donor management

I was recently doing some spring cleaning of all the closets in my home. On a high shelf were software user manuals from a product called Fund-Master: a product I had the privilege to help bring to the nonprofit world in the 80’s and 90’s.

After these relics of history were found, I paused and opened each one. There was a complete set for each new release from that era, and since that occurred about every six months there were nearly 30 volumes complete with various forms of storage media.

It’s hard to believe that this was once the norm. What has true cloud-based software done to change that entire paper and storage media nightmare?

The answer is nothing short of revolutionizing it! Here are seven specific advantages cloud-based donor management software has over its installed, locally-run counterparts:

1. Every Customer’s Software is Always on the Latest Release

In the world of true cloud-based software, not one where part of the application still resides on a local computer or server, each new release is automatically delivered every single time any user logs in.

This means that every user is on the same page. This comes into play whenever support help of any type is required.  Rather than spending the first 10-15 minutes of any support related interaction trying to ascertain exactly what version of what release the user has in front of them, and if this patch or another patch has been applied, both parties can immediately begin solving the problem. In fact, with the use of simple screen sharing they can both be looking at the same exact screen or report.

Issues and questions can be addressed in literally a fraction of the time!

2. Computer Hardware and Browser Incompatibilities are Greatly Reduced

Maintaining a large number of releases over a multitude of years due to customers upgrading slowly or never at all leads to a multitude of connectivity issues.

Those connectivity issues can be with the local computers, servers, printers, web sites and perhaps most importantly web browsers. The handshaking that must be kept totally in sync between the application software and the above named components can be broken by any slight new version of the product or service by either party.

Prior to true cloud-based software, these compatibility issues were a regular occurrence and they were not always easy to correct.

3. Data Aggregation for Comparison Reporting is Possible

Within a true cloud environment there is an available option for donor data to be aggregated in a highly secure anonymous manner with thousands of other users so comparison reporting on key summary totals can be made.

Such summary total reporting can be invaluable for comparison to any one single customer’s results. Being able to finally know if your organization is performing above or below the industry sector average can be a much better way to gauge success than just comparing to prior year results.

4. Third-Party Emulation License Fees are Eliminated

If an application is not a true cloud-based solution then various other fees are often needed. Those other fees are paid either to a complete third-party different than your current application vendor or their fees are absorbed into the cost of the core application and as such raising the level of those fees.

The extra costs are often disguised as “upgrade fees” or “hosting fees.” They are often paid to the outside vendor(s) who have created some sort of workaround solution to enable client server or PC based applications to operate as if they are a true cloud-based solution. This adds not only costs, but also complexity, neither of which is usually good.

5. Bug Fixes, Data Service Jobs and Data Enhancement Jobs can be Instantaneous

If you have ever been the victim of a programming bug you will love what can happen in a true cloud-based environment. If such a bug is harmful and cannot be worked around the application provider can often have the “fix” out to every single user in less than a day or two.

This can often be a lifesaver!

In addition to bug fixes, if your application involves large amount of data, the data provider or approved third parties can perform data service and data enhancement processes. These can range from basic data cleansing to data correction, such as address changes, to full-scale data enhancements such as adding telephone numbers.

By being in a true cloud-based environment all of these operations can be performed in rather straightforward manners. The added complexities of dealing with emulation related tools are eliminated.

6. Speed of Day to Day Operation

Closely aligned with the advantage above with all of its extra moving parts is the resulting speed in daily operation stemming from a true cloud-based donor database.

When you eliminate all of “extras” such as the emulation software layer and run in what is referred to as a completely native cloud environment, simple processes, such as moving from screen to screen, as well as much more complex processes like running reports, respond faster.

This results with a much happier set of users and increased productivity.

7. Donor Management System Integrations

We just might have saved the best for last. The creation of a robust ecosystem of third-party applications, which integrate fully and tightly with any core application, is infinitely easier in a true cloud-based environment.

Once again, not being encumbered by a multitude of add-on tools and layers of programming sitting between the core application and the Internet makes such integrations much more straightforward.

When the path to integration is easy, especially if the core application has a robust set of APIs, the ecosystem of third-party applications and tools becomes a reality in a much shorter time and is much larger in scope.

When all seven of these advantages and the numerous benefits provided are considered it is well worth verifying if your proposed “cloud-based” donor management solution is truly 100% cloud-based without any add-ons or third-party emulations.

If that is the case, jump in and enjoy the inherent advantages your chosen solution is about to provide.

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.