What is the Purpose of your System? It should be a Tool, Not a Task!

What is the purpose of your Advancement system? Is the focus of your system ONLY to provide information to your Director or Vice President? Or get the receipts out to the donors? Or does it ALSO help you with your day-to-day work?

In my reviews of nearly 200 clients, I’ve used the phrase that their system should be a “tool, not a task.”  This has resonated with virtually all the staff that I’ve talked with. They will respond, “Right, I want the system to help me with my work, not just be a records archive!”

For example:

  • Do your contact reports merely record what was done? Or do they help plan and schedule the next visit/call? Once a step is closed, does your system ask “well, what are you doing next to move this prospect through the pipeline?”
  • Do your change of address notes just go into the system so that the next mailing goes to the right person/place? Or, if it is for a major donor, does it also notify the VP or assigned development officer of the change – an opportunity for a call and conversation?
  • Does a change of address trigger questions like, “did they move? get a new job? separate from their spouse? have another major life event?”
  • Do your obituary notes just keep you from mailing a pledge reminder to a deceased alum that made a pledge, or does it remind your Planned Gifts Officer that a gift may have “matured?”
  • If you get the $25,000 payment on a major pledge, does it just update the outstanding balance, or does the system notify the assigned Development Officer of the payment? An opportunity for a thank-you call (and maybe asking for another pledge)?
  • If “nothing happens” is the system monitoring for this and reminding a DO and his/her manager that a next step has been missed? that a target date has been blown?

I expect there are a number of these little system steps that could assist you more. Let me know, along with any comments/questions via e-mail at CharliesBlog@riarlington.com  And please sign up for my periodic blog posts in the space in the column on the right!

 SDG, Charlie Hunsaker
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