The wrong question you’re asking when looking for a new database

I’m part of the amazing Facebook group ‘Fundraising Chat’. I always keep my eye out for database questions to try and offer some advice. The most common one I see?

“Any recommendations for fundraising databases?”.

Now, there is nothing wrong with asking peers for recommendations, in fact, recommendations should be part of your database research. But the common flaw? It’s usually the first question people ask. In my course “4 steps to find right database”, this question actually comes in step 3. The first 2 steps?

1.      Group discussion (see “The most important asset for good data”).

2.      Detailing your requirements.

I’ve recently found my first home (#millenialgoals). If I’d have asked all my friends first what a good location was in my city, before I’d thought about what I want from a new location, I may have made my decision on what works for them. One of my friends may have answered based on the fact it was close to good schools (they have kids), and the other on what the nightlife was like. I may not be thinking about kids right now, and my partying days might be behind me.

It’s the same with databases. One of your peers may have a fundraising strategy based on corporates, and another strongly focussed on events. But if your strategy sways towards individual fundraising, your needs for a database will look very different. That’s why it’s important to think about your team’s requirements first, THEN ask people for recommendations. You can then research these databases with YOUR needs in mind.

However you decide to set up your database, planning and requirements gathering is a key first step. Then you can reach out to your peers and ask "Can anyone recommend any good databases, our focus is on Individual Giving and we need X, Y and Z?"

If you’re looking for a structured, tried and tested approach to do this, then “4 steps to find the right database” is your perfect guide.