Everybody wants a mansion, right? A big, beautiful 10,000 square foot home with a pool and a tennis court?
But what if you live alone and can’t afford maids, a pool service, and landscape artist? Would it be worth it to have that mansion considering the additional costs, and the fact that you’d probably only use one or two of the rooms? Maybe… but not without giving it some serious thought.
Same goes for software. Just because your pals at big nonprofits are using a certain solution, that doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Here are four reasons the most popular nonprofit software (and that mansion) may not be what’s best for you.
It Has Features You Don’t Need
Just like you don’t need that 6th bedroom, you may also not need certain features provided by popular nonprofit software. Many of the big name solutions have a suite full of features you may be just fine without.
For example, if you’re already using QuickBooks (and are happy with it), you probably don’t need accounting features (although you may need the ability to integrate with QuickBooks). You may find other functions, like volunteer management, fundraising, and donor management would be nice, but don’t justify a higher price tag, and can be handled well with your current processes.
It Doesn’t Fit Within Your Budget
Those rooms don’t come for free. Another reason not to get the biggest, baddest nonprofit software is the cost. Nonprofit software can range in price from free (for a set number of users) to several thousand dollars a month.
As a nonprofit, you’re working for a cause. Don’t take money away from what matters to pay for things you don’t need.
It’s Difficult to Actually Use
An electronic fireplace is cool, but not when you’re intimidated by all the buttons it takes to actually turn it on. Similarly, if the software you select is hard to use, nobody’s going to use it.
That’s why you need to find a solution that fits your particular users. For example, if your volunteers aren’t the most tech savvy, maybe you want to look for software with a quick learning curve. Something more basic that people can catch onto quickly.
You should also consider whether you want web-based or installed software. If you don’t have reliable internet access in your office or in the field, you may want to consider something in-house.
It’s Tough to Get Support
Sometimes you just don’t mesh with the way the homeowners association operates. Make sure your nonprofit’s personality matches that of the software company you choose. Some only offer support over email. Others take phone calls, but may take more than 24 hours to respond.
Think about how your nonprofit operates and make sure you find the software solution with the support to match.
Bonus Tip: Buy Something You Can Grow Into
The same way you don’t want to move to a new house every other year, you don’t want to change software again either. One specific thing to think about is the depth of your member information.
Maybe right now you’re collecting names, email addresses and phone numbers. But will you soon want more? Will you want them to be able to sign in and edit profiles themselves, add pictures, and maybe even connect with Facebook? Will you want forums where your members can talk to one another and share their experiences?
Many solutions have different price points based on features. Take some time to think not only about today’s needs, but also where you see your nonprofit going in the next few years. Just because you don’t need an Olympic-sized pool this year, doesn’t mean it’s not in the cards for the future!