With hundreds of software for non profits on the market, nonprofits of all sizes have more options than ever to efficiently grow, manage and streamline their organizations. From individual, standalone applications for donor management software to comprehensive enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, nonprofits can more easily and cost-effectively manage their essential day-to-day functions. This includes advocacy and e-mail marketing campaigns, accounting, reporting and constituent management. The challenge for nonprofit buyers, however, is determining exactly which of these solutions can best meet their organization’s unique needs today—and grow with them over time. This guide provides an overview of non profit software and nonprofit management software reviews to help you make the most informed purchasing decisions and find the best fundraising software.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
What is Nonprofit Software?
Software for non-profit organizations includes a wide range of standalone applications and comprehensive programs that help nonprofits manage the many facets of their administrative, fundraising, donor relations, tracking and reporting functions. Regardless of their size, scope of offerings, or budget, every nonprofit stands to benefit from utilizing these feature-rich non profit management software solutions. While each delivers its own unique flair and functionality, most of the systems provide similar core offerings, which we’ve highlighted below.
|Nonprofit Accounting Software||Keeps tabs on critical financial information to ensure dollars are collected, budgeted, allocated, tracked and reported with ease and efficiency. Functions include budget monitoring, futures forecasting, grant management, payroll processing and tracking and reporting.|
|Fundraising & Donor Management||Empowers nonprofits to securely solicit, collect and track donations through individual, planned, recurring or major giving. Functions include auctions, a-thons, campaign creation and management, online giving, customized donation forms, receipt generation and reporting.|
|Nonprofit Marketing & Outreach||Enables and supports customized direct marketing, e-mail marketing, and online campaigns. Functions include communications management, personalized content, targeted e-mail delivery, message archiving and in-depth reporting.|
|Nonprofit CRM||Creates a seamless database environment to engage and manage all types of constituents—including volunteers, members, alumni, corporations and foundations. Functions include campaign/fund administration, advanced query, lead generation, accounting integration, donations processing and management, tracking and reporting. Some systems have specific volunteer management tools, too.|
|Charity/ Event Planning||Helps organizations prepare for events and meetings of all types and sizes. Functions include online registration, searchable event listings, e-mail reminders, payment acceptance, rosters and tracking and reporting.|
|Grant Management||Lets organizations keep track of proposals and awards. It also gives them the tools to process funds and allocate them to the right recipients. Functions include application status notifications and generated task lists for each step of the application process.|
Before jumping into purchasing software for your nonprofit, it’s important to understand your organizational needs and how a system could help meet those requirements now and in the years to come.
Small local or regional-based nonprofits. Generating donor support for every nonprofit is essential, but for small nonprofits it’s even more critical that they can secure gifts and grants to fund their programs. Individual e-mail marketing and fundraising software for small nonprofits can be an effective and budget friendly way for these nonprofits to create social engagement and track online donations for the audit trail.
Mid-sized nonprofits. These nonprofits are looking to cultivate relationships that can turn those who are actively engaged as newsletter readers, volunteers or occasional givers into repeat donors. For mid-sized nonprofits focused on long-term growth, they are typically looking for non profit database software suites that include integrated donor software for nonprofits, e-mail marketing and financial management applications that offer centralized control, high levels of security and robust reporting and audit functionality.
Large/national nonprofits. Like any large enterprise, national nonprofits with thousands of constituents across the country and multi-million dollar budgets need to plan, strategize and act with precision to serve people all over the nation—and world. These nonprofits are looking for enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that can help streamline back-end operations—as well as feature-rich constituent management, fundraising and e-mail marketing capabilities that can handle large volumes of traffic and all types of giving.
Nonprofits that adopt the right types of software for their organization stand to benefit in many ways, such as:
- Secure online giving with back-end tracking, processing, and reporting donations for audit and regulatory purposes.
- Tracking grants, fundraising, and major donor activity for more accurate budgetary planning, forecasting, and allocation.
- Cultivating engaged constituents through advocacy campaigns, events, and regular communication.
- Securely capturing, managing, and culling critical constituent data.
- Reducing data redundancy for more effective marketing, event planning, and ongoing announcements.
Nonprofits that fail to realize some of these core benefits often do so because they:
- Fail to strategically plan, budget, or prepare for their changing needs and growth.
- Overlook essential accounting, compliance, or regulatory issues.
- Do not have the right infrastructure in place to support integration of software systems from different vendors.
- Do not adequately prepare staff for adoption of new software.
- Fail to properly train staff/volunteers on how to leverage the software’s full scope of features and functionality.
As a nonprofit, you know that budgeting, giving and compliance are ongoing issues that impact your ability to serve your communities. Here are a few other issues to keep in mind as you explore the right software solutions for your organization:
Social Media. For many nonprofits these days, Return on Investment (ROI) is quickly being replaced by an equally essential metric: Return on Engagement (ROE). To boost ongoing engagement with supporters, nonprofits of all sizes are using social media tools (blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) to cultivate relationships, share information and generate support. It’s essential your e-mail marketing, advocacy and event campaigns easily connect your constituents to your social media channels—and provide ways for users to opt-in for future communication.
Mobile applications. Nonprofits are now going mobile to get mobilized. While the adoption is a bit slower than with other types of social media, mobile applications for smartphones are the up-and-coming tool nonprofits are leveraging to boost engagement and donor support. In fact, one national nonprofit’s text-to-give campaign generated more than $30 million alone.
Software as a Service (SaaS). For many nonprofits, the software as a service (SaaS) model offers an excellent way to implement and maintain leading-edge software solutions without the leading-edge price tag. For many growing nonprofits, SaaS is ideal because applications can be modified and updated quickly to support new user growth and back-end productivity. Nonprofits leaning toward this model will want to evaluate service providers based on issues, such as data security standards, maintenance and updates, connectivity rates, 24x7 support, uptime and future scalability.
Software integration. With so many standalone non profit accounting software, fundraising and e-mail marketing systems to choose from, it’s more important than ever that nonprofits consider how these systems integrate with each other. This is particularly critical when it comes to capturing interest from social media, mobile, and Web-based applications. So, for example, your software needs to be able to route supporters and donors to the right database to capture their information and log donations—and give you the capability to track this data for future audits or e-mail campaigns.
Here are a few updates from two of the top non-profit software vendors in the market:
Blackbaud - Blackbaud is a leading vendor in software for non profit organizations and services. In the company’s 30 years, it has helped more than 250,000 organizations accomplish their goals using Blackbaud technology. On May 7, 2012, Blackbaud completed the acquisition of Convio, a company that provides constituent relationship management solutions and services. The merger will combine the strength of Convio’s social and online engagement tools with Blackbaud’s expertise in accounting and analytics.
Sage Fundraising 50 - There are more than 1.6 million non-profit organizations in North America, which presents a large client base opportunity for accountants. In June 2011, Sage announced the new Sage Accountants Network Program to give accountants specializing within the non-profit or government sector access to Sage Non-profit Solutions software for accounting and fundraising services. The network consists of products, bookkeeping support and access to a portfolio of Sage products for accountants.
Sage Grant Management - On March 21, 2011, Sage released another web-based tool to help government and non-profit organizations manage fundraising efforts called Sage Grant Management. Non-profits can use the tool to manage projects, budgets and deadlines associated with grants. In addition, Sage Grant Management helps organizations collaborate, better manage relationships with their constituents and develop metrics and analytics to measure the success of their efforts.