The following is a guest post by Shawn Kendrick, a researcher and blogger for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more. This is part of our ongoing VolunteerCorner series – focusing on what you need to know about volunteering for nonprofits.
Typically when the subject of trust comes up, we tend to think of it in terms of a relationship between two or more people or groups. However, ask any marketer or sales professional, and he or she will certainly remind you that products, brands, and services can also elicit feelings of trust. The same goes with software platforms. Below we will discuss the benefits of having trustworthy systems and what to consider when choosing new ones.
What to Look For
What makes a trustworthy employee? One that communicates well and gets along with others. One that you know is going to show up on time and put in an honest day’s work. When it comes to software, you should look for similar qualities. Do your software applications mesh together? For instance, do your donation management program and your volunteer management program work well with each other? When they talk with each other, is it fast and reliable, or are there a bunch of “work arounds” that have to be done? In the case of work arounds, the occasional one is OK, but you don’t want to ask your staff constantly to do things the hard way. Quality developers know this and work very diligently to make systems integrate. When looking at a new platform, make sure to ask if it works well with your current system.
How Your Organization Will Benefit
Having software platforms that work in harmony with one another is a tremendous advantage for any organization. Sometimes purchasing platforms that are synergistic with one another costs more upfront, but the staff time saved not having to deal with quirks between systems should be worth it alone. Then take into account fewer IT troubleshooting costs for “work arounds,” and it’s not a hard decision to make.
You’ll also want to factor your staff members’ and volunteers’ psyches into the equation. If you give them tools that are aimed to succeed (not frustrate), trust is built in you as a decision maker. Taking it a step further, having solid, integrated systems also gives line-level workers more security and confidence in the processes necessary to serve the organization’s mission.
As you can see, the benefits of trust permeate throughout an organization. Taking the time to build trust in every aspect of your cause — including your software platforms — can go a long way toward making sure your organization’s mission is being fulfilled.
Shawn Kendrick holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University and has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and business sectors.