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If you serve as a board member on a nonprofit board of directors, or if you are an executive director that works with board members, then these nonprofit board challenges might resonate with you.
I’ve served on many boards and have worked with many nonprofit board members. I often hear of two common challenges that board members face: implementation issues and fundraising burnout.
Board of Directors Challenge #1 Implementation Issues
One of the biggest qualms I hear from board directors is not knowing exactly how to reach the mission and vision of the nonprofit organization. As in, “Yes, we understand there is a vision, but how do we get there?”
Oftentimes what ends up happening is that the board continues to just ask, “Well, what did we do last year?”
Regardless, if it meets the vision of the nonprofit or not, or the current circumstances, the board may continue to do the same old thing and add a little bit more.
Because if you keep doing the same thing, but add a little more energy to it, it’s a good thing, right?
What board members commonly do is to write out all the activities that raised money for the nonprofit in the previous year. Then they add larger funding goals to each activity.
For example, last year the nonprofit raised $400,000 in total from doing the following:
- 5K fundraiser raised $40,000
- Annual dinner gala raised $100,000
- 5 grants raised $250,000
- Giving Tuesday Campaign raised $10,000
For the new year, the goal might be to raise $620,000:
- Annual 5K fundraiser to raise $60,000
- The annual dinner gala to raise $120,000
- Write 10 grants to raise $400,000
- The Giving Tuesday Campaign to raise $20,000
- Start a new donor program to raise $20,000
This is actually a good strategy at face value, but unless it takes into consideration the following, it will flop (even if it helps you reach an immediate financial goal):
- what the current needs are of the organization
- what the current capacity is
- what resources exist
If current needs, capacity, and resources are not considered, then you won’t be able to implement all of your amazing activities at the new level.
And it leads to challenge number two.
Board of Directors Challenge #2 Fundraising Burnout
The other challenge I frequently hear board members ask is, “How can we reach sustainable funding streams without getting burned out?”
Board members quickly realize their capacity level and that they can only do so much to meet above the $620,000 goal.
So what do many board members do?
They put fundraising on the shoulders of the executive director and nonprofit staff — delegating everything out.
Once again, this approach does not take into account the current capacity of the organization.
Doing more might not be the answer at all.
In fact, doing more often leads to executive directors burning out at a quicker rate. Currently, nonprofit executive directors only stay in their position for 18 months often stating burnout as a major cause.
It is important then to not do more necessarily, but to do the right things with the right input.
That’s where strategic planning for nonprofits comes into play.
To overcome these challenges, let’s include some basic elements of strategic planning.
#1: Review your Mission & Vision Statements and Values
Firstly, understand that it is vital to not only look at finances and growth as success markers for a nonprofit organization.
Getting funding for your nonprofit is great, but it can be disastrous if that funding causes your nonprofit to mission drift.
The first step in strategic planning is to analyze the mission and vision of the nonprofit and to see if your activities are meeting that vision.
If not, it’s time to evaluate if your nonprofit’s activities or mission statement needs to be updated.
Additionally, be sure to list out the values of the nonprofit. Your values will help drive the priorities of the nonprofit organization.
For example, if a value is inclusiveness, then be sure to invite your executive director and staff to the strategic planning meeting!
#2: Conduct a SWOT Analysis
Secondly, it is vital to do a SWOT analysis so that you can really understand your nonprofit organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
This is one of the most important key pieces in strategic planning that will guide your nonprofit’s goals and activities.
Remember, we can’t just add more things to do to meet some abstract financial goal. A SWOT will help you leverage what is working and address what isn’t.
By conducting a SWOT analysis your board will really understand what the current capacity is of your nonprofit organization.
Your nonprofit’s weaknesses can help provide a roadmap on what is important to focus on. For example, some weaknesses could include staff feeling burned out, not able to get board engagement for making decisions, and not having maternity leave as a benefit.
These would be good activities to focus on that might not be only financially beneficial, but could lead to a savings of retaining an executive director.
These types of realizations can then help you understand what goals might be helpful for your nonprofit so you can reach your mission and vision.
