8 Types of Software Your Nonprofit Needs to Succeed
Nonprofits use a variety of software solutions to sustain operations and complete day-to-day activities in a timely manner. Each solution specializes in slightly different functionality so that when they work together, the software will create seamless workflows and accomplish a variety of tasks for the organization—everything from volunteer management to fundraising.
Your nonprofit’s strategic plan should involve some use of every software solution in your organization’s toolbox. All of your solutions also need to work together in order to create an effective flow of information according to this strategic plan. While each nonprofit has its own unique set of needs, there are eight core tools each needs to succeed:
- Nonprofit CRM Software
- Volunteer Management Software
- Comprehensive Marketing Software
- Fundraising Software
- Prospect Research Software
- Event Management Software
- Matching Gift Software
- CMS Software
Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these solutions and how nonprofits can use them to enhance operations and maximize their potential.
Nonprofit CRM software is the central information hub for organizations. It’s where you store all of the data about your supporters, fundraising initiatives, and engagement activities.
When you have access to this information, your organization can better specify ask amounts, segment supporters for more efficient communication, send relevant event invitations, and drive conversions from your supporters. Effective use of the data in your CRM drives donor engagement and boosts donor retention.
This is possible because, with more data, you can better personalize your communications with each prospect in order to build a strong, authentic relationship with them.
According to this guide, your nonprofit should invest in a CRM solution that offers comprehensive donor profiles, containing informative data such as:
- Event attendance history. This information can be used to re-engage event attendees, recruit additional volunteers, or send personalized invitations to your next event.
- Family information. Knowing the relationships between supporters allows your organization to address complete households in communications. Plus, it allows you to make personal connections in conversations with supporters.
- Birthdays, pet names, and other fun information. Sending a little note on a supporters’ birthday or discussing their pets by name with them is a fun way to show them you’re willing to go the extra mile to get to know them on a personal level.
With an effective CRM solution, like Salsa CRM software, this information is saved along with each supporter’s engagement history with your nonprofit. Engagement details like donation history and campaign participation are a great way to identify supporters who might be eligible prospects for major or mid-level donations.
Conduct additional wealth and prospect research about these supporters, then save resulting data in your CRM as well in order to steward these valuable supporters toward larger gifts.
Volunteer management software helps your organization recruit, coordinate, and communicate with your volunteers.
Many small nonprofits still struggle to manage volunteers using spreadsheets, but today’s robust tools allow you to organize volunteers much more efficiently. This protects your time and the valuable time your volunteers are willing to contribute to your organization.
Implementing the right software will streamline and improve your current volunteer program. Volunteer management tools offer a range of powerful benefits including:
- Scheduling. Coordinating volunteer availability with slots that need to be filled is much easier with a comprehensive volunteer management system. Many platforms even integrate with Google Calendar to simplify scheduling even further.
- Virtual volunteering. The right kind of volunteer software can allow individuals to contribute hours directly from home. While these options may not be feasible for all types of nonprofits, virtual volunteering is an accessible option to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
- Powerful analytics. Volunteer management software allows you to collect, analyze, and export data about your organization’s volunteer efforts. You can track hours and individuals across projects, over time, or by department. This makes it possible to recognize your most dedicated volunteers.
- Volunteer grants. Additionally, accurate data about volunteer hours logged with your organization can establish eligibility for certain grants. If the information is easily accessible, your supporters will have what they need to request volunteer grants from their employers.
An easy-to-use volunteer management system will allow your nonprofit to organize and track hours, increase retention, and cultivate long-term relationships with your volunteers.
Incorporate supporter data into your marketing initiatives for the best return on investment. The first step to accomplishing this is to segment your supporters into marketing lists in your donor database. Then, you can migrate these lists over to your marketing software to send communications targeted toward donors with specific interests, in particular geographic areas, or at a specific giving level.
Plus, an effective marketing platform will allow you to reach into your donor database and automate the inclusion of certain details about your donor. For instance, you use each supporter’s preferred name in the introduction of emails or shout out to your partners and top supporters on social media.
Instead of sending, posting, and crafting all of these communications manually, comprehensive marketing software will help your organization automate the communication process.
With the right solution, you’ll be able to spread the word about your nonprofit far and wide in order to maintain communication with existing supporters and to acquire new supporters. The marketing software you choose should incorporate key features such as:
- Email marketing. Email is one of the most used and effective marketing tools for nonprofits because the messages arrive directly in your supporters’ inboxes. Therefore, they’ll receive the notification of a personal message in their inbox from your organization, enticing them to read.
- Social media marketing. Invest in a solution that enables your nonprofit to plan in advance the content for social platforms, then schedule them to post at strategic times during fundraising and marketing campaigns.
- Marketing automation. Automating your marketing initiatives helps save your organization valuable time that can be invested in other things. Look for workflow automation, filters, and triggers when you examine automation features.
- Tracking and reports. Make sure you’re able to effectively track and examine your organization’s marketing initiatives and pull reports to see where your strategic strengths and weaknesses lie. Then, you can use these analytics to further optimize your strategy for the future.
Once you have the proper tools, your organization should develop a concrete marketing plan that walks through your goals, establishes concrete KPIs, and assigns tasks to relevant team members.
