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Using a Free Fundraising Software Demo for Your Fundraising

Using a Free Fundraising Software Demo for Your Fundraising

Nonprofits can use technology to increase the impact of their fundraising efforts. It’s a valuable and cost-effective tool for connecting with donors, and managing donations and events. One example is fundraising software.

Fundraising software offers a thorough platform that combines various functions such as donor management, donation processing, event planning, and marketing. These are all tailored to meet the specific needs of a nonprofit organization. Using these tools helps a non-profit organization to raise money for their cause, build donor relationships, and manage funds easily. There are so many choices available that you might find it daunting to choose the right software for your organization’s needs. This is why a free demo is useful for helping you make a decision.

A free fundraising software demo gives you the chance to explore and assess the software's features, usability, and compatibility with your fundraising goals without potentially wasting money on software that doesn’t meet your requirements. Such demos allow users to gain hands-on experience with the platform. They can test out the impact and ease of use of donation forms, event management features, membership databases, and peer-to-peer fundraising capabilities. Engaging with the software before making a financial commitment means that nonprofit leaders get to make informed decisions about which tools align best with their organization's objectives, budget constraints, and technical requirements.

Demos often come with access to support and resources such as tutorials, webinars, and blogs, helping users learn how to use the software to its full potential. This educational aspect helps organizations try new technologies, even if they don’t have advanced technical skills. The transition period can be a time of learning, even for those with these skills, when learning how to use tools that are new to them.

This article looks at the crucial role of fundraising software for nonprofits, the benefits of using a free fundraising demo to enhance fundraising strategies, and what to look for.

Why Should You Try a Free Fundraising Demo?

It’s a useful strategy to try one or more free demos before committing to paying for any fundraising software. Of course, you can read about what the software is capable of and look at user’s reviews. However, trying it for yourself provides a better insight into the features, how each one can be used, and how they align with the specific fundraising goals and the needs and skills of people within the organization.

A free demo gives employees and volunteers within the nonprofit the chance to test the software’s capabilities and discover any limitations. Whether the software is needed to help with donor management, event planning, peer-to-peer fundraising, or donation processing, a demo enables users to explore each feature in detail. This exploration is essential, as it helps nonprofits understand how the software can streamline their operations, enhance donor engagement, and improve fundraising efforts. This may show that upgrading to the full and paid version will actually save money. For example, a large amount of a paid employee’s time may be spent sending receipts and thank you messages, taking donations and promoting events, as well as other admin tasks. Yet, free demos allow them to make use of features that automate many of these tasks, or at least reduce the time they take. This means they can concentrate on other tasks. The trial period can be an opportunity to learn about the software’s scalability, user interface, and how it works with other tools, such as email marketing platforms or social media. All of this can amplify their fundraising reach.

A free demo allows organizations to assess whether the software’s features align with their unique set of fundraising goals. For example, if a nonprofit is focusing on expanding its outreach globally, it might benefit from multi-currency and multilingual support. However, a solely community-based organization would want to prioritize local event management tools instead.

Key Features to Explore in a Free Trial

When testing out software, try to prioritize the key features that will have the biggest impact on your nonprofit's fundraising effectiveness. These may be features that streamline operations, enhance donor communication, and ensure your campaigns reach their full potential.

During the demo, look at how the software enables segmentation to help achieve personalized communication, acknowledges specific donor milestones, and automates follow-ups. If you need effective donor management tools, the software should provide a complete profile of your donors, helping you to build stronger relationships through customized outreach and acknowledgment strategies.

The ability to create, launch, and manage fundraising campaigns efficiently is also something you might need. Explore how the software supports different types of campaigns, from annual drives to peer-to-peer fundraising efforts. By looking at features, such as customizable donation pages, social media integration, and event management capabilities, you can determine whether this will save time and money. You can test how the platform makes it possible to set campaign goals, track progress in real-time, and engage with participants and supporters through integrated communication tools.

Another important feature is payment processing. This should provide a seamless and secure process for donors. Ideally, there should be a balance between providing donors with a smooth donation experience while ensuring their data is protected. During the demo, check that your preferred payment options are supported. This could include credit cards, PayPal, and direct bank transfers. The more options you have available, the more convenient it will be for donors. It’s particularly important that the process of setting up and managing payment gateways is straightforward. This reduces the need for hiring someone new. You should also be aware of any associated fees, and weigh these against the potential savings.

