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Guest blog article by Fielding Yost — CEO of Saturn Corporation

Non-profits have fallen into a trap when it comes to evaluating fundraising database and CRM technologies.  Some of us remember the phrase, “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”, and how that ended up for decision makers that were afraid to buy better technology not from IBM.  Many of those folks ended up having to dust off their resumes to find other employment.

There are many multi-channel technologies now that enable a non-profit to better track and communicate with its donors.  Some are modestly priced, while others are ridiculously expensive.

A smart decision on a new database technology can raise a non-profits fundraising levels by leveraging expertise in data management services offered by the market.  If you have a fundraising problem, a better database platform will not necessarily solve your fundraising problem.  However, it will give an organization the ability to be much more efficient and provide the flexibility to drastically improve any fundraising issues.

There are myths that have been created and are now permeating throughout the market.  An example of this is the cost:  whenever I talk to prospective clients they always complain how expensive a database conversion will cost.  It doesn’t have to be!  There are excellent database providers that offer a flat-rate, monthly fee that is extremely budget friendly.

Another myth in the industry is that exorbitant fees are needed for the conversion process.  Some providers with excellent experience in huge conversions can migrate your database for no charge.  There is no reason to pay upwards of $1MM to convert your database when other competent providers will do it for free.

The other industry myth is that it takes a year or longer to convert your database.  Everyone swears that their database is ‘the most complex in the industry’ and it will be an extremely painful process to migrate to a new system.  That is patently false.  Sorry to rain on your parade, but your system is really not as complex as you might think.  Certain providers have whipped the market up into a frenzy thinking that is has to take forever to convert a database.  Others truly can convert your database in a matter of months, and yes, they have the experience to handle extremely complex conversions.

A good database technology delivers real-time solutions in the following areas:

  • Online Giving
  • Donor/Public Facing Portal
  • VOIP dialer built in – Call Center – Outbound and Inbound Applications
  • Direct Response – Fundraising, Pledge, and Membership Expertise
  • CRM with Contact Management
  • Major Gifts Module
  • Mobile Capable
  • Flexible and complete Reporting capability
  • SQL Access
  • Data Warehouse with Embedded Business Intelligence and Decision Support

Others include in a flat-rate, monthly fee:

  • Merge/Purges – Monthly
  • NCOA
  • List Rentals/Exchanges Processing
  • Upgrades
  • Account Management
  • Tech Support
  • All Enhancements – Before, During, and After Conversion

Another industry myth is that service and technical support has to be sub par.  You deserve a dedicated team to meet your needs.  No longer should you have to call or email a tech support black-hole where you have to explain who you are and what your non-proft does to your database provider.  A better database technology’s experts will always know your needs intimately and work with you to provide the best solutions at the fastest delivery rate.

Article by Fielding Yost is the CEO of Saturn Corporation, founded it in 1981, and has been in the non-profit data management business since 1965.  Fielding’s email is fielding@saturncorp.com and his direct line is 301-772-4510.