This guest post is brought to you by the amazing team at OneCause. Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for OneCause. Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.
At OneCause, our expertise is in nonprofit fundraising, and today fundraising means finding the best tech solutions.
Nonprofits, schools, community groups, and all kinds of other organizations need to raise support at the ground level. Building a comprehensive fundraising tech stack is easier than ever thanks to the diverse range of digital fundraising solutions on the market. This new level of flexibility and freedom of choice can seriously empower organizations that are ready to update their toolkits and raise more funds!
Just look at the end of the year fundraising season. Every year nonprofits rush to prepare themselves for this crucial period, but investing time in building out a comprehensive tech stack ahead of time can streamline your entire fundraising process from top to bottom.
There are three core categories of nonprofit tech tools that organizations should focus on when adding to their digital toolkits:
- CRM or other database
- Fundraising software
- Marketing and web tools
Within each of these categories you’ll find a wide variety of other tools, platforms, and systems designed to address specific needs. Let’s walk through some of the most essential tools we recommend for tech-savvy nonprofits:
CRM or Other Database
A nonprofit’s CRM is probably the most important tech investment it can make. To put it another way, a donor database, or CRM, is the foundation that should support the rest of the nonprofit’s toolkit and technology strategies.
Your database should serve as a central location for all of the donor data, donation records, marketing engagement, and other metrics your campaigns generate. There are tons of options on the market, from lightweight database tools for small nonprofits, to more heavy-duty standalone software, to ultra-flexible cloud-based CRM platforms.
Whichever type of CRM is best suited to your nonprofit, just make sure it allows you to customize your donor profiles and focus on relationships, not just donation data.
Customization is key. Salesforce has quickly become one of the most popular database platforms for nonprofits because of its highly customizable structure. Check out Re:Charity’s top Salesforce apps for nonprofits for an idea of what we mean.
Additional Tools within Your CRM
Your organization’s database platform will most likely include at least a few additional built-in tools, especially if it’s designed specifically for nonprofits. App and plugin-based platforms might not contain as many extra tools right out of the box, but they can always be customized.
Some of the most useful tools to look for include project management or workflow systems, accounting capabilities, and other web-based tools, like email tracking and management.
Having all your tools in one place, whether through built-in features, apps, or software integrations, goes a long way to streamline your efforts down the line!
With a sturdy, customizable CRM platform as your base, it’s time to begin building our your tech stack! Fundraising software is essential for any nonprofit today, so we’ve picked some of the most important and effective tools that you should be using:
Event Planning Software
Look for planning tools that double as event fundraising software. The right tools should help you plan your event from start to finish and host your online marketing materials, event websites, and registration forms.
Donation Processing Tools
Every nonprofit needs online donation processing tools. Other software you use might offer online donation features, or you might use a standalone service to host your donation pages. Either way, make sure you have an easy way to collect all the data you generate in addition to the donations themselves. This should preferably be done via a direct integration with your CRM platform.
Fill out your toolkit with event-specific fundraising software and platforms, too. Text-to-give software and auction management tools are great examples. Extra tools like these can support all kinds of events that you might host going forward. Mobile bidding tools, for instance, are a perfect addition to golf tournament fundraisers.
Matching Gift Database
One of the more overlooked nonprofit tech resources, matching gift databases and services can significantly boost the returns of all your other campaigns. Double the Donation reports that 1 in 3 donors say they’d give a larger gift if they knew it would be matched by their employer, so invest in tools that make it easier to spread the word.
Online Fundraising Platform
Selling merchandise or having a year-round online fundraising site is a must have in today’s fundraising world. If hosting your own eCommerce site isn’t in the cards just yet, explore your other online options. Custom merchandise platforms make it easy to sell t-shirts and other branded items through no-risk crowdfunding style campaigns.
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Software
Peer-to-peer fundraising has quickly become a dominant technique in many nonprofit spaces because it engages large segments of your base while also expanding your audience. If you regularly host this type of campaign, investing in dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising software is a smart move.
Marketing and Web Tools
Raising awareness and visibility of your mission is an essential part of nonprofit work today. Smart marketing software and web-based tools can take your fundraising efforts to the next level. Using smarter tools and strategies during your year-end giving campaigns, for example, will help you more effectively target audiences all year long by giving you new insights.
Email Management and Marketing Tools
Email remains one of the most effective and direct ways to reach your supporters online. Use email marketing software to set up automated campaigns, and explore ways to boost their impact. Perfectly designed signature banners from Sigstr are a great way to start! Just make sure your email tools properly record and report your engagement data.
Your organization’s content manager system, more generally referred to as a website builder (like WordPress or Squarespace), is a central tool for your online marketing efforts. Focus energy on optimizing every part of your website, and explore options for boosting your SEO marketing strategies on your blog posts, too.
This tech tool is free and invaluable. Take the time to set up Google Analytics on your website and familiarize your team with how it works. Track the performance of your campaigns and measure the traffic flows to and around your site, easily identifying problem areas that need more attention. Measuring performance is the single best way to better target your marketing efforts going forward.
Nonprofit fundraising requires a specific set of tools, and many organizations are chronically underequipped. Building out your tech stack is always a smart move for organizations of any size, and more cost-effective solutions are constantly being developed.
Take the time to periodically review your current tech infrastructure to identify areas that could use a little improvement, then start exploring your options!