2017 Merchandise Ordering
By Ralph Cinfio, RMEF Vice President of Fundraising Services
Merchandise ordering to move from spreadsheets to online store
It has always been our goal as an organization to stay on top of rapidly changing information technologies, utilizing them to make RMEF the most efficient and effective conservation organization in North America. At the local level, we want to use information technologies to help our staff and volunteers strengthen fundraising and volunteer systems.
The overall goal is to have an event fundraising software program where chapters can use one program to do all of their RMEF business—a program where chapters create their event invitations and reminders, order merchandise, manage donors and donations, as well as a system that produces customized chapter support materials. Currently we have many independent processes and programs that help us accomplish all of these items, like the Event Invitation System (EIS), Event Finance package, and Print on Demand.
The first step to building an event fundraising software program was the creation of our Event Invitation System 10 years ago. The system brought a professional look and feel to our banquet invitations, provided a platform to manage our brand and gave chapters around the country the autonomy to host fundraisers targeting their local communities. It has also given us the ability to reduce mailing and production costs. It has reduced volunteer workload and allowed RMEF to help chapters market their events with full color advertisements and promotions. To date, about 25 percent of our chapters are not yet using the EIS, but that will change by the end of 2017. That is when we will hit our goal of 100 percent of RMEF chapters using the EIS. Any chapters not currently using the EIS will migrate to it so we can begin focusing on the future.
Anticipating this move, we have begun the second part of the process by moving all fundraising merchandise ordering to a fully automated online webstore. Chapters will no longer use excel spreadsheets; instead they will log into EIS and purchase their merchandise through an RMEF webstore. The advantages will include speed and ease of ordering, merchandise placement and real time substitutions and updates. This new system will track spending, handle merchandise placement when ordering and eventually be able to produce a customized merchandise underwriting guide.
We are excited for this next step and feel the transition will be seamless. To ensure this, we will have a well-trained field staff, and experiences Headquarters staff will also provide training to our volunteers.