Many years ago, I worked for a small nonprofit that needed a new donor management system. One of our trusted and active board members suggested we get a particular product. He was confident that this was the right solution for us.
So what did we do? We bought it!
How could this board member be wrong? He was an expert in the field! He knew our organization inside and out. He was very active in many different facets of the organization.
What didn’t we do? Ask any questions.
We made the purchase without asking the vendor about any specifics. We simply trusted our board member that he knew exactly what our back office needs were, how we wanted to use our data, etc.
Questions about ease-of-use, training & implementation, needed features, customization, etc. were just taken for granted and/or assumed to be in the new product.
So what happened?
We never used the new system. We quickly realized that it did not fit our needs at all. Because it was an installed system, thankfully we were not locked into a long-term contract.
But the lesson was learned: no matter how much you trust the person making a recommendation, still do your research. Before you buy, ask the vendor a lot of questions and make sure you have a good fit for your organization’s unique needs.
If you need help with what to ask a potential vendor, check out our free and very objective Buyer’s Guide to Fundraising Software eBook.