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Nonprofit Strategies

Donor management software: 5 must-have features and 3 best options

Make sure your donor management software has these five features, then explore some vetted options at different price points that might be the perfect fit for your organization.

Rachel Mills
January 5, 2021

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Donor management software helps organizations manage and access all of their donor data in one place. Generally, it’s tailored to nonprofit organizations, but it can work for fundraisers of all kinds, including schools, churches, and political groups.

It’s perfect for when you’ve outgrown your system of spreadsheets, emails, and paper notes. Or, maybe you’re ready to get a deeper understanding of your supporters so you can strengthen donor relationships and maximize your fundraising efforts.

A donor management system is the answer. Picture this: Your nonprofit runs a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Your 25 passionate fundraisers gather donations from their friends, families, and co-workers, and recruit volunteers.

With donor software, you can collect all that valuable new donor information — name and location, who knows who, average gift size, how they signed up — and get tons of data and insights from every campaign.

Ready to start comparison shopping? We’ve combed through the top-rated donor management software options and compiled five must-have features below. We’ll also give you three software recommendations to consider.

5 must-have features in your donor management software

We should note that donor management software is the same as customer relationship management (CRM) software. There are many donor software and CRM options to choose from, and they may seem very similar at first glance. But small differences and missing features can make a big impact on the value you get from your platform. Here are the five donor management tools your platform should offer.

1. In-depth donor profiles

Donor profiles are where you’ll store all the important information about your donors, volunteers, sponsors, partners, and other supporters. This donor data is the foundation of the entire platform, so it should be easy to view, add, and customize. Here’s a window into a typical donor profile:

  • Contact information: Name, age, address, phone number, email, etc.
  • Engagement timeline: Donations, volunteer hours, email opens and clicks, and customer service chats, etc.
  • Giving history: Date of first donation, last donation, average time between gifts, etc.
  • Family units: Relationships to current, past, and prospective supporters
  • Donor segments: Categorize contacts using groups, lists, or tags like “prospect” or “monthly donor”
  • User-defined fields: Custom fields you can create and add to profiles

Profiles should update in real time so you can monitor donor activity as it happens.

2. Automated reporting

Did I do that GIF

All the data your platform collects is only as good as your ability to see it, analyze it, and share it. So, your donor management software should make pulling reports as quick as the click of a few buttons. Most platforms come with report templates built in, such as fundraising dollars by week or new donors added in the past month.

But you’ll also want the ability to create custom reports and drill down to the insights that you need.

Use these reports to catch trends and prioritize tasks. For instance, you might notice that donations usually drop during the second week of every month, so you increase your outreach and advertising during that period. Some platforms let you use automation to save time. For instance, you can request an email with certain reports every week rather than generating them yourself.

3. Lots of donor communication tools

One of the main reasons that organizations start using donor software is to improve donor retention. Donor engagement — at the right time, on the right channel, and using the right language — is key. That’s why you should look for platforms with built-in donor messaging tools, helpful templates, and rich marketing analytics.

Standard features include email marketing, SMS text messaging, and direct mail letter creators.

Create personalized messages by pulling in information for your donor database and speak directly to each unique supporter segment.

You can also assign communication tasks, like responding to a question on Facebook or making a thank-you call, on some platforms.

4. Donor giving insights

The best donor management software includes fundraising tools. We’re not talking about the ones you might expect, like donation forms or fundraising pages. We’re talking about invaluable features like “giving potential” scores, gift predictions, and wealth intelligence.

These tools go by many names — for instance, Bloomerang’s “Generosity Score.” In any case, they should help you identify who’s most likely to give and when. You can get the complete picture of your potential giving and volunteer community, from individuals who are most likely to become major donors, to the estimated dollar amount of each donor’s next gift.

This helps you better shape your overall fundraising strategy, and it’s a game-changer for nonprofits that rely on individual donations rather than sponsors, grants, and government funds.

