Fundraising for a cause takes time. Having computer software can help to reduce some of that time by creating scripts for your callers, automate services and keep a better track of the accounts set up. Many companies choose to have their own software created to help have something that is specific to their needs. When deciding whether this is the best option for your cause, you need to consider the following aspects.
The Cost of the Software
Custom-made software costs money and you will be running a non-profit organization. You need to think about the cost right at the beginning. How will you be able to fund this venture? How much of a budget do you have available? There are some companies that will be willing to offer a discount to create the software when it is for a charity but not all will have the financial support for this. Call around and talk to the company owners one-by-one.
You may find that it is better for your cause to have premade software. This will keep the cost down and there are some free options available. While these may limit you, they will allow more money to go towards the charity instead of to fund your ventures.
The Time It Takes to Develop the Software
Creating software is not something that happens overnight. You will need to give the specifications, then the developers will need to create something to pass onto alpha testers, who will make sure that everything runs perfectly. This can take months to fully develop, which will take the time away from your cause. You need to make sure that the fundraising will not start any time soon so that you have the time for the development.
If you are in a rush, finding some premade software may be your best option. Of course, you could opt for premade software temporarily while your custom software is being created; just bear in mind the changeover that you will face afterwards. This really depends on your needs and how quickly you need access to the software.
Allowing it to take the time you need is important. If the testers do not have time to do their job, there is the risk that the custom software will cause more problems than good. There could be bugs that cause a loss of data, security problems or it just may not work at all.
You Need to Know the Specifications
You need to know everything that the software must do. This also takes time to think about since you need to consider little areas, such as the script, the ability to add users and tracking the funds raised. You cannot simply tell the developers the idea of the project and expect them to offer everything that you need. You will find that it takes longer to start than you often think, which will add to the time.
If you do not know the things that you need the software to do, consider getting some premade software. This will give you an idea of the job that offers and you can determine whether you need anything extra. The premade software may give you a script but not the ability to customize it for your fundraising efforts or may be able to arrange one-off payments but not to set up direct debits.
Custom-made software has its benefits but you need to be involved in the development and allow it to take its time. Consider the jobs that you need the software to do and how you will fund the project.
This is a guest post by Ellen, a software developer. She has created projects for many companies and organizations, including to help with raising money for charities and cause marketing.