As a donor database consultant, I’m often asked about database conversions and rightfully so. I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So, if you’re considering a change, here are some things to think through before you make a major change.
What is the primary motivation for a conversion?
If you don’t think your software meets your needs, have you exhausted all options to be sure that the issue is truly the software? Make sure that it truly can’t do what you need it to do and that it isn’t a matter of just needing training.If your software costs too much, have you talked frankly with your sales rep? They may be able to work with you to find a solution.
What is your timeline?
Think about when your major fundraising seasons are. Allow plenty of time to learn the new system.Take time to really research databases before you choose. Ask LOTS of questions and talk to more than just the sales rep. Find others in similar organizations using the product.
How clean is your current data?
If you convert messy and inconsistent data into a new CRM, you will still have messy and inconsistent data.Take the time to clean up as much as you can so that you can get the most out of a new product (or possibly solve the issues you thought that you had with the current one!).
Talk to a professional.
As a third party consultant, I have more time to devote to my clients than staff at software companies usually do. I also have worked in a wide range of non-profits and can help you determine which fields you may need to focus on to best use your new system. I would so much rather help organizations set up their new system than come along after they’ve gotten frustrated with it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!