Managing donor information is no easy feat and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by tracking data across multiple spreadsheets or post-it notes, that’s an obvious sign to invest in a donor database (also referred to as a CRM platform).
In essence, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.
In the nonprofit realm, CRM takes the form of a donor database that consolidates information to a central location, allowing you to track constituents, manage donations, streamline communications, and firm up your fundraising strategy.
With the growing popularity of customer relationship management software, there’s a slew of donor databases to choose from. While there’s overlap between database features, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
When shopping around for your perfect database, here are a few things to take into consideration:
- Donor database (CRM) vs. fundraising platform. There’s a difference between a fundraising platform and donor management software (CRM) but they work together. While some fundraising platforms (like CauseVox) also offer light CRM capabilities, they’re used to help you tap into new networks and ideally funnel that data to donor database.
- What CRMs can and can’t do. CRM software can provide a 360-degree view of your organization but it’s only as good as the data you put into it. There’s certainly a human component that’s necessary because CRM platforms can’t operate own its own or fill gaps in your data.
- The “must-haves” and “cool-to-haves”. List off your non-negotiables and what features you wouldn’t mind passing up on. CRM platforms come with a host of functionalities so consider whether your database of choice accommodate for any unique organizational needs.
- Nonprofit size. From a staffing standpoint, how many people will have access to the database? From a nonprofit network perspective, how many existing contacts do you have and how large do you anticipate your supporter base to be in the future? The number of licenses and contacts determines what package you need, which in turn, will influence the amount you pay.
- Budget. A donor database is a long-term investment but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Many vendors offer free trials so request one today and learn first-hand what each has to offer to find something that falls within your price range. There’s really something for everyone.
- Level of customer support. If you’re new to the CRM and data migration game, you may want to consider the level of implementation and technical support each vendor provides. Are you a self-guided learner or would you benefit from more hands-on instruction?
- CRM Integrations. Let’s say you use MailChimp for email marketing, CauseVox for fundraising, and Stripe for payment processing. If those platforms aren’t sharing information with your CRM, what good is it?
The ideal CRM solution connects your existing systems and aggregates your nonprofit’s data so that you can personalize communications and build better relationships with your donors.
In a previous role, one of my projects involved researching donor database options. As the organization’s network grew, an upgrade to a more robust CRM became due.
In my case, I wanted to find a flexible, easy-to-use database that would allow multiple collaborators simultaneous access and integrate nicely with third-party apps.
After combing through reviews, getting a second (and third) opinion, and shopping around, here’s a quick rundown of four cloud-based options I was pretty impressed with:
Salesforce is a cloud-based platform and a leading name in the for-profit sector. There’s four pricing tiers, but Salesforce also offers a package called the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) that offers a layout adapted for the nonprofit environment. Through the Power of Us program, Salesforce offers qualifying nonprofits a free subscription for up to ten users.
Customer Support: Online library of resources and discussion forums
*for the first ten licenses through the Power of Us program
Kindful offers a four-in-one solution that looks at donor communications, fundraising tools, donor management, and reporting. Kindful tracks donors in real-time, provides wealth insights, and works with popular apps and integrations (including CauseVox). There’s six pricing packages to choose from so try out a demo to find your fit.
Customer Support: online articles, weekly webinars, and video tutorials.
Pricing: Starting at $100/mo
Bloomerang provides an interactive dashboard that shows donor retention rates and areas for improvement. Of course, with its core features, you can also track incoming donations, manage campaigns, and pull reports. With five pricing tiers, Bloomerang is great for organizations of any size.
If you’re just starting out, another option is Bloomerang Lite™, an affordable database designed with small and start-up nonprofits in mind.
Customer Support: Bloomerang Academy, web-based videos and chat support.
*for nonprofits with less than 500 contacts and up to $100K in annual revenue
Another donor database that came highly recommended was NeonCRM. NeonCRM offers a plethora of features including grant management, email segmentation, relationship tracking, and workflow automation.
With the online reviews I’ve read, one of the main selling points of NeonCRM is that it’s a cost-effective solution. They offer three subscription packages with services that start at $50 a month and scale up according to the size of your organization.
Customer Support: Web-based chat support, live phone support, and webinars.
Pricing: Starting at $50/mo
The CauseVox Fundraising CRM helps you track and run your digital fundraising with real-time reporting on metrics that give you the insight you need to raise more with less effort.
CauseVox automatically tracks your donor data as you fundraise, helping you easily spot fundraising trends, access donor history, and manage your data.
As a plus, CauseVox is flexible and plays well with other applications. Through Zapier, CauseVox integrates with over 1,500 apps including Salesforce, Quickbooks, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and more.
Designed with budgets of all sizes in mind, CauseVox has a straightforward three-tiered pricing model. At the Basic level, CauseVox is free forever. If you’re looking to scale up in features, there’s also the Lite ($55/mo) and Standard packages ($139/mo).
Customer Support: Live web-based chat and phone support, webinars
*up to 100 contacts and donations
The Nonprofit Technology Stack
CRMS and Fundraising platforms can be one and the same.
They often have overlapping features but each platform offers distinct strengths and advantages.
Fundraising platforms like CauseVox are designed to help nonprofits fulfill all their online fundraising needs (peer-to-peer, crowdfunding, event fundraising, and more), and can also help you track all your data in one place with the Fundraising CRM – keeping things clean and simple.
However, depending on your needs, you may opt to use one platform to power your fundraising and another to track donor data. This is where Integrations play an essential role.
To understand the dynamic of how an integration helps you use a donor database and a fundraising platform, let’s take Danniele Fulmer with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network who uses both CauseVox (fundraising platform) and Kindful (donor database):
“Using Causevox and Kindful together has been a positive experience. Causevox allows us to really capitalize on the power of our supporter’s bases – we reach a much broader audience that way. Kindful keeps all of our data organized and works relatively seamlessly with Causevox, since we use the Zapier integration.”
Finding the right CRM and fundraising software that automates data transfer will lessen the time you spend on managing donors and allow you to focus on getting more face time with them.
It’s important to ensure you choose a platform that helps you optimize your fundraising and data tracking – or choose one that really solves all your needs.
Automate Your Data Tracking With The CauseVox Fundraising CRM
With CauseVox’s clunk-free fundraising CRM, you can track and run your digital fundraising with real-time reporting on metrics that drive more donations
Easily spot fundraising trends, view and manage donation data, and more, all through a frustration-free interface that you and your team will love.