The changing role and requirements for a Raiser’s Edge database administrator

a diverse group of people talking around a table with laptops in front of them

The Chronical of Philanthropy recently had an article about the debate in nonprofit circles about including salary information in job announcements. As leaders of the movement to require such information have been in the nonprofit technology field — and I’m often asked to review RE database manager (DBM) job announcements — it caught my attention. I’ve also been working on my bbcon presentation for October (more on that below). The convergence of these two events for me is about who organizations hire to be their RE DBMs and what they expect these folks to do.

The work of fundraising data management has changed. We need DBMs to spend less time at their desks in front of computers and more time with their users. And we need to hire folks who can do the work of managing processes and people; participating in, even leading, meetings; learning and teaching others; and writing documentation. Creating queries, running reports, and doing mailings is not the job of the “database manager” — any power user on the team can do those tasks. If the DBM is also a power user, so be it, but there are responsibilities that someone with the role of DBM needs to be doing beyond these output tasks.

Does your organization have the right kind of person in the DBM job? Are they (you?) doing the right things as the DBM? Here are some free resources to help answer those questions:

And while you’re looking at resources, read the Chronicle article on including salary ranges in your job descriptions. Something to think about.

Fundraisers & Leadership:

Allow and expect your DBM to do more for you. Include them in meetings. Ask their opinion. Expect them to deliver trainings and to push your team to be better.

Database Staff:

Get out from behind the computer. Teach an RE class to your team. Meet face-to-face with someone when they request a list or a report. Invite yourself, if necessary, to meetings. Be a data leader, not just a list fulfiller.

Resources on Bill’s website, including the bbcon presentation

bbcon, the Blackbaud Conference

screen shot of the bbcon website home page

On one hand, it’s a shame that the Blackbaud conference “bbcon” is going to be only online (“virtual”) this year because the previous years’ in-person gatherings have been so valuable (and yes, fun!). On the other hand, I appreciated several aspects of the 2020 online bbcon last year:

  • A whopping 10 times more people were able to participate

  • It was a far cheaper experience: no airplane ticket, hotel, or registration fee (yes, it was free last year and it’s free this year)

  • It was easier: no travel time or hassle, I could sit at my desk at home

  • I could watch sessions whenever I wanted because they were recorded — no worries if two great sessions were offered at the same time

  • The sessions were shorter, with smaller 30-minute nuggets of information easier to digest

I recommend you (1) plan to attend, (2) get the dates on your calendar now and block them out as if you’ll be out of town, and (3) plan to attend the sessions in real-time when they’re offered. I don’t know about you, but when I register for a webinar and plan to watch it later, I rarely do. So do this in real-time, which is what I plan to do. Two advantages of that as well are the ability to participate in chat Q&A with the presenters, only available in real-time, and the online socializing and networking activities that will take place.

Register for bbcon for free

Other items of note

I moved! If you’re a current or former client and haven’t yet updated my contact information, including in Accounts Payable, please see my new mailing address in the footer of this email. Thanks!

The rollout of instead of for access to the RE NXT database view continues. Recent client experiences have indicated it was easy and went smoothly.

The second and third of the security webinars I delivered this spring are still available to watch thanks to an extension that Blackbaud granted. Need a reason to watch them?: “FBI Sees Cybercrime Reports Increase Fourfold During COVID-19 Outbreak” and “Florida Woman Convicted Of Damaging Her Former Employer’s Computers After She Was Fired” (she deleted over 17,000 sets of data!)


Copyright (C) 2021 Bill Connors, CFRE. All rights reserved.

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