#3: Conduct Resource Mapping
Thirdly, your nonprofit board can then lay out your resource mapping.
Find out what resources you have available:
- People resources
- Partner resources
- Funding resources
On your original list (before your strategic planning) your board members may have thought writing five more grants this year is a great solution. But after the resource mapping, your board might find out that to write more grants you need to either hire a grant writer or take some things off your grant writer’s plate so they can focus on writing more grants.
Resource mapping will help your nonprofit’s board understand how realistic their financial projections are because it will map out the resources available to meet the demand.
#4: Set Specific Goals & Activities
Fourthly, you can then set your specific goals and objectives for the year. Maybe your board realizes the 5K fundraiser actually took a lot more work than the payoff. With that information, garnered through your SWOT analysis and resource mapping, your board then plans to host a volunteer appreciation day instead of the 5K fundraiser.
Why a volunteer appreciation day?
Because during your SWOT analysis your board found out that the strength of your nonprofit was the help of volunteers, but a weakness was a high churn rate of volunteers. Additionally, when you analyzed all the work that volunteers did for your nonprofit, it saved your nonprofit a lot of money because it eliminated the need to hire certain roles.
#5: Create a Funding Plan
Fifthly, and finally, create a Funding Plan for your nonprofit. At this stage, your board has identified resources and the capacity of your nonprofit, and has set goals and objectives.
Your board can now set a realistic financial goal (which might not be $620,000) and activities that meet the needs, resources, and capacity of your nonprofit organization.
Another bonus is that by conducting strategic planning, your board will get more buy-in from the executive director and staff because they feel heard.
Remember, as a board member it is your job to guide the nonprofit organization as a whole. Do your due diligence to really understand and commit to strategic planning because when you do your board will avoid the most common challenges that boards face: implementation issues and fundraising burnout.
Feel free to visit www.grantwritingandfunding.com for more information on strategic planning, grant writing, and freelance grant writing.
The post Why Having A Strategic Plan Is Vital For Your Nonprofit’s Board appeared first on Bloomerang.
In today’s fundraising environment, personalization is key. Donors want to feel seen and understood as individuals with unique interests and motivations.
Nonprofits use donor management software or a donor database to organize their donor data and ensure its accuracy. They can then use the information in the software to reach out to donors with personalized communications, ensuring they’re building genuine relationships with their supporters.
That makes finding the right donor management software solution for your organization crucial. In this guide, we’ll cover how your nonprofit can find the best solution to solve your most pressing needs. We’ll do this through the following points:
- What is donor management software?
- Top 16 donor management software solutions
- Benefits of donor management software
- How to choose donor management software
- Maximizing your donor management software
Let’s get started by exploring common donor management software features.
What is donor management software?
Donor management software is a tool that allows your nonprofit to organize the data you collect about your supporters. Having this data in one place will help you create a more effective fundraising and communication strategy and build deeper relationships with your donors.
You may have heard this software referred to by a few different names, including donor management software, nonprofit CRM, donor database, donor software, and donor tracking software. Each refers to the same database of information that is used to manage the data organizations collect about their supporters.
Effective donor management software will offer features like:
- Donor profiles. Donor profiles show the history each supporter has with your organization. Each profile shows the donation history of each donor, their contact and demographic information, and every interaction they’ve had with your organization in the past (emails opened, calls-to-action taken, events attended, etc.).
- Constituent timeline. The constituent timeline is a part of a donor’s overall profile, showing the interactions they’ve had with your organization over time. Examples of things listed in the timeline include emails opened and engaged with, gifts contributed, events attended, and other engagement opportunities. They’re listed in chronological order so your organization has an accurate record of each supporter’s engagement history.
- Data segmentation. Once you’ve collected relevant data in each donor profile, your organization should have the ability to create segments in your donor management software, organizing supporters and grouping them by common engagement histories or interests. For example, you might create a segment of your supporters for first-time donors and another for your monthly contributors.
