Stop, Look, and Listen – How to Invest Wisely in Fundraising Technology

Fundraising tools can greatly streamline your nonprofit operations and help you increase revenue. Most tools support a part of the fundraising funnel—organizing donor information, managing events, improving email engagement, and collecting donations. Some larger tools bundle and integrate these and other features.

Nonprofit Tech Is Accelerating

While technology is an accepted cost of doing business in the private sector, nonprofits are known for keeping outdated systems and software because of tight budgets and core values that promote frugality and thrift. However, it’s worth analyzing your needs and the technology solutions on the market. A few well-chosen software tools or upgrades can help your nonprofit thrive.

Preparing a Discussion About Technology

The following are some key points and trends in fundraising that you can address when discussing technology investments with your stakeholders:

  • Expanded visibility for current and potential donors
  • Recurring giving options
  • Personalized communications
  • Improved website function
  • More reliance on insights from data
  • Ad hoc partnerships with other nonprofits, when mutually beneficial

It also helps to classify areas in which updated technology can positively impact fundraising efforts, such as website traffic analysis, advertising, and email and social media engagement.

Internal Questions to Ask

Talk to your fundraising leadership and staff about the work their teams do and their challenges. Ask them to focus on functions, not technology—the conversation will naturally bring up the fundraising tools they currently use.

The following are potential topics of discussion:

  • Donors’ experiences with our web presence and email campaigns
  • Ability to work on short notice to build an impactful campaign
  • Tool and system integration
  • Mobile-friendly web experiences and challenges
  • Potential to automate tasks that are currently manual and labor intensive
  • Safeguards with donor information
  • Trends in online fundraising
  • User-unfriendly tools that freeze, crash, are difficult to navigate, etc.
  • Regular team discussions around fundraising technology

By analyzing feedback from these discussions, you can identify the most pressing and long-term needs. Schedule sessions with IT, fundraising, and other leaders as needed, and then create a tech-buying committee.

External Questions to Ask

Once you have identified the most promising tools, try them out using free trials. As you test, consider ramp-up time before your team can start using it, base price per user and add-ons that increase cost, end-user support from the vendor, and the overall advancements the tool can provide your fundraising campaigns.

Nonprofits of any size can benefit from fundraising tools that manage or track donors, prospects, volunteers, and contacts. Look for robust segmentation, reporting, and tracking features. Include software-as-a-service offerings; SaaS takes a major load off a small IT group. And look for a strong, user-friendly payment processing service.

If your nonprofit needs upgrades to its fundraising tools, our Nonprofit Group can help you make valuable investments.