following fields.

Financial codes (GL Accounts, or fund)

Acknowledgment coding (if thanked, date thanked)

Gift Type (Cash, Check, Credit Card)

With these fields, you can track donor interactions and gifts. You can also create reports for "Years Given, Cumulative Giving, Donor Locations, Response Rate, Attrition Rate, Giving by Date, LYBNTY, SYBNTY and Never Given and Giving by Connection to Charity - to name a few. You may not need all of these reports now, but it is better to have the data available than to try and go back and add it to your data.

Since most of us are not building CRM's from scratch how does this affect us? Well, it gives you an idea of what your CRM needs no matter whether it is custom built or out of the box. It is also a reminder that just because a CRM includes a field you do not have to use it.  Be thoughtful in your approach, and you will be gathering the data you need.

You can’t report on what you don’t collect.



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