Usually an organization starts to consider a new database when the old one can no longer keep up with the needs of the staff or lacks the ability to help the organization take the next step in its evolution. While the tools and processes database vendors offer can be an important part of an organization’s success, here are a couple of things you’ll never hear during the sales pitch:
1. “In the entire history of the world no database has ever earned any organization a single dime.”
Many database vendors are only too happy to promise that their database will increase revenue by some astronomical percentage. The truth is, a database only facilitates fundraising by keeping information organized and readily available so that the next targeted campaign, big event or important phone call be successful. A good database helps streamline the internal processes necessary to build donor relationships and should provide great tools that make fundraising easier.
The most important thing to know is that databases don’t raise money, people raise money. How creative and innovative your development staff is in using the tools and data available in any system is the real key to increasing revenue.
2.“Switching databases is expensive, time-consuming and painful.”
When a database vendor says that migrating to a new system will be no problem, what they mean is that it will be no problem for them. Done properly a conversion will be time-consuming, expensive and painful for the nonprofit. Why is that? Because no one knows your data better or has a more invested interest in it than you. This means that someone with intimate knowledge of your organization’s data, culture and vision must be heavily involved.
Database conversions are the perfect time to perform hygiene and database improvements that will make the new system more powerful and effective than the old database. After all, a new and improved system is the entire reason to switch! Tasks such as removing junk records, deleting unused data fields, mapping old fields to new, enhancing data and putting tools in place that can help your organization leap (instead of crawl) forward should all be on the conversion to-do list.
While the time, money and pain involved in a database conversion may be unavoidable; when a new system with the right tools and accurate, actionable data is placed into the hands of a passionate development staff, you can change the world.
Copybook Consulting, LLC (www.copybookconsulting.com)
Disciplining unruly databases for over 25 years. Database analysis, systems conversions, data mining, social media integration, custom publishing and reporting. Isn’t it time your database earned its keep?