So you’re shopping for a new donor database. Being the go-getter, development rock-star that you are, you researched different products. And then researched some more. You called sales reps, you did demos, you waded through proposals, and you dealt with more follow up emails than you could count.
Then, you organized a staff meeting to discuss your findings and make a recommendation.
And then your boss or your board went with a different product than what you suggested? Why would they do that?
Well, there could be several reasons; price, features, availability or even a prior relationship with a different vendor could play a role in the decision.
But there could be another reason, one that’s tough to consider. Maybe you didn’t do a good enough job championing your choice. You weren’t persuasive enough. You didn’t sell leadership on what your needs truly are.
Here are three steps you can take to avoid this dire fate:
1) Get your facts straight, and be definitive.
Your ED or board members are going to want to hear how this will benefit them, largely through making them money or saving them money (or both). They aren’t going to convinced by how your chosen system will make you feel better or make your job easier.
Focus instead on how an improvement to your day to day processes will positively impact the organization’s bottom line. Tell them this new system will create efficiencies and free up more time to devote to relational fundraising, which leads to greater donor retention. If you’re moving from installed software to the cloud, explain how that will make your data more secure and protect you from staff turnover. Compare what you are paying now with what you will be paying with the new system, including staff time. Specific, hard data is paramount here.
2) Be Concise and Be Organized.
I have had bosses tell me before that any email I send them, about anything, needs to be no longer than 3 sentences or they will not read it, and will not address it. A bit extreme perhaps, but it does illustrate that those in charge have a LOT on their minds and need you to get to the point quickly and clearly. They may want to help, but if you’re stumbling and rambling, their patience may evaporate and they will be thinking about the time you are wasting, and not on your solution.
3) Don’t Lose Your Passion!
You are in fundraising for a reason, and you are in the development office where you are because you are passionate about that particular cause.
A good donor database should be exciting to you because it should enable you to focus in on donor retention and allow you to focus on fundraising and not on administration. If you aren’t excited because you see how a new Twitter integration can be used to cast a wider net for your constituents, you need to make sure you are about to recommend the right product.
And when you do recommend that product, you need to make sure the ED and/or board are aware of why you are excited about this particular database. I’ve had employees come to me and say, “well, I mean, I guess we could go with this because it might make our jobs a little easier. So… yeah, that’d be good.” Inspiring!
Lay out your case methodically, carefully, concisely and passionately. You believe that one software system is perfect for the organization because it will allow you to fundraise more effectively. Convey THAT.
Remember, those in control ultimately want the same thing you do: for more money to come in to the organization which will help further your mission. If you communicate to them exactly how this system will do just that, how can they say no?