Presentation finding the perfect database


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There are thousands of databases out there but which one is right for you? Find the one that matches your goals and your budget.

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  • Key points: NOT a technology session: focus on process
  • 80/20 rule (SW = 20% of cost of software over 5 years) Mention common grant of $10K => can buy $2K-$5K of SW or if spend $10K on SW, budget $50K over 5 years Training, conversion, support can sway balance in cost of SW
  • If you can’t afford the maintenance, don’t buy the product. If you can’t afford to train your staff, don’t buy. Just in time training, train the trainer. Costs: 1) Software 2) Everything else: training, customizations, reports, interfaces, optional modules, implementation assistance, and consulting. 3) Extras: Hardware, network upgrades, forms, printers, 3 rd party software. Will you buy based on the “next release”? Consider payments based on performance if buying based on unreleased features.
  • Who will be running the database conversion process and how many other responsibilities do they have? Many nonprofits, especially smaller ones, don't have a dedicated person for technology and databases, and depending on the need/complexity of what you ultimately choose, you may need to add one.
  • Unexpected allies and organizational change agents can emerge in this process.
  • Three demos is magic number. Too many choices is a bad thing. Shoppers offered samples of 6 jams were more likely to buy one than shoppers offered 24 samples. Avoid demo fatigue.
  • Unstructured demos can help educate staff, but risk burning up time/goodwill, and bonding with a particular system before you know what you’re looking for. Similar to someone loving the last system they used, whether or not it would work in current environment. Remember, during demos, you’re (probably) talking to sales people. Encourage your team to be as realistic and true-to-process as possible when asking questions during demos. If there isn’t an immediate answer, make sure your vendor follows through with promised information.
  • Techies talk to techies, fundraisers talk to fundraisers. Structure like job recruitment reference checks – same people ask same questions. Different departments (Marketing, Development, Finance...) may also have different questions.   Try to find most comparable situations.  Use listserves in addition to vendor recommendations.
  • Every vendor has an approved list of clients who give references, if possible, try to find people not on this list as well.
  • You can hit any number of hiccups in training staff, converting data, and user adoption. Don’t hinge another critical organizational process on “being done” with your database. You will “finish” with your project, but to give it a closed end-date is a recipe for frustration and anxiety. Better to let the process be both about the journey and the destination. Database implementation, in a sense, is also never finished. Use the process to think about how you’re going to institutionalize staff training and “refreshers,” determine how you’re going to bring new staff up to speed, and ensure continuity in database operations when more experienced staff matriculate.
  • Databases are just as much for storing information as they are for reporting it. All the features in the world won’t compensate for difficulty in running reports and analyzing your data. Make sure you can do this easily from your system and have a business process that supports it, since the best reports in the world can’t help if no one is reading them.
  • To bring this all the way back to the beginning, there is no perfect database. There is also no perfect process – do the best you can with your resources and time. Use your clearly articulated goals to inform your priorities. Success: Implemented on time & on budget Meets business needs (need to define them) Better service to funders, donors, volunteers. Accurate, usable data Provide mgmt reports Sustainable, supportable You use it!
  • Think about other organizational processes happening alongside your database conversion. How recent is your strategic plan? Is your management team/board undergoing any major transitions? How committed is your management team to database change?
  • Presentation finding the perfect database

    1. 1. Finding the Perfect Donor Database in an Imperfect World April 15, 2010 Audio is only available by calling this number: Conference Call: 866-740-1260; Access Code: 6339392 Sponsored by
    2. 2. Using ReadyTalk <ul><li>Chat & raise hand </li></ul><ul><li>Mute = *6, Unmute = *7 </li></ul><ul><li>If you lose your internet connection, reconnect using the link emailed to you. </li></ul><ul><li>If you lose your phone connection, re-dial the phone number and re-join. </li></ul><ul><li>ReadyTalk support: 800-843-9166 </li></ul>
    3. 3. You are being recorded… <ul><li>This seminar will be available on the TechSoup website along with past webinar presentations: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You will receive a link to this presentation, material and links. </li></ul><ul><li>After the webinar, you can ask follow-up questions in the Technology Planning Forum: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Twitter hashtags: #techsoup </li></ul>
    4. 4. Finding the Perfect Donor Database in an Imperfect World Sponsored by Presenters: Robert Weiner, Tracy Kronzak
    5. 5. Today’s Speakers Tracy Kronzak Facilitating: Kami Griffiths, TechSoup Assisting with chat questions: Becky Wiegand Robert Weiner
    6. 6. Agenda <ul><li>Why Are We Here Today? </li></ul><ul><li>When to Change? </li></ul><ul><li>What Might it Cost? </li></ul><ul><li>How to Choose? </li></ul><ul><li>Surviving the conversion. </li></ul>
    7. 7. <ul><li>“ After people, data is your most important resource.” — John Kenyon. </li></ul><ul><li>A database is your institutional memory. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It allows the organization to survive staff turnover. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A good database helps you work smarter. </li></ul>Why Are We Here Today?
