So What Now! The Lucky Seven List for sparking the love with your Database Software

Nonprofit Software selection is the first then comes the success with it

Do you need to Jump Start your Database Implementation? 

You implemented your Database Software, tweaked it to make it your own, integrated it with other systems like Marketing Automation system, and trained your staff, members, and donors on how to use it… So Now what? In this article, we wanted to address a typical challenge which many Nonprofit Executives face with various Database Software systems (Membership, Donor, and CRM) to run their organization. And, that is keeping the “Love” going with your database initially and long term.

Here are your Lucky 7 tips to maximize adoption of your database  in your company. 

Create Project Goals for the Database Software Project—and Publicize them

You need to be able to track usage and success, so start by creating measureable Smart goals. Once you’ve got them, those goals should be clearly communicated to the end users from the executive team; this keeps you focused, aligned, and accountable.

Create some Energy and Fire tied to KPI’s

Every nonprofit should have some goals.  So, whether it’s membership or donor key performance indicators put them down and track your progress initially and long term. People—especially those tied to performance metrics—are naturally attracted to best themselves. So offer up a few friendly contests to encourage usage among the staff. Create dashboards, leaderboards, and reports with your Donor Management System or Membership Management Systems to track progress. Be sure to provide some rewards along the way.

Executive Directors Need to Lead by example.

I understand it’s difficult for many large nonprofit executives to get to wrapped up into the enterprise wide system. But, for Mid to Small associations, you have to get everyone in the trenches and that includes the Executive Directors! This cannot be relegated to the IT staff or the Membership department to lead. It’s important for managers and execs to know the ins-and-outs of the system, too. It builds both trust and buy-in from everyone. Besides, if your CEO or Executive Director is checking donor contribution or membership level data, you can be sure your staff will keep on top of key indicators which are important to you.

Measure what Matters!

At the end of the day, it makes no sense to spend one dime, if your nonprofit doesn’t use the software. Create an adoption report to determine who’s using the system and how. It’s an easy way to identify your rock star power users… and the ones that need an additional nudge. With a system like Nimble AMS, you can start-up a Chatter group to discuss adoption challenges and get user feedback. You may even use a private social media solution like HigherLogic which can integrated with many Association Management Software and Donor Management solutions.

Train, Train, & Re-Train. 

When was the last time your staff had formal training? We have to remind many that training isn’t a one-time thing; it’s something you’ll need to re-visit again and again. Train your current staff, of course, but also be sure to have a training plan for new hires. Remind users where they can find training materials as needed; you can even offer incentives for employees that proactively seek out training. Document! Document! Did I mention that you need to document your processes!


It’s easy to explain the organizational benefits of your membership or donor database software right after the 1st check has been written. However, as time wears on, there are less obvious perks remembered for the individuals using it. Make sure employee know how the system will help them—and make those benefits so obvious that they see no alternative. Increase buy-in by encouraging them to provide feedback and make suggestions for improvement.

Attend Membership Software User Group Conferences & Events

Many software partner vendors have a users group such as HUG,  NiUG, P Connect, AUG. With participation, your staff will have immediate feedback with users, allow for sharing of war stories from Vietnam, & special influence opportunities with the vendors updates in technology. In my personal experience, clients who participate in a user group are always the most satisfied and get the most out of their investment. Sign up for one now!

We can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that your organization get off to a good start with your Database Software project whatever the flavor (CRM, Membership, or Donor). But, even as important is the ability to sustain the energy and the passion which once existed when you first purchased the software. You need to continue the “LOVE”.

These are just several ways which you may consider. What are others?  Let me know your thoughts. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

What should you expect of Membership Management Software today?

Expectations in nonprofit software and membership software selection

When is Good, Good Enough? What to Expect in Membership Management Systems

For most member based nonprofits, the association management software selected to help run the organization is likely the most important decision which an Association Executive will make. Suffice it to say, it is important that you select the right membership solution to fit with your specific business requirements. In the midst of the plethora of membership solutions in the marketplace today, we often get asked what one should expect from the software available to them. In this article, we wanted to explore that question.

What makes each different?

Well, that’s a tough question. To make a long explanation shorter, it is usually the software features, background of each vendor (in terms of development history) and references (who they typically work with). To that end, we wanted to underscore some of the general features that comprise many Membership Software Systems today below.

Integrated Communication Channels

In order to meet the needs of a busy membership organisation and connect with your members you need to ensure you manage your member data efficiently by ensuring all communication is maintained, targeted and relevant.

