insights Opptys SofTrek
October 2013

Autumn and fundraising go hand in hand!

fall leaves

Take  a hot cider break from your busy season, and enjoy this issue of Insights & Opportunities fundraising newsletter from SofTrek.




3 Signs You Need to Integrate Your Databases

By Steve Birnbaum, SofTrek Vice President of Client Solutions
Just as spongy brakes, squealing steering and smelly exhaust tell you to tune up your car, systems have ways of telling you a problem exists. The organizations SofTrek works with have good, functional reasons for keeping separate databases (e.g., for donor, program, finance, ticketing, etc.). A lack of integration, however, road signwill ultimately manifest itself in ways that harm your mission. Following are three key indicators your databases might be telling you to make the connection.

1. Donors Are Annoyed

Donors want to love you. But do they feel loved back when you send letters with misspelled names? Telephone when they prefer email? Send appeals to deceased spouses? These errors often creep up when you store donor information in more than one place. Effectively managing one list of names and addresses is hard enough. Multiple disconnected data sources inevitably result in angry, annoyed and inconvenienced donors. If ClearView CRM and your other databases aren’t communicating, you risk mistreating donors, harming relationships and raising less money.

2. Opportunities Go Begging

In cultural organizations, marketing’s inability to tie visitation to membership expiration depresses renew rates. When preparing project reports for major donors about their restricted giving becomes a science project in the Finance system that takes weeks, relationships are hurt. Fragmented data prevents fundraisers from easily identifying trends and patterns that drive strategy. Typically these patterns and trends emerge from quickly being able to answer the questions like:

  • How are direct mail donations affected when emails to donors bounce back?
  • How do major donors behave after their money is actually spent on a project?
  • What happens when we time solicitations across all of our channels?

If you want to build relationships and answer interesting questions, you must drill down into the data housed in multiple systems. When that picture is fragmented or getting the full picture takes undue effort, you miss opportunities and, again, harm relationships. The full picture is only possible when your systems are talking. One SofTrek client, for instance, connected ClearView CRM with the accounting system from its publishing company, doubling the size of its database—and its opportunities--in the process.

3. Staff Act Territorial

Finance staff does not trust Development’s data, and vice versa. Neither trusts the Volunteer office. Everyone has a shadow database. Nobody wins.

Different functional areas require systems specific to their needs. The problem is when these databases are maintained without centralized coordination. If data collection and entry isn’t consistent, data cleanliness isn’t universal, formats differ, and ID numbers don’t match, confidence in every system is eroded. Lack of quality data justifies data silos and the barriers around them popping up like tribbles. Integrating databases at a technical level is a project. Integrating and standardizing the practices of data management at an organizational level requires a mandate from senior leadership and commitment to a culture of communication, cooperation and collaboration among people, departments and, eventually, their systems.

Multiple systems for different functional areas is an inevitable fact of doing business. You can, however, make sure that the systems communicate. SofTrek has a firm commitment to openness, including working closely with other vendors. If you’re evaluating other systems you’d like to link to ClearView CRM, ask these questions:

  • What are the limitations of our API? How does it work with your test environment?
  • What is your philosophical commitment to openness? To working with other vendors?
  • We want to buy your competitor’s web/finance/ticketing solution–what is your track record of working collaboratively with others?

Your donors, and systems, are entitled to proper treatment. Seeing the signs that your systems need integration and responding go a long way toward achieving that goal.

This article was first published in The Connected Cause.



More neuromarketingfundraising

Neuromarketing guru Roger Dooley offers a graphic model for persuasion that encompasses a variety of conscious and non-conscious factors. Directly applicable to the task of the fundraiser, it offers a simple way to think about efforts to persuade donors that your cause is worth their time and attention.

persuasion slide
Dooley’s tips:
  • Align your ask with “gravity,” i.e., the donor’s interests, not yours.
  • Get the donor’s attention with a “nudge”--an email, direct mail appeal, phone call--that starts the donor moving down the slide.
  • Make the slide steeper with conscious motivators–evidence of results attained, event participation, member benefits, etc.
  • Increase the slide’s angle with select non-conscious motivators—emotions, the desire to reciprocate, etc.
Minimize friction in every part of the process--making online giving forms short, for instance.


How does your IT adoption measure up?

IT adoptionAccording to a recent survey of nonprofits by NTEN and The NonProfit Times, the average technology budget for nonprofits is 5% of the organizational operating budget. Organizations’ self-reported technology adoption levels range from struggling to leading.


ClearView CRM in the News

ClearView CRM has been garnering attention from experts in the nonprofit industry.fundraising-software-news-events

Take a look.

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