Top 10 Reasons For Failure with Nonprofit Software

501c3 Nonprofit Software Failure Reasons
Looking back over the years, I have personally worked with well over a thousand nonprofits (& for profits) in the last 20 years involved in the evaluation of Membership Systems, CRM Software, & Donor Databases. And, in the last decade, many non profits which I visited with and helped in the evaluation process were focused on finding a long term software system which the organization would invest in (buy) and keep for years to come. In this article, we review some of the reasons for software failure for your organization to be mindful about in your software selection process.

In the last decade, we have seen a very sustained trend towards the acquisition of cloud based solutions (subscription based systems). With that trend in mind, it is not uncommon for associations and nonprofits alike who selected a Software as a Service (SaaS, rented and hosted) to be looking again after less than 5 years of utilization. Suffice it to say, the trend is for organizations to seek a new solution much sooner than ever before.

Therefore, with the advent of SaaS we are seeing more Nonprofits (Associations, Museums, Foundations,etc.) switch more often (more so by smaller organizations) than ever before. Knowing this trend, when I initially visit with new clients seeking a new CRM software system, my first few questions are:

  • Why bother with this project?
  • Why do you need it now?
  • Why do you believe it’s not working?

With that knowledge in hand, I wanted to share some of the reasons I have discovered over the reasons which tend to be the tipping point for many organizations to drop kick what they have and embark on a new nonprofit software for there 501c3 or 501c6 organization.

Top 10 Reasons For Non Profit Software Failure

Here are some of the top responses we hear today:

  1. Features: We can’t do this or that.
  2. Ease of Use: The system is not user friendly.
  3. Reports: We can’t get data out in the reports we would like to use/see without costly consulting fees.
  4. Storage limits: Data limitations by the vendor.
  5. Not Flexible: We can’t integrate with other platforms like our LMS or Email marketing system.
  6. Not Customizable: We have to live in a box and can’t change to meet the growing needs of our organization.
  7. Strategy: Not a good fit for our direction and we have outgrown the system
  8. Vendor Problems: Vendor merged or doesn’t care about our needs.
  9. Price: Too expensive to maintain.
  10. Support Issues: We do not like treatment from a software perspective.

In some cases these issues above are very valid and legitimate reasons to find a new membership management software tool to help facilitate the mission of your organization. There are certainly different tiers of solutions for different types of nonprofits (associations, museums, foundations, religious based, large vs. small etc.)

Software Failure is Not Always Software Related

Assuming your nonprofit (Association or 501c3 nonprofit) has done the proper due diligence and selected a system that is appropriate for your organization, success or failure will likely depend on several primary non technology related items as well internally:

  • Poor Data practices (initial data migrations)
  • Poor Implementation (how the system was set up) is the often overlooked killer of software failure
  • Poor Documentation of business rules and system set up
  • No Ongoing commitment by organization to keep up to date with system or training of staff (new or veteran)

Ongoing Software Assessments May Help Avoid Switch Costs

Software sales vendors don’t bring this up very often. But, it’s a sad reality. A new software system may not be your issue at all. With the growth in Cloud based SaaS systems, we are fearful that more people will drop kick their old systems without taking the proper assessment of the true issues impeding success with the incumbent technology. I admit that it is easy to get lured by the latest and greatest software features today (the new car smell of course). We all love to see new features/technology, don’t we all? And, it’s easier to point fingers and blame the technology, rather than the true diseases which have manifested over time into the death of the organizations software investment.

I truly take pride in helping clients with performing Strategic System Assessments to help identify the unique needs of the organization and determine the root of the problem before hastily switching tools.

Are you considering a change? If you would like a trusted partner who is impartial & studies the landscape of options to assist you in identifying your unique needs and requirements, please contact us for more information. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Software Failure can be avoided in your 501c3 or 501c6

Get Reliable and Focused Data Through Survey Results

501c3's need data to be effective via Survey

Anyone who has ever written a grant proposal at a 501c3 knows the value of gathering member and donor feedback is critical to success. As a foundation nonprofit, you are vying for government or larger private foundation money, and the competition is fierce. You need concise data that demonstrate customer satisfaction, along with demands for future service. Those surveys need to be both quantitatively valid and qualitatively valuable. You can get there from here through reliable survey management software. Here are a few ways many of the 501c3’s I have worked with gain insights through data:

Cold Calls or Hot Results?

