Is your Nonprofit Software helping you score enough to win your game?

Finding the Right Software is a Game. Play it Well!I love this time of the year! We have school starting, Family events like Halloween & Thanksgiving, cooler weather, and my favorite event, College and Professional Football are all on the horizon. In this article, we will review the art of keeping score while using nonprofit software. Or, more succinctly put, keeping score and measuring what is important in order to quantify the benefits of using nonprofit software today.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a big score board which recorded the success of our software programs?

Well, I suppose it would be if we all were playing by the same game rules and actually knew what constituted a touch down, field goal, and a first yard. Unfortunately, we don’t. Each and every Association and Nonprofit is uniquely different and comes to the proverbial table with different goals, missions, and strategy. Suffice it to say, even though you may be involved like many others in managing your nonprofits business, every one is “unique”. The good news for forward thinking organizations is that there are many ways to “score” and keep “track” of your progress with the use of  software. However, you have to be committed to outlining what those key performance metrics are very early on in your project. And, you have to be diligent in keeping track of those same goals through out the life of your software in order to truly know what’s working and what is not working. In light of this fact, I am going to outline a few of the top “Points” you may find useful in order to keep score in your software game below:

Maximize Staff Productivity

Constituent Management systems are designed to help improve efficiency and effectiveness. As you move into a project to buy new software, we suggest you analyze all the time consuming processes your staff is performing today. For example, new membership applications, dues payments, address changes, & event registrations can drain your staff from doing more meaningful work in your organization. With the right technology, you could focus on pursuing more donors, members, or spending more time involved in missionary work.

Reduce Staff Costs 

Disparate systems suck the life out of any well intentioned employee. With eliminating disparate or outdated systems, membership organizations can save money by managing tasks in one automated system. Take the time do perform this one task. Find out how much time you and your staff are spending managing data, and calculate that time in terms of salary and overhead to translate the cost into real dollars. For example, 5 hours a week managing manual data entry in disparate systems to process payments & donor renewals at a very conservative $ 25 dollars an hour (remember salary plus benefits) would cost $ 6,000 a year in time/labor. Further, contemplate the “opportunity costs” as well. This cost could escalate dramatically over the course of time.

Maximize Revenue Opportunities

Amazon like functionality is now a reality for many eCommerce web sites today. With orders online and the ability to pay for multiple types of purchases (orders, events, billing, donations) via one credit card transaction, technology can simplify the purchasing process for both members and staff alike, translating into greater efficiency and possibly higher non dues and donor revenue! If you have no way or manner to handle online eCommerce transactions, this one area could be a way for your organization to score big with 24/7/365 day transactions coming through the cloud!

Improve the Member and Donor Experience

Perhaps you have an initiative in place to improve the donor and member experience at your nonprofit. If it is not, this is certainly a big motivator for many executive directors which we visit with now. By empowering member and donor self service (online transactions), you are equipping your staff to better address your customer satisfaction needs and providing greater efficient service. This will in turn improve new member recruitment and retention rates.

Marketing Improvements

If you have  disparate systems (or outdated systems which can’t talk to other systems), your departments aren’t talking. Even in the smallest organizations it’s not hard to find accounting using one system, membership using another, and development using something else. There is no way to get “one version of the truth” when this situation is present. For example, instead of sending 1000 emails to a member who has never purchased anything, you send 100 emails a month to those that are most likely to buy. By connecting the web/constituent database/accounting/marketing together, it may allow your organization to keep the “ball” longer and improve your chances of targeting the right player to throw the ball to!  

Make Smarter Business Decisions with Integrated Data 

Another way to “crush it” is by using the curated data you have in order to plan better. By having data in multiple places or data which isn’t being used due to an outdated system, you miss out on opportunities. I read the other day that the average middle manager spends about 2 hours a day looking for data. Further, they can’t figure out if the data was duplicated or accurate. Your boards need good data. If it means getting a new system in order to do it, DO IT!

Technology can help foster a holistic view of your member and donors. You should be able to come up big with the right software here! As mentioned, each organization is different. Everyone has their own “game plan”, “best plays”, and “star players” which may help them drive to victory. It’s imperative before you search, you need to define what you want out of your nonprofit software. The key is determining your own specific goals and key metrics which you can decide are critical to your victory.

Enjoy this wonderful time of the year, I will. And, go Gorillas, go Frogs, and go Cowboys!


We do not sell software, we listen, and solve problems!

The Top 5 items to consider when looking at Marketing Automation

You Betcha, Marketing Automation is applicable for Nonprofits! Call @smartnonprofit for help. Whether you are a Fundraising Nonprofit or Member Based Nonprofit you need to market yourself, just as businesses do. That’s why marketing automation software is an essential tool for both businesses and nonprofits. In this article, we wanted to address 5 items which we believe need to be factored in when evaluating marketing automation software today.

