Simple Steps for Evaluating Your Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge® Donor Database System

Posted by admin on December 22, 2011 under Tips | Comments are off for this article

Simple Steps for Evaluating Your Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge® Donor Database System

Blackbaud’s The Raiser’s Edge is a powerful donor database used by tens of thousands of nonprofits. If you’re one of these nonprofits, completing a Raiser’s Edge assessment may help you get more from your system.

You can start simply by asking yourself a few questions: Is your Raiser’s Edge system working perfectly for you? Can you get everything you need at the touch of a button? Is every piece of information in it relevant, trustworthy and easy to locate?

No surprise: these are trick questions. No one can answer “yes” to all of them. Everyone’s Raiser’s Edge system is in a continuous state of change and development, which makes sense because every organization’s fundraising strategies, operational practices, and staffing are changing as well. In this dynamic environment, the appropriate goal is not the “perfect” database, but rather the appropriate system to meet your particular needs and situation.

So how can you get there? You can, of course, look to a Blackbaud consultant for help with a Raiser’s Edge assessment and Raiser’s Edge training to ensure you’re getting the most from your system. But, whether you opt for Raiser’s Edge consulting or attempt an assessment on your own, there are three fundamental steps you will need to take:

  1. Clarify the data you need to record and the information you need to retrieve.
  2. Identify what’s working well and what isn’t with your system.
  3. For those items that aren’t working well, prioritize the importance of addressing them.

To clarify what you need from Raiser’s Edge, it helps to start with an understanding of what you already receive from the system in the form of reports and lists. Start by creating a spreadsheet (see Figure 1) of each report and list that you output from Raiser’s Edge. Then, for each report and list, record the frequency that you access the information, who runs the report or list, who reads it, what is its purpose, whether or not it is a custom report, and what priority it is for your organization.

Each person on your development team can use this spreadsheet to record what reports and lists they receive or generate. You can then meet to discuss:

  1. Which of the outputs are most valuable
  2. What about them works or needs improving
  3. What outputs you need but don’t have
  4. Which outputs might be discarded to make room for new ones

These discussions can orient you to your primary needs from your system. It’s then time to look at the system itself. We recommend the following steps:

  1. One person fills out the spreadsheet of outputs.
  2. Copies of this and a Raiser’s Edge Evaluation Worksheet are distributed to each team member (View the Raiser’s Edge Evaluation Worksheet)
  3. Everyone on the team fills out their individual Evaluation Worksheet.
  4. Evaluation Worksheets are returned to one person who aggregates the scores and comments from individual worksheets.
  5. The group meets to review the results and discuss:
  6. What are we already doing well?
  7. Which issues are the most pressing?
  8. For those issues, which can we resolve most easily, and which will require more time, knowledge or external help?

This process can help you determine your priorities for streamlining your Raiser’s Edge system. It will get you on the path to improving your system now and continuing to work effectively with your system in the future.

About the Author

Heller Consulting helps nonprofits streamline their operations and maximize their use of software for fundraising and mission management. The company specializes in software selection, implementation, optimization and training for products from Blackbaud, Salesforce.com and Convio. With offices in San Francisco, Chicago and New York, the Heller Consulting team has helped hundreds of nonprofits nationwide.

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