November 15, 2023
Nonprofit Technology & Fundraising Blog
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Like accounting software, fundraising software comes in many forms and many different price levels. Most nonprofits try to make do with general purpose business software like Excel, Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, or QuickBooks to keep track of mailing lists and donations. These are good software products, but they aren’t designed to provide numerous critical features necessary for successful fundraising. It’s no surprise that organizations that start out with such programs soon encounter significant problems. If your nonprofit is struggling with the wrong software tools, you are missing out on the two key benefits of professional fundraising software — raising more money and saving your valuable time.
Why use fundraising software? Because you will raise more money. It’s that simple. In a recent analysis, over 1,000 organizations that used a leading fundraising software solution reported an average fundraising increase that was double the most recent Giving USA national average in their very first year!
How? Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) Fundraising software can allow you to store and manage data for all your constituents – donors, volunteers, board members, event attendees, etc. in one database. This means not only tracking the type of relationship the constituents have to the organization, but also to each other. For instance, your database is likely to include multiple members of the same family, organizations that employ many of your constituents, etc.
With sophisticated tools for linking related records, and coding and filtering donor attributes, you can have a centralized information resource that understands your donors’ relationships to your nonprofit and to each other. For example, by knowing that Donor A and Donor B work for the same company, and Donor A told you their company will match their donation, you can get a matching gift from Donor B as well.
Fundraising software helps you reach the right people with the right message. From generating targeted solicitations to keeping notes on potential major donors, good fundraising software provides the tools for communicating, tracking and managing your campaigns and results.
Remember, the number one reason why people give money is because they are asked. If you do not have the right tools to track your constituents, you will never be able to raise more money because you won’t be able to ask the right people in the first place. More focused solicitations reap better results!
Good fundraising software will let you select or create lists based on any type of information you choose, such as recency and frequency of giving, who gave “last year but unfortunately not this year” (LYBUNT) and more.
You can then personalize your fundraising communications by merging into mailings, emails, or generating specific telephone call lists and more! Since (as a general rule of thumb) more than 80% of your donations generally come from less than 20% of your donors, you should be able to group contact activities into a concerted effort to allow development staff (whether professional or volunteers) to plan, coordinate, and track cultivation efforts for these major donors. Filtering your lists allows you to target the constituents you want.
All good solutions will include powerful reporting and analysis tools to track donors, uncover hidden trends, refine solicitation activities and analyze your results. You should also be able to easily modify and create your own unique, professional reports. Some key report areas that help nonprofits raise more money are:
Campaign Effectiveness Reports
Analyze your fundraising efforts by solicitation method and/or campaign.
Donation Summaries and Analyses
Break down your donations by giving levels, fund designation or other criteria. Reports like these help you understand trends, improve campaigns and enable you to make better decisions for future fundraising efforts.
Keep tabs on grant requests, funding status and critical dates, so that no grants ‘fall through the cracks’ and every grant request has the best chance of being funded.
Understand individual donors and their giving histories such as a Five Year Giving Report and a LYBUNT Report. Knowing this information can be the key to your gold mine to cultivate at the end of each year.
By automating time-consuming tasks, you can save hours of time. Think about how long it takes to record a gift. With fundraising software, you can enter a record and gift once and have it automatically acknowledged, posted to your ledger, and sent to your accounting software. Not only will you save time, but you’ll also avoid costly errors and omissions.
No matter the gift type or method of donation, good fundraising software provides a fast and accurate process for entering, recognizing, and managing every gift and pledge. There are many unique types of gifts that nonprofits must handle such as:
General purpose accounting software typically doesn’t provide a simple way to properly record and process these types of gifts. Even common tasks like processing credit card transactions may involve specialized aspects, such as the need to securely store credit card data for monthly pledges or facilitating online donations that don’t easily fit into commercial “shopping cart” models.
Posting check payments require an efficient method of not only entering the data but tracking information such as solicitation method, which is needed for analyzing your results and later when you need to cultivate your donors again.
The most universally recognized critical factor in fundraising is to recognize every gift with an acknowledgment. Good software will ensure that each gift is automatically acknowledged with the most appropriate thank you letter, or it will set in motion any other acknowledgment such as a phone call, award or thank you gift. It’s recommended that acknowledgments be sent within 48 hours of receiving a gift. Why? Because donors who receive timely acknowledgments to their gifts are MUCH more likely to give again in the future.
Everyone likes feedback to their donation- the quicker the better. With ad hoc software, this is hard or even impossible to do. Finally, some fundraising software solutions integrate your website with your software, so if someone makes a donation online, there is virtually no data entry on your end, and the gifts are processed automatically and funds are sent right to your bank account!
Engaging and providing timely service to constituents 24 hours a day through your organization’s website is one of the keys to growing and keeping current a large database of constituent email addresses and establishing permanent fundraising success.
Fundraising CRM software specifically designed for nonprofit fundraising and constituent relationship management will help your nonprofit:
Ready to find your fit? Evaluate DonorPerfect fundraising software in a quick and engaging group demo that’s under an hour and available at a time and date that’s best for you.