Obviously, Nonprofits and Member based associations have special needs when it comes to marketing. It’s vital to retain current members and donors, in addition to attracting new ones. Marketing automation software can make it easy to run multi-channel campaigns that target specific groups at specific times. Below is a list of 5 worthy of considering:

Five Things to Keep in Mind When Looking for Marketing Automation Software

  1. Software Can’t Replace a Marketing Plan

    Even the best software is only as good as the marketing plan it supports. In fact as many as 1/3 of marketing automation software users say they are dissatisfied. Why? In most cases it’s because they don’t have a fully developed, implementable marketing plan.To get the best results, draft a thorough marketing plan in advance. Then choose software based on the plan.

  2. Integration Is a Must

    A solid marketing plan uses many avenues to reach past, present and future members and stakeholders. Look for software that will integrate with your constituent management software (CRM, AMS, or Donor) online marketing efforts, including website content management software, on-line display ads, SEO and social media. The system needs an open and extensible API. Be sure it does!

  3. Look for Sophisticated Segmentation

    Members are the life-blood of most nonprofits and associations. Over time, members are likely to have multiple statuses, sometimes multiple statuses at once. At any given time an individual member could be lapsed, dues paying, a board member, a major donor, or a past donor. Look for software that can engage members (past, present and future) based on sophisticated segmentation.

  4. Respect the Old, Embrace the New

    Marketing changes with technology. Look for software from a company that respects mature marketing channels which are often referred to as Outbound Marketing  but also has strong Inbound Marketing capabilities. In addition, you want marketing software that can be updated as new marketing avenues become available.

  5. Expect Exceptional Ease of Use

Marketing Automation Software is a complex product and a significant investment of both money and staff time. Look for software backed by a company that has developed a very easy to use interface. Content Creation (Forms, Email Templates) is the life blood of the system so you better be sure that you can easily set those up and/or they have some great starter templates to use. Further, you need to be able to get around the system easily. A nice dashboard which will show you the KPI’s your tracking (Recently Sent items/success, Recent Responses, Downloads, Who’s visited your website) etc. need to be easy to get into.

Obviously, this just scratches the surface of what you may need. That noted, if you would like to learn more about marketing automation software or how it may or may not be a fit for your nonprofit, please Contact Us.


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The Paradox of Software Choice, What a Pain in the Ass!

finding nonprofit software is tough. For more than half a century, scientists have been studying the fact that too much choice makes people unhappy. This has been dubbed “the paradox of choice.” In this article, we explore the impact of “choices” and provide several tips to structure your team in such a way as to avoid some of the stress and anxiety related to finding the “right” fit for your organization.

The New Yorker recently ran an article on this topic entitled, “When it’s Bad to Have Good Choices“. In this article, the writer mentions the theory of Buridan’s ass: an apocryphal donkey that finds itself standing between two equally appealing Software Choice can make you anxiousstacks of hay. Unable to decide which to consume, it starves to death.

Further, the author cites one study which showed that when shoppers were presented with six choices they had a much easier time making a decision than when presented with twenty-four or thirty items.

This wasn’t that surprising. However, what was interesting was when the number of choices was smaller they discovered that the level of satisfaction about the choice was also higher.

This reality was neatly summed up by another scientific researcher who concluded, “When you have more good choices, you don’t feel better. You just feel more anxious.”

As an Association or Nonprofit Executive, you and your staff may be overwhelmed by how many software choices there are on the market today. In fact, we have compiled well over 120 Membership Software Solutions and equally as many Donor CRM Database Software for you to review on our site.

When shopping for software for your nonprofit, it’s critical to know that it’s natural to be overwhelmed and anxious when presented with too many choices. In an earlier post, we offered 10 tips for narrowing your selection from the options available.

Below we offer some tips for how to approach the software selection project in order to work together to reduce some of the potential anxiety.

5 Tips for Avoiding Software Choice AnxietyTop 5 ideas to alleviate software choice anxiety

1. Form a Selection Team — Getting a group to agree on anything is a challenge, but that’s the benefit of having a team make the selection. Include team members from different departments, with different levels of responsibility. In the selection team, decide what will be a “Good Software Choice”. For small organizations, The Executive Director should be involved!

2. Acknowledge the Paradox of Choice The project leader will need to gather the team and discuss the reality that having too many choices causes anxiety. Ask people to let the team leader know when anxiety is creeping in. The expression “forewarned is forearmed” is very fitting here!

3. Make Sure Everyone’s Voice is Heard — Ask each member of the team to come up with a list of things the software must be able to do. The more extensive the needs of the group, the fewer software options there will be to consider. Don’t forget your members and donors!

4. Brainstorm Ways to Reduce the Number of Options — Members of the team may already have experience with certain companies or types of software that will make it easy to eliminate them from the list of contenders. Or they may know that only a few software providers can meet the needs of the group. Go to your peers for feedback as well!

5. Divide and Conquer — Give individual members of the team specific assignments. Each person can be charged with becoming an expert in one or two areas, and researching software options based solely on these factors. This keeps things simple and prevents information overload. It also turns an ad hoc team into a group of members with specialized expertise. Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford.

Are you in the midst of a choice like Buridan’s Ass?

If you don’t have the time, resources, or experience to embark on a software selection journey, you may find a lot of value in a software advisement firm.

Please contact us for your “Free Software Advisement” today.

We do not sell software. We are software advisers.