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The Role of the DBA in the Development Shop
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The Role of the DBA in the Development Shop


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Regardless of which Blackbaud fundraising database you use, the role and position of the database administrator is an important one. Database administrators are not “just support staff.” They are — or …

Regardless of which Blackbaud fundraising database you use, the role and position of the database administrator is an important one. Database administrators are not “just support staff.” They are — or should be — serious professionals who bring subject matter expertise to the fundraising process just as our colleagues do in the annual fund, events, major gifts, and membership areas. So what is the role of the database administrator? What are they responsible for? And how do they learn more and become more professional in the work they do, in what they know, and how they interact with their peers? That’s what this session is about. Yes, we’ll talk briefly about data maintenance tasks, but we’ll focus more on taking charge of our roles and becoming the development professionals we should be! (For our IT colleagues: we use “DBA” in the common development/fundraising use of the term, not the typical IT usage of the word. By all means IT professionals are very much invited and welcomed to attend this session, and it should be very helpful as you understand how to work with and support your fundraising colleagues, but the “DBA” position we’re talking about here is the fundraising office’s database coordinator/manager/power user, not a Microsoft SQL Server® DBA.)

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  • CRA = Canada Revenue Agency; HMRC = HM Revenue & Customs (UK)Questions will not be answered but will simply be left
  • Transcript

    • 1. t
      The Role of the DBA in the Development Shop
      Bill Connors, CFRE
    • 2. Agenda
      The Role of the DBA
      The Tasks of the DBA
      The “Great” DBA
      With thanks to Melissa Graves, Pathfinder International
      Intended audience:
      Executive and Development Directors
      Small, medium and large shops
    • 3. Constituent and gift entry staff
      Constituent and gift entry supervisor
      Development end-users
      Power user
      Report writer
      Database administrator (DBA)
      Roles with a development database
    • 4. The Database Administrator
      The database administrator is the single person in the organization with final responsibility and authority for the database’s setup, use, and maintenance.
      The DBA might also have other roles, with the database or in development
      Being DBA is a role, typically not a full-time job
      Why this topic? Bill’s frequent observation…
      Brief history of the development DBA
    • 5. The Role of the DBA: Position
      Every organization should have one, regardless of size
      Should be in Development, not IT
      Title of “DBA” vs. IT’s perspective
      It should be a proactive, leadership role, not a “support staff” role
      Equivalent to annual fund or special event manager
      Single person with backup(s)
      Not a “database dictator”
      Hard job: combination of hard and soft skills
    • 6. The Role of the DBA: Responsibility
      Take responsibility
      Be a professional (not just “be professional,” but “be a professional”)
      Manage the work
      Be involved in development planning activities
      Proactively suggest approaches and solutions
      Keep a keen eye on unmet needs and insufficient workarounds with current system and be working toward potential solutions in the future
      Cultivate and steward IT and finance
      Advancement and Development Services
    • 7. JUST
    • 8. DBA Tasks: Database Management
      Security: groups, users, passwords
      Fields, data properties, general configuration
      Data entry protocols and documentation
      User training and oversight
      Data audits: duplicates, policy adherence, missing data, inconsistent data
      Large (or important) imports, global changes, etc.
      Synchronization with external databases
      Technical maintenance, such as backups
      Updates and upgrades
      Technical, user and data oversight
    • 9. DBA Tasks: Security
      Ensure groups are set up properly so that users can do all they should and nothing they shouldn’t
      Security is based on need and training, not on position
      Typically the higher the position, the fewer the rights
      Watch especially
      Constituent record deletion rights
      All gift rights: add, edit, delete
      System tools
      Create meaningful, accurate, detailed groups
      Consider user name protocols
      Watch master/supervisor-level access to the database
      Ensure good password protocols
    • 10. DBA Tasks: Training
      Responsible for whole staff’s database education
      New users
      Ongoing training for existing users
      Software upgrades
      Cross training on DBA responsibilities
      Motivating staff to be comfortable with database
      Regular hints and tricks sent out (email, newsletter, SharePoint announcement, etc.)
      Helping individual staff with personalization/customization of software
    • 11. DBA Tasks: Documentation
      Probably the most important task which is all too often left for “when I have time”
      Create as you go, do not save for one big project
      Write for your organization, not generic database usage
      Write for knowledgeable database users, not brand new users
      Document specific procedures, not general uses
      Document output, not just data entry
      Focus on content, not formatting
      Create individual Word documents for each process, not one “manual”
      Again, do it as you go (and see Bill’s YouTube presentation)
    • 12. Growth of the role into development/advancement services
      IRS guidelines about handing contributions to non-profit organizations
      What is a contribution/gift/donation?
      How much of a payment is a contribution (tax-deductible)?
      What is the gift date of a contribution?
      What is a pledge?
      Who can make payments on a pledge?
      GAAP and FASB with your accounting colleagues
      CASE and AFP
      Donor Bill of Rights
      DBA Tasks: Laws, Rules and Ethics
    • 13. The “Great” DBA: Job Description and Review
      Manage up
      Be accountable
      How “big” of a job is this?
      Should use both fundraising and database related language
      Should report as high as possible
      Should create or be given clear and measurable database goals (not directly related to the $ amount raised by the department)
      Should demonstrate capability to make clear arguments for database
    • 14. The “Great” DBA: Best Practices and Education
      Blackbaud (
      Conference, user groups, web forums
      Blackbaud User Society (
      AFP (
      The Donor Bill of Rights
      Fundraising education
      Chronicle of Philanthropy
      Books and magazines
      CASE, esp. advancement services resources (
      Taylor, Advancement Services
      IRS (
      Email list
    • 15. The “Great” DBA: Best Practices and Education
      Fundsvcs (
      AASP (
      NTEN (
      Techsoup (
      Related software conferences (online, auction, etc.)
      Computer knowledge
      Word, especially merging and creating documentation
      Access or other database program
      Working with IT (hardware, network operating system, networking)
    • 16. Summary
      You decide, do you just want to be “just support staff,” always responding to what others ask for, or do you want to be a leader, in charge of your own area?
    • 17. Questions and Contact Information
      Contact information for Bill Connors, CFRE
      Phone: 415.861.5454
      Fundraising with The Raiser’s Edge: A Non-Technical Guide (Wiley, February 2010). More information on content and ordering available at