1. Independence, good or bad?
Nearly every citizen of the U.S., I believe, would agree that national independence from foreign powers is a good thing, and we celebrate our country's independence from Great Britain every year on July 4th. But not all forms of independence are necessarily good, I think. Let me elaborate. When I was young, I was instilled with the idea that self-independence is a good thing, so far as providing for one's own needs, food, shelter, clothing, etc. Hard work, I was told, was the key for obtaining that independence. Looking back, I think that was a bit naive on my parents' part, but it certainly got me out of the house earlier than I might otherwise have left. Few of us truly want to be independent in all respects, and most of us need some forms of interdependence to thrive and live full lives. Successful marriage, rearing children, meaningful employment, team sports, all require interdependence to one degree or another. And learning how to use donor management software as powerful and versatile as FundRaiser products requires a bit of interdependence as well. So consider that trying to be too independent when learning the ins and outs of FundRaiser is not a good thing, and is probably a bit self-defeating, in that you will take longer to perform the tasks that you need to perform without a proper grounding in the use of the software. Allow yourself the luxury of interdependence with our staff and other users in order to more quickly and efficiently reach your fundraising goals. You'll see that, while not a bad thing in itself, striving for independence in all things may be a bit misguided.
2. Independent interdependence
It's not really an oxymoron. There are several avenues for learning FundRaiser software that allow you to be independent to a great degree: training videos online; online FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions); the Help Contents HOW-TO section in your software; the blog archives on our website for learning about many aspects of how the software helps with specific fundraising tasks. These avenues of learning allow you to view the information at your leisure, on your timetable, without being dependent on someone else's scheduling or priorities. Someone else, of course, expended the effort to create or make available the information on the website, so there is a level of dependence on those folks (mostly our staff here at FundRaiser), but it's kept at arm's length, so to speak, through the media in which it's presented.
3. Is live training the best approach? Depends.
While I'm of an age where the word "depends" is likely to bring up all sorts of tasteless jokes, that age also gives me the experience to say that no one way to "enlightenment" is necessarily better than another. It really depends on the individual and how best they learn from a particular method of presentation. As the training manager, I'm a bit partial to the live webinar method of training. I believe it is easier to learn when someone walks me through a process, rather than just reading about it in print and trying to do it alone. Although I have a lot of practice in putting things together just by reading the manual or instructions, I've also had a lot of practice in reading between the lines of the manual, or instructions, in order to reach the objective at hand, either because they were difficult to read, to understand, to follow, or they were just plain wrong. And a live teacher usually means I can ask questions during the session, which can be invaluable. You can view the calendar of upcoming live webinar sessions whenever it's convenient for you.
Choose your own approach
No matter what combination of learning methods you choose, know that we are here to help you learn the software. You can rely on us to answer your questions as quickly and accurately as possible, or to find someone who can answer your questions, if we can't. Be comfortable with whatever approach you take to learning, but please take the time to learn. You will save yourself a lot of time, effort, and headaches by getting a good grounding in the basics of the software, and then you can more easily step through the more advanced concepts you need to do what it is that you want your donor management software to do. Don't think of it as being dependent on the staff, but rather as being in partnership with us. That's one reason for the logo: "Right beside you". This article is adapted from the original by Larry Weaver published in June 2013