Why Invest in Training?
Recently Foresee has looking at various fundraising software tools. Some are focused on social media, some are full blown databases that cater for all levels and tools used in fundraising.
Sometimes though, I’ve made a mistake in thinking that what comes intuitively to an experienced fundraiser is not always so evident to the ceo of an organisation that hasn’t ever employed a fundraiser.
The lesson I’ve learnt is that an investment in training is well worth it. We know of one organisation whose staff spent half a day entering address data into the database, only to find that it would need three days of consulting time to fix the problems. The person didn’t understand why they were collecting data and how they would extract useable information from the database. Nor had they considered what kind of reporting they would want in future.
In another instance, a client wanted a much abbreviated donation form on their website, not understanding why more information might be needed to identify one “John Smith” from another. And what information might be needed for security purposes.
Another product focuses on social media recruitment, and focuses on online giving (not cheques and not automatic payments).
Training for a new database is not just about learning how to enter data, it’s about understanding why we are collecting the information and what is its value to our fundraising programmes. Other training issues that we often take for granted are about
- Frequency and type of reporting
- establishing measurement metrics
- privacy statements
- accountabilities to donors
- receipting; frequency and processing commitments
- security of data
- stewardship (who phones and thanks donors for example)
When we are helping a client to decide what software might be best for them, we always emphasise the importance of a training programme. The potential provider should take the time to find out what your staff already know or don’t know, and then customise their training to ensure you get the most value for money from your investment. For example an experienced fundraiser will know how to enter data, but may not be able to identify where to find the more sophisticated reports or how to process regular payments. If the organisation is at a starting point, it's important for the provider to talk about what they can expect to get from the software and the policies and procedures they need, and take the staff through the operational process.
So an investment in training is part and parcel of the investment in a new piece of fundraising software but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s just about how to record a donation. There’s a lot more to the process than that!