How to Buy Fundraising Software - Buying Fundraising Software for Your Fundraiser

How to Buy Fundraising Software - Buying Fundraising Software for Your Fundraiser

In order to successfully compete in today’s nonprofit sector, you need to be doing a lot more than the old traditional methods of fundraising. While still viable, outdated methods such as direct mail campaigns, face-to-face solicitations, telemarketing, and hosting events can only reach a small audience and require a lot of investment in time, money and manpower. These forms of fundraising can be massive burden to smaller charities with limited support staff and meager resources.

But with many of the tools available today, not only can small organizations compete and even thrive using these tools, they can do it extremely cost effectively. It’s often possible for one person to start a charity right from their own home with an online platform like Paybee and others, and have a sophisticated array of tools that integrate the latest in digital technology, including crowdfunding platforms, peer-to-peer fundraising solutions, and data analytics software.

These tools not only make the donation processes a lot easier, they also provide nonprofits with valuable insights into donor behavior, allowing you to better target specific trends or preferences your supporters and better understand where they are on the donor cultivation cycle. Some platforms either come with or allow the integration of sophisticated CRM systems and automation tools to further streamline your nonprofit's operations, allowing you more efficient donor management and engagement.

Many platforms also allow you to seamlessly integrate with many different social media platforms to further your reach even more, while engaging your supporters in channels where they feel most comfortable and in formats they prefer to consume their content. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram allow charities to instantly reach a global audience and connect with potential supporters like never before. And it’s never been easier to create many types of content that can easily be shared and promoted across many networks all from one easy to use dashboard.

Throw into the mix mobile technologies and any charity can instantly reach a global audience through the use of online websites, leaving behind the old boundaries and freeing up resources that can now be used to further your nonprofit’s mission. Mobile giving and text-to-donate campaigns further simplify the donation process, making it possible for supporters to contribute with just a few clicks on their smartphones or any device connected to the internet.

But to use all of these advantages in a way that’s beneficial to your mission and not overwhelming means taking advantage of online nonprofit software where everything is within reach for you and your teams. These platforms automate many of the processes of running your charity as well as offering features and tools to make it more profitable than it could ever be otherwise. Whether you’re looking for sports team fundraising platforms or you’re running a mental health charity, fundraising software is the most important key to your organization’s success.

Understanding Your Fundraising Solution Needs

When it comes to deciding what fundraising software to acquire, you need to be extremely clear on your organization’s current operations, goals, and challenges to be sure what you chose will not only assist you today, but allow your charity to grow in the future as well.

You should begin with evaluating your existing fundraising strategies to identify what's working and where there are gaps or inefficiencies that new software could address. Perhaps you run a lot of live auction events and know that a hybrid fundraising approach of both live streaming and online bidding could potentially increase your fundraiser's revenue. Or you don’t have a way to offer online fundraising tools like recurring donations, or you need finding grants and grant management options to be included.

It’s really best practice to include your team and board when thinking about all of the possibilities and shortcoming of the management of your organization as it is today. Gather insights from those individuals who will actually be using the software directly as they can provide valuable feedback on the tools that would most benefit their own work, whether that's automation tools, CRM capabilities, or reporting and analytics.

Next, think about the future growth of your organization. How large do you hope to be next year, in five years and so on. Your ideal fundraising software should not only meet your current needs but also have the scalability to support your charity as it grows. Look for flexible platforms that offer additional capabilities or services that can be added as needed and can integrate with different software for things like nonprofit accounting or content management systems.

Money and budget are always an important factor whenever you make an investment into your organization. All software comes with cost in one form or another and always needs to be considered. These can include setup fees, monthly or annual subscription costs, time to learn and train staff, and any additional charges for support or extra tools you may require. All of this can add up quickly, but having a strict budget can help you narrow down the best software on a cost analyst basis. Just remember, the most expensive option isn't always the best fit for every organization. And here at Paybee, we have simple, clear options for every budget. We even offer free tools for you to use with no obligation.

The last thing to look for is how easy is the software to use for you, your team and your donors. Your chosen platform should be intuitive and easy to use for anyone using or managing the software. The last thing you want is a software that requires a steep learning curve and takes a ton of time to train each new team member on. Nor would you want to offer your donors pages that are so complicated, they can’t even see the donate button or understand how to actually make a donation to your charity!

