'Technology, Donor Engine’
Changing the nonprofit software world
I believe that your organization should spend the absolute minimum time managing data and data silos, and as much time as possible focusing on the two things that really matter most: your mission and your donors.
As a software vendor in the charitable sector, that's an easy statement to make, but much harder to practice. It means when you're faced with a decision where increased profit is in direct competition with what's best for your customer. You do the right thing and choose the customer.
It means passing on the credit card processing discount every charity is eligible for and providing low processing rates, rather than using that as a way of increasing your profit.
It means implementing feature requests in days, not months, or the tried and true magic words "I'm sorry there isn't enough client interest in that feature" to make the problem disappear.
It means having an unwavering focus on efficiency. For any task that is repeated on a regular basis, the first question should be: "Can a computer do this?” If the answer is no, then the second question is: "How can we make this task as quick as possible?”
It means continually investing in usability. You aren't going to get it right on the first go.
It means not separating essentials like customer support off as a separate fee and being transparent about the true cost of the product.
It means insisting that we take the time during the sales process to make sure that it is a fit, not glossing over the important details to rush to a sale (even if the customer wants you to). Success shouldn’t solely be measured by the volume of sales, but by the impact they have.
The conventional wisdom of running a tech business today is "Grow insanely fast, become a household name, get rich, exit, repeat.” If you’re not on that treadmill, you get called (often with a bit of disdain) "A hobby business” or a "lifestyle business.” It’s undeniable that the conventional approach is a legitimate business strategy, you only have to look around. It’s also undeniable that there is a cost. Rapid growth almost always comes at the expense of the customer. There’s also a social cost, just look at the tech headlines over the last 12 months and all the bad behaviour and controversy.
My company built Donor Engine because we believe you and your organization deserve better. Doing the job right is not quick. We didn’t rush to market (we were in private beta for two years). We aren’t trying 200x our business in a couple years so we can exit via a sale to one of the bigger players. We’re here to make a difference and do better because we owe it to you.
I care about the sector, and while there are a lot of similarities between the business world and the charitable sector, there are a lot of important differences too. As a charity, you are held to a higher standard -- I believe vendors for your sector should be too.
I think the software industry for the charitable sector needs to change significantly, and the only way I know how to make that happen is to be the change I want to see.