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We're knee deep in a project of reviewing membership/fundraising software. There are so many facets to making the correct choice but user reviews are quite helpful. We are testing Giftworks, Donor Perfect, and Exceed!.
I'd like some feedback from users of Giftworks. We like much of what we've seen but we've had to customize it some to meet our membership needs. Does anyone use Giftworks to for membership? Giftworks users - what are the pro's/con's you've encountered?
In contrast, Donor Perfect seems to be much harder to use and not as user friendly. But it does offer a myriad of reports. Although it has membership areas standard, I was able to create the same things in Giftworks.
General thoughts, feedback, membership focused advice, and/or guidance is greatly appreciated. I've been using the techsoup fundraising guides and software comparison but I'd really like input for folks in the field.
All three systems have been discussed here frequently. Click here for some discussions of GiftWorks. Take into account the age of some of these comments -- any problems they mention may have been fixed (ask the GiftWorks folks or other references if you see something that concerns you).
Also, your mileage may vary. That's true of any database. Just because another nonprofit likes or hates a system doesn't mean that you'll feel the same. On the other hand, if you hear a lot of complaints or praise, that tells you something. And comments about the vendor as opposed to the software are important. You need to make sure that they provide good customer service, training, conversion support, and stable software.
Good luck. And please let us know what you pick and why.
RobertForum Moderator Robert L. Weiner ConsultingStrategic Technology Advisors to Nonprofit and Educational Organizationsrobert [AT] rlweiner [DOT] comwww.rlweiner.com
I picked up GW2008 during the $99 promo. Not wanting to be negative but I am beginning to believe I am in a hole between those who have a basic list that merges simply and those who have a large list and a budget to contract with Missionresearch to do the work and hold your hand as your merge your data.
I suspect there may be a few in my boat who have a significant database (3,000+) that is fairly detailed. Yet we have no budget to pay for the help to merge and work the software. I am running Access. It seems simple to save as an excel table and merge but the issues come when your data is not a straight forward match to the merge template.
I have discovered that the GW forums (theirs) are apparently not very helpful with a limited community of users. If you post a rather detailed issue most likely you will never get a reply. Don't expect Mission staff to post either as I must assume that they want you to pay for the assistance.
The 165 page manual is extensive and straight forward but I have found it doesn't help those with complicated issues who want or need to go it alone without paying for the assistance.
Basically if you are a one person overwhelmed staff like me and a limited budget due to the current economical crisis you may need to wait or run two systems while you experiment with the software.
I'm sorry to hear that you're having such difficulties, but I'm not surprised. Once you move beyond the basics, you need to keep three things in balance: people, business processes, and technology. The people need training and support . The processes should be clear, accurately documented, and mapped to your software. And someone has to understand the database inside-out, make sure it's is configured properly, loaded with clean data (and that the data is kept clean based on documented policies), and that reports are available and accurate.
That's a lot to figure out with just a written manual. It's why most vendors offer and charge for professional services, and why there are consultants who specialize in some of the databases on the market.
I am a strong believer in the value of Development Services -- the infrastructure that supports fundraising. It's critical to invest in making your database work effectively. As my friend and fellow consultant John Kenyon says, "After people, data is your most important asset."
Good luck with this.
I agree wholeheartedly with Robert's response, and wanted to make sure you are aware of some additional free resources available from the GiftWorks team for guiding you through the data conversion. First, there is a free webinar every week (11:00 a.m. ET each Wednesday) led by an expert who will guide you through an import and field your questions. To sign up, simply register here: http://www.missionresearch.com/giftworks/helpcenter/freeonlinetour.html. Second, email support is always free. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our experts will get right back to you.
It is difficult when you are overwhelmed and funds are limited. I do think you will find the rewards to your organization to be quite significant if you can persevere on this one!
Mary Pat Donnellon of GiftWorks
I work for DonorPerfect, and I know you’re looking for responses from other nonprofits. I just wanted to address your concern about DonorPerfect appearing to be harder to use. As you go through your testing, our representative will be happy to give you a personal, online demonstration and answer any questions you may have. Sometimes just having someone take you through a process once can help demonstrate how easily a task can be accomplished.
Lastly, there is an independent review that may help. N-TEN and Idealware – two nonprofit organizations – wrote a report last summer called "A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems". In this report, they said both our installed and web-based versions are “laid out to be among the easiest to use.”
To read this free report, please visit www.nten.org/donor or www.idealware.org/donor.
DonorPerfect Fundraising Software
Just bought GW 2013. You can't have presbyopia. If you set your screen resolution to anything but SMALL, you can't even add a donation! GW says there's not work around or adjustment that can be made... Get out your magnifying glasses folks!
In retrospect, I'd have spent a bit more to get a decent software package...
Just a note about recent changes at Giftworks. We have a version only 2 years old, does everything we need, keeps us flowing ... BUT Giftworks was recently purchased and they have completely changed their pricing. In fact, if we do not upgrade and begin paying a monthly maintenance fee on top of the upgrade fee, they will disconnect our software and leave us no access to our records. And they have given us only 3 weeks to decide before our software becomes unaccessable. We do not use a cloud version - it is installed on our computer. It amounts to extortion, really, and I would advise people to consider carefully before choosing this software. They have little regard for their customers' welfare any more.
Welcome to TechSoup!
I hadn't heard about GiftWork's new pricing model. It sounds like you're being charged as if your installed software is a cloud product. Their web site shows the same thing: a minimum of $90/month for their installed product. That's quite a change. I'm even more concerned that you're being given 3 weeks to start paying. I have reached out to Giftworks to see if I can get any more information.
