A Deep Cleaning Checklist for Your Fundraising Program

July 6, 2020
8 minutes
A plastic spray bottle is pointed up, with a gloved hand ready to spray the nozzle. The coloring is massive, with the vibrant fuschia gloved hand holding the bright goldenrod spray bottle in front of a background of concentric circles in varying tones of purple: violet, lavender, plum, indigo.

Are you ready for a little deep cleaning? No, we’re not talking about cleaning your house; it’s time to dust off your fundraising program!

We get so busy executing our fundraising plans and campaigns that we don’t have the time to do all the necessary clean up to keep our fundraising program running smoothly. And sometimes we just don’t know where to start with the clean up. To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive deep cleaning checklist for your fundraising program that covers all the necessary nooks and crannies.

Grab your tools and let’s get cleaning, fundraiser!

Fundraising Plan

Review your fundraising plan for the year

Let’s start our spring cleaning with the big picture: your fundraising plan! After all, how often do you look at your fundraising plan? Many of us create calendars and plans only to let them collect digital dust throughout the year. Take this time to pull out your fundraising plan and re-read your original goals for the year. Considering how 2020 went off course, you may get a good laugh out of this exercise!

Identify key activities that are helping you make progress towards your fundraising plan goals and prioritize those

Now that you’ve re-read your fundraising plan, let’s make sure your day-to-day activities are actually supporting your biggest goals.  One of the best things you can do is identify the activities that help you get the best and biggest results. By identifying those, you can prioritize points of leverage.

Make it a point to stop doing activities that aren’t supporting your fundraising plan goals

Let’s get real. You probably spend a chunk of time each week doing tasks that are total time sucks. And there’s a non-zero chance you can stop doing some of those tasks. Take a look at your calendar to identify tasks that you can cross off your to-do list.

Donor Data

Remove duplicate donor records

Duplicate records are an annoyance to us all! As fundraisers, we don’t want to be sending multiples of the same appeal to donors. And of course, donors don’t want to receive two of the same appeal. Going through your database to identify duplicate records and remove them is a fundamental freshening task.

Update your segments

The quality of your data can make a big difference for fundraising program, so make sure your segments are updated. Here are a few segments you’ll want to check: active donors, LYBUNTs (last year but not this year), SYBUNTs (some years but not this year), major donors, monthly donors, and planned giving prospects.

Add any notes to donor records that haven’t yet made it into your database

Got a collection of notes from donor visits in your notebook and on various post-it notes? Let’s make sure that important information gets into your database. Block out time in your schedule to go through your notes and add them to the appropriate donor records.

Email List

Review inactives and potentially delete them from your list

It can be hard to let go of email subscribers, but doing so can improve your open rates and deliverability. A standard measure for a subscriber who is inactive is someone who has not opened an email in 90 days or more. Run a report in your email program and see how many inactives you have on your list.

Remove bounced addresses

Inevitably, inevitably there will be email addresses that bounce. This'll be for a variety of reasons including typos in the email address or deliverability issues. If you see an obvious typo like janedoe@gmial.com, you could choose to fix it to janedoe@gmail.com. For ones that are less-obvious and have bounced, remove them from your list entirely or find another way to reach out to that donor.

Review and update your segments

You segment your email list, right?? Reviewing and updating your segments should absolutely be on your deep cleaning to do list. Making sure all of your current donors are tagged as such on your email list is a top priority.

Check that all opt-in forms and landing pages on your website are working correctly

Let’s keep your email list growing! Now is a great time to check all of your opt-in forms and landing pages to ensure that they are 1) working properly and 2) check your opt-in conversion rates. By looking at your opt-in conversion rates, you may think of some new experiments to run to increase your list growth.


Update your donate page

Your donation page is a critical piece of your online fundraising. Take this opportunity to review your donate page and make any necessary updates.

Check to make sure all links to the donate page are working

Is there anything worse than a broken link? Nope! Go through your website to make sure all links pointing to your donate page are working properly.

Clean up outdated landing pages for fundraising

If you create specialized landing pages for fundraising campaigns, go through your website to update them or redirect them if they are no longer necessary.

Review and update donation thank you pages

Let’s make sure your donors have a great online giving experience! Take a look at your thank you pages and make any necessary updates.

Your Office

Clean your desktop and digital filing system

Got a lot of files on your computer’s desktop? Let’s deep clean it. Find a home for all of those files and update your digital filing system.

Clean out your inbox

We know how overwhelming your inbox can be. But it can also be satisfying to clean it out. While you may not get to inbox zero, you can file and archive old emails, and respond to any messages that have been in your inbox a little too long.

Update your software

Stop closing out those alerts your computer and browser keep sending you! Allow yourself to turn your computer off and make the updates it needs. While it's doing its own spring cleaning, look around you...

Clean up your workspace

Our desks can easily become a dumping ground for random papers, notebooks, office supplies, and snack wrappers. Clean up everything that’s accumulated in your workspace and work some deep cleaning magic!

Getting a deep cleaning done is so refreshing, fundraiser! If this list feels overwhelming, start by picking one or two cleaning tasks and see where that takes you. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, add some time blocks to your calendar to plan for future fundraising cleaning. Let’s roll up our sleeves and do this!

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