5. Helpful software integrations

Tyra Banks Fashion GIF by America's Next Top Model

Finally, every donor management platform should let you connect the software tools you already use and streamline your overall organization. These integrations make it possible to sync up all your go-to platforms and websites — like your accounting software or your email marketing software — with your donor software without skipping a beat.

Let’s see it in action: Say a new supporter named Ella makes a $25 donation via your fundraising platform. Their action creates a new donor profile in your software, complete with their contact details and donation amount. The $25 donation is recorded in your QuickBooks account. And an hour later, your email software automatically sends a personalized thank-you note that says, “Ella, you changed a life today with your $25 donation. Here’s how…”

Quick tips on choosing your software

Here are a few more to-do items to check off your list when you’re comparing donor relationship software:

  • Ask your staff 💬 : Before you start weighing options, collect feedback from the staff members who will use your donor management software.  What challenges do they run into now? What are their software must-haves and nice-to-haves? How technically skilled are they?
  • Understand all costs 💸 : There are some other fees you’ll need to factor into your budget besides the monthly subscription cost. Ask about payment processing fees and charges for setup, training, data migration, number of donor profiles, and number of account users.
  • Make sure it’s mobile-ready📱: Sign up for a demo of the platform and see how well it works on mobile devices. When you’re out to meet with a major donor and wondering how to connect with them, you can pull up their donor history on your phone.
  • Look for scalability 👆: Growth and turnover is a reality for every organization. Look for a platform that makes it easy and affordable to add new contacts and users. Also, make sure you can set and adjust account permissions.

3 of the best donor management software options

Let us save you a little research time — we’ve rounded up three best-in-class donor management software solutions for small, mid-sized, and large organizations.

1. Bloomerang

Bloomerang is a user-friendly donor management platform that’s designed to help nonprofits retain donors and boost fundraising revenue. It’s cloud-based, which means you can send messages, edit profiles, and pull reports as long as you have an internet connection.

Manage supporters and partners with the interactive dashboard and comprehensive profile histories. Use the robust email marketing and social listening features, which let you monitor mentions of your brand on social media, to boost your online fundraising strategy. Another helpful feature? The Ahern Audit. Simply paste the text of your marketing messages (emails, direct mail letters, etc.) into the tool to see if they pass the “you” test.

Pricing: Bloomerang Lite is free; paid plans start at $19 per month.

2. Salesforce

Salesforce is one of the most well-known names in sales and CRM software, and they’ve expanded their reach into the nonprofit sector. Their Nonprofit Cloud is a complex donor management system for nonprofits with a lot of functionality, so it’s mostly recommended for large organizations. Users note there is a steep learning curve, but it’s a top pick if you have a high volume of contacts and interactions.

A major benefit to working with Salesforce is that you get access to the Salesforce AppExchange, a powerful business marketplace with hundreds of apps you can use to build your ideal nonprofit management system.

Pricing: 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4) nonprofits are eligible for free software; other nonprofits should contact Salesforce for a custom quote.

3. Kindful

Kindful says they’re "built for relationships, not tasks,” and their donor management system reflects that mentality. The clean and user-friendly interface, intuitive features, and ample integrations have helped Kindful top the list of best donor software for several years.

Each plan includes unlimited donation forms and crowdfunding pages, donor lifecycle tracking, and unlimited report templates. Use it to track donor activities and simplify back-office work so you can spend more time engaging with donors.

Pricing: Starts at $100 per month.

Honorable mentions

Our honorable mentions for donor management solutions are DonorPerfect, NeonCRM, and Salsa CRM. They aren't as feature-rich or easy to use, but they'll do in a pinch.

From potential donors to plentiful donations

You’ve got the tools to find the right donor management software. Next up? Connect your new platform to the best fundraising software around.

Givebutter integrates with first-class donor management software like Bloomerang, Salesforce, and Raiser's Edge NXT (Blackbaud). Donor information automatically flows into your database as soon as someone makes a gift or registers for an event.

Here are a few more reasons over 15,000 organizations choose Givebutter:

It’s free to sign up — create your account and experience better nonprofit fundraising.

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