One of the best to be sure you're securing the right solution is to really narrow down what you actually need and what you'll use as well as a realistic budget. Once you've narrowed down a few affordable options, use there demonstration account yourself so you really understand its capabilities and how user friendly it is. If you understand basic software and you try a company’s software and are completely lost, chances are your team will be as well. Trying a demonstration account is the absolute best way to understand exactly what you’re getting, and how easy it’ll be for everyone to use it. That’s why we offer a free demonstration account here, because we know we have the most powerful and easy to use nonprofit fundraising software on the internet today. And once you try it out for yourself, we know you’ll become a long term client.

Buying Fundraising Software - Evaluating Fundraising Software Options

Now that you understand your organization’s needs when it comes to fundraising software, it’s time to decide what types of feature combinations will best suite them while taking all the different pricing strategies into account. It’s be a balance between functionality and price in the hopes of getting the most bang for your buck. Here's a breakdown of common feature combinations and the costs associated with them:

Fundraising Platform Feature Combinations

  1. Donation Processing and Management: Being a charity, donation processing and management are obviously one of the most important aspects of any software solution. Look for software that offers a streamlined donation process, supports multiple payment methods, and provides robust donation management tools for tracking, reporting and building a donor database. It also helps to have either accounting software capabilities or at least the option to seamlessly integrate your current software.
  2. CRM Integration: Every successful charity will tell you their success relies a lot on their relationships with their donors and supporters. Customer relationship management (CRM) systems can enhance donor management as they can provide detailed insights into your donor’s behavior, preferences, and engagement history as far as giving and event attendence. Again, while some platforms will not offer their own solutions, the ability to be able to integrate with a CRM should be high on your list of features.
  3. Event Management: If your charity frequently hosts fundraising events, consider software that includes event management features such as online registration, ticket sales, attendee tracking, and promotional tools. Some solutions like Paybee also have a host of other software options so you can host different types of auctions both on and off line. These additional abilities are included in our low monthly rates, and can boost your donations considerably.
  4. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Some software solutions offer tools for peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, which means your supporters can set up their own donation pages and collect donations from their family and friends on your charity’s behalf. Each supporter gets their very own dashboard portal to your system so they can set up everything on their own, greatly decreasing staff involvement while adding greatly to the overall success of your events. They can even add matching fundraising or matching gift capabilities to make their efforts even more substantial.
  5. Email Marketing and Communication Tools: Communication with your donors is key to any fundraising oppertunities, so look for solutions that offer some sort of email marketing capabilities that allow you to do things like automatically send receipts for donations as well as thank you letters to each donor when they donate. Some additional features to look for include segmentation, personalized messaging, and analytics. The platform should also have a robust communication application for internal messages and ways to get communications to your staff and team easily. At Paybee, we even offer solutions that automate many types of communication, like sending a message when tasks are completed, or updating everyone of an event change, all on autopilot! Some additional features to look for include segmentation, personalized messaging, and analytics.
  6. Reporting and Analytics: Using data to grow your organization is a powerful tool. So including comprehensive reporting and analytics tools in your choice of software is crucial for measuring the success of your fundraising efforts and making data-driven decisions. This can include donor acquisition and retention rates, your overall fundraising campaign performance, and financial reporting from costs to income. When using data to evaluate your decisions, there’s no guessing and probability of making profitable decisions can be the difference between holding a successful campaign and one that falls flat on its face.

Pricing Models Used to Buy Fundraising Software 

When nonprofit organizations are looking to purchase fundraising software, cost is always a major factor. Most donation tools are monthly subscriptions or recurring fees, so when you're buying fundraising software, you really need to compare the pricing models of the vendors that you choose to partner with carefully.

