Schools don’t use their databases to full potential

Earlier this month we spoke at the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE) Conference.  We offered delegates, mainly development professionals from Independent Schools the opportunity to win a bottle of champagne in return for completing a short survey.  out of 125 Schools represented at the Conference 32 delegates completed the questionnaire.

The results are interesting.  The schools that took part in the survey were all using a variety of databases including Raiser’s Edge, Donor Strategy, WebALUMNUS, InTouch and several other smaller systems.

The Survey found that only 32% of Independent Schools use their development database to its full potential.   This suggests to us that some schools may have purchased systems with functionality that they don’t need, or those with smaller development teams may not have the resources or time to get the most out of their system.

In some schools there is not a proper cross-organisational database so the development teams’ system is not compatible with accounts, marketing and admissions.  This will cause difficulties for the school as the amount of information they need to store and use between departments increases.

At the Conference it was noticeable how little development teams know about alternative databases.  It’s essential that the schools do due diligence when purchasing a new system as functionality varies and schools could very easily overpay for a system that is too complex, or buy a system that doesn’t provide them with the appropriate platform for their long-term growth.

However, one particular result from the survey was encouraging.  We were really pleased that the majority of schools had control around financial processing.  68% of delegates believed their school was maximising its Gift Aid reclamation.  The work we have done in this area suggests that some schools are doing this better than others.

It would be interesting to ask the same questions of other small charities involved.  Are these conclusions just specific to development teams in schools or do other non-profit organisations think the same way?  We would like to hear your views.

You can see more details of the survey here: