Most nonprofits rarely, if ever, utilize or even think about the role a portion or all of their board should have in selecting this key strategic tool for their organization. Such an important tool should never be an afterthought or merely a budget line item.
Besides the selection of the CEO and the top fundraising professional at any nonprofit, no other item will have a bigger impact on funding your mission. The difference in results obtained by using a top-notch technology solution versus a second rate one, or worse yet, falling back to spreadsheets or an entry-level accounting program is literally night and day!
The proper donor software turns a former record-keeping application into a powerful communications and relationship-building tool. Your donor engagement and retention can be moved to all time high levels thereby drastically improving fundraising results.
To achieve all of the above results may require the involvement of your board in ways which may surprise you. Here are four possibilities:
Unless your board realizes the immense impact a full constituent relationship management (CRM) can have in your revenue generation results, they will never see it as any more than a budget expense item. This can lead to dreadful decisions such as trying to keep that expense item as low as possible.
Often it takes the collective wisdom and vast experience of the members of the board to achieve the point of view that a proper tool is required to step up to a whole new level in fundraising success. Many of them have seen the impact of similar strategic tools on other organizations they lead or are part of.
Such a new vision allows a donor software CRM system to be viewed a “must” for revenue enhancement and a proper investment to be made rather than an expense items to be monitored or reduced.
Never underestimate the power of your board to bring strategic viewpoints to the surface! Their leadership does make a difference!
2. One or more board members may have technical expertise
Although this seems too obvious to mention here, it is far too often the case where a technically talented member or two is ignored or underutilized.
Please keep in mind it must be relevant technical expertise in order to be of the most value. Just because a board member understands electrical engineering or solar energy does not necessarily translate into genuine help in making a database decision. The one exception may be the knowledge of how to construct a proper analysis of the needs required in the fundraising process. This needs analysis should include the insight of knowing to involve the entire team so nobody feels left out.
Knowing how to execute a complete decision making process that is more than random viewing of vendor demos can make the difference in ultimate success or failure. This technical expertise might also include the wisdom of knowing when to engage a third party consultant specializing in system evaluations and when not to.
3. The best way to fund a budget exception may be a board member gift
This seems quite obvious, but in most cases this avenue of funding a budget exception for a game changing fundraising tool is entirely overlooked.
This option is several steps closer to fruition if you involve one or more board members in the process from the start. Even if they are not technical experts, but they understand methodical processes, they will add value.
During their involvement within a methodical process, they will fully understand all of the following:
- The fundraising related problems you are trying to solve
- The changes required to fully take advantage of a new tool
- The impact such a new tool can have
- The investment required to achieve the desired impact
Just think how much easier it is for one or more of those “involved” board members to step up and personally fund the entire project!
4. Knowledge leads to involvement in relationship-building
Many of the reasons for a new donor software system or CRM are centered on improving constituent relationships. Therefore, many of the higher level benefits of donor engagement and donor retention flow directly from improved relationship-building.
Every board member involved will fully understand this correlation and will more than likely internalize it. Such internalization usually leads to leadership roles in future relationship-building activities. Need I tell you how valuable those leaders will be to funding your mission?
Those board members can and should become voracious recruiters of others. They will easily be able to explain the importance of relationship building to fundraising.
The four areas outlined above regarding potential board member involvement in choosing donor software can make a huge difference in this strategic endeavor for your organization. There are other benefits too numerous to mention, because anytime there is better communications and understanding, such a project is destined for greater results.
I wish you the best of luck in making your next technology selection process a win/win for your organization and it’s constituents! Please share below any experiences you have had in involving your board members in such projects.
Are you looking to purchase a new donor database or fundraising software solution? Be sure to download our “Buyer’s Guide to Fundraising Software” before you get too far into the process!
The preceding is a guest post by Jay Love, Co-Founder and CEO of Bloomerang, which helps nonprofit organizations to reach, engage, and retain the advocates they depend on to achieve their vision for a better world. A veteran of the nonprofit technology sector, Jay is a founding member of the AFP Business Member Council and chair of the AFP Ethics Committee.