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.
For the month of June, we looked at a random sampling of ten church websites that Evoke manages (from across the U.S.) to identify the percentage of users who were on a mobile/tablet device while browsing these websites.
Can you guess the average percentage of users who were browsing on a mobile device?
57% of the users visiting these church websites were on a mobile or tablet device. That’s almost two-thirds of your website visitors!
If your website is not automatically optimized for mobile users, you have missed the opportunity to make a good first impression with most visitors!
So how do you optimize your site for mobile users?
Here are a few ways to ensure your site looks great on mobile devices and increase overall engagement with mobile users.
1. use a Responsive Website Platform
Be sure your website platform is “responsive”, meaning no matter the screen size the user is on, your website content layout will automatically adjust for the specific screen size.
Gone are the days when you need a separate mobile website. Website coding technology now has the built-in capability to adjust the layout of content in response to the specific size of the screen being viewed.
Some website platforms and templates do this better than others. The best way to test your website for this feature is to browse your website on a computer/laptop, grab the side of the browser window and condense the size to whatever size you choose.
Does the content “responsively” reorganize based on how large or small the browser window is? If not, you need a responsive website platform. Evoke can help you with that!
2. Decrease the Number of Pages
20 years ago, all of your website content needed to be “above the fold” because people would not scroll below what they could first see on the screen due to slow loading times.
However, user behavior has changed (thanks to the invention of smartphones and social media). There is no longer an apprehension to scroll down web pages which means you no longer need as many pages on your site.
If your menu looks like the example below, you are overwhelming users with too many options and making it hard for them to find the information they need in one place.
Condense multiple pages of content into one page and ultimately, simplify your menu to a handful of pages (shoot for 10–15 pages depending on your organization).
Your most important information should still be “above the fold” and designed to inspire users to keep scrolling but you are no longer limited to this small area—Yahoo…can you feel the freedom!?!
Here is an example of a condensed menu:
3. Interlinking of pages
Because of all the scrolling as mentioned above, mobile users rarely click on the website menu to browse a site.
The menu disappears the second we scroll down and appears as three lines in the top corner, called a “Hamburger menu”.
Therefore, it is crucial for your website pages to be interlinking, meaning one page of your site includes links to another page on your site so that users on a smartphone do not have to use the menu at all in order to browse around your website.
Like breadcrumbs leading Hansel and Gretel through the forest, interlinking helps mobile users explore deeper into your website, keeps them on your site longer, and also boosts your search engine rankings.
It’s a win-win!
Here is an example of interlinking on a church’s worship page:
4. Skimming is King!
5. Important Links as Buttons
Notice in the example above, there is also a button to “Email Gary”. Although you can hyperlink text on your website (or in emails), we recommend that important links are also made into buttons.
Why? They are easier to click, especially for mobile users.
Buttons also draw more attention to the action you wish for the user to take, therefore, increasing overall engagement on your website. More engagement = more RSVPs, volunteers, or donations.
Spend some time looking over your website and implementing these strategies so you can be sure you make a great first impression no matter which device visitors use to find your organization!
And if you need help redesigning your site on a responsive platform, reach out to the Evoke team.