  1. Subscription-Based: Most fundraising software providers charge a monthly or annual subscription fee for using their software and the amounts they charge are often based on the number of users, the volume of donations processed, or the level of capabilities accessed. Be sure if there are ‘tiers’ and increased costs for additional requirements before signing up as they can quickly get expensive.
  2. Per-Transaction Fees: Some platforms charge a fee for each donation processed rather than a monthly flat fee. In fact, even most flat fee platforms still add additional charges for payment processing, so in the end, this may be a better option. It is also possibly more cost effective for smaller charities that don’t get a lot of donations as you are often free to use the platform and tools for free. Just remember though, as your transaction volume increases, so will your fees. To be sure, you’ll need to do a little math to see if this cost model work s best for your specific organization.
  3. Freemium Models: A freemium model offers basic features for free, with advanced fundraising tools and capabilities available for a fee. At Paybee, we have something similar and offer free accounts for smaller organizations, yet as you grow and need additional tools, you able to step up and pay by month while never needing to move off of your fundraising platform because you’ve outgrown it. Models like this can offer scalability and allow you to grow with no restrictions to the power of the software.
  4. Custom Pricing: This option is definitely for large operations or foundations that need a lot of customization, tools and add-ons not normally found in most standard platforms. Obviously this will be the most expensive option, but it allows your organization to get the software solutions they need specifically tailored for their needs.

Although this may seem a bit complicated, all that’s really needed is to weigh the benefits of different feature combinations against the cost implications of various cost  models. Just be sure to think about the future and don’t lock yourself into a platform that can’t grow with your organization. We also suggest requesting demos and trials as they can also help you assess the software's usability and effectiveness before making a final commitment.

Essential Features of Fundraising Platforms and Software to Get

When evaluating fundraising software, it's crucial to focus on both the critical capabilities that directly support your fundraising efforts and the integration capabilities that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your operations. Here are many of the essential features to be aware of, along with the value of each of the integration capabilities. Which ones you decide to include will depend on your specific charity's needs.

One of the most essential features for any charity is the ability to take donations. This doesn’t simply mean having a PayPal donate button, but rather a seamless and secure way of accepting many forms of payment options as well as currencies, from credit cards to online digital wallets like PayPal and Wise, the more options you can offer, the more chances you have at receiving those donations!

But that also means your supporters will need to easily find your options. Finding a software that includes customizable donation forms that you can brand and layout so everything is clear and it's easy to make a gift is another way to help increase your income. Your buttons and options should stand out and it should be clear that your supporters are on the correct page to support your organization.

Once you have a way for people to donate, it’s time to start fundraising. Any software must include event management software that you can use for a multitude of different types of events and opportunities for giving. These should include capabilities for event registration, ticketing, and attendee tracking as well as offer options like auctions, peer to peer fundraising options, streaming of live events and other types of fundraising capabilities that can all be used from any platform or app.

Since we started and built PayBee from the ground up specifically for nonprofits, our software has a host of event management tools that can boost any event and make managing them so much easier. From silent auctions to hybrid event software that connects your supporters both online and off, we can do so much for your charity. Just take a look at our demo here, we know you’ll be impressed!

Built-in tools for email marketing and communicating with both your donor base as well as your own team should all be included in your platforms software. And these options should also have the ability to be completely automated so you can send out a thank you for your donation letter as soon as a donation is made, as well as sending an automated alert to your corporate staff so they can contact your donor immediately.

Other communication tools should include automated email marketing campaigns that not only engagement your donors, but can automatically follow up with them about changes to events, or important updates about your charity. These types of options not only help build your charity, they also make it much easier to manage and more time efficient.

Then there’s social media integration in order to reach your supporters on a global scale. Your chosen software solution should easily integrate accounts like Facebook, Twitter (X), Instagram and YouTube to name a few. Creating and sharing content all from one easy to use platform for all your channels can not just save you and your team a huge amount of time, but can keep your messaging cohesive across all your accounts at once.

With all of these options, the one that can really separate your charity from the rest as far as a business is a good CRM system. Effective management capabilities of your donors is key to building and maintaining meaningful relationships. A good CRM within your fundraising software should allow you to track donor interactions, preferences, and history to tailor your outreach and communications.

These are just a few of the essentials and others will really depend on what specific solutions your organization needs. Each charity is different, so it really depends on how you fundraise and you budget for the software as far as how to buy the right solution. But making sure your chosen software solution includes these basic essentials will go a long way to making your nonprofit profitable.

Impact of Technology on Online Fundraising Strategies

The impact of technology on fundraising strategies cannot be understated as it has transformed the entire nonprofit sector and has given even the smallest of charities the ability to compete on a global scale and engage with donors and mobilize resources in ways that were only a short time ago not even possible.

Online giving platforms and crowdfunding websites have also impacted the sector and even individuals and small groups are now able to reach potential supporters worldwide. Coupled with social media and other online platforms and the entire web of the nonprofit sector now seems to exist in the cloud.

