How to Select the Right Project Manager to migrate your Fundraising Database to a New CRM system


Now that you have finally decided to migrate all the fundraising data you have in various places to a sleek new CRM database there remains only one problem.

How are you going to achieve a donor database that provides clean data, solid reports and a staff that buys into the process?

Who are you going to put in charge of this monumental task?

In the early days of using computers, to manage fundraising databases, most organizations relegated this task to programmers. The organization didn’t understand the technology needed and didn’t want to be bothered as long as they could get the information they needed. The result was a programmer, with little knowledge of the industry, developing and acting as the Project Manager for the most important tool in your fundraising arsenal.

Selecting the right Project Manager is integral for your fundraising database migration and can mean the difference in having the project done right, in budget and on time or incurring cost and time overruns and not achieving the desired outcome.


An article by Benoit Hardy-Vallee, PHD, at Gallup states that there are 3 main reasons for project failures:

  1. Technical
  2. Individual
  3. Stakeholder

When selecting a Project Manager these are the 4 key elements you need to consider:

  1. A Dedicated Resource

The project manager must be available as a full time resource to the project. They cannot juggle their duties as the Director of Advancement Services or Manager of Information Support Services and lead this effort. Many have tried and learned that both the project and the operational duties have suffered.

  1. Domain or Subject Matter Expertise

Do they have the technical expertise and understand the fundraising business. Does the Project Manager have a successful track record of implementing the right systems and procedures that you need in order to achieve the desired goals in your organization? Your CRM database is the lifeblood of the fundraising process and it is imperative the Project Manager you choose understand the process. The consequence of not having someone with the technical and industry knowledge will result in simply going through the motions and not achieving the desired outcome.

  1. Leadership Skills

Do they have the necessary skills to pull together a cross functional team and move them toward the desired goal. The ability to communicate, assess the team’s strengths and weaknesses and maximize the productivity of the team members ensures not only the individual team members professional growth but ensures a cohesive team. When conflicts arise do they have the leadership skills to resolve the conflicts in a constructive and professional manner?

  1. Process Improvement and System Implementation

Database migration is never simply a technology project. User involvement, Executive buy in and facilitating the next generation of fundraising are all goals that need to be achieved. Failure to do so results in having the same inefficient processes, just using new technology. To fully realize a return on your investment the right Project Manager will implement the right processes and procedures tailored to your specific needs.

The right Project Manager will have the skills necessary to build teams, effectively manage time, have cross functional thinking, set priorities, coach, facilitate and delegate and most importantly, successfully deliver the desired results.

Selecting the right project manager is the determining factor in successfully implementing a new CRM database that will enable you to achieve your fundraising and engagement goals.

Leave a comment – We’d Love to Hear from You

What has been your experience – any lessons learned? Are there other factors when selecting a project manager that has impacted your project in any way?


Profile pictureDauwn Parker leverages her extensive background in CRM consulting and experience in fundraising operations to guide her clients to success. She offers her clients valuable leadership coaching, lessons for avoiding common pitfalls, best practices, tools, and techniques. Clients find Dauwn’s communication style as a differentiator in her services, whether conducting a large group facilitation or a one-on-one coaching session, she breaks complex concepts into consumable segments of information making it easy to understand for anyone regardless of their role in the organization, level of experience, or skill set.

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