VOL. 132 | NO. 82 | Tuesday, April 25, 2017
FUNdraising Good Times
Pearl and Mel Shaw
Choosing a Donor Management System, Part One
BY MEL AND PEARL SHAW
Technology makes the world go ’round. And that includes the world of fundraising. The complaints related to fundraising technology are many and varied. Some people complain they can’t produce “simple” reports requested by management. Others are vexed by the standalone nature of a product. Integrating with accounting is a common complaint, as is the frustration that arises when trying to reconcile fundraising data with that recorded by accounting. A common question – with a complex answer – arises: “What type of donor database should we be using?”
To shed some light on the situation, we reached out to Ashley Harper, former director of grants and initiatives at the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. Reflecting on her experience with the foundation, she shared that a common request was for funding to purchase and implement donor management tools.
With this interview we share her insights with you.
At what point in its life cycle should a nonprofit look to purchase or upgrade their donor management system?
Ashley Harper: If developing donors is important to the organization, a system should be implemented as soon as that process begins. There are some very inexpensive cloud-based systems that cost little to nothing up front and can get you started on the right foot.
Upgrading should become a priority if the current system is going to become obsolete or unsupported, when a deeper analysis of donor data becomes necessary but is unavailable in the current system, or when it becomes important to upgrade to a system that can manage additional types of constituents in the same system.
What are the key factors in selecting a data management system?
Harper: Like many decisions, choosing a donor management system should start with the end in mind. What outputs does your organization need from the system? Pulling that data easily should be priority No. 1. Additional basic considerations include the following:
• Is the new system compatible with the existing hardware?
• What kind of support will the vendor offer and at what cost?
• What are the estimated costs of initial setup, data cleanup and conversion, system implementation, staff training, customization, and annual maintenance and licensing fees?
• Is the data secure?
• How does the system integrate with other programs such as email management systems, survey programs, etc.?
We will share more of Harper’s insights in next week’s column.
Think about the role technology can play within your organization. It is important to view technology as an asset that can leverage your relationships and increase your friendraising and fundraising. When you want to grow your fundraising, the technology you use will play a major role in helping you determine how to proceed and who to invite to give and provided leadership.
Resources: Websites that can assist in the process include Idealware.org, TechSoup.org and NTEN.org. Visit bit.ly/FGTBlog for additional resources.
Mel and Pearl Shaw, owners of fundraising consultancy firm Saad&Shaw, can be reached at 901-522-8727 or saadandshaw.com.