Databases for Nonprofits
The holy grail in nonprofit technology is the database; collecting the right data efficiently, reporting it in a useful way, and making it available to the people who need it. We remember the organizations we've worked with in the past...your accounting team has one set of records, your director of programs has another, your outreach coordinator has a third, and only that malfunctioning Access system in the corner knows who attended your last event, how much they donated, and why.
We paid our vendor a lot. A lot. Why aren't we happy?
Most organizations are in search of the unified, integrated, all-knowing database. In an ideal world, you'd only enter data once, and everyone who needed access to donor addresses, constituent phone numbers, or client attendance tracking reports would have the appropriate level of access. There are several vendors promising this kind of solution at the moment, but there's a very good reason these usually fall well short of their advertising promises: your needs are unique.
In our experience, we have never come across two nonprofits with the same database requirements. Custom data collection, custom reports, custom rules for handling mass email blasts, custom access permissions...organizations are very, very unique in the data they collect, and what they want to do with it. One-size-fits-all software is doomed to fall short, but their steep licensing fees and steep learning curve are designed to keep you from switching away once you realize this.
A better approach.
Instead of trying to change your organization's data practices to suit a proprietary vendor's idea of how you should handle your data, our approach is to customize a database solution based on your organization's requirements. We start with a deep needs analysis, interviewing several of your organization's stakeholders (program staff, board members, even constituents) to determine the best models for your data, the most effective integration points with existing systems (such as your website), and the most useful reporting mechanisms.
Once we have a thorough understanding of your requirements, we begin customizing a solution for you based on the CiviCRM platform. With each development cycle, your staff members will be working with the system we build, giving us constant feedback on what works, what doesn't, and what new functionality would be most helpful. The result is a system you design to meet your needs.
The best part?
Working with CiviCRM allows us to build these systems for less than what you'd pay for a proprietary solution. We're one of the only consulting shops in the Chicagoland area with extensive CiviCRM expertise; feel free to get in touch if you'd like to chat with a database analyst about your next project.