How to choose donor management software

Most nonprofits rely on donor management software to track donors and other constituents, since it streamlines the data collection process. Donor management software is crucial for nonprofits as it improves efficiency, brings in more funds and frees up employees' time for other matters, according to Higher Pixels. Most importantly, donor management maintains relationships, which lie at the heart of a successful nonprofit organization.

Creating a selection team will support the evaluation phase
There are various reasons to look into donor database software options. Whether your organization has outgrown its current software or wants to eliminate old-fashioned paper processes, organizations may want to look into new software programs. Additionally, if you're considering purchasing donor management software for the first time, it's not a decision to make lightly.

Idealware recommends gathering employees from several departments to evaluate the current donor management systems. If any one employee uses the management program, he or she should be included in the conversation. These individuals may focus on direct mail, grants, online marketing and fundraising, and they should assess what is working and what isn't. Also, requesting advice from other nonprofit organizations can be beneficial as well.

Defining goals and objectives informs the decision-making process
After holding this collaborative discussion, nonprofits need to also determine their current goals and objectives as well as those they will have five to 10 years down the line. The donor management system should be able to support growth and changes over the years.

If a nonprofit doesn't know where it's headed, how can it expect to achieve its mission? Donor management software can help organizations make their vision a reality. With all of these steps, organizations will have a clear idea of their needs. This clarity will feed into a possible request for proposal. Specific requests with a list of mandatory items will more likely result in a response from a vendor.

Balancing budget constraints with needs is crucial
Just like going grocery shopping, if nonprofits shop with a list of nonnegotiables on hand, they can avoid purchasing unnecessary applications, while sticking to their budget and maintaining focus. Additionally, Robert L. Weiner Consulting, Strategic Technology Advisors to Nonprofits and Educational Institutions, suggests identifying the deal breakers on the list. Deal breakers are items an organization can't live without.

While price is important, it may benefit organizations over the long haul to invest in a more costly software program that better meets their needs, meshes with current resources and offers the best bang for their buck, suggests Idealware. The software program will offer nonprofits a more efficient way of managing solicitations and the ability to track effectiveness of development strategies. All of these benefits will make the cost worth it. However, what it typically comes down to is return on investment.

Fully integrated suites offer nonprofits an array of options
Nonprofits may want to look into a fully integrated suite. These options come with a variety of benefits, including a consistent interface and smooth upgrades, according to Idealware. One of those applications is constituent relationship management. This component includes information on all constituents, such as demographics, membership levels, membership directories, volunteering and communication. Other features that nonprofits may need in their software are email marketing, ticketing and membership management, among others.

Since it's hard for people to embrace change, it's vital for the software to be user friendly. With a consistent interface and quick processing capabilities, employees will be able to execute strategies with more efficiency.