Online fundraising systems are an integral part of your financial supply line. So when a provider is more concerned about their financial bottom line than your mission, it cuts into your ability to drive your cause forward.
In many ways, the nonprofit world looks like for-profit corporations.
They have meetings. We have meetings.
They have marketing, financial, and product development teams. We have marketing, financial, and program teams.
Yes, there are superficial similarities…
But at your core, you don’t care about the same thing a Fortune 500 company does.
Most of the time, when you deal with a for-profit business provider, this difference doesn’t matter.
Their goal for wider profit margins benefits your goal for greater change in the world.
When this happens, great. It’s a win-win.
Nonprofit leaders aren’t against people making a profit in the marketplace. Let’s be real. That’s where donations come from!
This is how Operation Mobilization’s Joas Slagmolen saw things with their previous donor database and online fundraising software provider.
That is, until…
Until their online fundraising system provider’s pursuit of corporate gains made them inflexible, unresponsive, and tightfisted.
At that point, Operation Mobilization began to look for for-profit solution providers that cared more about the relationship than the transaction.
With humble beginnings way back in 1957, Operation Mobilization (OM) is a Christian missions organization with a long history.
As an established organization, OM has had time to prove their resourcefulness in preparing, sending, and resourcing Christian missionaries all around the world.
OM has a broad mission, which means missionaries under its banner are involved in projects as diverse as primary education in impoverished communities to humanitarian aid to war-torn areas.
The common thread binding them is a common commitment to spreading their Christian message and values.
Like many other nonprofits with an established legacy of transforming lives for the better, Operation Mobilization is a forward-looking organization.
Back in the early days of the Internet, they didn’t know how, but they knew something like online fundraising was coming.
So they went to someone they thought they could trust to walk them into this new world of online fundraising.
Legacy Fundraising Gets Stuck in the Past
As Operation Mobilization began their fifth decade as an organization, they partnered with a fundraising software partner as old and large as they were.
This particular software company got its start back in the 1980’s and had a strong reputation as a leading company in CRM (customer relationship management) and fundraising software.
As a hefty, world-wide organization, Operation Mobilization signed up for their enterprise-level CRM package, which came with an online fundraising feature to send email campaigns and publish donation pages.
This all-in-one package was considered the Cadillac of donor management software.
But OM’s Director of Information Technology, Joas Slagmolen, was less than impressed.
“It was very basic. Very, very one way. There was no donor portal. Basically, it was a single page form. You filled it out, hit submit, and then something happened in the backend. For the donor, it was set-and-forget in a sense. You send [your gift] off and you hope it all worked out.”
First off, the system was rigid, “very one way.”
Joas and his team could only do what the software allowed them to do. They couldn’t improve or modify the system to improve the donor’s online giving experience.
Secondly, it was opaque.
The donor simply had no way of knowing if the transaction went through properly, much less access a history of their giving.
For the donor, the online giving experience was like throwing money down a wishing well, but a lot less enchanting.
Unfortunately, that opaqueness also made it hard for Joas and his team to determine if the system was working for OM as well.
In many ways, they felt as confused as the donors about how the system was working.
Fact of the matter is that the legacy software “was around before the Internet” and was simply tacking on online giving features as add-ons.
In both functionality and innovation, online fundraising was an afterthought.
This inflexibility in the legacy fundraising company began costing OM.
According to Joas, “online fundraising is increasing” exponentially at the organization.
Thinking back a few years ago, total giving volume from online gifts and direct mail checks was 50/50.
Now, that ratio’s easily 70/30.
And when 70% of your income comes in through online channels, you can’t afford to work with outdated system built on an obsolete fundraising philosophy.
According to some estimates, OM could see online giving volume reach an 80/20 or 90/10 ratio between online gift volume and direct mail checks.
That’s a major shift!
But if you ask Joas, money was only a small part of the rift growing between Operation Mobilization and their previous online fundraising solution.
Leaving their Customers to Go Public
Despite the backwardness of their previous online fundraising partner, Operation Mobilization was still willing to work things out.
