Editors note - some of the content below has been adapted and modified from Idealware’s article: “A Few Good Donor Management Systems” written by Eric Leland, November, 2008.
Having the right donor management system can make a big difference in your ability to raise funds but how do you know which tool is right for you? The tools available for communication, record keeping and analysis are always changing to harness new capabilities of technology and the web. This blog post will look at a few donor management systems available to eligible charities, nonprofits and libraries in the TechSoup Canada Donations Program. We’ve also added a few great additional resources to help you get started.
Where to Start...
Always start with sketching out your needs, then think about the technology. And keep it simple. What is it you need to do everyday? What are the outputs you want? I came up with a few key things that I think are pretty important when selecting a donor management system.
1. How will the tool manage your information?
The main purpose of a donor management system is to capture information about your donors. So, the first thing you’ll want to look at is how well the software captures, stores and retrieves information. If you have multiple people entering information, will the data be consistent and easy to find? Can you categorize, segment and analyze the data? A good system will not only keep your information organized, it will help you build strategic relationships with potential and existing donors.
2. How well does it integrate with other software and systems in your office?
Do you already have email lists in excel or outlook? What about financial transactions in QuickBooks? Maybe you’ve developed key relationships on social media sites? To get the “big picture” start by listing where you currently store information and then check what systems integrate with the donor management tool. Otherwise, you’ll need to think about data transfer and data conversion. Don’t worry, most donor managemnet tools include services to help you do this.
3. How do you want to access this information?
Do you want your information to be web based (online) or on a computer? A web based solution allows you to access your information from anywhere at anytime. Installing software on a computer means it is only available from one location. Depending on your needs, you’ll have to decide what solution works better for you.
4. What kind of resources can you really put towards this?
Implementing this kind of software is not easy. Do you want this software to grow with your needs? If so, what are the up front costs versus growing costs? Can you devote staff time to training? How are you going to maintain and implement the system?
Choosing a Donor Management System through TechSoup Canada: GiftWorks, Etapestry, Telosa and Sumac
There are lots of options for donor management tools. The few listed below are available to registered charities and nonprofits through the TechSoup Canada Donations Program.
Note that each donor has specific eligibility requirements and guidelines. If you are not currently a member, register today to gain access to technology donations from more than 28 corporate partners!
GiftWorks - This software is a good choice if you are seeking a simple interface for finding lists of supporters and messaging them. It includes SmartLists for targeted mailings and customizable reports. The 2013 version allows you to integrate lists with Constant Contact (a mailing management system) Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. GiftWorks also integrates with QuickBooks. It is not web based and must be installed on a computer. One license is good for one computer.
Donation Details: Admin fee is $47. This includes one license per organization per fiscal year July 1 - June 30. This donation is available to registered charities in Canada with a budget of less than $50,000 (USD).
eTapestry - Backed by Blackbaud, the creators of The Raiser’s Edge, this is a solid solution for basic contact management, donor profiling, segmentation, and emailing. It can also be expanded with additional modules to provide features including ecommerce, Microsoft Outlook integration, segmented gift management and more! eTapestry is a web based solution so you can access your information anywhere at anytime. Your data is stored and maintained remotely and staff members interact with it through a web browser. eTapestry takes care of backups, upgrades, security, and system maintenance.
Donation Details: Admin fee is $62. The donation is good for up to 1000 users and 12 months of access and available to qualified Canadian registered charities. At the end of the donation period, organizations that want to continue using eTapestry may request a new donation. But, keep in mind costs can increase significantly if you have more donor records, multiple users or modules, so check their pricing options carefully and assess your growth plan prior to adopting eTapestry, and consider whether the pricing makes sense for where you plan to be in a few years.
Telosa Exceed! Basic 3.0 - Exceed Basic is a compact solution that provides several key features out of the box, including tracking for a variety of payments (simple donations, pledges, memberships, memorial, honor gifts and more), Microsoft Outlook and Quickbooks integration, remote access and more. Exceed uses the term "accounts" to track your donors - in Basic, each account can have up to two individuals, providing basic householding functionality. It is easy to upgrade and migrate your data to the more advanced Premier version, making this a nice option for organizations seeking a longer term solution that grows with them. This is a locally installed Microsoft Windows based system.
Donation Details: Admin fee is $309. This includes one license per organzation per fiscal year July 1 - June 30. Available to qualified Canadian registered charities with a budget of less than $500,000 (USD).
Sumac - is a complete solution that goes beyond just fundraising. It manages everything from contacts, donations and communications, to memberships, events and volunteers. It also integrates with everything in your office environment including desktop applications like excel and outlook, to social media sites and it even your website! It has a super user-friendly interface and can truly grow with your organziations needs through the addition of customized modules.
Donation Details: There are two donation versions available to qualified Canadian registered nonprofits, charities and libraries with a budget of less than $2 million annual revenue (CDN).
- Sumac Silver - Admin fee of $10. This includes up to 1000 contacts, root modules and two specialized modules and can be renewed each year through TechSoup Canada.
- Sumac Gold - Admin fee of $80. Includes unlimited users, root modules included and any number of specialized modules. The first year of gold is donated but following years will require an all-inclusive annual renewal fee. Use this price calculator to calculate subsequent year fees. Read more..
Why not try a demo of the tools you think are a good fit? If you’re really stuck, try talking to a consultant or expert to help you figure out your data management needs. In the meantime, check out these free resources:
- A Consumers Guide to Low Cost Donor Management Systems - a free downloadable book from NTEN (The Nonprofit Technology Network) to help you work through your decisions.
- A Few Good Donor Management Systems by IdealWare - explores various donor management software tools and talks to fundraising experts.
Note: admin fees listed in this blog post are subject to change.