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 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
  • The Role of the DBA in the Development Shop

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