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Need some advice! I run a one person office nonprofit. We have been using the installed version of DonorPerfect for some years now. We had significant upfront costs for the installed version and now only have a yearly support/maintenance fee which reasonable (under 1000/year). trouble is i can't take advantage of any donor time for assistance with data entry since we only have one computer and if i'm using it she can't be using it. if we went to web based donorperfect, she could access it from anywhere including another stand alone computer at the office. i'm thinking of getting a light weight notebook type thing so i could take it to board meetings where i take the minutes. would sure beat writing everything out by hand and having to transcribe my notes later. but the monthly costs for the webbased system are 50% higher (per year) than we pay for the yearly maintenance fee we pay now. i don't know that i have the volume of work for a volunteer to really justify that? it would be nice to be able to access the donor sytem from home if i need to and not have to worry about accessing a sometime unreliable connection into my office computer from teamviewer. donorperfect says that in a few years they will stop supporting the installed version.......but boy do they rip you with those monthly fees! i don't know what to do. my tendancy is to keep with the installed version until i am forced to convert. of course they are offering all these deals now which require you to pay for 3 years upfront. that will be an extremely hard sell to my board i'm thinking. what to do???
These are tough questions and I'm afraid that only you can answer them. You've given lots of great reasons for using a web-based system. Another one is that the vendor handles data backups -- something that many small nonprofits neglect at their peril. But you need to be able to justify -- and afford -- the fees.
As far as the board notes, you don't need a hosted database for that. You could take the notes on your laptop, or use an online tool like Google Docs or MS Office 365 (as long as you have a good Internet connection in the meeting room).
As far as your volunteer, I'm gun shy about having volunteers enter donations. (Here are some ways of mitigating the problem -- assuming that someone is overseeing data hygiene.) But that's another issue.
RobertForum Moderator Robert L. Weiner ConsultingStrategic Technology Advisors to Nonprofit and Educational Organizationsrobert [AT] rlweiner [DOT] comwww.rlweiner.com
thanks for your reply! part of my dilemma is the idea that sooner or later i will be forced to adapt the web-based system because they assert that they will stop supporting the current system in a few years time. i am the only person overseeing, everything. i'm the tech support the book keeper, the fund raiser, the data entry person.....so any volunteer help is a welcome thought. but as you point out there is then the over sight of the volunteer(s) which becomes yet another task! i had not contemplated a volunteer doing donation entries but rather address updates, marking pieces as do not mail if they are returned as undeliverable etc. i do use an import/export module for some of that. but sometimes we get pieces back that area returned in the physical mail depending on the robustness of the mailing address we may use/purchase etc and so we have to do that manually. i try to keep on top the workload but at times am unable. so the assistance i requires is mostly periodic maybe quarterly. i think financially it might be cheaper for us to have a second license and another inexpensive computer which could be used for data entry/hauling to meeting to take notes. but then i get back to they are going to stop supporting the installed version of the database! i've shopped around and some other web-based databases are even more pricey plus there would be the cost of dataconversion which they claim they will throw in if i order by dec 31 and pay for 3 years in advance :-( sigh the only reason i mention the laptop for notes is that i don't have a laptop, only a desk computer in my office. so i was trying to take care of both needs, being able to type notes and also use that auxillary laptop as a second data entry machine or as a server which could host the database and then both of us could work on our machines at the same time (even if i'm in a different application). the usefulness of a volunteer is greatly diminished if i can't access the work i need to do while she is helping me by doing data entry.
It sounds like you value the additional features you get from using the web-based solution, including the ability to connect more reliably from anywhere, have multiple people access the account, etc. You'll also benefit from other features, like backup, which Robert mentioned.
When support ends for the desktop version, which is going to be in 2-3 years, you're going to have to migrate anyway, so the size of this problem is really the difference between your annual costs, times 2-3, or probably about $1,000 - $1,500 at most. Can you make the case that the additional access, reliability, speed and convenience is worth that additional cost?
Isaac Shalevwww.Sage70.com - IT strategy, product and vendor selection, integration, and firstname.lastname@example.org(917) 859-0151@sage70inc
I think the advice given here is pretty spot on (though I am prejudiced- I'm the Vice President of DonorPerfect). Having a web based solution like DonorPerfect Online can really save you more time with ease of access, and automating alerts and time consuming tasks, especially reporting.
I do want to clear some things up:
Finally, please don't under estimate the cost of retraining on new software, or worse, losing features that you count on a daily basis. (And yes, it is possible you could gain new features by moving to a new solution- no software has *everything*).
Thanks again for being a client and asking great questions!
Jon BiedermannVice President, Fundraising ProductsDonorPerfect Fundraising Softwarewww.donorperfect.com
Hi Jon, thanks for this thorough update! It's great to have direct feedback from the vendor, and we value your input!
Chris Delatorre, Science and Sustainability Advocate