Lights, camera, action!

Most of you reading this post have been there: the excitement of a donor management software demonstration. Where you can sit back, relax and prepare to be dazzled by a sparkling array of new features, interfaces and integrations so spectacular that even a person with a doctorate in statistics would smile.

Unfortunately, far too often this display of shiny new toys and instrumentation moves the decision-making thought process from a focus on what will really be used daily to seeing who can garner the most checkmarks for various features and functions.

Luckily, you can avoid any issues by looking out for three things prior to and during a software demo:

1. Define the 10%

Prior to viewing any potential vendor presentations or software demonstrations, it’s important to analyze and define what tasks your staff performs on a daily basis. An analysis of their daily tasks will help define the most important software functions you require.

When you truly net it out, the functions your fundraising team will use 90% of the time will likely only amount to about 10% of the available functionality of the software.

By knowing the 10% that truly matters, your demos can be more focused and more productive while avoiding shiny object syndrome.

2. Focus on the 10%

Most of us have been there. We were so enamored with the special once-a-year report or shiny feature we may only use twice a year, we totally forgot about what we are doing 7 out of the 8 hours each day.

This is especially true for the actual fundraisers and/or executives on the team. If the new system does not facilitate their daily tasks and is not easy enough for them to do their tasks without training they will not use it!

This is where the majority of the vendor demonstration should be focused. However, that will never be the case unless the prospective customer or hired consultant demands it. Demand it!

Sandbox3. Ask For and Use the Sandbox

An easy way to ensure your entire team can perform those vital daily functions is to test-drive the potential solution via a “sandbox.” The sandbox is a term for a live version of the software for the prospective buyer to test daily functions on. Ideally, the sandbox should have sample data similar to your own.

If your executive team and/or fundraisers do not use the sandbox because it is too difficult to understand or complicated to use, they will most likely never use it after your system is installed! This is critical to be useful daily for everyone.

In summary, if the critical 10% is not selected properly and established, your fundraising software solution is doomed to be a tool for one or two administrative staff and not an indispensable tool for the rest of the team. When the 10% is accurately defined, the system becomes that indispensable tool enabling greater fundraising success!

Is not greater fundraising success what every fundraising or donor management software should be judged upon?

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