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Sustaining donors not coded as such previously


Sustaining donors not coded as such previously

I’m finishing my first 60 days at my new org, and one of the things that has come to my attention in looking at gift reports as they come in is that we have a lot of recurring sustaining donors who pay via Bill payer check or even hand write a check. Using our in-house donor database which is the Raiser’s Edge I’m able to see their giving history, and I can see that there are donors that come in that have been giving steadily for years! And yet there’s nothing on their record to indicate that they are recurring donors. I want to be able to tag them and identify them as sustaining donors because I can do income projections and things like that. My question is how far back would you change the coding on their giving to indicate that they’re recurring gifts? We’re not integrated with our financial software, the donor designation would not change, it would be a matter of changing appeals and things like that to be able to give me at least 2 years worth of giving history even though some of them go back five and six years. The other thing that bothers me about it of course is that they haven’t been recognized as sustaining donors and I think that that’s a pretty important piece of information that a donor would want to be recognized as such. I mean when you have a donor who’s been giving $100 a month for 5 years, if you don’t know that there are a recurring donor you’re not going to ask them to increase that right? I also think it’s a lack of respect to the donor so I want to make sure that it doesn’t continue. Just looking for some advice from any organizations that have tackled a project like this and how you handled it.


Hi there. RE is notoriously challenging for these kinds of things. But, really, there are two issues – process and tech. In terms of process/policy, I think tagging people for the last 5 years is a good bet. In terms of the tech..well, that could get messy. I’d say just be sure to spend some time with your database admin/data governance team to make sure you think through the ramifications of either adding or changing that tag.

Spring Posted new comment October 2, 2022

Agreed. I’ve worked with RE for about 20+ years, so I’ve got a good handle on how to code then moving forward and have already updated our SOUs to reflect that, in addition to training staff to look at giving history on every Individual check.

I think 5 years of a reachable cohort-and will definitely add this to my list of global changes/updates for the Dev Committee. Thanks for the ideas!


You should care the most about identifying your current sustainers, that is where you can screw up the most. Can you get that list from your payment processor or giving form provider? Then tag them in Blackbaud (I think you can use custom attribute).

I’ve asked a few others with more database chops to add their thoughts.

Spring Edited comment October 2, 2022

I appreciate you reaching out to colleagues. I’ve redefined our SOUs for gift processing to cover this, and cc donors are (still processed manually) so they’re easily captured. I am now trying to figure out how far to go back as a first step, and the best language to use when communicating with them as a sustainer for the first time.