Buy fundraising software the right way with these tips
The journey to reach your goals may have many roads, so it’s crucial to invest in fundraising software that can accommodate and accelerate successful outcomes. Be sure you choose a system that will support whatever success means to you.
Here’s a best-practices guide on how to make one of the most critical investments in your organization’s growth: fundraising software.
Chart a path for your goals to grow into accomplishments
Don’t settle for a system that stops at the basics. No matter how steadfast your goals, the tools you’ll need to reach them will inevitably change as your organization grows and the fundraising landscape evolves.
That doesn’t mean you need to spend lots of money on bells-and-whistles for fundraising software that’s packed with features you might not ever use. Instead, start with a strong core system that you can customize according to your goals as you grow.
Options and pricing for fundraising software will vary from product to product, but make sure you consider:
- Online and webinar training. An instructor connects live to your computer and provides you with step-by-step instructions and best practices on how to use your system. These online and webinar training sessions can be private or public. Research pricing and format to decide which option is best for your organization.
- In-person training. An instructor travels to your place of business to walk you through features and processes one-on-one. You can meet with an instructor individually or choose to have additional staff members attend. This option is typically more expensive than online and webinar training.
It’s important to make sure that the company you’re choosing goes beyond training basics by providing:
• Expert webcasts. Attend online learning sessions hosted by industry experts.
• Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) certification. Obtain certification for fundraising professionals who demonstrate the knowledge, skills and commitment to the highest standards of ethical and professional practice in serving the philanthropic sector.
• An interactive online community hub. Connect with other nonprofits, review your support case history, learn new features, discover and provide useful fundraising tips and best practices.
Be wary of software solutions that don’t offer phone support
When you’re in a time crunch and need a quick fix, having an expert a phone call away is critical to getting things done. Phone support is also helpful when you want to tackle a complex issue that requires a conversation.
Know you’re not alone
You want to work with a partner that has helped tens of thousands of fundraisers overcome the obstacles and challenges of the job. Look at customer review sites to see what customers say about a company’s support services.
Learn from community of your peers
Are you able to interact with other professionals to ask questions, share tips, and learn best practices? It’s a good idea to look into the network that your fundraising software partner can provide, so you can connect, collaborate and engage with fellow members of the nonprofit community.
Flexibility on pricing and contracts is paramount to ensuring that you’ll always be making an investment that's within your budget
A quality solution shouldn’t require a long-term contract because your satisfaction will cause you to want to keep your subscription. Be wary of any solution that would trap you in for the long haul. You want to choose a solution you couldn’t imagine living without, contract or not.
Do your homework. Read the Consumer’s Guide to Low-Cost Fundraising Systems
Independent nonprofit organizations NTEN and Idealware partnered to conduct a comprehensive study of 32 fundraising solutions designed for small to medium-sized nonprofits that ranged in price from just a few hundred dollars to nearly $6,000 per year.
The 32 systems were narrowed down to 11, based on which systems possessed the best combination of functionality, price, and popular features most requested by nonprofits.
Each of the 11 systems was entered into an apples-to-apples comparison to equip nonprofits with a simple, straightforward way to determine which solution would best meet their needs and budget.
The authors of this report spent over one hundred hours meticulously researching the top systems, so nonprofits can make the most informed decision when buying fundraising software.
Get your key stakeholders on board with fundraising software
Buying fundraising software is a major purchase decision that requires collaboration and coordination with key stakeholders throughout your organization: IT staff, development, volunteer managers, executives, and most importantly, your board. Whether you’re a smaller nonprofit needing approval of your board or a larger nonprofit looking to get the go-ahead from the members of your development team, it’s crucial to obtain the buy-in and participation of your key stakeholders when making such an important decision for the future of your organization.