The right donor management software can make a big difference in your ability to raise funds. We asked six different nonprofit technology experts about donor management software that have worked well for their nonprofit colleagues.
The right donor management software can help you easily create just the right, targeted lists to ensure each of your constituents gets a message in a way that will encourage their support – and make a big difference in your ability to raise funds. Good software can help you understand each of your donors, and segment, analyze, and communicate to groups of supporters. But which software package should you use? We asked six different nonprofit technology experts about donor management software that have worked well for their nonprofit colleagues. Pulling from their experience, we combined their advice below to provide information about a few tools that may work well for you.
Start by Understanding Your Own Needs
Understand how you work with donors
Donor information is often detailed and includes complex relationships. Capturing, storing, and retrieving this information effectively requires a clear understanding of your typical procedures. Look at how you engage prospects, and how you encourage them to commit further. Consider the
information you would like to collect, and how you would like to retrieve this information later for analysis and communications. Focus on your outputs – what combination of donor information do you need to produce for reports, mail merges, or exports?
Think through your numbers
Many software vendors base their pricing on the number of staff members who will be using the system, and/or the number of supporter records you have. Consider both your current situation and where you hope to be over the next few years.
Consider your resources
Make sure you have a clear understanding of the resources you can devote to purchasing and sustaining a new system. How much money can you commit up front, and over time? How much time does your staff have to setup, learn, and maintain a new donor management system over the long term? What are the strengths and limitations of your current technology infrastructure? The implementation of donor management software is challenging for many nonprofits, and you might benefit from implementation support from the vendor or an experienced third-party consultant, particularly if you plan to move data from an old system into your new package.
Script what you’d like to see in software packages
Using all of this information, create a list of what you’d like to see when evaluating possible software solutions. Many vendors prefer to give brief and sweeping descriptions of the features they offer, rather than the nitty-gritty you need to make a careful choice. Ask to see a demo of how the tool will support your core needs, rather than just asking whether they do – or try to get access to try out the software for yourself.
Once you have a sense of what you’re looking for, what software packages should you consider? Read on!