So, you’ve decided to purchase a new donor database. You’re feeling great about your decision and just KNOW it will help you nurture those critical relationships more effectively, communicate efficiently and raise more money!
One more step remains though, before you can get to enjoy your fundraising success. You need to migrate your data from your existing (old) system to your new system. And then it dawns on you: this topic has not come up during the evaluation process.
This topic should have been at the TOP of your list of important evaluation questions. If the system you have chosen is perfect for you in every conceivable way, but you have problems getting your data into it, you’re in for a lot of heartache and pain. And ultimately, perhaps, a failed database.
When evaluating donor databases, make sure you ask about the Conversion Experience. In fact, you might even want to talk to organizations who have undergone the same conversion that you will be undergoing shortly. If the company has trouble producing a good reference, or gives you a reference who is meh about their experience, you should consider another product.
You don’t have to search very hard to find horror stories about losing data during migration, processes taking far longer than they should have and even complete data losses. Yikes! Talk with your sales rep about the staff they have on their Conversions Team. Request to talk with a Conversion Manager at the company before you sign anything. Check your comfort level with the knowledge level of that person.
And make sure they are actually employed by the company you’re considering. Make sure they understand the nonprofit world – if they used to work at a nonprofit, that will help immensely! If they have worked in the donor database world at other companies as well, that institutional knowledge can be a life-saver.
Think back to the last time you moved. If you’re like me, you have actively repressed those memories because, and let me know if this is too subtle, I HATE MOVING. I hate lining up utilities, I hate packing, I hate picking up 3,000,000 boxes, I just hate moving.
Ahem. Sorry about that. So, remember your last move? When it was time to actually move physical locations, who did the actual moving? Was it you and some friends you could trust? Did you hire someone off the street that looked strong and hopefully they could handle it? Was it a moving company that you vetted carefully and talked with references? You have a lot of valuable stuff (both in terms of worth and memories), so you probably didn’t choose the middle choice, did you?
You wanted to use someone(s) you could trust, so you found people you know and trusted, or vetted a group of people to increase your trust.
It should be the same way with your donor data which is incredibly valuable. Take a few extra minutes (or even days if you need to) to make sure your dream database can get your data in place without the tears and heartbreak that others have experienced.
It’s well worth it in the long run.