Sunday, April 15, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Strategic Direction and Infrastructure are Your First Hurdles

The day after you make the strategic decision to move your fundraising organization to digital – hint, simply having a Website and sending out emails is not making a strategic decision to move to digital – your next decision is “Who do I call?”

While we hope it’s Browne Innovation Group (BIG), whether it is BIG or another firm, you’re going to need outside counsel in thinking through your fundraising organization’s strategic direction. This is not a small move. And a big part of that strategic direction conversation must be a discussion of your technology infrastructure.

Having a donor management system (a.k.a. donor database) built for the needs of direct mail or traditional planned giving doesn’t mean that the same donor management system can make the leap to digital.

The good news is that since the last time you shopped for and purchased a donor management system, you are going to have "reverse sticker shock." What’s reverse sticker shock? Instead of seeing a big five, six, or seven digit price tag, you will be pleasantly surprised at the power and features a new system will offer you for “half or less” of what your previous system costs you.  And that is just the cost.  

The biggest change is that you actually have options in how you acquire the software. You have the option of the install software model or acquiring software as a service (SaaS) model. The install model is what most fundraising organizations have today. They have their own servers that host the donor management software in-house. SaaS is a completely different model that is fast becoming the dominant mode of acquiring database and customer relationship management (CRM) software across all industries. In a SaaS environment, the software is accessed through a browser and the actual software and servers reside elsewhere. For example, most nonprofit organizations’ Websites utilize a SaaS model but don’t actually think of it as such . . . but it is.   

Making the decision to move to a digital environment means setting your technology infrastructure on a migration path of integrating your donor management system, your Website platform, and the myriad social platforms such as Facebook that you will be using in the digital environment.

Technology infrastructure is just one of the elements of successfully transforming to a digital environment. But it all needs to be linked up with the fundraising business goals that are defined in changing your strategic direction.   

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