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Guest Post: Unraveling the myth of “We can’t afford it.”

Today I’m thrilled to share a guest post by my friend and colleague, Kathy Wright.  Kathy is a true fundraising professional with whom I’ve had the good fortune of working for many years.  She has 25 years’ experience in nonprofit leadership and I think you’ll find her insights to be spot on.

54We can’t afford donor management software.

I hear that a lot.

Then, since we’re in the Asking business at the Institute for Conversational Fundraising, I ask people who make that statement: “Why do you have donors?  Are they important to your organization?  Do you know who they are and why they give?  What would happen if they stopped giving to you?

I have stopped giving to what used to be one of my favorite nonprofit organizations.  Why?  Because they began treating me like “an ATM machine”.  And, they don’t even spell my name correctly anymore!  I happen to know that this organization was using a well-known donor management program but dropped it in favor of a “lower cost” solution.  Is it really lower cost?  What is the cost of lost donors?

In my opinion, you can’t afford not to use donor management software.  And in response to customer feedback, more and more vendors are building in ways to track not just donors, but also volunteers, event attendees, members, and other constituents.  This type of system is often called a Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system.  But, how do you decide which one is the best for your needs?  It depends on who your constituents are and how they interact with you.

55I often recommend Bloomerang for its robust features, ease of use, and low entry price point.  And, to aid in your evaluation of various alternatives, take a look at the information on Idealware‘s website.  The mission  of Idealware is Helping Nonprofits Make Smart Software Decisions.  56You’ll find reports, articles and comparisons of various products to help you make an informed decision. Also, visit TechSoup for discounts on many software products and even recommendations on how to get your technology needs funded.58

Relationships are crucial.  Managing relationships is easier with the right tools.  Invest in the right tools for your work.  Your job will be easier and your donors will thank you.We can talk about cost and we can talk about value.  What is the cost of a staff or volunteer hour (or more) spent hunting for information in an outdated donor tracking system?  What is the value of having confidence in your data?  What is the cost of losing donors vs. the value of donor satisfaction?

Kathy Wright, MHR

Institute for Conversational Fundraising

I hope you enjoyed Kathy’s thoughts as much as I did.  You’ll be hearing more from her in the future.



Kent Stroman, CFRE

America’s ASKing Coach

  1. This is spot on! Too many people use “we can’t afford it” as an excuse. It gives them an out so they don’t have to work hard or face something unpleasant. “We can’t afford it” is the kind of limited thinking that keeps an organization stuck and playing small, never quite fulfilling their mission.

    Thanks Kathy for sharing this important point of view!

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