Friday, January 6, 2012

Is DonorEdge, The Giving Partner or Whatever Its Called Worth It?

Last month, I met with Mark Brewer. Mark leads the Community Foundation of Central Florida. While our visit concerned the needs of non-profit organizations in Central Florida for my funding strategy innovations, we talked a lot about DonorEdge. (Brewer’s organization calls their version of this Guidestar product, “The Knowledge Base.” The Community Foundation of Sarasota* named theirs, “The Giving Partner.”) Central Florida has used it for several years.

Coincidentally, the same week, I put the finishing touches on Selby Garden’s profile for The Giving Partner. What was the process like? Susie Bowie was extremely helpful. The on-line system worked well. The questions were neither difficult nor long. Yet, while the questions weren’t hard, the decisions behind them were challenging. Many involved an assessment of the best answer to give to further the Gardens’ donor development strategy. Questions like, “Which picture is best to use since we can only use one?” and, “What are the five most pressing needs?” involved thinking and planning. The work wasn’t hard, but the strategy and thought behind it were intense. So, what was the process really like? In all honesty, demanding. Yes, you can fill out the profile in several hours, but if you want it to be a tool to support your overall funding strategy, like the Gardens did, it will take lots more.

During the process, I wondered, as you will probably wonder if you take a serious approach, “Is this worth it?” After filling out a profile and talking to Mark Brewer and learning how Central Florida is using it, the answer is “Yes.” Here’s why I recommend you get out your welcome mat for it:

1. Important Information to Share. You want a current profile about your organization to give to potential donors. In all honesty, do you have it? You will with DonorEdge.

2. Sector Enrichment. The nonprofit sector, compared to other sectors, is data poor. DonorEdge helps to close the gap. How big is the average nonprofit board in Bradenton? What is the total amount of capital campaign funding being sought in Orlando? Now, we can learn and share these and similar facts.

3. Your New Wiki. You will soon use DonorEdge to answer quick questions. Filling out your profile teaches you what’s available. Once underway, you will be able to find out about someone else’s mission, an executive director’s background and key programs of other nonprofits by typing in their name and selecting a tab. My prediction: you will use it to look up everything from the important, what are their board members affiliations, to the curious, how long has the executive director been in place.

4. Donor Support. A profile placed in a database on the Internet will by itself drive few donations. However, a well-done profile which quickly provides donors considering funding your non-profit organization the peace of mind that allows them to write you that sizable check or click a donate now button. This 24-7 availability, allows you to sleep soundly, while your donor confirms your excellence at 2 a.m.

If you are struggling to fill out your profile, take heart. From what I’ve learned, it is worth your effort. If you have yet to develop a profile, get out your welcome mat and get started. What has your experience been?
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* The Giving Partner is a partnership of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Manatee Community Foundation—with support from The Patterson Foundation.

5 comments:

  1. Karen, thank you for making the time for a closer look at DonorEdge and The Giving Partner.

    We know that building the profile takes some time on the part of each nonprofit, but it's well worth it. The process alone can be enlightening, in terms of really taking a comprehensive look at how you're operating your charitable business. The organizations that have invested in this thus far have shined a bright light on the importance of their missions in Southwest Florida--in their own words--and how they are different from similar organizations.

    This tool will be widely used--not just by the funding partners and community foundation donors--but by everyday citizens interested in learning more about the nonprofits that make our community so vibrant.

    When we launch in March, you can visit The Giving Partner at http://thegivingpartner.org. Stay up to date by following us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thegivingpartner. We're tweeting at @GivingParter.

    Karen, we appreciate your insights!

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  2. In the meantime, you may want to look at the Community Foundation of Central Florida's website and their Knowledge Base to see what the system looks like when its up and running. Find someone in you genre and "borrow" their good ideas.

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  3. Last week, I did a presentation at Rollin's about nonprofit funding streams. To include materials from attendees, I used their DonorEdge database to look up different nonprofits who were attending to get a quick overview of their funding streams.
    So, another use for the Giving Partner will be for consultants, trainers, foundation staff. etc. who want access info. quickly to do so... It sure beats digging thru websites or 990's on Guidestar.

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    Replies
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