- Fundraising metrics. Your dashboard can provide insight into your most important fundraising metrics. For example, Bloomerang customers can track their donor retention rate on the main dashboard to see how well they’re engaging and building relationships with current supporters.
Every organization is different, so consider your nonprofit’s unique needs and what features will help you meet your specific goals.
How much does donor management software cost?
Some donor management software can be more expensive depending on the extent of the features offered. Meanwhile, other software allows you access to all of the features and simply scales prices based on the number of records in your system.
We’re partial to this second pricing option. We believe that all nonprofits should have access to the best features no matter how big or small the organization. That’s why Bloomerang offers all of our top-notch features to all organizations and scales prices according to the records the organization has. Bloomerang plans start at $119 per month for up to 1,000 records and pricing scales moderately as organizations grow.
When you demo different software options, ask about pricing as well as about additional fees that could be hidden in the pricing plans. This will allow you to set aside the correct budget for your solution.
Top 16 donor management software solutions
The first step to finding the perfect donor management software for your organization is to review potential solutions. Below, we’ll discuss some of the top donor management software systems as well as some supporting software solutions that can help you raise more funds.
Bloomerang is a powerful solution that provides all of the essential tools you need to build lasting relationships with donors and raise more funds for your organization, including those that help you improve your donor retention rate. You can track your retention rate and keep an eye on your retention progress over time directly from your dashboard.
You’ll have access to features like donor profiles, constituent timelines, and fundraising reports, as well as access to unique information such as the engagement and generosity scores for each supporter. You can also create and pull custom reports to make sure you’re making the most of your donor relationships.
Kindful is a Bloomerang product that offers the fundraising tools that you need to engage your supporters. You can leverage peer-to-peer fundraising features, donation pages, event ticketing and registration features, an email builder, and a text-to-give tool—all integrated with your Bloomerang database.
The reports and wealth insights provided by Kindful can also help inform your fundraising strategy and interactions with your supporters. Kindful acts as the engagement platform that you need to capture the attention of your supporters and take action to develop deeper relationships.
3. Greater Giving
Greater Giving offers a full suite of tools that your organization can leverage to engage your donors with auctions. You can invite your donors to a hybrid or virtual event, encourage them to bid on items, and pull reports to better understand how each attendee interacted with your organization during the event.
One of the ways you can maximize your donor management software is to integrate it with your financial management or accounting system. Intuit QuickBooks is one of the most popular options for nonprofits to organize their financial information because it offers accounting tools specifically designed for nonprofit needs.
With this system, you can organize detailed financial information about each of the gifts contributed by generous donors. QuickBooks allows you to accept, organize, and track donations, grants, sponsorships, and more.
Most nonprofits without experience working with specific donor management solutions launch and begin tracking their donor relationships in Excel. This system of cells organized by columns and rows allows new organizations to track basic information about each of their donors, including their name, address, and any other important details.
Spreadsheets are a great and powerful tool to get started with because they provide as much space and as many configuration options as you need to collect key information about all supporters. But as this spreadsheet continues to grow and evolve, it can become more challenging to navigate, which tends to result in nonprofits investing in their first dedicated donor management software solution.
CharityEngine prides itself on being an all-in-one software solution for nonprofits that lets them not only track their donor interactions but also engage those donors within the same system. This donor management software offers comprehensive donor profiles with information regarding a donor’s lifetime value and donation history. Plus, you can explore opportunities to further engage your supporters by referencing their involvement history and understanding their interests and preferences.
CharityEngine offers more than just donor tracking software. They also offer peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, event registration pages, donation pages, and more. You can use this centralized software to run your campaigns, record your progress, and reach out to your supporters.
Arreva offers comprehensive fundraising software for nonprofit organizations to run campaigns and manage donor data. This software offers an all-in-one, cloud-based solution with a number of modules to fulfill various aspects of your nonprofit strategy. For instance, you can gain access to donor profile information, pledge drives, fundraising software, and common integrations like QuickBooks and ConstantContact.
