Is Your Nonprofit Software Easy to Use?

Is Your Nonprofit Software Easy to Use?

Donor Management & Engagement / By Mike Crum

Your nonprofit software is only as useful as it is easy to use. Definitely a ‘no-duh’ sentence, but we see way too many nonprofit leaders and staff struggling to just learn the basics of how to use their software. And even then, the software often doesn’t deliver the automation it should to help nonprofits scale their engagement, fundraising, and operations. 

It’s a shame so many organizations are spending more time on mind-numbing software training than they are on higher-level tasks like major donor solicitations or engaging stakeholders. Is it really a good selling point when a nonprofit software company offers a “Learning Academy” or 20-part webinar series? Or, when you have to hire a specialized (and expensive) consultant to implement the software?

Software should be working for nonprofits, not against them! 

Usually, only a few staff members learn the basics of how to use the software. This means everyone else relies on these select few for anything related to software. This could be something as simple as sending an email to a specific stakeholder group, pulling reports, providing an update on rsvps for an upcoming event, and other basic tasks. And because so much nonprofit software is stand-alone, these same staff members are in charge of redundant data entry to get the systems to “talk to each other” – which is error-prone and a horrible way to spend their time. 

Thus, it’s no surprise when there’s turnover among the few staff members who have learned the basics of how to use the software — which forces the nonprofit into full-training mode for months and months as new team members are onboarded. This has very negative impacts on engagement, fundraising, and operations.  

In addition to not being intuitive and easy to learn, nonprofit software often doesn’t scale operations the way it should. That is, “ease to use” also means the software should automate many functions by eliminating redundant data entry, integrating with accounting software, and providing an array of integrated modules instead of requiring the user to cobble together other standalone software. 

Here are case studies illustrating “easy to use”, and how nonprofit software can help nonprofit leaders and staff scale their operations:

Last-Minute, Preschool Art Show

A preschool teacher at the YMCA wants to send out a last-minute invitation to parents for a student art show taking place tomorrow. 

She should be able to create and send out a beautiful and branded invitation in five minutes to the parents.  Unfortunately, only a few staff know how to use the YMCA’s email program, access a template, and add the email addresses of select pre-school parents. This means she has to hope she can catch one of the two staff members to work with her (2+ staff hours) to get the last-minute invite out. 

More than likely, she decides she can’t get the email invite out in time, and relies on word-of-mouth. This results in very few parents attending, many parents upset they didn’t know about the event, and upset preschoolers who wanted their parents to attend. 

Sign Ups at the Farmer’s Market 

The  Director of Community and Member Engagement for an environmental nonprofit is staffing a booth at a local farmer’s market on a Saturday. His goal is to promote the organization and get folks to sign up for news alerts and consider becoming members. 

He should be able to use an iPad where folks can sign up on-the-spot, the data is captured in the nonprofit’s software, and an automated ‘welcome’ email campaign is launched five hours later that also includes future emails at different intervals. The software also generates a task in the task management tool so he is reminded to phone each person that signed up after one week. And finally, he has set up his dashboard (opening screen upon logging in to the system) to show the total number of folks who have signed up in the past month – from which he can then drill this number down to each individual.  

Unfortunately, his nonprofit’s software doesn’t work that way, and folks signing up have to use paper-based sign-up forms. After the event, he has to secure the forms until he returns to the office a few days later. Sometimes the handwriting is illegible or he loses some of the sign-up sheets in the back of his car, resulting in lost engagement opportunities. 

Either way, he spends hours entering the paper-based data into the software system to add each person to the email list. A few days later he creates a generic mass email and blind copies everyone that signed up over the weekend. Not much of a welcome, and he feels more like the Director of Community and Member Data Entry. 

Affentz is all about “easy to use” software solutions. Our software reduces new user training time by 80%+ versus competitive software programs which means more staff use the software more effectively. Plus, our integrated modules provide a host of applications that allow nonprofit leaders and staff a complete picture of their stakeholders so they never miss out on fundraising and engagement opportunities or lose stakeholders along the way. GUARANTEED. Or 100% Money back even after one year of full use

Mike Crum

Subject Matter Expert

Mike is a recognized expert, thought leader, advisor and speaker in the Nonprofit world. Over the past four decades, Mike served as an Executive Director, COO, see more

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