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 With eliminating disparate or outdated systems, membership organizations can save money by managing tasks in one automated system.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.
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.