Mission of the Month: Q&A With GBCS’s Michelle Whittaker on Constituent Database Management

When Michelle Whittaker took over as the digital communications director at the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) more than six years ago, her first priority was to maintain the supporter database and help manage and cultivate activists.

GBCS is an official program agency of the United Method Church. Its mission is to advocate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the church and society by serving all United Methodists in terms of implementing the United Methodists’ social doctrines and principles.

“We have a very active number of United Methodists who are interested in social justice issues, so we work actively with them to help engage and empower them in the work and to voice the issues and raise concerns with the community, the world and legislative leaders,” Whittaker says.

In order to do that, GBCS needs an organized, effective supporter database management system. In 2012, GBCS partnered with a new database management system, Salsa Labs, and has seen growth in its overall supporter file and certain network files, as well as enhanced engagement among its constituents.

FundRaising Success
recently had a quick conversation with Whittaker about what GBCS was looking for in a database management system and what advice she has for other fundraising and advocacy nonprofits looking to partner with a database management vendor.

FundRaising Success: What were you looking for when you decided to explore different database management solutions?
Michelle Whittaker:
The criteria we were looking at in a new system were the ease of use; a strong support system; a good advanced sense of technology in terms of how they’re adding technology, updating technology and managing that; and really easy front-end and back-end ways to maintain our database. Also, we were looking for something that allowed us to utilize new technology, and then easy and open architecture for us to integrate other third-party tools that we might want to use.

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