The Nonprofit Times recently published an article called Is It Donor Management Software Or Business Intelligence. It discusses what Laura Quinn calls the "movement from merely tracking data to an emphasis on using it strategically to make business decisions." This vision of donor management software is nothing new. I’ve heard countless organizations describe their donor databases as "roach motels" or "data vaults" — the data goes in but it doesn’t come out. This lack of analytic tools often drives nonprofits to look for new donor management software. What’s new is that the tools for analyzing and visualizing data are becoming easier to use, less expensive, and are built into more and more donor databases. In addition, there is a growing number of business analysts who understand fundraising and systems and know how to work with donor data.
The article is also included in a special report on business intelligence and a vendor list that, unfortunately, says little about how vendors are addressing this area. But if you’re interested in what’s happening in the donor database marketplace it’s worth browsing.