    8. 8. <ul><li>Your donor database should help you: </li></ul><ul><li>Track your activities and assets (donations, events, solicitations). </li></ul><ul><li>Monitor and forecast performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus your efforts and work strategically. </li></ul><ul><li>Report to your board, donors, funders, public. </li></ul><ul><li>Better connect with your constituents. </li></ul>What Should You Expect From A Database?
    9. 9. When to Change? <ul><li>Routine reports are painful to produce. </li></ul><ul><li>Critical information is on paper. </li></ul><ul><li>Can’t track metrics or progress. </li></ul><ul><li>Data scattered in spreadsheets. </li></ul><ul><li>Data can’t be integrated across systems. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t get 360 degree view of relationships, </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Data is in fundraisers’ heads. </li></ul><ul><li>Your organization is changing. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad vendor or wrong choice last time. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Principles <ul><li>There is no perfect database. </li></ul><ul><li>First, decide what you’re looking for. </li></ul><ul><li>Buy-in is critical. Stakeholders must be involved in the decision. </li></ul><ul><li>Structure software demos so you can compare “apples to apples.” </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you understand all the costs. </li></ul><ul><li>Trust but verify. </li></ul>
    11. 11. What It Might Cost <ul><li>Software is often a fraction of the total cost. </li></ul><ul><li>Prices range from free to $$$$$$. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Free as in puppies. Conversion, reports, training, & support may cost $$. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ballpark starting price for a commercial donor database: ~0.25% to 0.5% of annual operating budget. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>$1M budget = $2,500 to $5,000. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hardware (server(s), desktops, network)? </li></ul>
    12. 12. <ul><li>Additional modules? Interfaces to other systems? Customizations? </li></ul><ul><li>Training – will you need more than the standard? </li></ul><ul><li>Staff time/administration. </li></ul><ul><li>Conversion cost will depend on how much/what kinds of help you will need. </li></ul><ul><li>Annual support: ~20% of retail price. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you can’t afford the maintenance or training, don’t buy the software! </li></ul></ul>More Costs
    13. 13. Sample 5 Year Budget
    14. 14. Buying A Database <ul><li>Convene the right team. </li></ul><ul><li>Specify your needs and priorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a pool of potential vendors. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RFP/RFI </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Test vendors against your needs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripted demos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usability testing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference checks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site visits </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Get a detailed cost proposal. </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Convene a representative committee: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get input from the real users: Direct mail, major gifts, grant writing, gift entry, IT. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They should drive the decision-making. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Include techies on the selection team, but don’t let them make the decision alone. </li></ul><ul><li>IT should advise on standards, and might manage the process. </li></ul><ul><li>The decision should be based on input from all affected parties. However, some needs will be mandatory and some may not be achievable. </li></ul>Step 1: Convene the Team
    16. 16. Step 2: What Do You Need? <ul><li>What’s wrong now? What works well? </li></ul><ul><li>Is software really the problem? </li></ul><ul><li>Where do you see the organization in 3 to 5 years? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you really need? </li></ul><ul><li>What are your top priorities? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you afford and support? </li></ul>
    17. 17. Step 2.1: Prioritize Your Needs Source: NPower: Four Steps to Selecting Donor Management Software
    18. 18. Step 3: Identify The Vendor Pool <ul><li>Goal: identify a few vendors for demos. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask similar organizations, as well as on lists like TechSoup , CharityChannel , Information Systems Forum . Check with allied organizations doing similar work. </li></ul><ul><li>Vendors must fit your culture, staffing, and budget, as well as meeting functional needs. </li></ul><ul><li>Vendors should have demonstrated experience addressing your issues. </li></ul>
    19. 19. Step 3.1: Optional: Issue a Request For Proposals <ul><li>Can help narrow or expand the vendor pool. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask clear, unambiguous questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Be Specific: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Show how your system would handle donations in $, ¥, €, and £” not “Can it track gifts?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Show where your system would track catering costs” not “Can it handle events?” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Anything you ask for you will have to read and score! </li></ul>
    20. 20. Step 4: Software Demonstrations <ul><li>Goal: comparing “apples to apples.” </li></ul><ul><li>Use on-site demos when possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Either use scenarios for demos or tell vendors which areas you need to see. </li></ul><ul><li>Demos must cover the most critical functions identified by your needs assessment. Keep it real! </li></ul>
    21. 21. Step 4.1: Simple Demo Script <ul><li>Show how to: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enter gifts, including a corporate match with “soft credit” to the individual. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Track multiple relationships. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Track a grant proposal from LOI to award. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Select records based on combined demographic and gift criteria. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Create a new report. </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Step 4.2: Demonstrations <ul><li>Make sure key stakeholders can attend demos. </li></ul><ul><li>Invite all interested staff. </li></ul><ul><li>Collect input from everyone. </li></ul><ul><li>Simple Rating Form: </li></ul>AREA RATING COMMENTS Data Entry Membership Mgmt. Prospect Management  Events Management
