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.

Decision fatigue in your software search; need good counsel?

Are you Faced with fatigue in your Nonprofit Software Search? We can help.

Making the Decision to Buy Software

I believe it was Cyrus the Great who said “diversity in counsel, unity in command” meaning that effective leaders seek the counsel of others, but maintain control over the final decision. In this article, we are going to explore big decisions and how seeking good counsel in making software decisions may be very important in easing the fatigue.

John F. Kennedy’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal to go to the moon was inspirational but it wasn’t his decision alone. He was the leader and the catalyst in the drive to get there first, but his counsel was diverse.


I believe that most Executive Directors would agree that good counsel is prudent and welcome in order to make bold decisions in which will move their respective association’s mission forward. However, perhaps the most impactful item to weigh is where, when, and how much counsel one receives or requires in order to make a decision.

Information Chaos

Let’s face it; we are all inundated with tons of content everyday. In fact, the term “information chaos” is likely the most applicable statement of the day. Take for example a few stats which seem to accentuate the point:

  • Internet Usage: The typical Internet user is exposed to 1,707 banner ads per month
  • Information (over) load: Due to some finding too much content is linked to greater stress, and poorer health
  • Surge in Big Data : 90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years

Decision Fatigue 

Obviously, the information we have today at our finger tips can be a distraction and often push one towards various reactions. One response may be “analysis paralysis”.  Or, another elicit response may be for some people to feel overwhelmed and become fatigued simply by decisions in general. In fact, there is a term coined Decision fatigue which refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of deliberation during decision-making.


Decision Points

There are very few people who can make big decisions on what seems to be a whim. For example, in Decision Points, written by George Bush, former President Bush woke up one day after a night of heavy drinking (and years of it) and decided to stop. He stated that he had thoughts during his customary jog in the morning that it was time to make a change. This decision point invariably had far-reaching ramifications for both former President Bush but also set in motion a course which changed the lives of millions for years to come. In hindsight, his decision wasn’t actually without counsel, he made the decision through thoughtful prayer and per former President Bush had received counsel from the most trusted adviser we can all have in our lives, God.

When making a decision it’s paramount to have the following traits from your counsel:


You truly need to find a credible source. It’s important that you find someone who is not just telling you what they believe you want to hear. Rather, you need someone who will tell you the unedited version of the truth.


In addition, you need to find an agnostic source of information. It’s important to discern any hidden or competing agendas from your source of information.


Be cautious. Seeking counsel in order to sort through the content from the wrong source which aren’t qualified or experienced will equally be a waste of time and potentially cause distress. You need counsel which is well versed in your industry and has experience in dealing with similar situations.

So, the saying from Cyrus the Great still rings true today. Selecting software and making a good business decision in doing so is critical for most associations and nonprofits. And, it’s likely that good advice from a trusted adviser is warranted along your path. 

If you find yourself suffering from analysis paralysis, increasingly confused by all the noise or simply need an ear to help alleviate some of the fatigue, you will find it here with SmartThoughts. We have many ways to help.

Learn more about our free consultation offer clicking the button below.



Who do you need to help you find your Nonprofit Software?

Are you looking for Nonprofit Management Software? We specialize in Membership Software, Donor Software, and CRM Software.

Welcome to resources for Nonprofits Software Advisement!

Welcome to the SmartThoughts site. We realize that you have a choice in where you gain insight into running your nonprofit (association, charity, faith-based, museum etc.) more efficiently. On this site, we hope to do just that.

The company was founded after witnessing first-hand the challenges in making sound business software purchasing and implementation decisions over the last decade in the nonprofit sector. As a result of this experience, we are committed to an agnostic approach and plan to use our combined industry experience and valued strategic partner resources to help educate and align our nonprofit clients with the proper vendor partner based on the information we have curated over the last 20 years in the nonprofit software industry.

Our mission is helping nonprofit software buyers, sellers, & service providers connect in the spirit of collaboration to provide solutions. This mission is due in large part because we believe that the software buying process is dysfunctional at best. Today, we have so much information yet making a good software deicsion is sometimes an elusive process.

We have formed after listening for the past decade to the market’s needs. We believe that there is a better way to assess technology needs and ultimately procure the technology to help automate a business.

Our Software Selection Advisement services are designed to help nonprofits (501c3 and Associations) make sense of the software buying process.

We are striving to change the software procurement process each and every day. We believe that in order to help our buyer clients we must help the software vendors who deliver solutions too. Like software, there is no perfect solution. But, we are trying to make it better!

Please feel free to comment as needed on areas of focus which we are involved in and discuss. This site is for you and will have added content contributed by experts across the field of associations and nonprofits.

Thank you for your time with us! And, please contact us if you need any help.


SmartThoughts specializesin Membership Software, Donor Software, CRM and Marketing Automation Software for NPO's!