As I talk with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, I often hear “we just can’t afford a fundraising database right now. What we are using now isn’t costing us anything!” Have you ever made that statement… or thought it?

Free SignI had the incredible privilege of having dinner with Kent Stroman at the AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio last month. Of course, if you know Kent, you are always in for a treat with his humble Oklahoma style and years of experience in the nonprofit world. Our conversation came around to relationship-building and how it can make you successful in your fundraising efforts.

As the conversation developed, I mentioned that many times the organizations that need fundraising software the most to take their efforts to the next level mention how comfortable they are not currently paying for a service. Kent thought for a minute and then made a statement that immediately jumped out at me: “Let me tell you how much not using software is costing you!”

That wise statement comes from a wealth of knowledge and experience! So, let me tell you how much your “free” system is costing you:

1. Unknown Donor Retention

A spreadsheet won’t allow you see the real-time donor retention percentage for your organization and offer tips on how to increase that percentage. Poor data management means the fundraiser doesn’t have access to truly make their donors tick… meaning they may never giving again.

2. Unknown Engagement

An Excel spreadsheet can’t automatically calculate the level of engagement of each of your donors. Are your donors truly engaged, or are they disengaging and in danger of lapsing? Excel won’t tell you.

3. Poor Communication

That system that isn’t costing you can’t analyze your communication for content allowing for increased response rates, increased giving amounts, and even more recurring (monthly) donors.

4. Inefficiency and Staff Frustration

When giving summaries take days to pull together for a board meeting can you truly say “my system isn’t costing us anything?”

5. Missed Opportunities to Upgrade Donors

When true and successful donor relationships form, the donor not only gives again(retained) but typically gives more!

So, please ask yourself how much your current system is really costing you.

img via