Being able to communicate with your members through both traditional and online methods are essential for any membership organization today. Many systems today enable you to communicate via:  

  • Mail merge – Direct mail campaigns
  • Email Marketing – Powerful, integrated and fully functional email marketing tool
  • E-Surveys – Integrated and automated feedback management tool
  • Social networking – Public and Private

Self-Service Membership Web Portal

This is fundamental for any membership management database today. A membership management solution that offers you a fully web-based portal will allow your members access to their personal information at any time and from any location. Your members should be able to simply log in using their unique username and password and update/amend/edit their personal information. A comprehensive membership software solution will ensure relevant information is captured for each individual member account. A comprehensive member web portal should offer a number of modules which include online capabilities such as:

  • Contact Management
  • Event Registration Management
  • Billing (Paying Dues Online)
  • Orders Management (Allowing a member to buy something)
  • Social Networking: Forum interaction, Blogs, wikis, etc
  • Survey Management
  • News and content aggregation
  • Member to member communication
  • Web Content Management (Either integrated or Single Sign-On)

Reporting: Using Big Data for Making Smarter Business Decisions

Improving the service you offer your membership base can really only be achieved through the measurement and analysis of the feedback you get from your members. Many membership systems across the spectrum offer standard reports, onscreen views of data, and even dashboards of Key Performance Indicators.

In selecting the right membership solution, the reporting functionality within the membership software will make it easy for membership managers to create off the cuff reports and new reports on demand. The sophistication of the reports and how much you need to create more reports can be an indication of moving to one solution or the other.


Most membership management systems have taken the “Best of Breed” approach in the area of financials. In other words, they act as a subsidiary accounting system and only handle accounts receivable functionality. Membership systems will handle dues billing, sending out invoices, and collecting cash payments. From there, they allow for an export/import routine to the General Ledger of their choice such as Quickbooks. There are a few systems which provide an “All in One” financial experience where everything is handled (GL, AP, AR, etc.) but for most membership systems this isn’t the case today. 

Ease of Use:

It’s tough to discern general practices which make one system easier to use over another. The General User Interface can be viewed as easy by one audience and difficult by another. In light of that, membership systems today should be accessible from anywhere on any device today by your staff and members. The system should be Responsive. Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).

Integration and Open API’s

Selecting a membership software solution that integrates into your business makes for a more resourceful, efficient and complete internal business solution. In most cases, the less you pay, the less sophisticated the integration capabilities of the membership system. Technically advanced membership software solutions will have the flexible architecture (Open API’s) which will allow integration with all other business systems whether it is now or in the future. For example, a Learning Management System, Financial Management System, Event Management System, or Government Relations offering can work in concert with the main membership system.

So, there you have it. This is a quick list of general areas which you should expect today in a Membership Management System. In the coming weeks, we will be taking a look at many leading Membership Database Management software options on the market so hopefully you will stay tuned. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Nonprofit Consulting
Searching for Membership Software? Click Free Consult.




5 Tips for Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

Email Marketing Campaigns Insights!

Today, Membership Management systems and Donor Management software should have native email marketing solutions embedded. In this article, we wanted to explore some quick tips to ensure successful email marketing software driven campaigns.

Again, Association Nonprofits today should be utilizing an Email Marketing Solutions . Why? There are many reasons but suffice it to say Email Marketing is a fairly common way of advertising. And, keeping your members abreast with the goings on within your organization is paramount. With all the advantages it offers, however, there are a few things you should keep in mind when launching your email marketing campaign to be more successful.

1. Don’t overwhelm with information

Keep your email campaigns short, sweet, and simple. If pictures make your point resonate more (and they probably do), use them. Don’t give customers huge chunks of text to read, because they’re likely to read only the first few sentences before losing interest and closing your email. Summarize the points of what you want to get across, and get their attention within the first few words.

2. Try to only send out emails when warranted

Sure, you could send out emails every day, but that’s likely to annoy the person you send them to and get your emails sent straight to the spam folder. Instead of flooding those on your email list with pointless emails, send them only when you have something important to say. This makes it far more likely that the recipient will pay attention to the message, and will prevent your emails from becoming a nuisance.

3. Only send emails to those who have signed up to receive them.

There are plenty of places online to go and buy email lists, but, just like cold calling, this method is often frowned-upon. The people getting the resultant marketing emails may not even be interested in your message, and they may even cause email providers to see your organization as spam. Instead, provide people with a way to sign up for your email list, and send emails only to people on that list.

4. Segmentation

Consider combining the standard segmentation criteria with behavioral data to create more complex segmentation strategies. Look at data including: who opened the email, whether they downloaded the offer, the length of time they spent on the web site, and what they downloaded while they were on the site. Once you have a better idea of what your different segments find interesting, you can make sure your offers are more customized to fit your members and donors needs.

5. Give people a way to unsubscribe if they want to.

People who see your nonprofit as annoying are not going to listen to you. Give email recipients a clearly marked way to unsubscribe from email lists. Although your email marketing campaign won’t work on that person, they are far more likely to be receptive to other forms of marketing than if you did not give them a way to unsubscribe from your emails.

So there you have it, some short and simple tips to keep in mind when starting your email marketing campaign. Starting an email marketing campaign can be daunting, after all, but with these few tips kept in mind, you’re far more likely to be successful. So remember: keep your emails relevant, but not intrusive, segment and make sure to only send them out when warranted. The results will be spectacular.

For more information on email or marketing automation solutions, and assistance in selecting the right fit, contact us today.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.


Marketing Automation Software can help you achieve great things! If you are looking for Marketing Automation Software find a review of options here!