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Buying Fundraising Software? Checklist Good, Questionnaire Bad

nonprofit storyteller

Every so often I have a prospective Bloomerang user send me a list of requirements – a matrix or even a questionnaire. My job as Account Executive is to fill it out as thoroughly as possible and send it back to them, then wait to see if they want to start our sales process or not.

I can understand the appeal of this idea in theory, but in practice, it leaves something to be desired. Invariably, the form has a line that says something like “Intuitive?” and I am supposed to indicate yes or no.

There are two problems with this.

First, is anyone ever going to put “No” down for that? You could have the worst designed fundraising software in the world that is clunky, has too many modules and just doesn’t flow, but the salesperson is still going to say “Yes.” And they may very well say “Yes” because the system IS intuitive to them.

Which leads us to the second problem.

“Intuitive” is subjective, to a certain degree. What is easy to use and intuitive for a software engineer may not be intuitive or easy to use for a fundraiser.

The bottom line is that you are wasting your time asking that kind of question.

You are much better off coming up with a checklist of items that you need to discuss during the sales process, preferably a checklist with some sort of order of importance indicated. Then you can address those concerns with your salesperson in conversation, which allows for a much greater degree of nuance than if we are required to mark yes or no on a spreadsheet.

Sometimes a no isn’t really a no. No, Bloomerang does not have peer-to-peer functionality natively in Bloomerang. Instead, we partnered with an industry leader who clearly knows what they are doing and how to create a terrific user experience; instead of spending time designing something ourselves, we spent time building one of the best backdoor integrations you will ever see between software providers.

But that conversation and demonstration couldn’t be had on a questionnaire.

I understand that you are wanting to eliminate a few database contenders from your process quickly when possible, and sometimes a questionnaire seems like the best, easiest way to do that. My suggestion is narrow down based on reviews of actual users (there are quite a few sites out there that will help) or talk with users in your area about what they use and what they like and don’t like and so on. Then talk to 2-3 companies and be prepared to have a conversation.

Many salespeople want to help you find the right product, even if their product isn’t right for you. Talk through with them what you need and why you need it; then check references to make sure their users are happy and make the purchase with confidence!

The Buyer's Guide to Fundraising Software

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