While visiting Poland for the Festiwal Sektor 3.0 conference, I learned a bit about how digital fundraising works there and in other Eastern European countries. One person explained, and others agreed, that the whole concept of charitable giving is only beginning to catch on. Until recently, many European governments provided nearly all basic services. Now that governments are cutting services, nonprofits are filling the gap, and the ones that fill the most basic human needs—for example, food assistance or temporary shelter—are growing quickly. Also, in the past, when people donated money it was often done anonymously—perhaps dropped in a jar for a disaster relief effort.
As the nonprofit sector in Poland matures, fundraising practices are becoming more sophisticated and data-driven. Polish nonprofits are now beginning to look to Donor Management Systems to help them be more effective in their fundraising efforts.
Here are a few special considerations for these organizations.
Prioritize Ease of Use
First of all, many Polish organizations are volunteer-run. That means they should prioritize ease of use when selecting a donor management system. You want casual or intermittent users to be able to easily reorient themselves when logging in. Systems that offer customizable contextual help or workflow prompts are a good move—especially for organizations with a lot of volunteers or interns.
Get Help with Implementation
Volunteer-run organizations may also find it's worth additional expense to get a lot of help during the implementation process. With unclear lines of authority and varying levels of engagement or commitment, volunteer teams benefit from the project management and systematic approach a vendor can offer. Or, in lieu of a vendor, a consultant could also provide this.
In Poland, fundraisers don't typically deal with complex giving methods such as pledges or planned giving—but that doesn't mean their fundraising is unsophisticated. Unlike fundraising practice in the US, which has developed through decades of in-person solicitation and direct mail, fundraising in Poland was born in a digital age. Polish nonprofits are catching up on basic donor management, but they're also thinking innovatively about the use of digital currency and distributed networks powered by digital collaboration tools.
What will it take for fundraisers in Poland (or anywhere) to succeed? They need products that combine ease-of-use and solid donor management features with robust integration capabilities. And leaders need to understand not just how to be consumers of technology, but also how to align technology with organizational strategy and then evaluate what works.
On the whole, the needs of Polish organizations aren't much different from those of nonprofits in the United States. We're all looking for software that is both powerful and easy to use. Polish nonprofits are rising at the right time. The tools are better than ever and the enthusiasm I witnessed during the week I spent in Warsaw will no doubt lead to new and innovative ways to raise money and help more people throughout Eastern Europe.
Looking for a Donor Management System?
Wherever you are in the world, our new report, A Consumers Guide to Low-Cost Donor Management Systems, has reviews of software that can help your nonprofit track donors and take a more sophisticated approach to fundraising. Download the report here.