I was able to sit down with our very own Mark Wehrmeister, VP of Technology and Operations to talk about what’s under the hood at Greater Giving and his advice on nonprofit technology.
What is your role?
Mark: My role at Greater Giving is Vice President of Technology and Operations.
Why did you choose Greater Giving?
Mark: I chose Greater Giving because I thought the experience I could bring from other industries and organizations would be able to take Greater Giving’s product line to the next level, which posed as a desirable challenge. The other thing that I really found interesting about Greater Giving was that I could either continue to work at one nonprofit or I could work at a company that helps thousands of nonprofits exceed their goals in fundraising. That’s a very compelling thing to devote my career towards.
What is your nonprofit technology advice?
- Try not to be your own IT department; it’s not the business of the organization to develop technology. Trying to use a spreadsheet, Microsoft Access, or a donor management system, and use a hammer to solve a problem that you need a screwdriver for, isn’t right. There are so many software-as-a-service options out there that don’t require a lot of investment, they’re easy to try and use, and especially in our case it’s event management software. It’s not worth doing it yourself.
- When selecting software, make sure you look under the covers. A lot of times, sales people are good at giving you the surface level view. Many people that don’t buy software or similar services for a living don’t tend to look under the hood. You want to look for advanced features and to anticipate what you’re going to need in the future. Make sure that the product you’re looking at can serve those needs and it’s not just a pretty face.
- Make sure that it’s marketed to be used by your team and doesn’t require an army of people to come out and run your event for you. If its marketed as self-service you should be able to get all of the materials and education you need to learn it, and you should be able to use your own staff or volunteers to use it; not having to pay the vendor a lot of money for support or to come out and help you.
- We now have products for mobile bidding and we’ve found when you’re choosing a venue for an event, make sure they have good cell phone coverage as well as Wi-Fi at a reasonable price or free. Many event venues still think they can charge an arm or a leg for their own Wi-Fi. This should be a key decision in the choice of venue going forward, to make your guests have a better experience as well as to be able to use products like ours to run your event.
What’s on the horizon for Greater Giving?
Mark: Of course I can’t reveal everything we’re doing because it’s not available yet, but I can say that since I was hired, we’ve been investing a lot in technology staffing as well as product development. I have a strong belief in creating a seamless customer-centric Greater Giving experience, which will drive everything we do in the future. Our products are strong and feature-rich, but I think they’ll benefit from a much more customer-centric view in the future. For those of you who know our company, it was founded on the principle of making the guest experience better at an auction event – make it faster and easier – which continues to drive everything we do.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Mark: The ultimate super power would be the ability to see into the future – see what it will bring – and be able to solve tomorrow’s problems today.