What is nonprofit donor database software?
Nonprofit donor databases are a type of software that offer organizations a comprehensive and centralized platform for tracking donor data, managing stewardship and communications, and overseeing other fundraising efforts.
Also Known As
Customizable forms help you raise more online.
Get a full picture of your donors so you can build relationships.
Auto-send your donors IRS-approved receipts.
Easily create, promote, and track peer-to-peer campaigns.
Reach new donors — and retain existing supporters.
Leverage donor data with advanced reporting and insights.
Table of Contents
The Purpose of Donor Database Software
The Benefits of Using a Donor Database
Features of Donor Database Software
How Do Nonprofits Use Their Donor Databases?
Because annual campaigns rely so heavily on stewardship, donor databases were practically made for them.
During your annual campaign, you’ll be courting your donors to build deeper and more valuable relationships with them.
Donor databases centralize all of your important donor data so you can get the deepest insights into your supporters.
With a wealth of donor data on your side, you can better determine donors’ preferences to target them with personalized outreach strategies.
Major & Planned Giving
Both major gifts and planned giving depend heavily on the donor’s affinity toward your organization.
With nonprofit donor databases, your organization can gain insights into your donors’ affinities and giving capacities, so you can start cultivating major and planned gift prospects when donors are most likely to give.
Additionally, you can integrate a wealth screening and prospect research service with all of your donor data to find major gift prospects in your database.
Once you procure these gifts, your nonprofit CRM’s advanced donation processing tools will make it quick and convenient to accept all types of donations and automate the proper receipts.
Online & Mobile Donations
With a nonprofit donor database, your organization can build branded online donation forms and seamlessly incorporate them into your website.
Your forms will automatically be mobile-responsive, so donors can even give on the go!
With online and mobile giving, donations are so convenient for donors and so easy for nonprofits.
Your organization will be able to accept contributions year round, and there will be no more manual processing.
Plus, since your donation forms are linked up to your CRM, the data collected from them will automatically be recorded in your donor profiles.
Donor database software can make every step of event planning and execution run more smoothly.
With more information about your supporters’ demographics, your organization can pick the type of event that makes the most sense for your donors.
Once you’ve decided, it’s easy to segment out your guest list and automate email campaigns to send invites and keep them posted about the event.
Additionally, you can build registration forms that allow attendees and volunteers to easily sign up online.
Your guest list will automatically be compiled in one place, so it’s simple to track RSVPs and sign attendees in at the door.
Managing Staff & Volunteers
Nonprofit donor databases aren’t just used for keeping up with donors!
In fact, this platform can help organizations track the data and oversee the efforts of all types of constituents.
It can be especially useful for organizing staff and volunteer efforts.
With a nonprofit CRM, your organization can plan out multistep efforts among multiple contributors and oversee these efforts to make sure everything gets done.
Constituent actions will be tracked in the system so you can look back to see how different people have interacted with your organization in the past and use this information to inform future efforts.
With a nonprofit CRM, all donations—online and off—will be recorded centrally, so you’ll be able to see exactly how much money your organization is taking in.
This not only helps you ensure you’re reaching your fundraising goals, but also makes accounting a breeze.
With robust reporting capabilities, you’ll be able to extract financial reports with ease.
Plus, since donation tracking occurs in real time in one place, these reports provide nonprofits with some of the most accurate and up-to-date documentation possible.
It’s important to see if your donor database supports integrations with popular and secure accounting software platforms.
Common Concerns When Shopping for New CRM Software
Data migration will be too much of a hassle.
Migrating data between systems is one of the most headache-inducing tasks that organizations face.
Between analyzing your data to make sure it’s compatible, preparing it for transfer, exporting, importing, cleaning, and more, data transfer is undeniably a hassle.
Although we’re not going to sit here and tell you that your data transfer will be easy, per se, it’s not really as bad as it may seem.
Your software vendor will help your organization assess its data and determine the best way to transfer it.
If it turns out that your data transfer will be especially complicated, your vendor will provide a consultant to help you with the process or even do it for you.
My board won’t give me the buy-in.
Many nonprofit staffs are open to the idea of switching to a nonprofit CRM, but worry that they’ll spend hours searching for the right solution only to be thwarted by the board.
Because you and your staff are so close to your organization’s operations, it’s much easier for you to see exactly why software is an excellent investment. Your board, on the other hand, has a little more distance.
Although convincing your board will take some effort, it’s definitely not impossible.
It’s important to keep in mind that your board is on your side. They also want what’s best for your organization.
If you’ve done your research and can show them that purchasing a donor database will really benefit your organization, there’s no reason they shouldn’t give you the buy-in.
Software is expensive.
The single biggest fear any organization has when considering a big purchase is, of course, cost.
Any robust donor database will be a significant investment.
Notice how we used the word “investment” and not “cost”?
Although purchasing a database will require a significant expense up front, the right solution should bring you in a big return down the line.
Not only will you be making more money from your improved fundraising efforts, you’ll also be saving a lot of the time and money staff would be spending completing tasks software can do for you.
Plus, most vendors offer many price packages so all organizations, big and small, can enjoy the benefits of a donor database.
The Two Questions You Should Ask Before Buying
What Does The Typical Software Buying Process Look Like?
1. The Initial Contact
The buying process starts with you! Once you’ve decided that you’re interested in nonprofit CRM software, your organization should get in touch with your vendor of choice. Submit a demo request on your vendor’s website, or pick up the phone and give them a call.
2. The Discovery Call
When your vendor sees that you’re interested in learning more about the CRM, they’ll give you a call to learn more about your organization and assess your needs. After the discovery call, your vendor will direct you to the right solution and lead you through the next steps.
3. The Demo
Now it’s time to see it in action! Your vendor will walk you through a demo so you can get a feel for the CRM’s interface. Since the demo is live, your vendor can cater it to your nonprofit’s needs and highlight the features you’ll be using most. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.
4. The Trial & Follow-Up
If after the demo you’re still not convinced that the CRM software you’re considering is right for you, many vendors will offer a free trial. If you are convinced, you can skip to the follow up, which is a chance to ask any lingering questions and tie up any loose ends before your engagement with your vendor becomes more formal.
5. The Data Review
You’ve found the perfect nonprofit CRM and are ready to get started! At this stage, you’ll provide your vendor with your data in full so they can run an analysis. Depending on how difficult the data migration process will be, your vendor will decide if your organization can handle it alone or if you’ll need the full or partial help of a consultant.
6. The Signing
Your organization loves the platform and has determined that data transfer will be manageable. It’s now time to make your purchase official. Your vendor will provide you with a formal contract outlining the terms of the purchase. In order to get the ball rolling and start setting up your software, all you have to do is read and sign!