Jill Meyer is like a lot of nonprofit tech geeks. After more than 15 years working in a corporate setting, she decided it wasn’t satisfying enough. She wanted to work with nonprofits—people who changed lives for the better.
She started out by volunteering to help a Minnesota community foundation clean up its donor database. But word got out about the good work she was doing and she quickly discovered that a lot of organizations needed help managing their constituents.
In 2013, she started Jill Meyer Consulting and set to work helping nonprofits do a better job of collecting, managing, and analyzing their data.
“I help clean up data, revise processes, develop reports, write procedure manuals, evaluate products—a wide range of things,” Meyer said.
Digging Into the Details
When Meyer starts with a new client she likes to dig into the details. “I try to talk to as many people as I can within the organization to figure out what their needs are and what’s happening or not happening,” Meyer said.
Early on, Meyer noticed a pattern. Her conversations often began with a lot of complaints and frustrations. She started to realize that most of the time it wasn’t the system that was struggling, it was the people who were trying to use it.
Many staffers had received minimal training, sometimes because the staff member who did know how to use the system had left the organization and everyone else was too busy scrambling to keep up.
“I met a lot of people who had trouble seeing the bigger picture beyond their immediate frustrations,” Meyer said. She realized that she needed resources that could back her up and show her clients that dumping their database was not going to solve their problems. That’s when she discovered Idealware.
Meyer first heard about Idealware at NTEN’s National Technology Conference (NTC) in Minneapolis. She saw the booth and flipped through a copy of A Consumers Guide to Donor Management Systems. It was exactly what she had been looking for.
“I liked how it was laid out. I could point clients to the specific information they needed,” Meyer said.
Meyer began taking her copy of the Consumer’s Guide to meetings and when her clients had questions, she often pointed them to idealware.org. “It’s great having a place to go to get specific information or to validate what you’re saying,” Meyer said. “Idealware makes my job so much easier.”
Resources That Strengthen Client Relationships
Meyer has found that Idealware reports and workbooks are good conversation starters. For example, if a client is considering a CRM system, she’ll have them complete the workbook Will All Your Constituents Fit in One System? and then talk with them about their answers to help them find the right solution. She’s also had clients come to meetings with their own highlighted copy of an Idealware report that together they used to evaluate software options.
There have also been times when Meyer has used A Consumers Guide to Donor Management Systems to talk a nonprofit off a ledge. One client wanted to scrap its low-cost donor management system because staffers were sure they could find something cheaper and better. She was able to show them side-by-side comparisons that included cost information and by the end of that meeting they all agreed that switching systems wasn’t going to save time or money and wasn’t going to solve their fundamental issues.
“Often people don’t know the possibilities. They struggle to see the whole picture. Idealware’s resources help them focus on something more succinct to figure out what’s best,” Meyer said.
She added: “The internet is a rabbit hole of links. As a consultant, it’s good to be able to go out and find what you need in one place. Idealware provides that and a lot more.”
A Virtuous Cycle
Jill and her clients are like you—they rely on Idealware to provide a foundation of technology information that they can use to make informed decisions. Our research, training, and resources make it possible for shelters to help more women, schools to boost test scores, and art to reach every corner of a community. How? By helping them get more value from their technology. We are part of the virtuous cycle that drives nonprofits to do good in their communities and around the world.
Please consider giving a gift to Idealware. Even $20 can provide the boost we need to finish a research report or complete a webinar. Your gift is the fuel we need to keep the virtuous cycle turning. Now more than ever, we need strong nonprofits that are equipped to face the biggest challenges of our time. Idealware provides the support you need to make progress toward your mission.