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4 ways to evaluate how easily your data will move from one donor management program to a new one

How easily will your data move from one donor management program to another? Part 2 How easy will moving my data be?
In part 1 last week, we talked about the reasons you might need to move your data. Now, you probably want to know how easy that move might be. The answer may decide whether you do the work yourself, or decide to go with professional data conversion.

Moving data from one program to another may be amazingly simple or extremely complex. If you are considering such a move, the answers to the following 4 questions will reveal to you just what the case will be for your organization and data situation:

1. How compatible are the old and new software programs?

  • More compatible makes the move simpler. For instance, your old program may have a built-in tool to export data to your new program, or your programs may be built by the same company, making data migration easier.
  • Less compatible makes the move more complicated. More custom work will be needed to move the data from the old program into the new one. It will also take some time and training for you to learn how to find the old data in the new program.

To check the compatibility of your old data with the new program you are thinking of moving to, go through the steps of importing data into it. If you aren’t able to do this easily, ask the new software company what it would take to move your data. Software sales representatives should be willing and able to help you get this answer.

2. How much data do you want to move?

  • Fewer donor records, as well as having only one gift per donor, make the move simpler. With fewer records, you can more easily do the work by hand. With only one gift per donor, you will be more likely to be able to use export/import tools.
  • Many records and more than one gift per donor make the move more complicated. It will be harder to do the work by hand if you have many records. More than one gift per donor will make it harder to move the data using export/import tools.

3. What kind of data do you want to move?

  • Demographic data like names and addresses are easier to move. If this is the only data you need to move, then it is more likely that you’ll be able to use export/import tools yourself.
  • Codes and extensive giving history are harder to move by export/import tools. You may be able to do it, but it can be difficult to understand what needs to be done to accomplish the move. Even more complicated to move are pledge schedules, membership history, and tribute gift records. These kinds of fundraising information are often organized in very different ways from program to program. Significant thought and custom work may be needed. Usually this is done with professional data conversion. If you only have a small amount of complicated data, you might also choose to move it by hand.

4. What do you want to do with your data once it is moved?

  • If you use certain data infrequently, you might find some simple options even for complex data. This can be the case for historical data used only in prospect research. In that case, you might even leave it in the old program and access it as needed from there.

  • If you need to use the data for your day-to-day work, it is important that it be well integrated into your current mailing or report features. Except for basic donor data (names, addresses, single gift per donor), other data may be more difficult to move so that it can be pulled into your mailings or reports. Check that there is a place for these things before buying new software.

For people working with FundRaiser software programs, the FundRaiser growth path  makes moving donor data simple. Built in import/export tools and highly compatible systems mean that you can easily step from one level to another or move from an offline to an online program easily.

To learn more about the FundRaiser growth path:

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