Beyond a Donor Database: 5 Reasons to Track Prospects in eTapestry

From the first day you log in to your new Blackbaud® eTapestry® database, it is ready to track many types of constituents and the interactions you have with those constituents but it isn’t ready to track prospects. Prospect management doesn’t come with eTapestry out-of-the-box. You will need to build a custom system of user-defined fields (UDFs), queries, and reports to track prospects in your eTapestry database. Although there is a little extra work to be done, it is worth building a prospect management system in eTapestry.  Let’s explore the reasons why.

Why prospect management in eTapestry?

Not all of your constituents are donors. While some are donors, others have yet to become donors. Those yet-to-be-donors are prospects that need to be cultivated and nurtured, especially those that have major gift potential. The process of converting a non-donor to a donor is dynamic and generally takes time.

Prospects come in all shapes and sizes. Some prospects aren’t donors and your reason for connecting with them isn’t for a donation. Non-donor examples include cultivating new board members, volunteers, advisors, sponsors, and community partners. Even though these constituents may not give to your organization, you still need a way to track your progress with them toward a specific goal.

If donor and non-donor constituents are a part of your fundraising and development plans, then prospect management is a worthwhile enhancement of your eTapestry database. With the right combination of UDFs, queries, and reports, eTapestry can become a prospect management asset that will keep your prospect cultivation strategies on track and on schedule.

Here are five reasons to build a custom prospect management system in eTapestry.


  • 1. Segment prospects from other constituents

    Your database may store records on thousands of constituents. Manually trying to find a single prospect within your database is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Flagging constituents as prospects lets you quickly filter (using a query or advanced search) prospects from your larger pool of constituents.

    Segmenting constituents isn’t a novel or unique concept in eTapestry, but managing prospects goes beyond basic constituent segmentation. An eTapestry prospect management system should track the steps a prospect takes from the start of their relationship with you to the relationship’s final goal (e.g. becoming a volunteer, donating to the organization, or accepting a position on the Board). Segmenting prospects by category or status lets you build a funnel of viable, qualified prospects as well as separate pools of prospects for different cultivation goals.

  • 2. Keep a historical record of all interactions and activities

    It may take time to cultivate and nurture a prospect to an end goal. During this time, the following may happen.

    • The staff member responsible for the relationship with that prospect may leave your organization.
    • A new staff member may be assigned to the relationship with that prospect.
    • The staff member responsible for the relationship with that prospect may forget details about past interactions.
    • The portfolio of active prospects for each staff member may grow to a point where it is difficult to keep track of the history of each prospect.

    Tracking prospects in eTapestry includes tracking the activities, meetings, phone calls, emails, and other interactions your organization has with a prospect. This historical record of all interactions and activities is a knowledge backup for the relationship with that prospect.

    Keeping track of all interactions guarantees that your organization can build and grow every prospect relationship rather than rebooting the relationship with every new interaction.

  • 3. Increase collaboration and communication among internal team

    Keeping track of all interactions and activities related to a prospect in eTapestry empowers your organization to collaborate and communicate more effectively and efficiently about that prospect.

    You are able to:

    • Reassign prospects quickly to another staff member
    • Involve other staff members, like your Executive Director, in the prospect’s process
    • Bring in a substitute prospect lead in case someone is sick or out of the office
    • Have intentional and informed conversations among the team about next steps with a prospect

    With all of your fundraising and development data under one roof, you can use transparent data management practices that get your entire organization involved in the prospect cultivation and nurturing process.

  • 4. Automate and streamline reporting

    Tracking prospects in eTapestry makes reporting on your active portfolio of prospects, prospect assignments, and prospect next steps easy. Your eTapestry database has built-in reporting tools, like custom report templates and scheduled reports that can automate prospect management tasks.

    Set up template reports that are ready to run at a moment’s notice and schedule recurring reports delivered via email to you or others on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

  • 5. Manage all constituent data in one place

    If prospects aren’t tracked in eTapestry, they are most likely tracked in an Excel spreadsheet. Tracking prospects external to eTapestry requires double data entry and split reporting. Double data entry and split reporting are a major headache and can be avoided if prospect data is managed in eTapestry.

    Your eTapestry database can become an all-in-one donor database and fundraising data management system. If you track prospect data in eTapestry, you can report a prospect’s status, assignment, and next steps as well as the prospect’s giving history, interaction history, contact information, and other account demographics in all-in-one reports.

Start tracking donor and non-donor prospects in eTapestry

Tracking prospects increases the value of your eTapestry database. With the right data, queries, and reports, you can log important details about a prospect and cultivate and nurture them toward a specific goal, all without letting any important details slip through the cracks.

Start tracking prospects in eTapestry and turn statements like “we aren’t using eTapestry to its fullest potential” into “we’re using eTapestry well beyond its standard functionality to increase our fundraising and development capabilities.”

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