It turns out that it is not a problem in the organizations I worked for, but a universal problem with nonprofits: Operations teams are the lowest on the totem pole. Every time. It’s both hard to hear but not surprising. However, it is impossible to change the office in the way that we feel best. However, in my career, I’ve learned that it is possible to change the way we approach situations and work with different personalities and roles. I know. It’s easier said than done. Let me share some of the things that we can improve and some observations I have made in my 15-years of experience working in nonprofit database operations. A side note: If you feel treated poorly by an organization, you should get out. End of story. This is especially true if your co-workers don’t communicate well.
Poor data management can lead to inefficiencies in nonprofit organizations that impact everything, from fundraising to reporting on program outcomes and everything in between. When you lose a good database manager, it can be a major disruption to organizational operations–particularly if you cannot quickly find an equally high-quality replacement. There is not enough talent. Database managers aren’t able to succeed in today’s data-driven nonprofit environment. Nonprofits use databases to manage volunteers, donors, staff, among other things. A database might be as simple as an Excel file for smaller nonprofits. Small to medium-sized nonprofits may have an IT team and a basic database that their in-house developers created. Your organization may be interested in a more sustainable and automated management solution.
Dean, Tech Impact’s Senior Manage of Application Services, has worked closely with nonprofits over the years and consults on topics such as business continuity and applications. Nonprofits don’t necessarily need more staff to manage their donor lists. They want better tools. Although smaller nonprofits want consistency and automation in databases, many don’t have enough resources to maintain the current system. Foundations need a system that can grow with the data they hold. Is your nonprofit’s database helping you to streamline workflow or creating more work? Good database integration allows for donor communication right from the platform. It also gives you instant access to your account records and notes. Easy maintenance is a sign of a good system. Database systems that are the best do not have to be more powerful, but they should also have higher-level features.