The transition from onsite office hardware to cloud-based software products has many advantages for modern business operations. Online tools are cheaper to operate than their on-site counterparts and offer companies more flexibility in terms of work schedules and staffing.
Luckily, these benefits aren’t limited to for-profit businesses looking to stage fast and furious IPOs.
Because of the highly personal, empathetic, and socially impactful nature of the work, charities and other nonprofit operations stand to gain the most from tools that enable better communication with constituents and donors.
Why nonprofit fundraising software is essential
Organizations that enable social good need to practice solid business fundamentals even more than for-profit companies. This means providing donors, constituents, and partner organizations with a positive, seamless, and rave-worthy experience. When these criteria are met, charities will see higher donor retention and nonprofits will improve reach.
Keep accurate records
Charities, for instance, rely heavily on repeat-donors to meet fundraising goals and act as “brand advocates” for the cause. If the giving process is confusing or donors don’t feel personally appreciated by an organization, they’re unlikely to share positive words about your particular operation.
Fundraising software solutions can help charities and nonprofits in a few key ways. For one, CRMs (customer relationship management tools) allow fundraising, service, and administrative teams to keep track of each potential and repeat donor, as well as interested parties.
Depending on the sophistication of the nonprofit CRM, organizations can track individual interactions with your charity or nonprofit’s website, email campaigns, and social media. If the CRM is linked to an event marketing platform, organizations can also track the results of event fundraising efforts.
Access to such prime donor data helps fundraisers amplify their fundraising strategy with personalized interactions that build trust between your brand and the causes your donors care about.
The internet has created a world of constant peer to peer communication. Integrated communication platforms mean your outreach teams can be accessible via phone, email, chat, and social media all from a single communication hub. These levels of transparency and availability make for an outstanding customer experience and an improved fundraising strategy, which will both lead to more support for your nonprofit or charity operation.
Why charities and nonprofits need CRM tools
The relationships you build with customers, leads, constituents, and repeat donors are vital to a healthy organization and successful fundraising operations. As such, donor management CRM tools are your organization’s most important software product. These platforms are equal parts note taking apps, donor database, and communication platform.
Many donor management software will automatically sync with your communication tools, provided these tools are also cloud-based. Details from phone calls (plus call recordings) can be automatically synced to the correct customer profile within your CRM. Email and chat conversations are also stored in an organized and easily searchable manner.
The CRM solutions listed here are nonprofit and charity specific, but there are many software products geared toward for-profit companies that could also boost fundraising efforts. Check out Aircall’s app marketplace for other options.
Raisely is more than just a CRM solution for keeping track of donors and constituents—it’s an all-in-one online donation and fundraising tool.
Using Raisely, nonprofits and charities can create websites that collect donations and user information in a targeted manner. Their platform lets users create fundraising campaigns that are tailored to the specific nature of the operation.
In other words, Raisely has templated designs for all aspects of donor management: fundraising events, community asks, peer to peer fundraising, etc.
Use of Raisely’s CRM software is free for up to 2,000 constituent donors, but paid plans of up to 25,000 constituent records are detailed on their pricing page. For more than 25K profiles, custom pricing options are available.
Raisely has easy integrations with Stripe and PayPal for online payments. Donors may be charged a payment processing fee when using Raisely, but there is an opt-out field should they desire.
Rated the #1 fundraising CRM on Capterra, Donorperfect is another all-inclusive fundraising solution for charities, small nonprofits, and larger organizations
Donorperfect lets users track donations by profile and see all donation and communication histories in a single location.
As far as unique advantages go, Donorperfect seeks to maximize your organization’s donor engagement through automation, analytics, and efficiency. Part of this metrics-driven approach includes individual campaign analysis and easily accessible graphs so managers can identify trends in donor records over time.
However, the level of visibility you get into your constituents’ activities depends on which pricing plan you choose. The lowest tier is $89 per month for up to 1000 constituent profiles, whereas the largest option costs $789 for 75,000+ profiles.
With 5 plan options, most organizations will find a happy medium between size and price. Plus, Donorperfect doesn’t set a limit on users within your organization and offers complimentary onboarding support. Your team will be trained and ready to go in no time.
SalsaLabs has created a constituent tracking solution for over 10,000 fundraising operations such as Habitat for Humanity, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and USA Triathlon.
In order to better serve user needs, SalsaLabs offers three different solutions: Engage, CRM, and Engage for Salesforce. Each of these software products offer different levels of sophistication and constituent tracking accuracy.
Like the other platforms mentioned, SalsaLabs has created templates for specific types of fundraising initiatives, and plans are nicely arranged by cause on their website. (For example, wildlife preservation, access to higher education, housing/shelter, health and human services, etc.)
In terms of pricing, SalsaLabs guarantees there are no per-user fees or hidden costs, but there is no standardized pricing listed on their website. Interested users must fill out a contact form and consult with a representative regarding their individual needs.
In terms of activity tracking, for organizations using Salesforce, the “Engage for Salesforce” option allows for bidirectional information syncing between SalsaLabs and Salesforce. This eliminates a ton of busywork for fundraisers who can now focus more clearly on the task at hand: building relationships with constituents.
For enterprise-level fundraising operations, Salesforce.org offers an intricate platform that enables full visibility into donor (and potential donor) activity. Salesforce’s insights will let your fundraisers know the exact right moment to make “the ask” from donors.
