Lights, camera, action!

Most of you reading this post have been there: the excitement of a donor management software demonstration. Where you can sit back, relax and prepare to be dazzled by a sparkling array of new features, interfaces and integrations so spectacular that even a person with a doctorate in statistics would smile.

Unfortunately, far too often this display of shiny new toys and instrumentation moves the decision-making thought process from a focus on what will really be used daily to seeing who can garner the most check marks for various features and functions.

Luckily, you can avoid any issues by looking out for three things prior to and during a donor management software demo:

1. Define the 10% Before the Demo

Prior to viewing any potential vendor presentations or donor software demonstrations, it’s important to analyze and define what tasks your staff performs on a daily basis. An analysis of their daily tasks will help define the most important software functions you require.

When you truly net it out, the functions your fundraising team will use 90% of the time will likely only amount to about 10% of the available functionality of the software.

By knowing the 10% that truly matters, your demos can be more focused and more productive while avoiding shiny object syndrome.

2. Focus on the 10% with Your Donor Management Software

Most of us have been there. We were so enamored with the special once-a-year report or shiny feature we may only use twice a  year, we totally forgot about what we are doing 7 out of the 8 hours each day.

This is especially true for the actual fundraisers and/or executives on the team. If the new system does not facilitate their daily tasks and is not easy enough for them to do their tasks without training they will not use it!

This is where the majority of the vendor demonstration should be focused. However, that will never be the case unless the prospective customer or hired consultant demands it. Demand it!

donor management software3. Ask For and Use the Sandbox

An easy way to ensure your entire team can perform those vital daily functions is to test-drive the potential solution via a “sandbox.” The sandbox is a term for a live version of the software for the prospective buyer to test daily functions on. Ideally, the sandbox should have sample data similar to your own.

If your executive team and/or fundraisers do not use the sandbox because it is too difficult to understand or complicated to use, they will most likely never use it after your system is installed! This is critical to be useful daily for everyone.

In summary, if the critical 10% is not selected properly and established, your fundraising software solution is doomed to be a tool for one or two administrative staff and not an indispensable tool for the rest of the team. When the 10% is accurately defined, the system becomes that indispensable tool enabling greater fundraising success!

Is not greater fundraising success what every fundraising or donor management software should be judged upon?

The Buyer's Guide to Fundraising Software

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Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.