Fundraising Data Migration for Nonprofits – The “Joy” of Moving

Last week, I was joined by Mark Becker from Cathexis to discuss the very serious topic of data migration. Now, there might be some of you out there who find this topic fascinating (I see it as a necessary evil, sort of like packing boxes and cleaning closets). Yet, so many of our customers are fearful of leaving their old P2P system because they don’t want to leave this legacy information behind.

So imagine my joy when Mark made it sound so easy and painless. I felt that I must, must share that joy with you.

Take everything

When I moved out of my college dorm for the last time, I was reminded of a special tradition. The admin wanted graduates to leave an inspirational letter or quote for the next tenants. Well, we left an empty beer can with a sunflower in it. The point is – extract everything from your old system because there is no next tenant. Leave nothing!!

Resist the urge to move everything into your new home

Everyone knows that new car smell. Just wonderful. Until your kids get into the car with french fries, and it’s gone in an instant. Don’t let that happen to your new P2P system. Resist the urge to bring in all that old and perhaps outdated information. Instead…

Map your marketing

Stop and plan out how you are going to communicate to your past participants. What data do you need in order to do that? Put a big focus on recruitment at all levels.

Invite the drop in, opt-in, sign up now!

Set up a communication plan that encourages past participants to opt-in to the new system by signing up. Use another tool such as MailChimp or your CRM email system. Once you have accomplished that, you can focus on filling in the gaps. Start by sharing the excitement about your new system. Tell them what makes it great and why you changed. It is about hitting their pain points – did they hate the old participant emails? Tell them how great they are in the new RallyBound system. Set up some special webinars to teach them, if needed.

Consider enrolling your team captains early

Some of our clients do a “soft launch” for their key stakeholders. That really can help craft you messaging and ensure people get excited about the new system. Consider running special reports for your team captains so they have a list of past team members.

Private means private!

“Why can’t I give all my participants all of their information?” Not only can’t you, but you shouldn’t. You need to understand the different types of data that you have in your system – participants, team captains, past donors – and what they have in their systems (contacts and prospects). If their donors haven’t opted in, you have no right to that data. But always remember that contact data has a shelf life. People change email addresses on average every 18 months. Think of it as cleaning out that closet or drawers before you move. Throw away the junk.

Don’t try to eat the elephant in one setting

What you can do not only depends on the tools you choose, but also on your resources and your staff. Don’t feel like you have to nail it right out of the gate. Capture your best practices in your first year. You can always make modifications on your work flow as you go along.

Because remember step one – take everything with you when you leave!

P.S. – You can watch the entire conversation here.



Debbi Stanley


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