A nonprofit organization’s scarcest resource is time: management time, staff time, volunteers’ time and the Board’s time. Any systems you put in place must save you a significant amount of time, or else, what are they worth?
Cloud computing has been promoted for its convenience and low investment, but it should also be examined for time savings.
A good example of a key system that consumes a lot of time is fundraising, now often called Donor Management or CRM (Customer Relationship Management), because this system tracks all interactions with donors, not just the pledges and donations.
Here are some ways that a cloud-based CRM system save your clients time:
Those Dreaded Duplicates
Running a charity is all about keeping lists up to date. Donors, volunteers, participants, followers, grant applications and Board members all need to be tracked. You need to know their needs, level of engagement, relationships and what the next steps are going to be.
One Database. Keeping all of your information in one place means that every time an address is changed or a duplicate donor is found and merged, every list is updated. Your two biggest databases are probably your accounting system and your fundraising system. They may be separate, but if they are set up to synchronize all changes as they happen, you achieve the same goal. Method:Donor has a deep, two-way synchronization with QuickBooks® Online and Desktop, so it doesn’t matter where you post updates. You only have to change the donor’s address once to update the whole system.
Keep it Simple. Charity staff and volunteers are typically chosen for their engagement in the cause, not their understanding of database structure. Therefore, the systems you use need to be clear and intuitive. Nobody has time for a lot of training or a finicky system. It can be as simple as removing unwanted fields from a screen or changing the order information as input, but there has to be flexibility to allow the system to be accessible to your team. Because cloud systems are designed to work on screens as small as a smartphone, they tend to be more flexible than traditional computer-based systems. Method:Donor is easy to simplify and customize; you can add or take away as many fields as you like.
Start Early. Would you rather convert a bunch of separate lists developed by different people over several years into a common database, or just start out right from the beginning? Because they are subscription-based, cloud systems have a much lower initial cost. You can start with just one user and a simplified CRM, which will grow as you grow. Method:Donor lets you start small, allowing you to implement it at the same time as you sign up for Intuit’s QuickBooks.
Lists are the backbone for your clients’ fundraising efforts, but if they are in different formats in different places managed by different people, they can quickly become a nightmare. With the current low cost of apps like Method:Donor, you can start saving time now and let the system grow as you grow.