Switching to a New Donor Engagement Platform: 10 Important Questions to Ask


This post is provided courtesy of Zuri Group, an Engaging Networks Accredited Partner.

You might be ready to transition to a new donor engagement platform (a.k.a., donor management software). But how do you know which platform will fulfill your needs? Such a big transition requires thoughtful consideration of your team’s immediate needs and future goals. Before deciding which donor engagement platform to adopt, it’s essential for nonprofit organizations to determine how exactly your current system both benefits and hinders those goals.

That’s why you must validate that a system migration is the right move in the first place. Improving your team’s use of the current system is nearly always the faster and much less expensive route. Here are some great basic questions to start with:

  • Can you identify business objectives that the current system simply isn’t capable of meeting?
  • Did you provide adequate end-user training to your team — not once, but twice?
  • Have you tried everything you possibly could to reconfigure the system to work for your processes, not against them?

If you can answer yes to all those questions, then it’s probably time to bid farewell to the inadequacies of your current system and begin the quest for a more powerful donor management software solution.

Review these ten questions with your team before deciding which donor engagement platform to implement:

1. What are the challenges or pain points within your nonprofit organization? How does your current donor engagement platform either minimize or exacerbate these?

Whether they occur on a daily basis or over a long period of time, internal challenges are often caused or solved by a donor engagement platform. If you’re struggling with donor retention, meeting fundraising goals, or keeping track of your data streams, examine how your system is either contributing to or resolving these issues.

2. What does your current system do well — and where does it fall short?

Write down everything that comes to mind — user adoption, specific functionality, overall performance, etc. Review your list and determine what could be improved through additional training, custom development, or system integrations.

3. What key features do your team like about your present donor engagement platform?

There must be some elements of your donor management software that work well — or it probably wouldn’t have been implemented in the first place. What are the redeeming qualities? Make sure to include those same qualities as requirements for key features in your new system.

4. What would your team like to see improved?

This list could get unwieldy and overwhelming, but think of it as a good problem to have: You’re still gathering requirements that need to be included in the new system. Categorizing the list into back-end, front-end, and fundraiser-specific requests is often helpful, as every bullet point will help guide your decision. Your list can encompass everything from nitty-gritty technical needs to big-picture goals, like simply trying to win more online donations.

5. What features are must-haves in a new donor engagement platform?

Cloud-based storage, workflow automation, reporting capabilities, and built-in email are essential components of any software for nonprofits. Additional features will be specific to your nonprofit and the type of work it performs — for example, child sponsorship organizations must have a way to connect sponsors with beneficiaries, and nonprofit organizations that focus on healthcare must use a HIPAA-compliant platform.

6. What is your current system primarily for?

Perhaps you’re using your software solutions for a specific purpose or a wide range of purposes: online forms, online donations, major gifts, email marketing, fundraising campaigns, fundraising events, etc. Write these out in as much detail as possible and note wherever you see potential to improve inefficiencies or increase effectiveness for your team.

7. Are you using any integrations? If so, what do they accomplish?

Integrations include any platforms, plug-ins, custom development, or similar software solutions that your current system interacts with. A unified donor engagement platform can bring all of your different integrations together.

8. Are there opportunities to consolidate platforms?

You might have pain points with other systems being used for online giving and donor management. Migrating to a comprehensive donor engagement solution can allow you to unify your scattered systems, which can include volunteer management software, donor databases, email marketing software, and the like. Take as many opportunities as you can to streamline information and simplify routine workflows.

9. What other processes concerning online fundraising and donor management need improvement?

Brainstorm ways to empower your fundraising team and other key players by leveraging technology in these essential areas for success in your fundraising efforts.

10. What data do you want to migrate and why?

Every piece of data should have a purpose, so know exactly what you want to migrate and why. Aside from data on your primary system, there can be data from other systems you might want to migrate. However, if there’s no use for it, throw it out. As scary as that sounds, trust us: It’s time. This is your opportunity to analyze the types of data your team is maintaining and how it’s organized. Remove duplicate records and de-clutter your database for a fresh start in the new system.

What to do next

Asking these ten questions to key team members (often in IT, marketing, and fundraising operations) will help you prioritize your wish list for selecting a new donor engagement platform. We’ll wrap up with three straightforward tips for a successful migration:

1. Set realistic expectations and meet every deadline.

2. Get input from key stakeholders on your team.

3. Test, test, and test again. (Did we mention you should test?)

As part of getting the ball rolling with making the big switch, learn more about the Engaging Networks platform — a unified, easy-to-use nonprofit software solution for everything related to fundraising, advocacy, and email.

Request a demo so you can see firsthand how Engaging Networks leverages a wide range of cutting-edge nonprofit technology that can empower your team to carry out its mission, simplify the donation process, and deepen relationships with donors along the way.

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