Many nonprofits consider reporting and analytics tools important for transforming raw data into actionable insights. When using the demo, examining its ability to create in-depth reports on donation trends, campaign performance, donor engagement, and much more will help to show how useful it will be in understanding what is effective and which strategies need adapting. Customizable dashboards and the ability to track key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential features if you want to measure donor motivation and make data-driven decisions based on a variety of factors.

Thanks to modern technology, your fundraising software will likely perform better alongside other tools. During this free trial, you can assess the platform's integration capabilities with other tools and systems your nonprofit uses. For example, how does it work with customer relation management (CRM) software, email marketing platforms, social media, and accounting software? A seamless integration will help data flow between systems, streamline workflows, and enhance efficiency. All of this helps to ensure that more of the funds raised go to the nonprofit’s mission rather than being spent on performing unnecessary tasks. During the demo, you might want to ask about any available integrations, the process for setting them up, and how the software handles data synchronization.

Finally, the user experience (UX) is another essential feature. Software that is intuitive for staff and donors reduces the learning curve and makes navigating the site easier. For the benefit of staff, look for a clean interface, logical organization of features, and access to support and training resources. For donors, the donation process should be straightforward, with clear calls to action, mobile responsiveness, and minimal steps to complete a donation. Positive user experiences increase the chances of repeat donations and donors spreading the word for you.

Top Providers Offering Free Fundraising Software Demos

With so many options available, free demos offer invaluable insights into how different solutions can meet your organization's specific needs. However, in an effort to try them all, it’s easy to get sidetracked and spend more time than you need to. The goal should be to save on time and other resources. With this in mind, here's an overview of top providers offering free software demos, and why their offerings are relevant to fundraising efforts.

Paybee stands out for its donor-centric approach. By recognizing the importance of minimizing overheads, Paybee offers a unique feature where donors have the option to cover all platform-related fees for a donation. This boosts the funds that go directly to your cause, and also forms a stronger connection with donors by giving them the chance to further support your organization. With upgraded plans available for fundraising events, Paybee provides a flexible platform that is suitable for organizations looking to improve their digital and event-based fundraising strategies.

Donorbox is another multi-purpose donation processing and fundraising platform designed to streamline the donation experience. Its versatility suits organizations of all sizes. The platform simplifies the donation process, making it easier for donors to contribute and for nonprofits to manage those contributions effectively. Features such as recurring donations, customizable donation forms, and multi-currency support cater to a wide range of fundraising needs, making it an essential tool for nonprofits looking to increase their fundraising efforts both locally and globally.

If you’re looking for user-friendliness, Givebutter provides a range of fundraising tools that cater to the modern donor. These include peer-to-peer fundraising, event ticketing and supporter engagement. Givebutter’s platform is designed to make it easier for the organization and its donors to use. This approach reduces the technical barriers associated with online fundraising, enabling nonprofits to launch campaigns quickly and efficiently, while offering donors a seamless giving experience. Their emphasis on user experience contributes to the accessibility of digital fundraising.

Sustain Software also offers a free demo. This software focuses on the important aspect of donor management, showing an understanding that the strength of any successful fundraising effort is in the relationship with its donors. Sustain Software provides tools for tracking donor engagement, managing donations, and analyzing donor data. This is crucial for nonprofits who want to build lasting relationships with their supporters, tailor their fundraising strategies based on actionable insights, and create long-term growth.

For larger organizations with more advanced fundraising and donor management needs, Blackbaud's Raiser's Edge NXT provides an advanced solution. Its advanced features cater to the varied demands of larger nonprofits, enabling them to manage extensive donor databases, complex campaigns, and detailed reporting, all from a single platform. The platform’s strength makes it a great choice for organizations looking to make use of technology to create a great fundraising impact.

Alternatively, Give Lively takes a unique approach to free fundraising solutions, offering a range of tools designed specifically for nonprofits. One thing that sets Give Lively apart is its commitment to providing these solutions at no cost to the nonprofit, focusing instead on the power of technology to drive social good. With features such as text-to-donate, customizable fundraising pages, and peer-to-peer campaigns, Give Lively enables organizations to access a wide range of fundraising tools without incurring additional expenses. This approach makes it possible for new and smaller nonprofits to use digital tools in their fundraising efforts.

