Database Misconceptions

How to Combat Database Misconceptions in your Organisation

In the eyes of your Database Administrator, the system you are currently using to track your fundraising efforts may be the best thing since sliced bread: simple to use, crystal clear to understand, and excellent in every way.

But to the average front-line fundraiser or the Executive team, your system might be a veritable mine-field of incomprehensible data, endless drop down lists and tabs, and even after reading the 100-page “Intro guide”, it still doesn’t make sense!

A truly excellent system recognises that each role has different priorities and requirements, and more importantly, that everyone has different skill and comfort levels with technology.  As such your system needs to be flexible enough to allow people to interact with it in a way that works for them.

In saying that, a Database Administrator will be comfortable dealing with complex functions whilst the Fundraiser needs a simple, accessible solution which enables them to view their Portfolio, prioritise and plan their engagement with these prospects, and quickly record their contact reports and next steps on the system – two very different roles with two very distinct sets of requirements.

Lack of user buy in is a problem faced by not for profits around the world, and changing the attitude to databases can be a real struggle.

Here are some of the common complaints/reasons given by users for not using their fundraising system and how you can combat them:

  • “It’s too complicated” – Where possible you should simplify and personalise the user experience in the database to make it easier to use, and more relevant to their role. g. If a person doesn’t need to view Volunteer or Event details then hide them.
  • “I don’t know how to use it” – Your system should be simple and easy to understand. The more intuitive the design, the easier it is to get user buy in. It’s also definitely worth investing in formal and regular training for your staff: Providing training will not only encourage them to get involved, it will also equip them with the skills to use the database in an efficient and best practice manner.
  • “It’s not my job to use the database” – It is everyone’s job to be involved in the database. Without your database you have no donor information, no giving or engagement history, no targeted analytics, no accountability, nothing.  It’s the backbone of your organisation and should be treated as such.
  • “I can’t access it when I’m out of the office, which is when I need it the most” – You should try to make your database as accessible as possible.  If your provider offers a cloud-based solution consider migrating over so that you can access it from wherever you have the internet.  Bonus tip: Try to find a solution which is mobile responsive so users can access it via their tablet or smart phone.
  • “I don’t have time to use the system – everything takes too long” – Try to streamline processes by using auto-complete functions or defaults where possible. Make the system work for you!  Look for opportunities where you can use Import or Global functions to reduce manual data entry in the system. It not only frees up valuable time for the user, but also improves data consistency in the system.