Users of Salesforce’s nonprofit and charity solution will enjoy the benefits that come with economies of scale. Salesforce is constantly updating its applications for optimal performance. Additionally, Salesforce.org has tailored platforms specifically for nonprofits, philanthropic endeavors, and education initiatives.
However, Salesforce is an ideal software tool for larger organizations. Depending on the number of constituents your charity or nonprofit needs to track, many of the advanced features will likely go unused.
A note on easy crowdfunding campaign software for peer fundraising
If your campaign model relies on individual peer to peer fundraising efforts (for example, charity runners or fraternity/sorority campaigns) Double the Donation recommends these online donation tools to enable individuals to set up their own donation drives. Simple webpage design and fundraising thermometers will help management promote goal completion.
The essential everyday communication software for nonprofits
The key to running an organization that seeks to do good is staying in touch with the community and interested constituents. This means making your fundraising efforts available to donors by whatever means they want to communicate, whether by phone, email, or online chat tools.
The best phone system for nonprofits and charities
Aircall is a cloud-based phone software that comes with a ton of useful features right out-of-the-box.
For one, Aircall integrates with nearly all popular CRM tools. Second, the open API (plus synchronization with tools like Zapier) means your organization can easily connect your platforms if an integration doesn’t already exist. This saves time during phone calls and eliminates the possibility of human error when copying notes.
Plus, a cloud-based phone makes searching through your call history simple. Should the feature be enabled, each call recording will be accessible via an easily-accessed link. This is helpful when training new agents or researching prominent donors before follow-up calls. Learning about previous interactions is a huge advantage when trying to personalize conversations and let constituents know they’re interest in your organization is appreciated.
Efficiency tools, like power dialers, make fundraising at scale a possibility. Calling lists can be uploaded and automatically dialed. The beauty of the CRM-phone integration is this process can be personalized, since donor data will be displayed on-screen before the call is answered.
Moving your phone system to a VOIP solution (cloud-based) also has another huge advantage over headphones and other legacy systems—location flexibility.
Organizations that use softphones can offer work from home benefits as well as other remote work options. This means official business can be conducted away from the office, which improves productivity, reduces employee stress, and can even reduce your nonprofit’s expenses.
Pricing for Aircall is available on both a monthly and annual subscription basis. Nonprofits and charities may qualify for a 50% price reduction.
Why helpdesk software is necessary
Openness and understanding are at the core of any charity or nonprofit venture, and this requires multiple lines of communication. After all, today’s consumers want to interact with brands they feel they can trust. Essential to that mindset is knowing you can reach out to charities and nonprofits using whatever means you’re most comfortable.
But this creates a problem for organizations. Multiple communication channels become confusing, and when information isn’t centralized, it will inevitably become lost. These tools offer ticketing systems to help your team keep track of chats, emails, and phone calls.
Quality helpdesk software will fulfill a few necessary functions, namely:
Live chat website functionality. This let’s users communicate with your team as soon as questions arise, usually when searching through your website.
A shared team inbox of all communications. Greater visibility of all incoming emails and chat conversations enables faster answers to constituent and donor questions. The first agent available can jump in and respond to an inquiry.
A searchable knowledge base. Customers love fast service interactions, but they love being able to help themselves even more. Helpdesk software makes setting up your FAQ and knowledge base simple.
Analytics and real-time reporting. Part of improving your fundraising and communication is seeing what’s worked and what needs to be adjusted. These help desk platforms give users broad and narrow views of their communication functions, often in real time.
Integrations with other tools across your org. The more your tools can interact with one another, the better your team’s efficiency will become. This is true for communication tools (like phone, email, chat and social media) but also for operational software (like analytics reporting, survey templates, payments/billing apps, and HR tools).
Aircall integrates seamlessly with the following help desk software products, but we also endorse them for their simplicity, functionality, and power to improve efficiency.
When should nonprofits and charities upgrade from free fundraising tools?
Budget concerns are often top-of-mind when running a charity or nonprofit organization. Unfortunately, a focus on the tangible mission rather than increasing revenue means margins can be slim, and spending frowned-upon.
However, the reason nonprofit orgs should look into upgrading from free fundraising tools to a paid fundraising solution is simple:more functionality, more insight, and more efficiency.
Inability to scale number of users/constituents
Growth isn’t the primary focus of any charity, but it’s necessary to increase visibility and help the cause. Many free CRM tools and communication channels have strict limits on the number of users able to access the platform at any given time, as well as the number of constituents the software is able to organize.
Dedicated software support
Paid software subscriptions come with an onboarding experience for your team, plus continuous support should it be necessary. Software is becoming more user friendly every day, but it’s good to have reassurances of help available as a fallback.
Plus, many of these software tools come with Service Level Agreements. If the quality of service provided through a paid tool fails to meet basic minimum requirements, you may be entitled to a partial or full refund of payments made.
Vastly improved functionality
Especially in the case of CRMs, greater insight into how constituents have interacted with your website and outreach attempts helps identify donors for your cause. That is to say, when you know how and when an individual has expressed interest in your organization, your fundraising team can begin targeted communication campaigns.
Furthermore, greater visibility into analytics and donor data will improve long-term fundraising forecasts. Knowing how much money you’re going to raise (roughly) will streamline otherwise difficult business decisions. Your organization will run smoother.