Five ways to tell it’s time to integrate your fundraising systems

If integration is something your charity is struggling to get round to, let’s look at the signs your not-for-profit could benefit from evaluating the current systems in place.

Most, if not all charities launch with the sole objective of making improvements in a chosen area of society. But, as anyone who has ever started the process can attest, passion and dedication aren’t always enough to get the best fundraising outcomes.

Astute people management and business skills are vital elements of helping a small charity reach its full potential. But not-for-profits are often restricted by tight budgets and a clear lack of resources.

Staff members consequently don’t have the luxury of deliberating over decisions and considering alternatives. They direct operations reactively rather than proactively, which equates to less efficiency in meeting targets or budgets.

If your charity has to rely on skilled volunteers to perform administrative tasks like updating donor details, maintaining databases, processing donations and making sure research projects are on track, this is a sure indication that the system is not sufficiently streamlined. If a skilled administration volunteer suddenly leaves or falls ill then the fundraising income, which is the lifeblood of the charity, is at risk.

2) Customer service is impacted

A system with an efficient CRM tool helps raise awareness of the organisation’s projects and aims, reminds staff of tasks that need actioning and can auto-respond to various duties. This level of customer service will avoid damaging relationships if donors aren’t thanked promptly, if contact details are not updated, or if donation tins aren’t collected from various venues.

3) Fundraising programs need to evolve

What may have worked well for the past three years may not work as well in the future. Donor goals, interests and responsibilities change as their families grow and lifestyles change. Not-for-profits need to shift the focus of fundraising efforts to tie in with movement in donor communities. Donor fatigue is real and will negatively impact the bottom line.

4) The power of data is not being harnessed

When departments store information in databases that don’t connect to other organisational systems, time is wasted duplicating work. Machine learning can collate and extract insights from data. Analytics are significant for directing efforts as you can clearly see which aspects need attention and which areas are performing well. This enables staff to focus on what is vital to the organisation. When data is overlooked or its power not used to its full potential, opportunities for growth are missed.

5) Administration is the focus of the average day

Charities are usually launched from a vision of helping others. As growth occurs, the focus can shift to writing reports, grant proposals and managing day-to-day areas like efficiently running an office. This administration can cause frustration when you want to be on the frontline making a difference.

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