Part 1 of 2
Most nonprofit organizations understand the importance of fundraising software. It will not only help you track your donors and donations, but it will also help you build targeted lists of prospects, donors and supporters, send mailings, and create the reports you need. In order to obtain the value of the software, however, you need to know how to use it effectively. Many organizations complain that their fundraising software does not meet their expectations or is lacking in some way. Most of the time, the problem does not lie with the software itself. It is typically found in how information is processed through the nonprofit organization and stored in the system.
If your data is not consistent or stored in a way that supports your organization’s reporting needs, creating reports and accessing your data can be difficult. If your software is lacking, it may be time to make some improvements. We’ve created a list of tips designed to help you streamline your fundraising solution so you can easily support your organization’s strategies.
Keep the following tips in mind as you set about “cleaning up” your fundraising system:
- Define Clear, Measurable Objectives. Just as having a plan before you embark on a journey is important, setting clear and measurable fundraising objectives is equally so. Define your goals and make a list of the current problems you would like to solve. Decide how many (and which) opportunities you are going to take, and identify the information you will need to reach your objectives. The goal is to make fundraising easier and more effective, not harder. Keep this in mind as you define your organization’s fundraising objectives.
- Train Your Staff on the Software. It’s important that your staff know how to use the software properly. Before you begin another project, take the time and effort to train your staff on your fundraising solution. Make sure they also understand your fundraising goals and can effectively use your organization’s accounting software.
- Turn Your Objectives into Deliverables. Now that you have defined your fundraising objectives, it’s time to turn them into day-to-day deliverables. What do you need to meet your organization’s objectives? Do you need to run certain reports on a daily basis? Do you need to determine the criteria for sending segmented fundraising emails? Clearly and specifically define what you need to meet your objectives. Vagueness or lack of deliverables will only cause your project to remain ineffective.
- Set up a Code Structure. Do you have the tools you need to reach your goals? It’s important to set up the proper codes and fields in your software, for it affects the ease of generating your desired outputs. All fundraising software solutions come with pre-built reports, query tools, and letter functions. These features can improve your efforts; however, the information you need to use these tools has to be stored in a place the software can find it. Forget your current setup, and start from scratch.
- Clean up Your Codes and Fields. This is an important step. Your software is only as good as the information it stores, so make sure the data in your software is clean. Clean up your codes and fields, and get rid of table values you don’t use (after you’ve fully backed up your system, that is). Move values around and add new ones as well. The more clear and concise your codes and fields are, the more streamlined your system will be.
Stay tuned to our blog next month to discover more tips designed to help you get the most value out of your fundraising software solution. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about fundraising, give us a call today!