October 16, 2017
If your foundation or charity is thinking about implementing new software, it's essential that it have a well-thought-out technology strategy in place before proceeding. Such a strategy should include a holistic view of the pros and cons of the software under consideration, buy-in from key stakeholders, and a focus on ROI as well as costs.
Of course, any software implementation should be a team effort that has been blessed by leadership and is conducted in real partnership with the software implementer. Settling on a software solution that solves one problem for a single department without thinking through the entire organization's technology needs and ecosystem can lead to more problems than it solves, including:
- a fatal lack of buy-in from staff and management;
- technology needs that go unaddressed;
- duplication of effort; and
- lack of systems integration.
Selecting a vendor based on a solution's cosmetic features while ignoring the implementer's competence and capacity can also cause problems. And because many foundations and nonprofits are laser-focused on initial costs and frequently ignore longer-term return-on-investment (ROI) calculations, especially when it comes to choosing a firm to implement a solution, organizations often end up with software that is inexpensive but does nothing to drive impact or improve their bottom lines.
Long story short? Software solutions that appear to be inexpensive at first glance can result in significant unaccounted-for costs during the implementation process. Which is why forward-thinking organizations look for solutions that can help them advance their mission and yield a better-than-average return on investment.
Here are five types of software that are useful for foundations and grantmaking charities:
- CRM: Provides a holistic view of the constituent experience across the entire organization.
- Fundraising: Gives a clear view of performance and yield (including data enrichment services), processes donations, and helps empower your organization's “evangelists” to raise money on your behalf.
- Financial: Provides in-depth record keeping and custom reports that allow you to drill down into your finances.
- Grants management and impact measurement: Identifies, tracks, and measures the impact of grants and gifts (both cash and in-kind) against concrete outcomes.
- Analytics: Is used to harness the power of data and connect with constituents, highlight areas of operational improvement, and generate insights into potential organizational investments.
So how can organizations set themselves up for long-term success once they've chosen one or more of the above solutions? Here are five best software implementation practices: