Searching for a Donor Management Solution (DMS) is a daunting task considering the vast number of solutions on the market. A simple Google search of “donor management software” will return thousands of results. All promising to provide you with the essential features you need to manage your constituents and their donations. Often nonprofits get caught up in searching for what they need in the present that they forget to search for what they may need in the future.
Many select a solution that appears to be perfect at the time, but as their organization grows and their needs change, before they know it they are searching for a more robust donor management solution.. This is when they wish they had taken the time to understand the possible factors that would prevent them from upgrading in the future.
The cost of implementing a new solution
Typically organizations avoid switching from one software solution to another after a short period of time as the installation and data migration alone are expensive and time-consuming. It is important to invest in software that can scale with your organization as it grows. . You want a solution that can satisfy both your long term and short term needs, so that you canavoid the headache of switching from one system to another. For many nonprofits the biggest hurdle to purchasing a more robust future-friendly solution in the present is the cost. If this is true for your organization then you should consider purchasing a lower end version of a donor management solution and add features to it over time. Many software vendors offer a base version of their product with many a la carte options to choose from. This will provide you with the basic functionality that you need right now without having to worry about the cost of implementing a new solution down the road.
Data locked in the donor management solution
Having clean, accurate, up to date information is vital to the success of any nonprofit organization, so ensuring the solution you select has the ability to easily import and export data is essential. Typically software vendors want to retain their customers by any means necessary, to do this they often make it incredibly difficult to extract data from their system. To avoid this issue it is imperative that you research the different data extraction options that donor management software provider’s offer before selecting one. If while researching you discover that you can extract all of your data through an xls or csv format, then your option to move your data from one system to another is there. This will provide you with flexibility to upgrade your system in the future if that’s something you need to do.
The high cost of learning a new system
Software vendors offer unique products to differentiate themselves from the competition. No two donor management systems are the same, the terminology is different, the layouts are different, and the processes are different. So how do your employees adjust to all of this change? It’s not easy, there is a lot to learn and that takes time, energy and resources. Nonprofits thinking about new software always themselves “am I willing to have my team go through the process of learning a completely new piece of software again?” Once again, you can see how beneficial it is to purchase a cost-effective base solution of a product and over time add a la carte features or upgrade to an enterprise version instead of a non-expandable inexpensive solution. Software vendors love when their customers upgrade to a more expensive version of their software, so to promote this they tend to offer a seamless integration from one system to another and the required training resources to get there
As a nonprofit, finding the funds to invest in technology is always a challenge. It’s tempting to select Donor Management Software that meets your needs and budget today, with the plan of upgrading at a later time. However, if these above considerations aren’t taken into account in your original decision, you may find yourself in a position in the future where the obstacles to upgrading are too high, and you are stuck in a solution that isn’t built for the long run.