If it's any consolation, I assume that they can't just turn off your installed software. If you don't pay the monthly maintenance fees you'll lose access to upgrades and phone support, but your software should continue to work while you evaluate your options. Typically, software companies will make you pay the overdue fees if you decide to get back on their support plan, though.
I wouldn't stop paying maintenance for long, though. It's important to make sure your software is supported (and for all I know there could be penalties for not paying -- assuming you decide to stick with Giftworks). And unfortunately, there aren't many cheaper alternatives that also provide support. Choosing a "free" system like Salesforce or CiviCRM usually means converting your own data and figuring everything out on your own or paying a consultant. Free can get expensive quickly in terms of time and money.
I'll let you know if I get any helpful information from the company.
Huh? I heard it here first and confirmed it on the GW FB page. I am updated to 2013 and haven't heard anything about this. That monthly fee is about what I paid for my annual update. I sure can't afford that per month plus any substantial upgrade fee.especially since I am in a deficit due to the current climate.
I read somewhere those who are using 2013 get another year. I sure hope so cause I would never be able to make a decision on new software that soon let alone pay that kind of fee.Haven't a clue where to even find the cash to switch. I was doing good with the update fee and no monthly service agreement.
What kind of idiotic business model would make such a change to their fee scale, plus alienate their current users creating a bad PR/reputation? Perhaps we are seeing the crash and burn of GW.
Thank you for looking into this. I have spoken to their customer service department and I was offered a "reduced rate" compared to the advertised price on their website since we already have GW, but it will still amount to over $800, about half of which will be due in 2 weeks. We also thought they cannot disable our installed software, but we checked with our computer expert, and he said other companies have done it by making the software dependent on a connection with their server, then disconnecting the server. Meanwhile we are scrambling for another solution. Even if we cannot find a less expensive option, GW has lost all our confidence and I doubt we will renew with them.
I would be interested to know if you are able to gain any helpful information.
I am not familiar with Giftworks, but there are some things I am reading here that I find disturbing.
While I like to be an advocate for non-profits, I know that sometimes misunderstandings can take place. So it would be good if someone involved could share the facts, in detail, about the situation. If prices are getting extreme and the company has the right to disable your software, then that may be the way it is. But if they can't play nice with existing customers, why would new ones want to sign up? The amount of pressure that can be exerted on vendors is considerable and I have had a number cry "Uncle" and start being more reasonable.
Suddenly having to pay $800 for something you have is not reasonable to me, and being threatened with having the software shut off is about the worst thing I have heard for an existing customer. The client should at least be allowed to maintain what they have now and if needed, given a reasonable amount of time to make other arrangements. On the surface this stinks and I for one will help fight against it unless there are other facts that would change my mind.
Maybe we can get a rep from Giftworks over here again to get this figured out? Never mind, I just invited them to take part in this thread.
Christian, this is the email that was sent out last night:
You have received correspondence from us over the past month informing you of our plans to reallocate support resources to the latest versions of GiftWorks and retire older versions. We are aware that this represents a shift in the way GiftWorks has historically handled support for our software and we are sensitive to the fact that this change has a significant impact on the way you conduct business on a daily basis.
We want you to know that we have heard your expressions of concern and, in response, we are extending access to all versions of GiftWorks for six months; you will continue to have the same level of access to GiftWorks 2011 until March 31, 2014. The feedback we have received from you has made it clear to us that our initial notice did not provide sufficient notice for you to adequately plan for these changes and we apologize for any perceived lack of sensitivity to your needs.
Our hope is that this extension gives you enough time to make a comfortable decision to upgrade based upon thoughtful planning. We want you to take advantage of the improvements that we have included in the latest version of GiftWorks because we truly believe our enhancements and new features will be of great benefit to you. Moreover, in the event there are any changes to your operating system (i.e. mandatory Microsoft updates), you could potentially be in a situation where an older version of GiftWorks is rendered incompatible and may not work properly.
Protecting your donor and donation information is of paramount important to us and, to avoid such situations, we encourage you to explore the option to upgrade to the latest version of GiftWorks sooner than later. As an incentive for upgrading before the extended deadline of March 31, we would like to make two very special offers:
Upgrade by December 31, 2013 - If you upgrade from GiftWorks 2011 on or before December 31, 2013, you will get GiftWorks 2014 for the upgrade price of $349 (requires a SmartPlan, starting at $39.99 a month) with no limit on the number of donors you can manage. We will honor this price for at least 1 year from the date of upgrade.
Upgrade by March 31, 2014 - If you upgrade from GiftWorks 2011 between January 1, 2014 and March 31, 2014, you can upgrade to GiftWorks 2014 for $90/month with no setup fee and no limit on the number of donors you can manage.We will honor this price for at least 1 year from the date of upgrade.
We deeply value the trust you have placed in us over the past nine years and want to continue to serve as a partner in carrying out your mission. By staying current with our latest version of GiftWorks, you will experience significant benefits:
Unlimited Users - When you upgrade to GiftWorks 2014, you can have access to GiftWorks for as many of your staff as you'd like.
Continual updates - GiftWorks continually releases new features and enhancements through-out the year. You will receive all of them.
Unlimited support - We are available to help your current staff use GiftWorks to its fullest capabilities and/or help new staff members come up to speed on using GiftWorks.
Training materials - Access our complete knowledgebase and video tutorials whenever you need to. This library of resources is continually updated and helps you maximize GiftWorks.
You may review a full copy of our EULA here: Click here to view
GiftWorks Pricing Changes: FAQ - Click here to view
We understand that you may have additional concerns and we encourage you to reach out to us directly at email@example.com. We have taken all of your feedback to heart and have established this inbox in an attempt to dedicate resources specifically to addressing these types of concerns so please feel free to reach out; we want to hear from you!
This email was sent to 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2011 GiftWorks users.
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