Many non-profits began their data management using spreadsheets. Yours may still use them, but there are many reasons to move away from them and into donor management software, as you may be aware. In fact, here are a couple of articles that some folks have referenced in telling us why they no longer want to use spreadsheets:
One of the big stumbling blocks to converting to a better system is the old argument: “We would have to re-enter all the information, and no one has time to do that!” Well, in FundRaiser (even in FundRaiser Basic) there is a file option that allows you to import from other file formats. Here are some tips and tricks on how to do set up your spreadsheet for optimal importing:
1. Name spreadsheet columns
First of all, your spreadsheet is comprised of columns of information, and those columns should each have a name, used at the top of the column, called a “column header”. They need to be simple alpha-numeric labels, without punctuation or special characters (no $, %, &, ^, (), <>, etc.), that give you an idea of what type of data resides in the column.
2. Separate information into a “one column per code” format
In some cases you may need to modify the spreadsheet to make things easier, such as a column that has multiple codes in a single field. For example, a column labeled “interests” might, for one person, have “hiking”, “Skiing”, “boating”, etc., all in the same field. If, instead, you create multiple columns (interest1, interest2, interest3, etc.) and put a single interest in each one, it will be easy to import. An alternative would be to have that type of field go directly into a “Spare” field in FundRaiser, allowing you to later Group people together in FundRaiser to mass-assign category codes to those who have a particular “interest code” in that spare field, regardless of the other contents. This might be easier than modifying the spreadsheet. It’s up to you.
3. Solve donation import issues
One of the main reasons to bring in all that information is to bring in gifts. Here you may run into a bit of a problem, depending upon how those gifts have been stored in your spreadsheet. The ideal is to have each gift on a separate row (with identifying data such as name, address, phone number), or, if you aren’t concerned so much with individual gifts as total giving, just a single amount of total giving per name will work well. If you have multiple lines for multiple gifts, then you’ll be able to capture the individual gifts. FundRaiser will create a separate name record for each gift, resulting in duplicate entries for everyone who has multiple gifts. Once imported, though, you can run the Duplicate Checking routine found in the Utilities section of FundRaiser, to identify all possible duplicates and allow FundRaiser to merge those duplicates together. Also, if you are importing multiple spreadsheets, it may be that a person is on more than one, which will result in duplicate records.
These steps may take a little preparation, but they will help you get your data transferred as quickly and as easily as possible. In the end, you’ll be able to bring most of your useful information from your old system to the new FundRaiser system, and with as little stress as possible. If you absolutely must have all the old information, we provide (at additional cost) a data conversion service that involves a programmer creating a software solution to bring in all the data you need from any database, whether a spreadsheet or other donor management software. Call for quotes, of course. As always, if you need help with this or other aspects of the program, check the Customer Portal on our website, as well as Tech Support or Training for further help.