CRM Support

The Best Fundraising Software for Your Nonprofit

Best fundraising CRM software example of a person holding a phone with donation confirmation

A common complaint of many business and nonprofit leaders is that their database feels unmanageable or even worthless. In this article, I'll share a few tips on determining if it's time for a new database for your organization, and provide recommendations on the best mid-market CRMs for nonprofits.

Best Fundraising Software Practices: Do the People Running Your Software Understand Their Roles? 

If you're going to make the most of your donor data, you need to define three essential roles: 

  • A database administrator with a clear understanding of what data is important and the ability to identify and solve issues before they infect your whole system.
  • An “executive champion" on the leadership team sets expectations (to the database administrator in particular) of the kind of data that should be going into and coming out of the database. 
  • Data entry staff who are detail-oriented and have clear processes to ensure that donors, donations, notes, etc., are all entered correctly.

These roles can be filled by individual staff, or combined into one role (especially in smaller organizations). Often, a CRM/database support firm is brought in to provide supplementary support or administrator services.

Is Your Process Clear and Helpful?

Your staff needs to master these steps to reap the benefits of investing in your fundraising software: 

  • Create clear requirements for data capture, including separate fields for necessary information and separate fields for similar information (e.g., business phones and cell phones should have different points of entry).
  • Check for duplicates before data dumping to prevent confusion down the road.
  • Create and disseminate uniform steps for correct data entry that all staff members should follow.

The above improvements could greatly increase your platform’s usability without the need for a large migration project. 

When Should You Switch Your Fundraising/CRM Software Database?

There are several factors that might make your current fundraising platform wrong for your organization. A platform that's wrong for your organization is less than ideal for your donors, who should always be your primary focus.

Customization Matters: If your software can't customize fundraising efforts sufficiently, it may be time to join the ranks of modern software users who use customization to move the fundraising needle.

Today is Digital: "My donors are living in the world of direct mail or personal connections." While this is no doubt true for some of your donors, it's important to remember that an entire generation has grown up in the digital world and expects communication in that space . . . and that this generation is influencing their parents' and grandparents' habits. Digital fundraising integration can make a huge difference in the health of your nonprofit.

Data Visibility Makes for Better Decisions: Today's software allows you to do a lot with just a little. Automation (combined with good data hygiene) is the magic sauce that empowers your organization to stay in touch with donors, current and lapsed, in a fraction of the time it may currently be taking you. 

If these questions have you set on finding new fundraising software, a migration project is in order. To help you decide on the next steps, here are a few CRMs that fit the bill:

Successful fundraising might not depend entirely on advanced software, but with the right tech tools you can raise more with less effort—a fairytale fundraising ending. 


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