    23. 23. Step 4.3: Hands-on Testing <ul><li>Get access to a demo system. </li></ul><ul><li>Make a list of features to test. </li></ul><ul><li>Grade the tests. </li></ul><ul><li>System Usability Scale: </li></ul>
    24. 24. Step 4.4: Reference Checks <ul><li>Talk to previous similar clients. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Was work delivered on time and on budget? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is ongoing support relationship? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caveat: try to distinguish client implementation & support issues from vendor problems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Optional: visit client sites. </li></ul></ul>Sample Reference Check Questions (pages 6–7):
    25. 25. Step 5: Full Cost Proposal <ul><li>Get a final cost proposal, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Software license, including all modules you’ll need. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any third-party software. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Annual license & support cost. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consulting & conversion. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interfaces & customizations. </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. So How Long Might This Take? <ul><li>Longer than you think it will. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>For small organizations, 3 – 6 months to select a system, 4 – 12 months to implement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For large organizations, 6 – 9 months to select, 12 – 24 months to implement. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Plan for the unplanned. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t hitch time-sensitive processes to “finishing” your database. </li></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Selection Recap <ul><li>Convene the right team. </li></ul><ul><li>Specify your needs and priorities. </li></ul><ul><li>Secure funding. </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a pool of potential vendors. </li></ul><ul><li>Test vendors against your needs. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>RFP/RFI </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Scripted demos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Usability testing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reference checks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Determine the real cost. </li></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Databases Don’t Raise the Money <ul><li>The right database can assist with: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prioritizing and segmenting lists. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prospect management and tracking. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stewarding your current donors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Identifying future donors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Time-management. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Measuring and forecasting. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Asking the right person for the right gift at the right time for the right purpose. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This is only possible if data is captured and made available to appropriate staff. </li></ul>
    29. 29. Surviving the Conversion <ul><li>How do you convert wel l, cheap , and fas t ? </li></ul><ul><li>The same way that you minimize your customization costs , your staff time and training cost s, and your learning curve and adoption time . </li></ul><ul><li>Define success at the start. What’s your priority? </li></ul>
    30. 30. One Organization’s Journey <ul><li>1998 – “Check out our new custom FileMaker database! So modern!” </li></ul><ul><li>2006 – “That old thing? We really need a new database.” </li></ul><ul><li>2007-8 – Search 1: “We have a winner!” </li></ul><ul><li>2008-9 – New Strategic Plan, New Direction: “Uh oh, our needs changed.” </li></ul><ul><li>2010 – New, new database (Salesforce) </li></ul>
    31. 31. Resources <ul><li>Batchelder, Duff: Evaluating & Selecting Fundraising Software </li></ul><ul><li>Battin, Tom: Should Nonprofit Agencies Build or Buy a Database? </li></ul><ul><li>Petulla, Maria: Making Order Out of Chaos: How a Good Fundraising Database Can Help You Raise More Money </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Idealware: A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems: </li></ul><ul><li>Idealware: more articles on constituent databases </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Mills-Groninger, Tim: The Soft(ware) Side of Fundraising Effectiveness: </li></ul>
    32. 32. <ul><li>TechSoup: Selecting Donor Management Software </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>TechSoup: Technology for Fundraising discussion forum </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Weiner, Robert: Finding the Perfect Fundraising Database in an Imperfect World </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Weiner, Robert: Ten Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases </li></ul><ul><li>Weiner, Robert: Why Building Your Own Database Should Be Your Last Resort </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>More resources are posted at </li></ul>Resources
    33. 33. Questions? Submit your questions using the chat box.
    34. 34. More Questions? Tracy Kronzak [email_address] Robert Weiner [email_address]
    35. 35. Continue the Discussion… <ul><li>Additional questions can be answered by posting in the Technology Planning Forum: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
    36. 36. Get the Most Out of TechSoup <ul><li>At TechSoup, you’ll find a range of technology services to help your nonprofit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Read helpful articles in our Learning Center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Request donated software , hardware, and online services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Join our community forums to learn from your colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Browse upcoming events and conferences </li></ul></ul>
    37. 37. Upcoming Webinars <ul><li>Social Media Listening Dashboard </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Thursday, April 22, 10 a.m. Pacific time </li></ul></ul>
    38. 38. Thank you to our Webinar Sponsor! ReadyTalk offers dedicated product demos for TechSoup organizations 4 times per week. For more information:
    39. 39. Thank you! Please complete the post event survey! Kami Griffiths,, 415-633-9392