Fundraising software is key for organizations to generate revenue, especially online. There are several types of online fundraising software that your organization can use depending on the campaign you choose to host.
The best solutions are those that incorporate multiple types of fundraising platforms within a single solution. This way, your organization can easily host multiple types of campaigns throughout the year on a single platform. Some of the features you should look for in a comprehensive fundraising solution include:
- Online donation forms. These should be embedded easily into your organization’s website so that it’s easy to find and navigate to.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising forms. These types of campaigns use social proof to encourage donations from new supporters in order to support their family and friends.
- Crowdfunding platforms. These campaigns rely on many small donations from many sources so that funds add up to create an impactful fundraising revenue stream.
When you’re considering effective online fundraising software solutions, be sure to check out the payment processing system each uses.
Most nonprofit-specific solutions partner with a dedicated payment processor to quickly and securely collect donations and deposit them into your organization’s bank account. But there are sometimes additional fees that you should be wary of before you invest.
Prospect research is another staple for nonprofit organizations. It’s used to collect information about your organization’s supporters that will be useful for nonprofit fundraising. While it would be possible to conduct prospect research manually using available public information, it’s much faster and easier for organizations to leverage dedicated prospect research software.
This software compiles information in a database to automatically provide nonprofits with data including:
- Wealth indicators. Wealth indicators provide insight into the amount that a supporter might be able to contribute to your cause. Prospect research software may present information such as past giving, real estate holdings, and stock information to help nonprofits better understand individuals’ capability to give. Your nonprofit can use this information to inform ask for amounts during fundraising campaigns.
- Philanthropic indicators. Philanthropic indicators are those that nonprofits use to analyze a prospect’s affinity to give. This is the general potential for connection to your cause that a supporter may have. For instance, if they’ve volunteered with similar organizations or have meaningful engagement history with similar missions, supporters may have a high affinity to give.
The data compiled and collected from prospect research software provides additional context that helps nonprofits identify and secure mid-level and major gifts. When you know who these potential supporters are, your fundraising team can focus on stewarding them toward larger gifts.
Whether you’re hosting an in-person event or a virtual one, event management software is necessary to keep all event details straight. This type of software helps you better sort out a venue, ticketing, activities, and a guest list.
Therefore, when you look for event management software, you should make sure it has all of the necessary features to both organize the event and capture supporters’ attention. For instance, you should be on the lookout for:
- Streamlined ticketing forms. It should be quick and easy for supporters to purchase tickets for your event. This means the forms should be a single page, ask for minimal information, and be configured with your organization’s branding.
- Effective marketing tools. Make sure you’re able to get the word out about your event with an effective marketing strategy. Connectivity between the event platform and the marketing platform is best so that you can streamline the transfer of information to reach out to attending guests separately from your prospective audience.
- Online donation options. Make sure to provide the option to give in addition to purchasing an event ticket. This will drive additional revenue for the event and allow donors to show further support.
Depending on the type of event your organization hosts, you should consider some of the other activities that will require specific software tools. For example, you might decide to invest in mobile bidding for an online auction. Or you may need software to organize and schedule volunteers. When used in combination with your event management software, these tools will maximize your fundraising potential and set your team up for success.
Matching gifts are a typically underutilized source of revenue for many nonprofits. Simply put, these gifts occur when a company supports its employees’ philanthropic efforts by offering to match their donations to eligible organizations.
Matching gifts are a part of corporate philanthropy programs and, according to Double the Donation’s corporate matching gift guide, 78% of match-eligible donors have no idea that they’re eligible! That’s why so much funding from matching gifts is missed out on every year.
Matching gift software informs supporters of their eligibility and leads them to the proper guidelines and forms to submit to receive the match. Here’s what working with these tools looks like:
- A donor gives via your online giving platform.
- On the form or the confirmation page, they enter the name of their employer into the matching gift search tool.
- The database provides immediate information about their eligibility for a company match and invites them to click through to relevant submission forms to receive the match.
As you can see, matching gift software makes receiving additional revenue much easier for your nonprofit. Donors can make an even bigger contribution without digging deeper into their wallets.
While some larger nonprofit organizations hire developers to design their websites, many smaller ones don’t have coding experts on staff. Therefore, an easy-to-use CMS is key to create an attractive and navigable website.
Many of the more accessible CMS solutions for nonprofits have features such as:
- Drag and drop design. Drag and drop elements make it easy to customize and manipulate your website pages to look exactly as you please. Consider also looking at the layouts provided by CMS solutions to get an idea of what you’re looking for.
- Built-in forms. Choose a CMS solution that has built-in capabilities for gathering information, like email subscription lists.
- Integrations. Integrations can help streamline the transfer of data between different solutions at your nonprofit. Therefore, consider looking for them for your website. This can help streamline data from your website into your CRM, more easily embed fundraising forms, and create an overall better experience for your donors.
Having an effective CMS in place will make it simple and efficient for your organization to maintain a strong digital presence.
Nonprofits need a variety of software tools to succeed. Knowing what solutions will help with each aspect of your strategy helps guide your organization in making purchasing decisions. Now that you’re armed with additional context and information, you’re ready to build your nonprofit’s toolbox. Good luck!