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With hundreds of software for nonprofits 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 email 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 nonprofit 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:
Software for nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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.|
|Membership management||Membership management houses constituent contact information and helps organizations record interactions, set membership levels, manage benefits and track renewals and dues.|
|Volunteer management||Facilitates a nonprofit organization's interactions with their volunteer workforce. This software stores contact information, a participant's history, availability and more. Volunteer scheduling software also provides outreach tools to contact those who've volunteered for upcoming events, and scheduling tools to track responses and availability.|
|Nonprofit marketing & outreach||Enables and supports customized direct marketing, email marketing and online campaigns. Functions include communications management, personalized content, targeted email 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.|
|Charity/event planning||Helps organizations prepare for events and meetings of all types and sizes. Functions include online registration, searchable event listings, email 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 email 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 nonprofit database software suites that include integrated donor software for nonprofits, email 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 email marketing capabilities that can handle large volumes of traffic and all types of giving.
Associations. Member-based organizations and associations, including museums, clubs and trade organizations, have unique requirements. In addition to fundraising and event planning activities, most associations must set membership levels, collect dues and renewals, manage committees and track member progress in certification programs. Many nonprofit software vendors offer association management software with features built to support the complex interactions within associations.
Churches and faith-based ministries. These organizations operate differently than general nonprofits—rather than intense fundraising, they routinely collect contributions from members, manage more complex relationships and track member attendance and involvement in multiple groups and activities. Large churches and faith-based ministries often require special check-in and security systems to maintain the safety of children left in the their care. Church management software offers tools and features which caters to these buyers.
Nonprofits that adopt the right types of software for their organization stand to benefit in many ways, such as:
Nonprofits that fail to realize some of these core benefits often do so because they:
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 email 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 nonprofit accounting software, fundraising and email 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 email campaigns.
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