Business management software designed for nonprofits can improve donor relationships, track funding, and help charitable groups grow.
Choosing which business management software platform to use can give nonprofits a difficult time. When trying to make a choice, or plan an implementation, keep the following tips in mind.
1. Set a timeline for purchasing software.
Board Assist is an organization dedicated to matching prospective nonprofit board members with the best charities for them. They have stated that setting up a timeline for adoption is crucial.
Avoid making this transition at a time when the organization is occupied with a year-end campaign. Further, try to stay away from doing it at the time of a largely publicized fundraiser or other commitment that would make implementation more difficult.
It’s true that nonprofits are likely busy throughout the year. However, do your best to find a time when employees will be able to devote ample hours exploring a new system. It is best to do this before having to use it to manage a large event.
2. Know your budget.
Spending a lot of money on a software platform may seem like a financial risk for some nonprofits.
It’s true that it can be pricey. However, the amount of time, money, and energy that a business management software system can save an organization down the line makes implementation today worth it.
When setting up a budget, plan ahead for any technical surprises that may pop up. Board Assist recommended adding 20 percent of the software price onto the project. This is a good safety net should any last-minute, unexpected fees come up.
3. Identify needs.
Choosing software without knowing what the nonprofit needs is like prescribing medication for a patient without knowing any symptoms. Therefore, identifying the top three to five processes that a nonprofit can’t live without is a strong way to start.
Be honest about the issues the charity is currently having. It doesn’t matter if it’s managing funds, donor retention, or reporting on campaign success. Knowing which features you need most is vital.
After that, consider the future. Think about which items may be needed later on.
4. Ask about business management software trial offers.
Some software companies will let users test a system before they buy it. This is a good way to get comfortable with how the program will work in your business.
Run some fake situations through it to see how well it gets through. In addition, you will want to check how well your people work with it. It will become clear early on whether it will be helpful and intuitive or not. You will easily be able to see if it will slow down your operation or speed it up.
It’s true that there will be a learning curve, as with any software addition. However, it should still be a smooth transition.
5. Include employees in the choice of software.
Aside from involving staff in test runs, ask them to be active participants in the software decision.
Without bogging down the process with too many perspectives, simply asking employees what features they would find most helpful is a great place to start. There may be issues that had never been brought up before.
There may also be requests from certain departments that leaders would’ve been unaware of otherwise. Make sure they feel like they are part of the process, and thus an integral aspect of the charity’s decision-making journey.
6. Find software to help you take advantage of data migration.
Checking to see if the chosen platform offers data migration will make implementation enormously more successful.
Vendors that can help transmit current data into a new system will save the nonprofit time and energy that could be otherwise spent putting the software into action. Though this typically comes with an additional fee, it’s worth it to start out on the right foot.
Business management software is a strategic tool that can improve a nonprofit’s ability to connect with contributors, have a greater influence on its community, and understand effective processes.