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5 Tips for Donor Database Buyers Told To Do Due Diligence

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Picture this: you (the Development Director at your organization) are wrapping up your well-researched, thorough explanation of why you need the organization to switch to a new donor database. Not only have you taken the time to explain why what you are currently using needs improvement, but you have even done some research and selected the replacement database.

You are optimistic about what you can do with this new tool, and are trying to convey that excitement to your boss, when he or she tells you to do… your due diligence.


You leave the office, feeling a little defeated and wondering what to do next. Well, here’s what to do next, in a handy list form!

1. Do not take it personally.

It isn’t personal.

I know it feels like it, but it really isn’t. You stuck your neck out, did a lot of research and put together a presentation, only to hear that your presentation and work wasn’t enough – you need to do more. But that was what you heard, NOT what was said.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Development people have an aversion to being called salespeople, so I’m not going to do that. I will however, note that there are more than a few similarities. In that vein, do what salespeople do when we hear objections: ask more questions. Generally, the first objection you get is not the “real” problem. Many times, if you drill down a little, you will find that there are budgetary concerns, timing issues, etc that are the real reasons why the ED is hesitant to make a switch. Those often can be dealt with by the vendor, they just need to know what the concerns are.

3. Do not lose your enthusiasm!

This one is hard.

You were so excited because you would be able to track your constituents’ engagement, something you’ve only dreamed about before! And now you have to waste time and energy researching other options. Salespe… er, Development People can run on emotion sometimes (both in good and bad ways), so you need to harness that excitement and do your best to convey that enthusiasm to the ED. Make your case logically and show how your new tool will help raise more awareness, make better relationships and result in better fundraising!

4. Make a list of WHY you are so excited about your first choice.

And then do some research. Find out who else offers that engagement feature you are so excited about, then compare integrated email functionality and communication coaching. Be prepared to explain and defend why the engagement ranking is more important to your efforts than the price is. Your passion is much more important than a comparison spreadsheet.

5. Own your position!

You may not win every situation or request you put forth, but be prepared to explain yourself fully and don’t be afraid to ask for some help from the vendor. They should be able to provide you with some ammo once you have identified what the real concern is. Believe in yourself and the job you are doing, and take ownership of the fact that this recommendation will help you be more effective and be prepared to show exactly how that will happen.

Sometimes, the ED is looking to see how serious you are. And sometimes, your organization simply can’t afford to make a change right now. Most of the time, the situation is somewhere in the middle. Identify the real issue and deal with it.

Then enjoy your new database! Make the most of it, and prove to them that they made the right decision by believing in you!

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