Top Things to Consider Before Converting Your Nonprofit’s Data into a New System

Recently, Laura Bibbo wrote a helpful post on 7 Things to Think About Before You Implement a Fundraising System. Now, here are some things to consider before you move any data into a new system, and a few tips on how to get the conversion process started off right.

Data Mapping

At Heller Consulting, we believe that data mapping is one of the most significant steps in a successful migration. Mapping happens before we begin any other implementation activities. On a basic level, data mapping sets you up to complete the next steps in your implementation. A data map provides an agreed-upon record of where your data is going to end up.

Code Structure

A data migration is an excellent opportunity to streamline your financial and demographic codes. Coding is fundamental to a well-organized database, and good codes should reflect your organization’s goals and strategies.


Another often overlooked consideration before a data migration is storage. Different systems have different storage capacities and strategies. Often, additional storage is a hidden cost, and you don’t want to get caught having to purchase additional space right in the middle of a migration.

Historical Data

Before you begin a data migration, it’s a good idea to think about what historical data you want to bring into the new system. Often, clients say they feel like their database is “messy,” but when we ask for specifics, they can’t really pinpoint why. Cleaning out some of that old, extraneous data can help you save storage and can help diminish that “messy” feeling.

Think It Through

Basically, a conversion is a great time to clean house. It is well worth your time to think holistically about the data you already have, what you want to keep, and how it can better support you in your new system.

For more details on what to consider before converting your data to a new system, see Susie’s full blog post on The Connected Cause.


About the author:

Susie SaxtenSusie Saxten brings experience in many areas of nonprofit operations — including fundraising, board development, grant-writing and marketing — to her work at Heller Consulting. She has a special interest in developing and streamlining systems, and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others by breaking down complex processes into manageable pieces. Most of all, she is passionate about using technology to further the missions of nonprofit organizations.