Telephone surveys are one way to gather your data, but they are time consuming and demand the extra forbearance of your client. Survey scripting is a challenge, and the telephone medium restricts survey format somewhat. Going online following an e-mail solicitation campaign with a link to your survey is easier on your organization and returns a manageable product. You can monitor survey progress, abstract its results and synthesize everything for that grant proposal or re-funding cycle.

Residual Benefits of Data for Your Non Profit

The thing about surveys is the number of surprises that always crop up as you review them. For example, you might be surprised to learn that many public employment agencies do not view their primary mission as finding jobs for individuals. Their focus is on the big picture of job development or making the unemployed better equipped to find work.

So if you’re the customer and still don’t have the job, even though your résumé skills are improved, are you a satisfied client? Your expectations didn’t match the agency’s focus, so maybe they need to change their focus or change your expectations.

Unfortunately, bureaucratic inertia in the public sector is often impermeable to any kind of feedback except budget cuts. Your foundation, on the other hand, has to scramble for funding. You must totally keep your services aligned with customer and client expectations, and you must show how your primary mission aligns with the nebulous realm of client or customer satisfaction. You do that with well-designed and well-executed client and community surveys.

The Survey Says…What Do You Need to Know

Think about the top five (or more – but at least five) things your nonprofit needs to do well and write a survey questionnaire to measure them. The survey could be in any format or structure that meets your purpose – e.g. “Rate these statements on a scale of 1 to 5.” When you work out the details and the feedback measurement goals, you can pin the survey to your web site or have the survey hosted on another server. Then you sit back and hope for positive results all in your association or nonprofit database system.

Contact us for a free discussion on available solutions which may help you gather data on your constituents.

3 Quick Ways a 501c3 Can Excel with Software

How a 501c3 can achieve results with fundraising software?
Starting a Nonprofit is tough. And, even as tough is running a 501c3 with limited resources. Even with multiple staff and volunteer help, there are some things that require more effort than available. This is where nonprofit database software may be able to help your 501C3. In this article, we explore what nonprofit fundraising software can do and how it may play a role in reaching your goals.

Achieving Software Success At a 501c3 Non Profit

What Should Nonprofit Software Be Today? 

  • IntegratedFundraising Software is designed to integrate and consolidate all of your needed tools into one quick and easy-to-use software solutio.
  • All in One: Your Website and management software should become one seem-less platform.
  • Self Service: Transacting business with your organization should be either available via self-service or easily processed by staff.
  • 3rd Party Support: Productivity applications like Outlook, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word files are stored and available as needed for your constituents.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration via social media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube cam be found on your store front: Your Web site.
  • Easy to Use: Your management software should be the hub of all data to flow.
  • Accessible: Cloud software provides access anytime and anywhere in order to run your nonprofit.

3 Ways Software Designed for 501c3’s can Help

Increased Productivity

These are some of the common abilities that nonprofit software is able to provide to any organization. Being able to open all your software documents in one location gives you and your employees the advantage of reducing time to access so many different files. This gives you an immediate increase in productivity as well as stimulating team work. For small organizations, a Cloud Software Solution is becoming a standard for many associations as a way to increase productivity as well as reducing costs.

Increased Community

Accessing social media (Private or Public like Facebook/Twitter) allows your organization to reach out to the community in new and interactive ways. Placing these tools into an membership software suite, allows your association a manner to quickly and efficiently post growth expectations or contribution contests stimulating community involvement.

Cloud Architecture for Increased Access by Every Stakeholder 

With a Cloud nonprofit software offering you may store your data for access from remote locations with either mobile devices or a laptop or a desktop. The Cloud can safely store sensitive data for backup. You can also organize IT services in one Cloud based solution.

If you are exploring nonprofit software in order to reach your goals, please contact us for more information on how to objectively and efficiently find what your organization requires.

501c3 Nonprofit Software Today