Welcome to 2014's first issue of Insights & Opportunities fundraising newsletter from SofTrek, developer of ClearView CRM. If you're one of the lucky millions enjoying the polar vortex, read on! The very act of moving your eyeballs back and forth will generate heat--we promise.
1. What does your product roadmap look like?
Yes, the systems you'll consider have great features—today, that is. What’s arguably more important is whether the system can support your organization in two years, or five or 10. Vendors should be able to articulate what they have planned for the future of their systems. This is not asking too much; any software company worth its salt has set a clear development path for its product. You’ll want to be careful of any vendor who is promoting a current client/server-based system that could force you to buy an expensive upgrade down the road.
2. What happens if our organization gets bigger?
Few organizations have strategic plans to shrink. If you feel certain that your organization will grow over time, you need to know that the system you buy is scalable. Further, many systems can grow to meet the needs of more users and donor records, but you need to know that growth can easily be accomplished. Some databases can handle records in the millions and users in the hundreds—and some can’t. Ensure that if your organization expands, expanding system capacity won’t be an issue.
3. Will our unique business processes work with your system?
Over time, every organization develops business processes that are unique for its needs. You work with constituents and constituent data in the way that makes sense for your organization. Vendors need to specify exactly how their systems can work with your processes and constituent data without painful changes on your part. Look for a system platform that has the flexibility to accommodate broad configuration without the necessity for custom-made software.
4. What is your track record on integrating other systems?
Any psychologist can tell you that current behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. If the fundraising software vendors you’re considering can show a record of integrating their systems with others like finance, ticketing, etc., that’s a good indication that they are willing to share their data and processes for the good of their customers. Without that willingness to collaborate, your organization could find itself in a windowless room that doesn’t allow contact with the other systems necessary for productivity and efficiency.
5. We want to boost our major gift initiatives. Can your system help us do that?
Your major gift officers know that the fuller picture they have of their prospects--relationship with your organization, demographics, giving history, etc.--the more effective their solicitations will be. To provide that information, systems should include a platform for complete constituent relationship management (or contact management). Such a platform should nurture both your long-term and annual development campaigns for major gifts program. Features should include comprehensive reporting, forecasting and analysis capabilities.
6. What happens to our data during implementation?
Protecting your data during the implementation of a new nonprofit CRM is paramount. For that reason, vendors should include a complete development environment as part of the process, allowing you to make sure any integrations and other changes are working correctly without putting your live data at risk. As well, a test system in a development environment should not be an added cost; you should receive that benefit at no charge.
7. Can your system work with both our national organization and our chapters?
Implementing a system that works well for national but short shrifts your chapters is counterproductive. If your organization structure incorporates chapters, find out if the systems you’re reviewing have built-in functions for national/chapter organizations. Vendors should be able to outline how their systems enforce rules about how chapters access, review and share constituent data, which is vital for security and for effective constituent relationship building.
8. How does your cloud-based system keep our data safe?
In general, any data in the cloud should be safer than if it’s on premise. To ensure this is true, ask the vendors you’re looking at to detail exactly what their security plans include. Handling sensitive constituent data safe involves several key facets:
9. Can you support our fundraising in every channel?
If online fundraising, direct mail, email, personal cultivation and more are all part of your fundraising mix, you need to make sure the fundraising system you choose provides full support to everything you do. That includes easily handling large, sophisticated mail segmentation (whether for snail mail or email appeals). As well, you should find features to help you manage planned and major giving (along with management of capital campaigns).
The experts at Oracle and Harvard Business Review have published a free white paper on research that speaks to the value of using data to uncover what customers–or, in our world, constituents–want. The research focuses on corporate marketers, but the lessons therein are completely relevant to nonprofits. For instance, the opening graph suggests that a majority of marketers (read: nonprofits) still rely on a "spray and pray" approach to direct marketing.
Today's audiences, however, expect approaches that are relevant, customized and based on knowledge of their likes, dislikes and habits. If your nonprofit falls into the "spray and pray" category, download this white paper for some food for thought. Ultimately, Oracle-based databases (like ClearView CRM's database) are able to collect, analyze and reveal data that help craft more meaningful approaches no matter what fundraising channel you're using.Download the White Paper.
Have you heard Facebook is passe? Not according to folks who actually count this stuff–like the Pew Research Center. Facebook usage actually increased from 2012 to 2013 among online adults. Good to note: Instagram already is rivaling all the other social media channels listed in this graph.
Copyright © 2014 SofTrek Corporation - Infinite Opportunities. Reliable Results.