Boo! Eeek! Nonprofit CRM Data Conversion Doesn't Have to be Scary
Written by guest blogger Anne Potter of Extreme Consulting, Inc.
Don’t get stuck in a Data Conversion Nightmare!
So here it is… the scariest month of the year. Ghosts and goblins, mummies and vampires, you have the recipe for a scary night ahead! Hopefully, if you keep your eyes open, you will spot a superhero or princess every now and then!
The last thing you need this month is the frightening thought of a messy data conversion while you consider moving to a new constituent management tool. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about moving to a new fundraising/member management/constituent management tool (CRM). Perhaps the CRM database tool you currently use is too expensive. Maybe it’s too hard to use, or too clunky and old, too slow. Or maybe you’re looking for an online, cloud-based solution that allows you to do your work anywhere, anytime.
But then there’s the issue of that data. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine moving to a new CRM system, and having to leave my data behind!! Yikes! That would be a nightmare. On the other hand, the thought of HOW to get all of your most important data moved onto a new membership or fundraising CRM just paralyzes you in your tracks. End result… you’re feeling stuck, with that old, worn out, expensive, cantankerous, frustrating, slow, EXPENSIVE tool.
OK, here’s the bright side. I have FIVE great bits of advice to consider that actually makes it EXCITING to consider moving your data! Here we go…
1. YES! It’s movable! Not only is your data very movable, data specialists like Extreme Consulting know exactly how to do it. Really. We’ve done this, and we can get this job done for you, pretty painlessly actually. Now, let’s just say for example, that the system(s) you’ve been using is/are not very open. It’s not very easy to get at your data. And no one on the support line is all that excited about helping you get your data OUT. But, we can. We understand data, we can take it in any format, and parse it, dice it, organize it, and get it moved.
2. Clean up your data! Now that you know your data can be moved, let me assure you that it can also be cleaned up in the process. Have you discovered over time that there are fields that have gotten messed up? You have data that is being used to indicate two different things (in technical jargon we would call this overloaded data)? When you get reports on your data, are there columns that you have to manipulate to make the report correct… move things around, or make modifications that only YOU know how to make because the data is old and has been entered by different people to mean different things? Believe me, you are not alone. This happens, even with the best of intentions, and it’s just a fact of having old data. We can help you dust off the data. Fix up what can be fixed, and frankly sometimes leave some of the data behind, on purpose. After all, if some of it is garbage, let’s get rid of it, right?
3. Merge and combine data from multiple tools! Let’s just imagine that you are possibly using multiple different database systems or tools to support a variety of activities in your nonprofit organization. Perhaps you have a fundraising or membership system which allows you to stay in touch with your constituents via e-newsletters, e-campaigns, or other regularly scheduled email communications. Let’s say you also have a separate system or tool through which you operate an online store. Finally, maybe you have some data that was otherwise not supported in any tool you have been using, but its important information to keep about your constituents, and so you’ve created a standalone database for those types of special data or just stuck them in an Excel spreadsheet. I have great news! During the process of transporting your data from an older system into an all-in-one CR database like NeonCRM, we can capture and combine data from multiple different sources, so that you can get all of this data into ONE tool that will perform all of those tasks, AND will allow you to have custom fields to support information that may not be supported by other systems.
3.5. Oh Gosh, they’re retiring the tool I just moved to!! I said I had FIVE exciting bits of information, but I’m going to give you this “3.5” bonus bit. Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, that you perhaps chose a new cloud-based nonprofit CRM database in the relatively recent past, made the difficult decision to not only move from an old platform offered by an old vendor, to something more current, but you had to make the even MORE painful decision to leave your data behind. Perhaps it was just too expensive to move things. And NOW, you’ve discovered that the new CRM you chose, from a completely different vendor, has merged with that old server based company you were trying to get away from, and your new online product is now being RETIRED!! Oh my. How painful is that scenario? Well, never fear. If you had gotten any kind of dump of data from the original tool (let’s say in some sort of comma delimited file, some sort of spreadsheet format, or some sort of temporary database), that old data can also be imported! So, what you thought you had lost last year, can be revived, and merged with new data, giving you an even more complete set of data than what you’ve been living with recently.
4. Gather NEW data! Point number four isn’t exactly about porting your data, but rather a benefit that can be gained by going to a new provider (like and All-in-One solution like NeonCRM). It’s great to have your existing data make the transformation to a new cloud-based database, but what if you also gained an easy way to gather new data from your constituents and members? For example, you could present your members with a way to go in and answer some new questions about their membership, or fill out an online optional survey, or with constituents, perhaps your volunteers have some new questions to ask them as they canvass donors. All kinds of new and customizable fields can be created in systems like NeonCRM, which can dovetail directly into your existing data.
5. Data Anywhere, Anytime! Finally, once your data transformation has taken place, you can now enjoy having your data accessible anywhere, anytime. With NeonCRM, which is a cloud-based solution, you can literally access, use, and manage your data all across the globe at your convenience. Oh, and since we’re talking about data, let me just throw in that you can access your data FAST! No waiting around for a huge report to be generated. You can create huge reports, but get the results in a snap. No more setting up your report criteria, setting it to run, and then having to go read a book while you wait for your report to be created. We’re talking online, anytime, and FAST!
So there you have it… 5.5 reasons why porting your data to a new nonprofit CRM database can be EXCITING, not scary.
See? I told you there would be a superhero or princess every now and then!
Anne Potter is owner of Extreme Consulting, Inc. Extreme Consulting has been involved with extracting and transporting data for multiple companies and organizations, specifically moving data from Raiser’s Edge to NeonCRM.