Lately, I’ve been working with and hearing from lots of startup nonprofits and organizations who have only been around a few years. I absolutely love working with new kids on the block because they are typically so filled with passion for what they do and full of fire to get going and do a great job (not that nonprofits who’ve been around a while aren’t. But you know it’s different when everything is new and shiny).
But the one thing that newer orgs are typically short on is money. To an even greater degree than your average nonprofit, the new guys need to pinch every penny. But they also still need all the same solutions as the long-established organizations out there. In some ways, even more so, since they are literally building a foundation now that could serve them or hinder them for years to come.
And the biggest (and potentially most expensive) piece that they need? Donor software. Hands down.
So what is a startup to do to ensure they get the most bang for their buck?
Well, if you’re like many newer nonprofits, you’ve probably either considered or started using a spreadsheet. And I get it. But I am going to BEG you to not use it anymore. Major reasons being that you are missing out on a lot of needed functionality (reporting, trends, etc.), you are leaving yourself open to losing or corrupting your information, and that solution is not nearly as flexible or effective as you want it to be. Really, it’s only advantage is that it’s free.
I’m going to stop right here and make a guess: You are probably thinking that if you don’t use a spreadsheet then you most likely are going to have shell out big bucks for a big-name solution like Raiser’s Edge or any of a dozen other players in this market. Am I right?
I can promise you that your choices are not between pricey software solutions and a spreadsheet.
Thankfully, there has never been a better time to need low-budget, effective donor software. When I started working at nonprofits there really were very few choices for nonprofit customers with small wallets, but all of that is starting to change and there are now some really great options on the market.
Here are 3 great low-budget, high-quality donor software tools you should be aware of:
Read on for some highlight-worthy features of each software and some pros and cons for you to consider.
Starting Price: Starts at $39/mo or $421/yr
Available on TechSoup? YES
- Easy imports & exports
- Tracks all communications with donors & patrons
- Custom dashboard & custom reports
- Acknowledgements & receipts for donations & purchases
- Customized mailings
Pros: Simple, intuitive, easy to use, and has great customer support with a variety of ways to access it (in-person agents, web chats, and online documentation)
Cons: Doesn’t have some of the bells and whistles that the other 2 listed here have.
Starting Price: Has a FREE plan for true startups as well as an entire tier of options for small nonprofits, which tops out at $59/mo
Available on TechSoup? YES (but not the versions for startups)
- Customizable Dashboard
- Giving Summary & Engagement Level Tracking
- Constituent Timelines
- Marketing Email Functionality (can design & send right within the program)
- Custom letters and mailings
- Integrates with your website
- Social Media Monitoring
Pros: Super easy-to-use interface, intuitive, totally customizable, and everyone says their service and support is unmatched.
Cons: Some people have found customizing the design of emails to be a bit tricky. But to be fair, they were going for some pretty heavy-duty customizations.
Starting Price: Starts at $50/mo
Available on TechSoup? NO
- Relationship Tracking & Notes
- Web Forms to use on your website
- Email Marketing Functionality
- Automated receipts & acknowledgement
- Grant Management
- Survey Builder
- Document Storage
- QuickBooks Integration
- Credit Card Processing
- Volunteer Management
- Online Store
Pros: Lots of exciting extras and features are built into this system and their support is very good.
Cons: Although still pretty intuitive, some users have reported that it’s not as easy to learn Neon as it is to learn the other two solutions mentioned in this post.
Hands down, I would go with Bloomerang.
Not only are they super affordable, but they are scalable, have tons and tons of features, great customer service, and since it all integrates with your website it can definitely make your life easier (assuming your website is up to snuff).
I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these choices. If you are in the market for your first donor management system (or if you’re looking to switch) I would urge you to think about your long-term fundraising and donor cultivation goals. How do you want to communicate with donors and what kinds of reports and things do you want to be able to do to track trends and boost engagement/giving? What kinds of marketing and acknowledgments do you want to do for patrons and donors? Let these questions guide your choice.
I do not get any sort of kickback or financial reward from any of these companies.
But because I feel strongly about Bloomerang as a great choice, I did reach out to them and get a special 10% discount just for my readers. If you want to sign up for any of Bloomerang’s paid donor management solutions then you NEED to get your hands on this discount code.
To get the Bloomerang discount click here. It will take you to a page where you can sign up for a demo. Yes, you have to go through the demo with them, but it’s quick, helpful, and you get 10% off. Enjoy!
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