But then, their partner went public.
And something profound changed between them and their nonprofit clients like OM.
“Whenever a company goes public, their main objective generally switches from the purpose for why the company was founded to pleasing their shareholders. So that’s what happened with [our previous online giving solution], and it really soured the relationship.
Their focus became more on dollars than on our mission or supporting our mission. Whenever we wanted improvements, they always return with ‘Oh yeah, we can do that at, you know, $500 an hour.’ And this was aside from the already high annual cost that was going up at 6% every year!”
At this point, OM “decided to cut their ties” with their previous online fundraising provider and “look for a different solution.”
After a serious search for new partners, OM chose Virtuous as their new donor CRM.
While the price point for Virtuous was well within OM’s budget, Joas emphasizes that it was the “cultural fit with the vendor” that closed the deal.
The Virtuous responsive fundraising philosophy resonated with Joas and his team. However, their online giving solutions just weren’t as robust as OM needed it to be for their complex multi-program, international situation.
RaiseDonors: Flexible. Simple. Cost-Effective.
Virtuous recommended that Joas look into RaiseDonors as their online giving solution.
Not only could RaiseDonors handle their needs as a robust landing page solution, they already had a full integration with Virtuous CRM.
That meant RaiseDonors could cut down the time it takes for data entry, diminish the number of errors in the data, and eliminate loss of data between the online giving platform and the CRM.
Although RaiseDonors’ cost-effectiveness was key to their decision, the OM team was impressed by RaiseDonors’ commitment to simplicity.
That meant a simple, streamlined experience for the donor – and a straightforward solution for OM.
“RaiseDonors is still a fairly simple solution. What drove our decision was obviously dollars, but it was also RaiseDonors’ reliability, integration, and the speed with which we could go live.”
When you’ve got hundreds of families around the world relying on you to send support, reliability is a vital feature for your online giving solution.
With RaiseDonor’s commitment to simplicity, OM could launch their RaiseDonors solution as quickly as possible, with no gaps in online funding for their beneficiaries.
Even more importantly for Joas, RaiseDonor’s simplicity means “it doesn’t break.”
Right now, Joas and his team are enjoying the extra time they’re getting back from not having to troubleshoot a legacy online giving solution every other week.
And getting your life back feels really good.
So while Joas loves the extra hours of his life he gets back every week to work on things that really matter to him, it’s the relationship with RaiseDonors that is the icing on the cake.
For RaiseDonors, the relationship drives the product, not the money.
In an altogether different experience, Joas feels like he’s a part of where RaiseDonors is going.
Not only is RaiseDonors there when there are problems, he’s a part of shaping RaiseDonors’ new features and its overall direction.
“We have a good dialogue with them, going over the product roadmap with RaiseDonors every month or two. We talk about what they’re working on, the things we’ve run into, which results in certain features we would like to have, etc. “
This is a massive difference from their previous partner who received input via impersonal forms and suggestion boxes.
But what happens when there are problems or challenges?
Obviously, you have your day-to-day activities where I interact with RaiseDonors a few times a week. Whether it’s a question or something I need, like something I need them to run on their side (like an SQL statement or something), I can always get ahold of them. It’s a real good relationship. They’re great guys to work with. I would highly recommend them.”
And these workarounds, fixes, and custom-solutions come without a landside of extra fees and new scopes of work.
Joas appreciates the fact that RaiseDonors is customer-driven rather than shareholder focused.
And for our part, we think that makes the relationship so much more fun. 😊
Choosing the Right Solution for You
How important is your relationship with your for-profit software providers?
We think it’s really important.
Your mission relies on them for the monetary fuel to keep your programs alive and moving.
But for us, we only exist to help you raise more donors.
For us, online giving solutions are not about making money.
RaiseDonors is about removing the friction you experience in launching your online fundraising campaigns.
It’s about removing the friction your donors experience when they give to you.
By doing that, we can play a small part in your story as you make the world we all live in a better place.