Last year, one of my most-read blog posts dealt with selecting the best nonprofit database management software. This is a very complex issue for every nonprofit with long-lasting implications. In an effort to dig deeper into this topic I’ve decided to interview several nonprofit database management solution providers. This post is the first in a series and features Mark Panger from Trail Blazer.
Wondering why this is important to me too? Here at TheDirectMailMan, I can’t execute a successful fundraising appeal or newsletter campaign for nonprofits like you, without receiving a current donor database, so making sure that nonprofits have a quality database solution is very important for me as well. If you already have your database figured out, but need help designing, printing and mailing your campaign, then I hope you’ll contact us for help.
Here are Trail Blazer's Questions & Answers:
Is there a certain size nonprofit that your software is best suited for? Please explain:
We market to the small to medium sized nonprofits. Generally under $5 million per year. Our smallest nonprofit is around $25,000 per year. We have the features needed for that particular sized nonprofit. We price the software based on their revenue so the smallest of organizations gets the EXACT same software and level of service as the largest of organizations, but with a proportionally smaller expense.
The usual features needed (and we provide): Contact management, merge letters, thank you letters, integration with their website (donations and signups), mass email, full import and export capabilities, etc.
What do most users consider to be the 3 best features or benefits of your product?
1) Very easy and intuitive to use.
2) Tech support. Unparalleled with anyone else. A human answers the phone. The people who wrote the application also support it. Problems are solved. If it’s a question sent to us by email, you often will get a personalized how-to video that answers your question.
3) Mass email is included in price. No requirement to maintain a Constant Contact (or similar) subscription (please see sample e-mail in graphic below).
Is there a trial version of your software available for nonprofits who would like to test drive it?
We’ve tried that and found it did not work well. There is a short learning curve and without some training (all fully included) a person can get a little lost (and discouraged). Our process is to provide a one-on-one demonstration of the software. You are free to ask anything you like. You may take as long as you like. You may repeat the demo as often as you like until you feel comfortable it will do what you need it to do.
Upon request we will provide you access to a demonstration database that you can play with to your heart’s content. In our experience when we have provided this access, it’s rarely used. The demo’s speak the best about who we are.
What sort of user training is available for your software and is it included with the price of the software?
The webinar styled training (and support) is unlimited and included in the price. The first session is an ‘open’ class for any customer to learn the basics. Once the first session is completed, you may schedule as much time as you need on any particular topic of your choice. These additional sessions are done via a remote control software where our trainer is connected to your machine using your database and your examples.
When nonprofits are ready to launch a direct mail appeal, how do they export their mailing list?
I will answer this like I answer many email questions from my customers, with a video.
Why do you feel that it's important for nonprofits to invest in database management software?
The biggest concern I hear from my new customers is that they don’t have their data organized in a way that they can use it. Often it’s in multiple spreadsheets or a homegrown database they have outgrown.
Our software, when properly used, allows you to KNOW who needs a personal contact. Has a prior donor dropped away? If so how many ‘touches’ have you had with them since their first donation? None? That could be the reason. A donor database needs to be able tell you when you last spoke to them personally. When you last emailed them. When you last sent them a letter.
Bottom line, if you are going to properly cultivate your donors, you MUST have a system to track and organize all the activities related to that cultivation process.
About the Author: Mark Panger is a Customer Support Consultant from Trail Blazer Campaign Services, Inc. To contact Trail Blazer call 800-446-1375.
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Please contact us if you are a nonprofit database management provider and would like to be interviewed for this blog. If you are a nonprofit and would like to recommend a particular vendor, or provide feedback on Trail Blazer, please share your comments below.