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3 Technology and Data Mistakes for Nonprofits to Avoid

Posted Sep 18, 2020 03:08 PM
As we round out a tumultuous year for the nonprofit sector, it’s a good idea to take some time to review your technology. You’ve probably relied on your technology more than ever over the past several months.

How has your technology performed? Is it serving your organization the way it needs to?

Finding ways to adapt and get through tough times is a major necessity for nonprofits now, and technology can (and should) play a major role in those adaptations. This is particularly important as we head into the year-end giving season.

Supporting your Giving Tuesday fundraising ideas with a strong tech stack will make it easier to benefit from successful campaigns over the long run.

Soapbox Engage develops integrated apps for nonprofits to simplify fundraising strategies on both the donor-facing and internal sides. They’ve seen firsthand the benefits of smarter tech strategies, as well as the common mistakes that nonprofits often fall into. Let’s walk through 3 of the most common pitfalls and how to address them.

Mistake #1: Using completely separate systems

Using piecemeal platforms that don’t easily share data can become a costly mistake over time. When you have to manually enter data across systems, your team loses valuable time and resources. Plus, you lose out on new strategic insights from a comprehensive, centralized view of your data.

The best solution is to build out an integrated system for your nonprofit. This will consist of a central CRM and integrated apps or platforms that can freely transmit data back and forth.

Working within an integrated system saves time, strengthens your long-term strategies, and boosts overall efficiency. Most leading nonprofit software solutions offer pre-built integrations with the top CRM systems. Working with other resources or a tech consultant can help you build a custom integrated toolkit as well.

Mistake #2: Having no clear data hygiene protocols

Messy data can become a serious liability over time for your internal operations and donor engagement efforts. Calling a donor by the wrong name or repeatedly sending them the same flyer can sour your relationship, and disorganized data wastes your team’s time.

Data hygiene is the practice of setting clear rules for how data gets entered and maintained in your database. We recommend these data hygiene essentials:

  • Regularly screen for duplicate and outdated contact data
  • Merge donor profiles and group them into households as needed
  • Remove irrelevant data points that don’t directly relate to your strategies

Using an integrated CRM system and following concrete data entry protocols will be the best long-term solution to messy data. With cleaner data, it’s easier to refine your strategies over time and streamline your team’s work. Plus, clean data drastically simplifies making your case in proposals for grant funding, something that’s likely already on your radar for next year.

Mistake #3: Not using properly scaled tools

When you use software that’s not the right fit for your nonprofit’s size or needs, you could inadvertently hold yourself back over time.

Working with a system that’s too small or simple as you grow will create time-consuming and expensive problems later on. Platforms that are way too big will likely frustrate your team and drain resources as well. Properly-scaled solutions will always be the best bet.

This is why modular CRM platforms are quickly becoming the new norm in many sectors, including nonprofits. Platforms like Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Nonprofits and Salesforce are great examples.

These ecosystems of pre-built integrations make it easy to grow and update your toolkit over time. For an idea of the range of apps available, check out Double the Donation’s picks for the best Salesforce apps for nonprofits.

Taking some time to re-evaluate your toolkit after a busy year is never a bad idea. You’ll continue to rely on your technology more than ever as we move forward, so make sure your tech and data strategies are up to the task. Best of luck!

About the Author

As the founder of a software company serving the public sector, Ryan Ozimek is passionate about empowering organizations to “do good." With a focus on effective and efficient technology solutions, he's constantly looking for ways in which the Internet can better serve the greater good, and more specifically the nonprofit sector. He leads up the Soapbox Engage team in their pursuit of affordable and accidental techie-friendly online engagement software, is a Salesforce MVP, and leads the NPSP Days around the world.

Ryan has a Bachelor’s degree in communications from UCLA, and a Masters of public policy from UCLA’s School of Public Affairs. He’s also a fan of burritos, so if you have any tips to finding the best taqueria in the world, let him know.