Nonprofits like yours rely on donor management systems to help them work efficiently, tackle opportunities and reach their goals. Being central to operations, fundraising organizations deserve the best database technology to help achieve their missions.
Luckily, newer platforms have solved many of the challenges created by outdated tools.
What, in particular, is motivating nonprofits to leave their old donor management systems behind? Read on to learn the five most common reasons.
Donor management systems must be flexible
When many of the older donor database products were designed, there was little emphasis placed on user experience. Systems were developed to be used in one expected way and by an experienced database manager. Now, the donor management platform is used across organizations, by individuals of different skills and backgrounds. And those users expect simple tools that help them accomplish their specific objectives.
Since no two fundraising organizations are alike, it is key that today’s donor management systems are flexible. They should allow you to easily expand the information you want to track about your donor relationships. Fields should be simple to add to your input screens and reports, to provide the exact details needed for tasks and projects. For many nonprofits that have struggled with complicated donor databases, this is a major reason to switch to a new platform.
Old systems rely on constant data loading
The previous era of software needed to be installed on central servers and could only be accessed by hard-wired computer connections. When it came to inputting donor and donation data, that meant that there was only one way: manual data loading.
With today’s truly cloud-based applications, this is a thing of the past. Cloud-based systems are now able to speak to each other and share information in real-time. For example, let’s look at recurring gift processing. When the monthly donation processes at the gateway level, this information can now automatically update in your donor management system. There are no more files to manage and no success or failure information to load and reload.
Donor management systems must now be mobile
Mobile devices are now commonplace, and today’s donor management systems must now reflect that. More than just a convenience, they are also important in working efficiently.
You want your donor relations team out meeting donors. There's no reason that they should have to come back to the office to run a report, log a call, or create a proposal. Today, this could and should be easily manageable from a smartphone or tablet, and new donor management systems enable it.
This functionality applies to managers too. As a manager, you want real-time reports available wherever you are so that you always have the latest insights about your appeals and events. While older technology would cause all sorts of delays, new technology lets you access the information you need in an instant.
Your IT team shouldn’t be required day-to-day
There’s never a shortage of work to complete at your nonprofit. And processes are quicker and simpler when individuals can complete their tasks from end-to-end. While your IT team plays a vital role in your organization and may have a hand in your donor management system's implementation, they shouldn’t be needed for day-to-day tasks.
Your fundraising team should be able to complete most of their tasks without requiring deep technical skills and resources. They should be able to publish and change forms for campaigns, appeals, and events as often as needed. Older tools needed the IT team to make even small adjustments. With today’s technology, these tasks can be completed without waiting for help and taking time from multiple employees.
One-stop shops are too limiting
Because they needed to be installed on central servers, it had been common for nonprofits to rely on one-stop shops for their technology needs. Of course, it is difficult for one vendor to be an expert on all a nonprofit’s needs. Today’s cloud-based technology allows for a better way. Because many tools can easily connect with each other, nonprofits can select the best one for each specific need. When combined, they create an organization's perfect solution.
You can think of this like a smartphone. In the past, phones would be loaded with the tools the manufacturer developed. You can now do so much more. Out of the box, there are important features and functions on your new smartphone. But the built-in app stores exist to help you turn your phone into the exact set of tools you need. You can download more apps, and if one doesn’t do what you hoped, just delete it and download another.
Cloud-based donor management systems work the same way. You get some key features with the platform itself, but now you can install the best-in-class gift processing, pledge management, event functionality, and more. They allow you to easily build the exact set of solutions that help you achieve your mission.