Responsibilities of a Development Database Administrator (DBA)


7 Things to Think About Before You Implement a Fundraising System


In the first article of this series, we talked about critical qualities to look for in someone who is managing your database. In today’s post, we’ll talk about the responsibilities if this position is specifically managing your fundraising database. While I have worked with The Raiser’s Edge®, Common Ground (retired) and Luminate CRM™, the tasks and responsibilities detailed in this article apply to any development database administrator (DBA) at a nonprofit organization. (In a later post we’ll discuss how these responsibilities might differ if you are talking about someone managing your entire CRM system, which could encompass multiple departments beyond fundraising.)

External Responsibilities
Overall, this person will be responsible for interactions with the vendor of your fundraising system as well as other fundraising vendors that need data from the database. Responsibilities include:

  • Maintaining knowledge of new developments and features of your system
  • Reviewing invoices and new products from vendor and conferring with leadership to determine best use of budgeted dollars
  • Serving as liaison to vendors such as the mail house, wealth screening, or address update services

Ensuring Database Integrity
Your DBA is responsible for ensuring that the system is clean and that it is able to meet all audit requirements. Duties include:

  • Conducting weekly/monthly audits of data entry to ensure accuracy
  • Where possible, building in functionality/establishing security to prevent bad entry
  • Providing users with feedback on their data entry practices
  • Maintaining users and security settings for the system
  • Producing or supporting verified month and year-end membership and development reports
  • Reconciling gift deposits with finance department at month and year-end

Maintaining Efficient Database and Operations
Your DBA ensures that the database supports your organization’s strategies. The DBA also is the point person for imports and integrations with other systems. Responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the database and operations support your strategies — “translating” fundraising goals and strategies into operations
  • Managing all existing codes and tables; adding new ones as strategies dictate
  • Periodically eliminating obsolete query, report, and export parameter settings
  • Conducting all global changes and/or imports to maintain data
  • Maintaining all integrations with other systems, such as online fundraising or general ledger

Responsibility for Data Entry and Acknowledgment
While the DBA may or may not do the actual data entry, he or she is responsible for ensuring that all data is entered in a timely, accurate manner and that gifts are appropriately acknowledged. Tasks include:

  • Managing data entry/gift processing staff
  • Designing and managing the gift processing workflow, including roles and responsibilities of all involved
  • Representing the data entry staff in departmental and organization-wide meetings and initiatives
  • Supporting gift processing staff as needed by completing data entry during high volume periods
  • Supporting data entry as needed for constituents and relationships
  • Ensuring that gift acknowledgments are produced within a specified timeframe
  • Maintaining records needed for annual audit

Supporting Production of Complex Outputs
Your DBA is your go-to person for reports and outputs. He or she will ensure the quality of all lists and reports for your department. Responsibilities include:

  • Supporting production of standard and custom reports — determining with staff which reports are needed regularly (monthly, weekly, etc.) and setting them up to allow self-service reporting
  • Where needed, building custom reports for special projects
  • Building queries and exports for complex mailing lists such as newsletters, membership or direct mail appeals, and event invitations
  • Creating and maintaining mail merge acknowledgment letters for acknowledgment of gifts
  • Creating and maintaining merges for pledge reminders and event invoices

Supporting Users
Perhaps most importantly, your DBA will support users, drive adoption and provide ongoing training to ensure people use the system to its fullest capacity. Some of the tasks include:

  • Providing ongoing assistance to users — encouraging use of vendor’s technical support, but when questions are dependent on knowledge of the organization’s specific configuration, support from the DBA is necessary
  • Ensuring that policies and procedures documentation is current and accessible
  • Preparing tip sheets for commonly asked questions
  • Developing and delivering targeted training to current and new users

What would you add to the list? Respond in the comments section below.


The Connected Cause is a place for experts in the nonprofit online space to share perspective, offer guidance and promote best practices for using today’s technology effectively. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive source of collaborative thought leadership for the nonprofit industry.

One comment

  1. very informative blog!
    I am looking for job as DBA and after reading this blog i am so glad to know how DBA’s future is and what are their responsibilities. Its good to know about the post or the role which you are looking for or in which you want to work for.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this.

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