New technologies, including multi-dimensional software suites, have given a quantum leap to changes in the ways nonprofits maintain their databases. As with any development, however, having so many exciting possibilities can be more confusing than helpful when an organization is pondering a new system.
- Michael Stein, a consultant and digital strategist to progressive causes, has offered a list of tips, in the form of questions to keep in mind when evaluating a donor management system. He recommends asking:
- When a donor calls the office, is it easy to see the person’s involvement with the organization on a single screen or is it necessary to look in multiple places?
- How will the system help in managing integrated fundraising campaigns in mail, telephone and online campaigns?
- If there is an existing donor management system, data will need to be migrated. How can the new system and vendor help with that, and what will it cost?
- What types of online functionality will become available through the system (including email messaging, online gift processing and online advocacy)? Is there volume-based pricing of which it is necessary to be aware?
- How will the organization integrate and synchronize its online data with the in-house database?
- Can staff access donor data via smartphone or mobile application?
- Aside from startup costs, migration costs and monthly fees, what other costs might the organization incur?
- Aside from basic year-round customer support, what other levels of support are available, and how are they priced?