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Bloomerang Case Study: Grace Guest House, Inc. featuring Cynthia Battista

The purpose of this case study is to feature a one-person operation that found its way to Bloomerang through TechSoup and who figured out how to learn the system on her own terms.

How'd You End Up with Bloomerang?

Initially, probably like most people, I was working with Excel and loose notes and calendar entries to keep track of everything. It was only going to get me so far, and if I wanted a system that would scale to track more constituents, I knew I needed to make a change. So, I started shopping.

Bloomerang caught my attention because of its flexibility. I liked that the system would let me create the fields I need, that tons of free training resources are available, that all of the features are included, and that the cost available to me through the one-year TechSoup subscription is affordable.

It was also clear to me based on the constant product updates and feature releases that Bloomerang as a system is truly supported and its company is actively engaged with its users. 

You're Pretty Strapped for Time. How'd You Learn?

For other people looking to start in with a new system, you have to know that it’s not going to come with the easy buttons. You have to be invested in it. You have to be willing to take the time to learn.

I’ll be the first to admit that it was a little daunting when I initially logged in. But I’m a person who likes to help myself and I was up to the challenge. Besides, Bloomerang provides you with everything you need, you just have to take the steps to learn it. 

For me the free online videos and recorded Bloomerang Academy classes were a lifesaver. I watched them over and over until I really got whatever it was I needed to learn. Those videos give practical advice and show useful fields and scenarios you might consider for your own database. 

You have to pick a place to start, though. You can’t assume you’ll figure it all out in a week. So, I started with building out the constituent fields and getting those right--but the great thing is you don’t have to get it entirely right the first time, you can always go back and add a new field.

How Did Bloomerang Measure Up to Your Expectations?

I can honestly say Bloomerang has surpassed any and all of my expectations for a donor management system. I haven’t had to reach out to the Support Team much because there’s an answer to almost every question already out there in the Help & Videos section to reference whenever you need it. That being said, when I have reached out, they were wonderful. 

I shouldn’t have to say it, but the database really works. It does what Bloomerang says it’s going to do, and they’re constantly making it better with new releases.

Bloomerang’s not just a product it’s a true service that’s completely backed up by your support.

It’s easier not to change, not to learn a new system when Excel and QuickBooks seem to be doing the trick right now. The trouble with that is eventually, if you really care about the success of your organization, you have to make change. Change is hard, but waiting to use a donor management system only makes it harder.

Any Advice for Other Organizations?

I always say that you have to start with the end in mind. Decide what you want to get out of Bloomerang, and then work backwards. Think of it like a recipe. If I want sugar cookies to come out of the oven, what do I need to put in the bowl now? 

For me, I had a major fundraiser coming up. I wanted to be able to send an email to say thank you to everyone who attended, so I know what I needed. The ability to track and communicate with the event attendees. Since then, I’ve built the fields to track to grants along with my constituents. And I just started in with the web integration--these integrated forms have saved me so much time!

The sky’s the limit with Bloomerang. You get this shell to start with, and you build on this and make it yours.

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