Change is often difficult for people to adapt to. So much so that we, as people, will often hold onto that which is cumbersome and inefficient but familiar just to avoid change.

change avoidance nonprofit technology

This change-avoidant behavior is so common that change management is quite often a formal workstream within nonprofit technology implementation projects. What makes for effective change management within a CRM system implementation (or any other large project for that matter) is multiple orders of magnitude beyond the scope of this article. It is also open to debate to what extent adequate attention and resources are actually allocated to change management within large implementation projects, regardless of the nature and efficacy of various methods. Less politely, it’s sometimes a bit of lip service.

Given this reality, what we often see under the aegis of change management are, instead, various forms of change avoidance. This phenomenon is understandable given the great difficulty of implementing and adopting change in any organization above a certain (relatively small) size. It is especially common with respect to certain audiences within the advancement organization.

How does this change avoidance dilemma relate to CRM implementations?

  1. Legacy 2.0.
  2. What I’m calling “building a better mousetrap,” which stands in opposition to “finding a better solution to the problem of mice.”

Having written extensively about Legacy 2.0 in previous articles, in this piece I focus mainly on #2: building a better mousetrap.

In the current enterprise fundraising CRM market, the three major systems or families of platforms are Blackbaud CRM, Microsoft Dynamics-based CRM systems, and Salesforce-based CRM systems. There are several each Dynamics- and Salesforce-based solutions, the specifics of which are not pertinent to the discussion at hand. The abilities to customize solutions, and, particularly, to automate processes, are very much what fundraising organizations are paying for when they select any of these options.

As I have written many times previously, customizability can be both a blessing and a curse; the latter being demonstrated by the commonality of creating customizations to make a new system look or behave like the old system in certain ways. That’s straight-up Legacy 2.0 and is quite overtly change-avoidant.

What, then, do I mean by “Legacy 2.1” or “building a better mousetrap,” and how is it different? With the advent of the more highly automatable fundraising solutions, what we’re starting to see in the design phase of CRM implementations is the replacement of current fundraising processes with slicker, more automated versions of the very same processes that were developed for the legacy system. That’s not the same thing as leveraging the opportunities provided by a powerful new system to define new processes optimized for the attainment of strategic business objectives. It’s a subtler, easier-to-overlook, and newer form of Legacy 2.0; hence the term “Legacy 2.1.” Why does this occur? Change avoidance, of course! This approach involves less change to which users must adapt, which is an easier sell organizationally, and it may provide narrow-scope incremental improvement in efficiency, even if not in the results that really matter.

As always when discussing process change and Legacy 2.0, I note that there will always be specific use cases that require replication of existing processes for legitimate, agreed-upon business reasons, in which case increased automation is a pure gain. But the same question applies here as in any Legacy 2.0 conversation: What is the underlying business objective of this process? If the business objective is clearly identified and articulated, and if an organization is willing to undertake change, then freedom to design and implement the best possible solution, which may very well involve replacing the current process altogether, becomes available. Being clear on the difference between process optimization and Legacy 2.1 is the first step.

So, the $64,000 question is: are you finding a better solution to the problem of mice, or are you merely building a better mousetrap, and why?

Planning for a big change?

Brandon is a Salesforce Certified Administrator and brings over 20 years of experience as an advancement practitioner and consultant. Before joining Zuri Group, Brandon was a Senior Enterprise Solutions Consultant at Blackbaud, and prior to that he was a fundraiser for 12 years. This deep experience in both frontline fundraising and fundraising operations and data management strongly informs his approach to consulting, and Brandon helps his clients keep the bigger picture in mind at all times.

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