However, unlike Bloomerang, Arreva’s pricing structure requires organizations to scale up to receive all of their valuable modules. On the other hand, Bloomerang provides all of our comprehensive features to all pricing levels and simply scales up the number of records available to the organization.
NonProfitEasy is a donor management software solution and fundraising solution rolled into one. Some of the features they offer include custom fields, unlimited users, wealth profiles, text-to-give campaigns, event ticketing, email blasts, grant management, and donor segmentation.
NonProfitEasy has built-in data hygiene features that make it easy to keep your database clean. You can receive notifications if you try to create a profile that already exists, identify potential duplicates, and merge contacts.
DonorSnap is a donor management software solution effective for smaller organizations. While the features are slightly more basic, DonorSnap offers the essential tools that small nonprofits need to build relationships with their supporters.
Some of the tools that your organization can gain access to through DonorSnap include batch acknowledgments, online donations, recurring donations, and pledge tracking. Compare DonorSnap with Bloomerang in this guide.
10. Little Green Light
Little Green Light is a lightweight, cloud-based donor management software system that allows nonprofits to track donations, communications, and other engagement opportunities with supporters. The customized dashboard provides real-time insights regarding your most important key performance indicators and metrics.
Little Green Light also offers customizable reports, goal tracking, and gift tracking. To compare Little Green Light with Bloomerang, check out this guide.
11. Blackbaud eTapestry
Blackbaud eTapestry is a donor management software solution that’s part of the Blackbaud ecosystem. If your organization uses Blackbaud for other purposes, this solution will integrate seamlessly with other products in the network.
eTapestry offers features that allow you to accept donations online, track how your content is shared, consolidate event management, and communicate with supporters. It offers the features nonprofits need to build relationships with their supporters and improve donor retention. However, you may find hidden costs related to training and email analytics. Compare Bloomerang and Blackbaud eTapestry here.
EveryAction provides a suite of nonprofit tools that you can use to increase your organization’s efficiency and help you build relationships with donors. You can invest in this CRM to manage donor data and use the fundraising tools to raise money, process payments, and manage events.
You can gain access to the features necessary to run your organization through EveryAction. However, you’ll need to add on additional tools through their platform to gain all of the functionality you’ll need, which can get expensive. You can compare EveryAction and Bloomerang here.
DonorPerfect is donor management software that provides a centralized location for all of your nonprofit’s important data. The platform offers features like unlimited users, email marketing, a mobile app, auction management tools, and automated workflows. To manage relationships, it allows you to personalize messages to donors, email official gift receipts to supporters, and sync your data to ConstantContact.
DonorPerfect is an affordable option if your organization only requires basic functionality. However, you’ll quickly find that some features require additional investment. Check out this guide to compare DonorPerfect with Bloomerang.
14. Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT
Another Blackbaud product that some organizations leverage to manage their donor relationships is Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT. Blackbaud provides donor management tools that all integrate with one another so that your organization can make the most of its donor relationships.
Because Blackbaud had been around for so many years, their tools can come across as a bit outdated. Plus, it’s one of the more expensive options. Read this guide to compare Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT with Bloomerang.
Virtuous offers donor management software designed to simplify nonprofit processes and amplify your strategy. You can save donor data such as campaign participation, donation history, engagement activity, and more in a centralized location. Plus, you can search, filter, and segment this information directly in your database.
While Virtuous provides a wealth of information and tools to maintain relationships, it tends to be a more expensive option. When comparing Bloomerang to Virtuous, you can receive the same features on Bloomerang’s platform for a third of the price.
16. Neon CRM
Neon CRM advertises itself as a platform that helps power nonprofit growth and build supporter relationships. The CRM comes standard with a number of features plus customizable fields so that you can record the supporter data most important for your organization’s mission.
Neon CRM requires organizations to pay extra for additional support, which can get expensive. To compare customer service between Bloomerang and Neon CRM, check out this comparison.
Benefits of donor management software
The primary goal of most nonprofits when they invest in donor management software is to build relationships with donors, encouraging larger donations and a better donor retention rate. Because it’s so much less expensive to retain donors than to acquire new ones, nonprofits can save a substantial amount of money simply by building these relationships and incrementally increasing their donor retention rate.