Things have seriously changed and they’ll continue to change. But that also means you need to seriously incorporate as much technology into your organization as possible just to remain competitive. Data analytics and artificial intelligence are continuing to revolutionize donor engagement strategies and management, and not taking advantage of these tools will severely negatively impact your charity.

Automation tools have also streamlined administrative tasks related to fundraising, such as donation processing and communications, enabling organizations to focus more on strategy and less on operational logistics.

In addition, mobile technology has contributed to the rise of mobile giving and payment solutions like our PayBee app, making it convenient for donors to give anytime and anywhere there’s an internet connection with just a few clicks. This ease of use has has had a positive increase in spontaneous and impulse giving, particularly during times of crisis or when campaigns effectively capture your supporter’s attention.

Technology has significantly impacted the entire nonprofit sector by expanding their reach, improving efficiency in many areas of your organization, and simplifying the giving process with multiple types of payment processing. And this is just the beginning. It’s an exciting time to be a nonprofit, and only time will tell how all of this technology will evolve and how it’ll impact the sector as a whole.

Implementing Fundraising Software: Steps for Fundraiser Success

Once you have your new shiny fundraising program solution up and running, it’s time to make it your own and really dig into it. There are a few key phases to make sure you have a smooth transition and everyone is on the same page within your organization.

The first thing you’ll want to do is to make it your own. This includes adding your charity’s logo, tweaking the colors of your software to align with your own branding, and start setting up any features or tools that you’ll be using on a regular basis.

Following this initial setup, further customization is necessary in order to tailor the software to your organization’s unique processes, workflows, and reporting requirements of the organization. This might involve customizing donor profiles, fundraising campaigns, and communication templates to align with your organizational strategies and goals.

Once your basic configuration is complete, it’s time to get started integrating with any previously existing systems such as CRM or email marketing tools that you’ll want to use. This may require a little work and this is when your chosen company’s support may be useful. Ideally your platform has a tech guide or resources for the technical aspects of integrating apps and software into its system. If not, it may be necessary to contact support or hire a specialist to set everything up for you depending on your technological expertise.

Training represents another crucial phase, where your team and volunteers are educated on how to use the software effectively or how to get help if necessary. Unless you are technically inclined or a natural teacher, it may be best to pass the training onto a staff member who is. In-depth training ensures that everyone understands the functionalities and can leverage the software to its full potential.

Best practices during these phases include involving as many people as possible from all operational aspects of your charity to be sure your software meets everyone’s organizational needs. Additionally, choosing a software vendor that offers excellent support options and training resources can help with a smoother transition.

Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help address any challenges and ensure continuous improvement. Ultimately, how well your organization uses your new will depend on how well you communicate its potential benefits and how well people feel using it. Once everyone gets familiar with the new system, the benefits will start to become noticeable both in time savings and your increased fundraising capabilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I be sure I am getting the best software?

One of the best places to start is to look at user ratings on places like G2 Crowd and Capterra which both specialize in tech reviews from customers. Once you see how customers feel if they received a high or low rating, it’s best to sign up for the company's demo and actually experience the software for yourself to see how robust and user friendly it is.

How does fundraising software help donors make a donation?

By taking advantage of mobile technology combined with multiple payment gateways, donors can make donations far easier than ever before. This allows them to support your fundraising efforts in a friction free environment that makes it easier then ever for them to support your cause.

What donor management features are most helpful to fundraise?

When buying software, the ability to create detailed donor profiles that capture not just contact information but also donation history, communication preferences, engagement history, and personal notes on each individual are extremely beneficial. Add to that the ability to segment donors based on various criteria (such as donation size, frequency, interests, and engagement level) enables targeted communications and campaigns, enhancing donor retention and increasing donations making your software an extremely power solution indeed.

Is crowdfunding an option for a software solution?

When you’re looking to buy fundraising solutions it’s important to understand they are normally stand alone solutions. Meaning, there is no built in traffic like other crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe or Kickstarter. This is why options like social media integration is so important when deciding on which platform to invest in.

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Bill Allen

Bill Allen is an expat that has been travelling the world for the past 25 years. He received his MA in writing in New York too long ago to remember, but has been writing on all sorts of subjects far varied publications ever since. When he isn't writing he enjoys meditating and working on his own website, UpscaleDrinks.com. Feel free to connect with him any time.