Part 2 of 2
Last month we introduced the first article in our two part series on regaining the value of your fundraising software solution. Making the decision to invest in nonprofit software is oftentimes a big decision for nonprofit organizations to make. Limited budgets often restrict the amount of resources nonprofits can purchase, and many organizations put off software investments until they absolutely need them. For this reason, getting the most out of your nonprofit software is crucial.
If your fundraising software is not meeting your original expectations, it may be time to reevaluate how you use the software, how your nonprofit processes your fundraising information, and how you store it within your software system. Cleaning up your data can go a long way to helping you utilize your system effectively. If your data is not consistent or stored according to your reporting needs, you will waste a large amount of time cleaning up reports and looking for the data you need.
In Part 1, we shared how you can “clean up” your fundraising system to gain efficiency and create better reports. Now that the data within your software is consistent, it’s time to discover how to maintain your software so you continue to get the most out of your solution for years to come. Keep the following tips in mind as you continue to safeguard your fundraising software investment:
- Develop Processes to Keep Your Software Running Efficiently. Now that your data is cleaned up and your software is running smoothly, develop processes to keep it that way. Determine the best ways to input and maintain your data, and establish clear responsibilities so your staff and volunteers know what they can change and what they cannot. If your software allows, reinforce these guidelines by setting up securities within your system. Write down how certain types of information will flow through your organization, and document the steps for inputting and updating this data. Many organizations develop operational handbooks to promote data consistency and accuracy.
- Audit Your Data. Maintaining your data’s integrity is important. We suggest auditing your work after you have entered your data but before you run important reports or generate lists. A simple series of reports or queries can quickly determine if there are any errors before they show up in your required reports.
- Build Your Portfolio of Fundraising Tools. Now that you have established best practices, maintained a good database, and have good code structure, you can set up the reports, lists, and letters required of your fundraising efforts. Make sure all of your reports and other fundraising documents are set up so anyone within the organization can use them. Limiting the use of fundraising reports and other tools to one or two people within your organization limits your productivity and hinders your staff. By giving everyone broader access to the software, you can bolster your fundraising efforts significantly.
- Train Your Staff and Volunteers on the Software. If your staff is not properly trained on how to use your fundraising software, now is the time to do so. Even if they have received extensive training, you may want to consider a refresher (especially if you have implemented new best practices, etc.).
- Put Everything You Have Learned and Developed into Practice. Now is the time where you begin to see the value of your efforts. Implement your new procedures and address any areas of concern as they arise (for they will arise). You may discover that what worked in the testing phase is not working in a live environment. If this is the case, you will need to make some changes to the software.
Effectively utilizing your fundraising software is an on-going effort. You can’t make changes one day and expect the software to work effectively for five years. You have to constantly be evaluating your processes and making changes as necessary. While it may seem like a lot of work now, you will be thankful when you begin seeing improvement in your fundraising goals.
If your organization is in the market for fundraising software, make sure you keep these tips handy. Give us a call today to discuss your fundraising needs – we can set you up with a solution specifically for you!