Collecting and organizing information about your supporters in your donor management software allows your organization to personalize interactions with supporters, better serving them and encouraging them to continue engaging with your organization.
How does donor management software make this possible? Specific benefits include the ability to:
- Create more accurate and effective marketing materials. You can create emails targeted to specific donor segments and individuals by referencing the data saved in your database. For example, you can auto-populate donors’ names in the salutation of emails. Then, you can send specific messages to segments that will respond best to the messages. For example, you might send a welcome series to your first-time donors, providing additional information about your mission.
- Track fundraising campaign progress and grant application tasks. Track your fundraising progress throughout campaigns so you can make sure you’re on track to meet your goals. You can also track your organization’s tasks for grant applications, ensuring you take all of the necessary actions that you need to build relationships with grant funders and submit applications on time.
- Identify major donors and personalize outreach. Your supporters with the highest generosity and engagement scores qualify as major donors. To cultivate these donors, you can use the data you’ve collected to personalize your interactions with them, organizing face-to-face conversations and meetings to continue building these relationships. You’ll also better understand the additional prospect research you’ll need to conduct so you know exactly how much to ask for from these valuable supporters.
- Pull reports highlighting opportunities for improvement. You can pull different reports to show things like the opportunities that your nonprofit has to improve on various aspects of your strategies. You might pull a report to gather additional information about your average donation amount and consider the opportunities you have to increase that amount to boost your overall donation revenue.
Often, donor management software also increases your organization’s efficiency because it integrates with other key fundraising software. For example, when your donation pages integrate with your donor management software, you can automatically update and create new profiles for those who donate via your online giving page. Or, when your marketing solution integrates with your donor database, you can apply your donor segments to your marketing initiatives, making it easier to reach out to specific groups of supporters.
Your donor management system is the centerpiece of your nonprofit’s tech stack and strategy. Therefore, the more integrations you have with your other technology solutions, the more you can cut down on manual tasks, creating more efficient processes.
How to choose donor management software
Whether you’re purchasing your first donor management software solution or switching systems, there are a number of steps you should take before selecting and purchasing your new solution. We’ll cover each of these steps below:
1. Conduct research to create a list of potential donor management software solutions.
The first step to finding your donor management software solution is to review the different systems that are available to organizations like yours. In order to do this, research the different solutions and check review sites like G2.com to see what current customers think of the solutions.
You should also search for donor management software on search engines, ask for recommendations from other nonprofit organizations in your community, and check out referral lists from other trusted solutions in the space.
2. Determine the most important features for your organization and narrow down your list based on those features.
After you have your initial list of software solutions, you can start narrowing it down based on your organization’s specific needs. Create a list of the must-have features for your organization and another list of the nice-to-have features that you can use to narrow this list. Cross off the solutions that don’t have your must-have features.
Then, ask yourself questions for each of the remaining solutions in your list, including:
- Does it meet your current needs?
- Will it meet your future needs?
- Is it within your budget?
- Will implementation cost extra?
- Do you have access to training materials?
- What is customer support like?
As mentioned, all nonprofits are unique and require slightly different features in their donor management software. Asking these types of questions for each of the solutions you evaluate will ensure your final choice will meet your specific needs. After you’ve conducted this initial evaluation, you should be left with just a few software solution options to choose from.
3. Schedule a demo of your final choices for prospective donor management solutions and see which one you want to use.
Compile a list of questions you’d like to know more about for your final donor management software solution. As you demo each solution in your shortlist, ask these questions and take notes for each system. This will help you make direct comparisons after you’ve received a demo of each.
If you’re still unsure of which software to choose, consider getting a second demo of your favorite solutions. This will help you determine your final choice and allow you to make an informed decision.
4. Create an implementation and training plan for your solution.
After you’ve chosen your ideal donor management solution, create an implementation plan to make sure your entire fundraising team is set up for success on the system. If you’re already using a different database, you might need to migrate the data saved in your system to the new donor management system. If you’re switching from spreadsheets, you still need someone to help migrate your data to the new system.
