There are a lot of systems that accomplish donation tracking in some fashion. There are some that do the fundamentals and others that add fluff to their product offering. Each product will have its strengths and weaknesses, and most would probably accomplish what you need. So if majority of them will accomplish your task – then why is it so hard to find the right one for an organization?
Mistake #1 & #2 – Not knowing the exact needs for the software or losing what works well.
There are many reasons why it’s hard to find the right software, but I believe the main one is – not knowing the exact software needs for the organization. Before doing the first Google search to find a donation software, an organization should assess their current dilemmas. Next, create a comprehensive list of their basic needs that would address those dilemmas. The church committee should also note what currently is going well. Choosing another software package that fails to do the current task well, doesn’t help the church gain much ground. Why? Because the church will gain the ability to accomplish task they initially needed help with, but lose all the features that were going well in the old package – essentially putting them back to ground zero.
Mistake #3 – Not prioritizing what is needed versus what would be nice to have.
The “needs” should be broken into at least 2 main categories – the must have’s and the nice to have’s. The ‘must have’ group are things the church will not compromise on any system they are reviewing – in other words the donation solution must have these features. The ‘nice to have’ group would make life easier but the church could still complete their mission if it was not present. These needs will be different for every organization.
Mistake #4 – Using a template of needs (features) from another church.
A huge mistake churches make is using the same list from another church’s software assessment. If I can use two analogies here – would you buy the same car if your friend said it’s the best car on the market and he is 5′ tall and you’re 6’3″? Probably not, because cars that typically fit smaller stature people don’t work well for taller people. In other words you aren’t exactly like your friend in physical stature, therefore the needs differ for the car. Another analogy is a farmer buying a farm vehicle verses a person buying a commuter car to go to work. The farmer doesn’t care much about gas mileage as long as the vehicle can do the job, whereas one of the priorities for a commuter car is good gas mileage. Looking at church software is no different, as churches aren’t exactly the same in the way they operate, process data, statistical reporting, and communicate – to name a few.
Mistake #5 – Unrealistic expectations.
Additionally, churches must have a realistic approach in their software choice. As with any purchased product or service, it may not have everything you want. The idea is to get as close as you can with the current software offerings.
Stay tuned for the conclusion.