It's all about the data

By Erin McHugh Saif, Vice President of Products

Anniversaries are a good time to take stock, assess progress, and set goals. Last week marked my fourth month since joining the roundCorner team as VP of Product, so I want to share what I’ve been learning from our extraordinary nonprofit customers and give you a window into our team’s whirlwind of product development activity.

First, I must say that I bounce out of bed in the morning struck by how lucky our roundCorner team is to work with many of the largest and most impactful nonprofits in the world. Yes, in the whole world! These household names have one major thing in common: their programs, goals, and challenges are evolving at an unmatched pace, and they expect their technology to do the same. The impact these organizations have on our communities and our planet is breath-taking. At roundCorner, we are honored to serve these organizations and manage their fundraising, donor, grant management, and program business processes.

Over the past few months, I have traveled the country with roundCorner’s product and customer engagement teams. We’ve met with Chief Development Officers, Directors of Development Operations, CIOs, and critical users like business analysts and batch gift entry staff. We’ve learned there are a few key themes in terms of what keeps them (and us!) up at night.

1) Data integrity.
2) A platform’s ability to evolve as data growth and donor interests accelerate.
3) The creativity and innovation still needed to transform technology to manage complex nonprofit business processes.

Prior to my current role as VP of Product at roundCorner, I was on hiatus from the nonprofit software space for five years (working on my other passions, Cloud and business intelligence), but one thing is clear after all that time. For our customers, it’s still all about the data!


Data Integrity

If an organization’s CRM isn’t built and tuned to automate the frustrating and repetitive work of keeping accounts, households, addresses, and records clean and up-to-date, the nonprofit has already reached a dead end. With all the talk about the promise of digital transformation, AI, crypto, fintech, and other buzzwords of 2018, it’s easy to lose sight of the basics. And for our nonprofit customers, the basics are essential. Call a donor the wrong name in a mail piece, and you alienate them. Send mail to a deceased family member, and you’ve caused unnecessary pain. Don’t have a process for following up on credit card expirations? You’ve just cost your organization potentially millions of dollars. Seemingly mundane processes like NCOA updates can cost a nonprofit a week of work per month. That’s a full three months a year that could be spent on more strategic fundraising efforts. Here at roundCorner, we’re obsessed with getting the basics right, so we are focused on designing the most efficient data hygiene and processing workflows available in the market. You’ll see a major focus on these areas in our remaining 2018 product releases.


Data Growth and Transformation

The typical business analyst at a nonprofit deals with data across seven major systems and 20+ disparate data files in any given work day, based on anecdotal feedback shared by our customers. How does an analyst stay sane in the midst of this data and vendor soup, you might ask? It’s no surprise that our customers are desperate for best-in-class data management services and solutions like roundData. The flow of data between lockbox vendors, CRM systems, BI tools, and hygiene solutions is not for the faint of heart. We recommend that our customers first create a mental model of these inputs and outputs, develop a master data management plan, and ensure their software of choice is automating, not breaking, their ideal business process flows. Beyond this, it’s critical that your fundraising CRM is tuned to process, reconcile, and report on data with the greatest speed possible so that donors are acknowledged, campaigns are updated, and multi-channel marketing efforts are in lockstep. At roundCorner, our 2018 product roadmaps are focused on evolving more efficient and performant fundraising and CRM workflows to enable transformative growth in your donor files, transaction amounts, data, and programs.


Using data to predict the future

The nonprofit organizations we serve are acquiring sustaining donors and members at a pace never seen before. The focus of a sustainer program is no longer on how to attract new sustaining members. The pressure has shifted to having a CRM and data platform smart enough to figure out how to capture a second month of recurring giving, track down donors that fall off between months 2 – 6, and ways to automate credit card payment and biographical information changes in near real-time. Neglecting a strategy and process (not to mention software design workflows!) in just one of these areas can be a costly oversight. How best to tune your system to predict who to call today and who will renew tomorrow? It all starts with data integrity (see #1).

Here at roundCorner, our product management, engineering, support, services, and customer success teams are maniacally focused on evolving our software to keep up with the speed of change for our customers. We’re focused on solutions that help organizations store, manage, query, visualize, and transform enormous volumes of data—faster, more accurately, and with better predictive capabilities than any other solution provider in the cloud. We’re busy evolving our NGO Connect and foundationConnect applications to manage nonprofit data in the most transformative, disruptive way possible. Above all, we are grateful for the partnership and collaboration our customers continue to demonstrate that makes this innovation possible.

As this work continues throughout 2018, keep checking our blog. Our product management team will be spotlighting some of the incredible program (and data!) transformation work that our nonprofit partners are doing in our next posts.

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