How a Nonprofit Can Use a Free Demo To Maximize Events and Much More

If you want to make sure your nonprofit gets the most value from a free demo when evaluating different fundraising software, you should plan ahead. A strategic approach ensures that the chosen platform matches your organization's specific needs and can be effectively managed by all users.

Before diving into a demo, start by identifying what you need from fundraising software, creating a checklist of essential features in order of preference. This may include donor management, campaign tracking, payment processing capabilities, and reporting tools. You can also consider any unique requirements your nonprofit may have. For example, do you need support for multiple languages or currencies? Or maybe you need to integrate it with existing tools or have specific data security standards.

Alongside your checklist, write a list of questions for the demo provider. These questions could cover topics such as the availability of technical support, any specific training resources you require, the scalability of the software, and details about subscription plans or additional fees. Being prepared preparation ensures you have all the necessary information during the demo to make an informed decision.

Implementing new fundraising software will affect various parts of your organization, including the finance department and marketing team. To check the software meets the needs of these different users, involve at least one person from each relevant department in the demo process. The inclusive approach allows team members to assess the software's usability and functionality from their unique perspectives, and share their own insights.

This collaborative evaluation process helps to find solutions that are the best fit for your nonprofit. It also helps employees to manage the transition to the new system. By preparing and actively involving your team, you can select a fundraising software that meets your current needs and supports your organization's growth and success in the long term. 

Transitioning From Demo to Full Use

Transitioning from a free demo to the full version of a fundraising software is an important step for nonprofit organizations. After deciding to upgrade to the paid software, there are several steps to take.

Involve the whole team in sharing experiences of using the demo. This will help to assess how well the software met their collective checklist of features and if all their questions have been answered. Consider how straightforward it was for everyone to use, and its overall potential for improving fundraising efforts. It’s also important to listen to any concerns that came up during this trial. All of this will confirm how suitable the software is for meeting your organization's needs.

When you've decided to move forward with a software, it's time to negotiate terms. This includes pricing, contract length, and any customization or additional services you may need. As a nonprofit, you should be clear about your budget and specific needs. Many providers are open to reaching an agreement that benefits the nonprofit as well as themselves. Don't be afraid to ask for discounts or special nonprofit pricing that isn’t publicly advertised. The worst they can say is no.

One important part of changing to full use is understanding the level of support included. If your staff aren’t IT experts, you may need more technical support and training resources,. Or if the software is relatively new, onboarding assistance can help your team adapt to using it. By being clear on what support is included in your plan and possible additional costs, you can budget for these.

The next step is to develop a detailed plan for implementing the software in day-to-day activities. This is likely to include training for team members, data migration strategies, and a timeline for rollout. A phased approach that begins by using the main features first will ease everyone into the changes.

If the software includes any training sessions, tutorials, and documentation for using the advanced features, make use of these. If you encourage your team to take part in these learning opportunities, they will feel more confident using the software.

FAQs on Free Fundraising Software Demos

  • What should I look for during a free demo?

Your main focus should be on the software's ease of use, donor information management, and payment processing. The reporting and analytics features will provide these insights. The level of customer support provided and how the software works with other tools you currently use, are important too. So is the software’s ability to meet your nonprofit's specific needs and objectives.

  • How long do free demos typically last?

The trial period of free demos varies depending on the software provider. Generally, it ranges between a few days and a couple of weeks. Some providers may only offer a guided demo that lasts for an hour or two, where a representative guides you through the main features. Others offer a trial period with access to the software for longer, such as 14 to 30 days, allowing you to explore it at your own pace.

  • Can I request specific features to be demonstrated?

Yes, you can ask for specific features to be demonstrated during a free demo. It will benefit your nonprofit if you explain your particular needs and interests to the provider. They may be able to tailor the demo to highlight the feature most relevant to your fundraising goals and operational requirements. By doing this, you gain a better understanding of how the software can overcome specific challenges.

  • What happens if I decide not to proceed after the demo?

If you decide not to sign up after the demo, there are no obligations to continue with the software. The provider may ask you to provide feedback to explain why you chose not to go ahead. This helps them improve their software, especially if enough organizations state similar reasons. Then, you’re free to keep exploring other software options that better suit your organization's needs. The insights gained from the demo can help to make your next choice.

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