You’ll also need someone to configure your new donor management software to reflect the most important information for your cause. Because every organization prioritizes different information, you make sure your software will cover your priorities. For example, an animal shelter may want to record information about whether donors are cat lovers or dog lovers.
Ask the software provider about any additional educational resources they have to help your team continue making the most of the system. For example, Bloomerang offers resources at Bloomerang Academy for anyone on your team to continue learning about the system.
Maximizing your donor management software
The best way to maximize your donor management software is to look for a solution with extensive features that also integrates with the rest of your tech stack. Look for integrations with solutions such as your:
- Fundraising software. Automatically save new donor information to existing donor profiles or create new profiles for first-time donors who give via your online donation platform. Your software should integrate with other solutions that offer things like event registration and event management features, peer-to-peer tools, and auction tools and help you automatically save and leverage donor information.
- Marketing solutions. Integrations with your marketing software should allow you to both automatically save new information to your donor management software and use the information in your database to inform marketing decisions. For example, when a donor opens, reads, and responds to your latest email, that information should be saved in your donor management system. Plus, you should be able to leverage segments and personal data in donor profiles to create personalized emails and messages before sending them.
- Financial software. Your nonprofit should be able to record all of your supporter data from different solutions, including your financial or accounting software. Be sure all of your systems are connected so that you always have an accurate view of the financial health of your organization.
For instance, here’s an overview of some of the platforms your donor management software might integrate with:
Even if your donor management system doesn’t have a native integration with all of your other software systems, you might still be able to connect them. Software like Zapier allows you to make further connections between your various systems.
Donor management software acts as the central focus point for your nonprofit’s tech stack and strategy.
With the tips and steps in this guide, you should be well on your way to finding the perfect solution to serve your organization and develop deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. If you’re looking for more information on this subject, check out the following additional resources:
- Your First Donor Database: Common Questions and Answers. If this is your first time purchasing a donor management software solution, check out this guide to get your questions answered.
- Donor Segmentation | Comprehensive Guide + Tips for Success. Segmenting your donors in your donor management software is a key part of any good donor outreach strategy. Learn more about it with this guide.
- The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning. Your donor management software can help inform many important strategies at your organization. See what part it plays in your overall strategic plan.
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What’s good? Dr. Lishomwa “Lish” Ndhlovu, M.D., Ph.D., is amfAR’s newly-appointed Scientific Advisory Committee Chair. In a recent interview, he explained that he’s prioritizing teamwork and “thinking outside the box” in the search for a cure for HIV.
Area impacted: Healthcare | See how we help healthcare organizations move their mission forward.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization shared a new report about a woman whose HIV is in remission after submitting to a dual stem cell transplant. But that’s not all. The therapy also led to the woman entering remission for her acute myelogenous leukemia. Previously, there were only two men—known as the Berlin patient and the London patient—who saw an HIV cure or remission.
These are incredibly exciting advancements that point to a future where we see even more progress in HIV cure research—progress that Dr. Lishomwa “Lish” Ndhlovu, M.D., Ph.D. believes will come through teamwork and unity.
Dr. Ndhlovu, amfAR’s newly-appointed Scientific Advisory Committee Chair, shared how he plans to work toward an HIV cure.
“I’m happy to add my personal ideas to other ideas…in terms of improving the lives of people with HIV. But obviously the primary goal is to focus on a cure, so we’ll all do our best to push that agenda,” said Dr. Ndhlovu.
He continued: “We have to think outside the box with this virus and teamwork is key. I think it’s going to be exciting to see if we can put our heads together and address this complex issue together.”
Dr. Ndhlovu is also the director of the Laboratory of HIV Immunopathogenesis and Emerging Pathogens at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of Infectious Diseases, where he is Professor of Immunology in Medicine.
There’s more good news to come—and that includes yours.
Don’t miss out: We’ll continue to share good news on our blog.
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