I've recently been doing a number of small "micro-consulting" call-in sessions with nonprofits looking to switch Donor Management Systems. At the conclusion of each call, I walk participants through a process for taking the conversation we just had to a more detailed level, arming them with a sort of DIY software selection roadmap. This step-by-step process can be hugely helpful in taking what seems to be a completely overwhelming process and sectioning it off into achievable, time-bound chunks.
So here it is, the Idealware DIY Donor Management Software Selection Process:
Figure Out if You Really Need a New System
Is it a problem with:
Or is it really:
- Too Weak/Robust?
- Too Expensive?
- Out Of Date?
- No Longer Supported?
Identify a Team of Stakeholders
Make sure everyone who will use or be affected by the system is represented.
Understand Your Current Processes
- Make a detailed list of fundraising processes. Then, standardize them.
- Use best practices. Eliminate redundancies before you invest.
Prioritize a Features Wish List
- What does the software have to be able to do? What’s nice to have? I recommend creating a three tiered list:
- What do you need or else the system is useless?
- What would be nice to have but isn’t a deal breaker.
- What would you want if money was no option?
Do Your Research
- Make a shortlist of 3 or 4 viable systems.
- Check out the Consumer’s Guide to Low-Cost Donor Management Systems to help you choose.
Schedule Vendor Demonstrations
- Use real examples to see how each system will work for your needs.
- See our blog post, Six Tips for Navigating the Vendor Demo.
Rank the Systems Against Your Wish List
And choose the right one for you!
Some additional articles that might be helpful:
- Selecting a Donor Management System—Eight Questions to Consider
- And a general article about mistakes in choosing software, 10 Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases.