We’ve talked before about why you need to be able to manage all of your donor data in one place, but how do you actually make that transition to using a new donor management platform or nonprofit CRM? We’ve laid out our recommended steps below, as well as the things you should take into consideration when it comes to donor data migration.
Before You Get Started
We recommend working with an implementation expert who will help you throughout this process. Many tools, including Kindful, offer implementation packages. This is also an opportunity to tap someone inside your organization if they’ve used the tool at a previous nonprofit job. They might have useful tips to share or know what will present roadblocks along the way.
Once you have an expert engaged, it’s time to get started.
1. Map Your Processes To The New System
How is your team going to use the new system? What tools and apps do you need to integrate with your new CRM? Are your current tools supported? Are you going to start working with other tools? Think about everything: your fundraising platform, your email marketing platform, your accounting software, etc.
This is the time to think about payment processing. Do you need to set up a new account or do you have an account you can just plug in? What happens with your recurring donors? Is this a scenario where they can be migrated behind the scenes?
The most critical aspect of this step is to never assume your new system will work exactly like your old system or process. With reporting, for example, you need to let your implementation expert know the reports your organization currently relies on or uses on a regular basis and what things you hope to measure with the new system; otherwise, you may not get exactly what you’re looking for.
Every system is unique and may have some limitations or specific processes you need to consider. When you know about those going in, you’ll have a smoother transition.
2. Find Out Where Your Historical Donor Data Is Located
One of the most important parts of migrating to a new system is uploading your historical donor data. Before you can begin migrating that data over, you have to find out where it is. Sometimes referred to as your “source of truth,” this is the place where all of your donor data lives. The tricky part here is that you may have more than one source, meaning your donor data may not be in one place. It may be in another CRM or it could be spread across tools like PayPal, Quickbooks, or Mailchimp. Some of it may even live in an Excel spreadsheet.
Once you identify all of those places, move on to the next step.
3. Decide What Data Needs to Come Over To The New CRM
This might surprise you, but we’ve found this to be true of our nonprofit customers: You may not need to bring all of your data over.
For example, take a look at the data you haven’t referenced in a while. Maybe you don’t want to bring over certain fields you haven’t filtered for recently. Maybe you don’t need to look at major gifts you received decades ago. This is your chance to analyze what data you want to bring over, clean up whatever fields you can, and streamline your processes so you’re not tracking data you don’t need anymore.
Here are some guiding questions to ask yourself when analyzing the data:
- What do I really need to report on?
- What’s crucial to the success of our nonprofit?
- What reports do I need to be able to run with the new CRM?
4. Look At Your New System To See What Updates You Need To Make
The previous step involved looking back at historical data. This step is all about focusing on the future. Once you figure out what data you want to migrate, spend some time getting to know your new system. You may need to make updates to your data to make it ”fit” properly in the new system.
Think about the data that will come into the tool in the future. What needs to change? Where are there opportunities to streamline processes now that you have a new tool with different capabilities?
5. Migrate, Review, and Test Your Data
Once you move all of your relevant data to the new CRM, you need to make sure the system is working how you need it to. Pull the reports you’re going to run. Do they look accurate? See what happens when you try to enter new data into the system. Is everything working properly? If not, what needs to change?
6. Train Your Team So Everyone Is On The Same Page
If you don’t feel like an expert immediately, don’t panic. See if the company you’re working with offers additional training that would help you get comfortable doing the things you need to do.
You should also engage other members of your team in this training. We recommend having your implementation partner train everyone who is going to be accessing or using the tool. Getting everyone on the same page will ensure that you all are speaking the same language and entering the data in the same fashion, which ensures that your reports will be consistent and accurate.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do to set yourself up for success during this transition is to be open to change. Mentally prepare yourself to invest the time, energy, and resources into understanding the new system. When you and your team are on board and bought in, you’ll be in the best position possible to embrace the new CRM and use it to its fullest potential.
Sooner than you think, you’ll be able to spend less time managing that donor data and more time building relationships with the people who are going to help you carry out your mission.
Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.