With help from the AmbITion grant Archaeology Scotland were able to purchase Customer Relationship Management software to help build our membership and supporter database. We looked at several charity specific products that ranged from £8,000 downwards.
Having had years of experience using Raiser’s Edge, the industry standard, I was very aware of what I wanted the database to be able to do, e.g. it must record all our members contact details, their donations, calculate gift aid and produce meaningful reports at the touch of a button. More over it had to have the capability to relate people to their employment, their family and events attended. We had to be able to record who would want what mailings and who only wanted to be contacted by email. Also, we wanted to be able to search for people by name or postcode or employer or event or donation or a whole variety of other little things and record our donations and direct debits.
We did not find any of the software disappointing in regard to the above needs but some companies were costlier than others for training, maintenance, support and hosting. Hosting was an issue that did require some thought as our own server is pushed as it is to handle all our emails and data.
We elected to purchase/lease a product called e-tapestry which is a product from Blackbaud who also make Raiser’s Edge but this was not the reason for choice. e-tapestry is hosted in the cloud and backed up daily so you can never lose your data. Inputting data is straightforward and standard reports are already loaded as are main queries although I am still exploring tailored queries. The main screen for each constituent is easy to tailor to what you want to see as is the dashboard (home page). One or two little things are a bit too American for use in the UK but you can just ignore that as it doesn’t affect functionality. A bonus for me is that I can now do mass emails straight from the database. There are even templates to make your letters, newsletters, flyers etc.
e-tapestry is supplied by Bruce Tait Associates and we will be moving onto paying monthly for the support and hosting which all helps with cashflow. They have been very helpful and included some training with the initial price which was enough to get us going. Telephone and online support is available and fairly quick as far as I can see although I have probably only been stuck a couple of times. Data conversion can also be done by Bruce Tait but remember that your database will only as good as the data supplied. Do make sure that all your address lines are in the same columns in excel or access!
All in all a real bonus for our organisation as we can now target our different audiences at a touch of a button.