Do any of these names ring a bell for you?
There are a plethora of names for the technology non-profit organizations and churches use to manage their records of membership or donors.
No matter what you call it, this system (database) is the very heart of your operation which pumps blood (i.e. information) to all other areas of your organization. If this vital organ is showing signs of disease or aging, less blood will flow to the other important organs of the body and eventually the heart will fail.
Now, internal medicine is not our specialty. But you get the idea! Without a database that has the latest tools and features, your staff will be unnecessarily overworked and frustrated while your communication with members/donors will be sporadic and uninspiring.
How do you know when you need a new database? If your system checks any one of the boxes below, your database is no longer meeting the needs of your organization:
ONE: Still Using Software
During the COVID pandemic, we learned how important it was to be able to access important files and tools while at home rather than in the office. Three years later, we still see organizations limit their efficiencies by using a database software solution that is only installed on a computer or two in the physical office.
Database tools should be available to your staff wherever they are working on whichever device they choose, either through a secure web browser or a mobile app. Giving your staff the tools they need, when they need them, creates a much more efficient process and ensures data integrity.
If your team has to wait until they are “in the office” to update records or find member/donor contact information, you can imagine what may accidentally get missed or how much longer tasks will take.
We have even seen staff have confidential information of donors/members insecurely stored on their personal laptops because they haven’t had the chance to get to the office yet.
Your organization must securely store and handle the confidential and personally identifiable information of those who support your mission.
Ask your current provider if they have a web-based or cloud-based option. If not, it is time for a new system.
TWO: Limited or No Integrations Available
When managing a non-profit or church, so many systems and processes are essential to your mission—giving and donor management, new visitor tracking, event registration, reporting, email lists, etc.
Yet, we rarely find that these systems “talk to each other”. Therefore, your staff is spending a significant amount of time updating individual systems, pulling reports from multiple sources, or following up to collect payments for registrations received months ago.
Imagine how the scenarios below could have an impact on your organization, your supporters, and your staff:
THREE: Takes Longer Than 1 Minute to Pull Reports
Pulling a list of members or donors is an important task so that your leadership can be informed and analyze trends. Unfortunately, we have found this simple task can take hours for staff to run database queries to provide accurate results on outdated systems.
Specific reports, such as a list of households with children 0–5 years old or a list of donors who have given more than $100 in the last 12 months, should be easily accessible to best serve your mission
These reports tell an important story about your organization. Yet, if it takes considerable time to find the data and write the story, then leaders and staff cannot make informed decisions or communicate proactively. This is devastating for an organization’s growth when information is a prevalent and powerful tool.
FOUR: No Campaign tracking
Having the financial resources to live out your mission is crucial, which means fundraising is essential to your daily operations.
Fundraising technology has adapted substantially in the last 15 years with the global adoption of online giving, digital payment systems, online banking, etc.
This new technology requires updated security measures so it is a great time to evaluate the fundraising and payment tools you offer for donors.
Many systems now offer online giving which directly connects to member profiles in the database (with secured access for only admin users) as well as pledge and campaign management tools.
You can still collect intent cards or paper pledges in addition to offering the opportunity to make a commitment online for those busy families and donors who prefer digital options. Real-time status reporting is available to help your staff communicate campaign progress as often as you prefer— pulling reports is no longer needed!
You could also send email reminders ONLY to those donors who have not made a commitment, rather than blasting your entire audience. All at the click of two buttons—seriously, only two clicks.
Now, you may be thinking this has to be too good to be true and there is no such thing as a perfect system. And you are right about the second part…there is no perfect system, but a few come close.
We highly recommend taking a closer look at:
Ultimately, your organization should use a database system that simplifies your processes, increases the productivity of staff, and allows for better communication with donors and members.