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Bloomerang Case Study: Lily Meyer | Consultant 

Speaking after the conversion of American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro

The purpose of this case study is to feature the importance of data, how to approach a conversion, and what separates Bloomerang from other CRMs in this process.  

What's the Point of All This Data?

Keeping track of donor data boils down to the people who give you money, the money that comes in, and what those two things mean for the next round of fundraising. Your database doesn’t just bridge the gap, it narrows the divide between the data stream and your ability to understand and use it.

Making the Most of Your Conversion

Unfortunately, a normal reason nonprofits use to trigger the purchase of -- and conversion to -- a new database is bad data. The problem here is perception because garbage in equals garbage out. If you want to make more out of your data, you need it to be clean to make it happen, which means you have to actively engage in the conversion process--you have to be willing to put in some serious sweat equity.

It’s not about using a fine tooth comb at every step. It’s about making plans ahead of time. You have to know what you want in and out of your database, and then you have to do it right the first time. The fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to do something is to do it once. It may not feel fast in the middle of the conversion, but trust me, the work is worth it.

Final Thoughts

Start with the Right People in the Room

When organizations are gearing up for a conversion, a lot of time they just get too many people in the room. It’s my opinion that you can’t talk about handling data or a migration unless you are directly involved with the data part of your job. If you are not going to be directly using this system, then you are not qualified to talk about it.

At the end of the day it’s always a human who interprets the data. You can’t just read a report and actually understand what’s going on. A human being needs to parse it, and if you’re not the one entering the data and dealing with it, then you probably don’t really know what’s going on.

Why Convert with Bloomerang?

I’ve done conversions to a lot of different databases, so I can say with confidence that this is different. I’ve never experienced the kind, white glove service I received when I worked with the Bloomerang conversions team. It’s incredible.

For anyone who’s tried to extract data from another system, they’ll immediately appreciate having a professional handle it for them. Getting data out of a system like Raiser’s Edge is such a production, but the Bloomerang team makes it seem like a cake walk. 

And once the data is out, a professional Project Manager walks you through the data you have to work with. My first time working with Bloomerang we were able to drop a 23,000-record database to 7,000 records just by identifying and trashing all the junk. And because there’s a full backup of the original data export, you can make those sorts of strategic cuts without having to worry about losing anything. You’re simply archiving old data and moving forward with the right data.

You Have to Commit to the Process

First things first, if you don’t have time to deal with current data, it’s not time to tackle a conversion. 

You need to start with a solid assessment of the value of the information you’re collecting. How much of that data is really relevant? And be honest. If you’re only tracking something to satisfy your own curiosity, then there’s no point to it. Don’t collect what you’re not going to use.

I totally understand that you can get attached to data, but sometimes you just have to let it go. Have a heart to heart conversation with your data, and ask “Do I really need you?” And the commitment to it. It’s hard, but you’ve got to bite that bullet. Regardless of your personal attachment, if you’re not going to do it, don’t pretend that you’re going to do it.

What's so Great about a Bloomerang Database?

Unlike so many other systems out there, Bloomerang leaves the keys to your data in your hands. They make it easy for you to find it and use it. And there’s freedom to adapt to a changing landscape, which is really important and not something you get in the sales world. 

Bloomerang puts you in a situation where you can do your own work. I get that may not sound all that exciting upfront, but it’s incredible that they’re actually trying to give you a system that lets you be independent. Plenty of other databases make things so complicated that you can’t get anything done without their help.

It’s true that no two Bloomerang accounts look exactly the same. Every single one is unique just to you and your organization because the system is not modular. You’re not dealing with a bunch of puzzle pieces you have to fight to put together. 

If your organization has an annual intake of more than $100,000 or if you’re keen on clean financial reporting, Bloomerang is a great fit. The transparency is excellent and easy to reconcile, which makes it so much easier for an audit. For a small staff or an organization with more than 150 gifts a year, this is the dream because it automates so much of process needed to appropriately interface with your donors. 

Essentially, if you want to future-proof your donation intake and donor management, Bloomerang is the CRM for you.

See what others have to say about Bloomerang! 

See More Results!

As hard as it can feel in the moment, you have to remember that Bloomerang does hundreds of conversions a year. They’re professionals at this work, and you really have to let them do their jobs, which--let’s not forget--is what you’re paying for. Not to mention a fresh set of eyes can do wonders for helping you decide what to do with all that data.

One of the million things that’s so great about working with Bloomerang is that they understand nonprofit terminology, so you don’t create confusion or extra work translating nonprofit speak for someone who isn’t familiar with it.

The best advice I have for anyone going through the process is to identify a single person in key leadership to be the point person for the entire project. Having too many people involved not only slows and complicates the process, it makes it almost impossible. Make a plan as a group, and then empower someone you trust to work with Bloomerang to make it happen.

American Friends of Beit Issie Shapiro's Data Clean-up Results