WRAPPING Your Head Around Software Decisions

Alternative CRM Software Decisions

Wrapping Your Head Around Software Decisions

There are some nonprofit executives that I visit with that are bit overconfident when it comes to their software decision making ability. They tend to think that they can “google” their way to the best fit. Or, simply call a friend to secure a good software choice. While certainly that may be true for some rare situations, the overwhelming majority of software buyers cannot.

In fact, choosing the best CRM software to help your non-profit thrive is no easy task. It allows for no margin for error, it impacts so many stakeholders in your nonprofit, and it’s usually tacked onto your to do list with little reward. Further, to add insult to injury, the most frightening outcome of this choice is that it can stick with you for years and years after the selection has been made. This is why it may be wise to use a systematic approach like the highly successful WRAP method developed by Chip and Dan Heath to help find your best software fit. In this article, we take a quick look at how the “WRAP” approach  may be put into practice.

Widen Your Nonprofit Software Thoughts and Options 

The first step of the wrap method is to widen your viewpoint. Narrow framing may lead us to overlook options. I have found that many nonprofit executives pigeon hole their decisions with “whether or not” thinking . In contrast, widening your approach, you are able to uncover new options. And, when possible, you may consider options simultaneously through multitracking.  In other words, Think AND not OR.

As written before, it’s important to evaluate your software needs and requirements before going out to “demo” products aimlessly. Early on in the software selection project, it’s important to widen your discovery and open your perspective to all the important use cases which you may be dealing with now and want to be able to do better in the future.

For software selection projects, “widen” may simply mean being open minded to the fact that you should consider all your issues and don’t limit your mind when you begin the software search.

Reality Test Your CRM Software 

The best thing you can do for any idea is to put it to the test. Many ideas and software decisions too get considered only hypothetically before being implemented, but nothing is more reliable than past experience.

Therefore, using this approach in the software selection process, begins with testing to a certain degree that your issues are grounded in truth before “drop kicking” what you have in place now. Further, I encourage my clients (regardless of size) to try out the software and solutions in a small-scale to see if they work in the real world before commitment.

Further, testing your options might be achieved through a proof of concept situation where the vendor creates a solution to address your primary use cases with core functionality.

Testing your issues, doing a trial version of the software, and a proof of concept  lets you see and feel how a software can help solve your problems instead of relying on a sales pitches. Certainly, these options are not something you do to start the search, but when placed correctly in the process tends to add a tremendous amount of value.

So, test!

Attain Distance in Software Decisions 

This may be difficult for some and very easy for others. Attaining distance is a powerful step to take as it challenges your own confirmation bias. Here, it is recommended to take a step back and ask one simple question, if someone else had your same needs, what would you recommend they do.

In software decision-making, this means looking at the solutions you are using (or considering) and deciding if you would tell others non-profits to use the same things. This simple question adds objectivity to your thinking, and it can help you see if a software feature or issue might be causing more trouble than it is worth.

For most of us, short-term emotion tempts us to make choices that are bad in the long term. To avoid that, it is advised that we attain some distance by shifting perspective.

The next time you are faced with a software decision of any sort ask yourself, “What would I tell my best friend to do? Or, what would my successor do?”

Prepare to be Wrong in Your Software Choice 

The final step of the WRAP process is used to help you prepare for failure and/or success.

In the event your software is not succeeding, you may need to consider other solutions that can help feed or support your growth. In order to know if your software is a failure, you must have clear goals or metric for which you can evaluate your software to see if it is truly meeting your needs.

Further, if a software is failing, it is important to have a plan B or at least a support contract for further development. The key to this step is to remember that no decision is irreversible, and we can use failures to learn. Even if simply you know how to walk away from it.

It’s prudent that we should prepare for bad outcomes (premortem) as well as good ones. And what would make us reconsider our decisions before making a software decision.

Wrapping up, if you need help in your software search, check out and download our guide below.

CRM Software Options for Nonprofits


5 Clues in Securing Your Best Fit Donor Management Software

Donor Software for Nonprofits is tough to find. We provide facts!

Recently, I had the opportunity to surf the TV tube and stumbled across an oldie but goodie movie called, Dragnet, and the famous lead character, Joe Friday appeared. I didn’t have the opportunity to watch very much, but it made me contemplate the question during my trip back from a  trip from the lake, “How would Joe Friday handle the challenge of searching for software today?”

While I certainly do not know everything old Joe Friday would do, I do believe that today nonprofit executives are required to think like “detectives” in their search for software. And, it made me think about some tips to help you think like a detective when it comes to Donor Management Software searches today.

5 Clues in Securing Your Best Fit Donor Management Software


With the year more than half way done, you need to make sure you pay attention to your LYBNTs. Never heard of them? It’s an acronym that means Last Year But Not This year. It’s far easier to reconnect with someone who has already given, than someone who is yet to give to the organization. It’s not only easier, but it’s also less expensive. It’s worth the time to make phone calls, schedule visits and reach out to donors who gave the year before because they have already demonstrated they believe in your cause. Look for software which can store data in a way which is easy to find and ultimately take action upon.

All Donors Are NOT Created Equal:

Segmenting lists is crucial when working with a donor management system. It helps you send an appropriate appeal to your donors. Your major donors need more than an annual appeal letter. They need a personalized letter with a handwritten note at the bottom of the appeal letter… and a promise for a follow-up call. Donors who give consistently, monthly, and in smaller amounts need a planned giving appeal. It’s critical to find a solution which has good segmentation capabilities for pinpointing these factors and many others to help personalize appeals.

Timing is Everything:

Some of your donors will only make a year-end appeal… others only give gifts during the summer… others when you make a personal visit. Timing is everything when making an appeal. Spend time looking for trends and data to help you organize your appeals when the timing is right. Set up reminders or “ticklers” in your donor software for nonprofits. Let the computer remind you to make timely visits, phone calls or other appeals. A good donor management system must have basic Customer Relationship Management features like activity tracking at a personal level.

Gather Your Details…Details:

Financial information and demographic information should be readily available to development officers and executives in donor systems today. If you want information about giving trends, quarterly reports, or tracking for a critical campaign — someone has to be responsible for data entry. All of those numbers and records will help create a case for approaching donors. And, likely as important is tracking the demographic details about the donor. The system needs to be able to store as much as you need to develop a relationship with a donor. When is their birthday? What school did they attend? The more details the better.

Just the Facts Ma’am:

Finally, this is the statement that made Joe Friday famous… and it is especially appropriate for non-profit work. Good donor management software will include the facts about the person and your visits. It is important to capture the flow of conversations, questions and even objections made by donors. Sometimes, it will help you include timely stories and details to help the donor know you remember specifics about their personal lives. The more personal and relational — the better!

Today, notes about an individual can be pulled into a donor management system to understand not only basic financial history but also relevant social signals which can help you develop a good understanding of what a donor truly cares about in addition to his or her background. Social intelligence features are huge! Get details, enter them into the system, and use them to help make long term lasting relationships.

Now, strap on that fedora (it’s the hat Joe Friday wore), arm yourself with some great donor management software, and find the resources you need to save the world!

To talk more about this, or discuss nonprofit software options on the market today, please Contact Us. Thanks.

You need a detective in Nonprofit Software Searches?