Software Helps Nonprofits Get Personal

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To help nonprofit organizations target their donors more effectively, Metromail has released an updated version of its C.O.I.N. donor-management software.


Created specifically for nonprofit fundraising organizations, C.O.I.N. (computer online information network) for Windows stores personal and financial information about an organization's donors.


According to Metromail, Lombard, IL, the software lets nonprofits send out personalized direct mail pieces and allows them to manage their databases and view, add, edit, update and delete individual records. The software will accelerate routine reporting and administrative tasks and help plan strategies and tactics. The original C.O.I.N. mainframe system was created in 1984.


"This new design will track all relationships with donors or constituents that interact with a nonprofit organization," said Connie Dean, director of sales for fundraising services at Metromail. "It's not just a database but a tool that will help these groups key in on what matters most to their donors."


According to Dean, an organization's database file of donors will be managed by Metromail in its data center in Lincoln, NE. To use the software, an organization needs to have a PC with Windows and access to the Internet, which will give online real-time access to the database.


"It is up to them if the program is going to be turnkey or not," Dean said. "They can input the information themselves. It is a point-and-click environment and easy to use -- or they can contact us, and we'll do it from our end."


Chris Cleghorn, senior vice president for direct marketing at Easter Seals, Chicago, a nonprofit organization that provides services to people with disabilities, said the access to the donor files is what drew his interest to C.O.I.N.


"This system doesn't just give us better overall access to our database, but it gives us better access to information on our donors," he said.


Easter Seals uses a 5 million-donor database for direct marketing and has 105 affiliates throughout the country. It began using C.O.I.N. two months ago so it hasn't seen any major results yet, although Cleghorn said benefits from easier access to the files already are apparent.


C.O.I.N. is a modular system that allows for four different types of data entry: manual input over the Internet, electronic transmission of bank tapes, hand-held scanners or a dedicated data entry module.


The software's modules store information. The donor cultivation module records and stores information on major donors' personal, professional and financial histories; the pledge module keeps track of promised pledges and past pledge fulfillment; and the volunteer module lists volunteers' abilities, interests and skills.


C.O.I.N. can track the history of a donor and his or her relationship with an organization. A data screen stores information such as the donor's birthday, hobbies and affiliations, which allows nonprofits to tailor direct mailings to those subjects.


"It gives a true, complete picture of a donor and their history, line by line," Dean said. "They will be able to relate to their donors as individuals and create direct mail pieces around that, which will improve their chances of increasing their contribution levels."


The system can handle donor files of all sizes, according to Dean. She declined to give specifics on the prices but said the cost is based on a monthly service charge and determined by the size of the donor file.


A built-in security feature allows organizations to limit access to files by module or location. "This ensures that somebody in San Diego is not looking at the donor list from Cincinnati," Dean said. "People will only be given access to the files that they need to see."
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