We all know it’s true: technology is becoming more vital with each passing day.
As useful (and addictive) as technology can be, many nonprofits still don’t know how to reap the full benefits of their various software platforms.
Between donation tools, donor or member management software, online community platforms, and other technological tools, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with all the capabilities and forget to make the most of these amazing solutions.
That’s why we’ve put together a refresher course on some of the greatest advantages of using technology as part of your nonprofit fundraising strategy. We’ll discuss the following ways that the right software can boost your fundraising power:
- 1. CRM software centralizes donor management efforts.
- 2. Customizable platforms enable your nonprofit to build unique solutions.
- 3. Diverse fundraising software helps you leverage more donation channels.
- 4. Online community and marketing tools open up communications with your supporters.
- 5. Software integrations streamline your operations.
Technology is evolving by the minute, so let’s not waste time!
1. CRM Software Centralizes Donor Management Efforts
One of the most comprehensive types of nonprofit technology, constituent relationship management (CRM) software is practically a necessity for managing your organization in today’s world.
If you’re unfamiliar with what these tools can do, let’s recap the basic features of your standard CRM software:
- Constituent profiles portray full pictures of your donors, members, volunteers, and other supporters. You’ll have access to contact information, gift records, relationships, and virtually any other data you choose to collect in one easily accessible location.
- Fundraising campaign management tools allow you to create and track campaigns, accept online donations, and manage fundraising events. You’ll also be able to use your CRM to track annual giving, major giving, matching gifts, and other donation types!
- Multichannel marketing tools enable simple communication and campaign promotion via email, direct mail, content management, and social media. While you can integrate dedicated marketing software, most CRMs come with built-in tools to get the word out to your supporters.
The CRM’s greatest strength is that it merges a variety of different fundraising and donor management functions into one all-encompassing platform.
While your CRM may not necessarily take away the need for additional fundraising software, the most robust constituent management tools should give you insight into most areas of your organization. Areas not covered by your CRM can be filled in with integrated data from your online community, marketing software, and other technology. With all of your data in one place, your nonprofit will be able to streamline your operations and holistically manage your efforts.
And remember: both large and small nonprofits can take advantage of CRMs! Whether you need a lightweight platform that gives you more insight into your donors than an Excel spreadsheet, or if you truly need an end-to-end tool to centralize complex operations, the right CRM can be your organization’s new best friend.
Need to implement an enterprise-level CRM solution? The nonprofit tech consultants at DNL OmniMedia have got you covered with this guide to Blackbaud CRM, one of the most robust CRM software choices on the market.
2. Customizable Platforms Enable Your Nonprofit to Build Unique Solutions
As technology becomes more advanced, so do nonprofit strategies. Luckily, the two can go hand in hand when you utilize software that’s customizable and scalable.
Many different types of software (including general fundraising software, online giving tools, marketing software, online communities, and CRMs) offer some amount of customization.
Whether you’re adding fields to your donation forms or building out one-of-a-kind fundraising solutions, follow these steps for most effective configurations:
- Develop a configuration strategy. Your team needs to know what type of customization you want to implement and why you want to implement it. How will the configurations affect your fundraising strategy, constituent engagement, or data management?
- Understand the configuration process. For some simple fundraising tools, customization just means making some adjustments to your platform settings. For more complex software (for which customization is usually required!), you may need a more in-depth development knowledge to implement the configurations you want.
- Find the resources you need to carry out the customization. You may need the help of your IT team, software vendor, or a nonprofit technology consultant to bring your customizations to fruition. Whomever you turn to, make sure they understand your goals and have experience developing the platform you’re using.
Obviously, the more customized your technology, the more you’ll be able to engage with constituents and carry out fundraising campaigns in a unique way.
When supporters see that you’ve taken the time to think out your fundraising strategy and promote your mission in such personalized ways, they’ll be excited to donate, participate, and rally their own networks to the cause!
3. Diverse Fundraising Software Helps You Leverage More Donation Channels
Long gone are the days of mailing in a paper check to support your favorite nonprofit! Thanks to smart giving technologies, your constituents have more of a say in how they give to your organization than ever before.
In fact, donors can make their gifts using any of the following channels (plus many more):
- Online giving. By placing a custom online donation form on your nonprofit’s website and online community, you’ll be able to process debit and credit card payments.
- Mobile giving. This subset of online giving includes text-to-give, mobile donation forms, and specialized software such as mobile bidding apps for silent auctions.
- Giving kiosks. Used at fundraising events, near cash registers, or anywhere that people will see them, giving kiosks enable donors to simply swipe their card to make a gift.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising pages. Peer-to-peer software enables your supporters to raise money on your nonprofit’s behalf by setting up their own personal giving pages.
Like we said, that’s just a sample of the wide variety of giving options your donors will have thanks to the magic of fundraising software. (For more insight into the different types of technology on the market, check out MobileCause’s Buyer’s Guide to Fundraising Software.)
The more fundraising channels your nonprofit offers, the more likely you are to connect with a wide range of individuals. That said, the best way to capitalize on different giving tools is to first understand which channels your donors are most receptive to.
You can analyze your constituent data (stored in your trusty CRM, of course) to discover any existing preferences and make inferences about how you could best expand your fundraising strategy.
For example—if your nonprofit website gets significant traffic from mobile devices, consider incorporating text-to-give into your end-of-year fundraising campaign. If nothing else, make sure your website is optimized for your mobile users through responsive design or use an online community app to give mobile users easy access to your website’s interactive sections.
4. Online Community and Marketing Tools Open Up Communications with Your Supporters
Whether you’re promoting your fundraising campaign or keeping supporters updated on the goings-on at your organization, finding a way to stay in touch with constituents is key for developing relationships that result in long-term retention.
Thankfully, nonprofit marketing and online community software can help you keep supporters in the loop in the most targeted, efficient ways, resulting in more informed, involved constituents.
Let’s look at a few specific benefits of using technology to improve your multichannel marketing and communication efforts:
- Ongoing engagement. With online community software, constituents are engaged on a continuous basis to ensure they’re well-informed on your projects and campaigns. You can post site-wide project updates in written, audio, or video format as well as start two-way conversations with constituents to learn more about their interests and giving habits.
- Email automation. Thanks to email tools in marketing software and online community platforms, you don’t have to worry about manually sending every email newsletter, acknowledgement, or follow-up. Instead, map out your email plans in advance and use automation tools to keep all of your communications on schedule.
- List segmentation. When you sync your marketing tools and constituent database, you’ll be able to filter through your supporter list to send out highly segmented communications with no extra effort. That way, you’ll never flood your constituents with irrelevant information that might make them hit “unsubscribe.”
- Social media integration. For some supporters, social media is a more engaging channel than email or direct mail. To maximize your reach, you can use social media automation tools to schedule out posts and track your engagements across all of your platforms. Your online community will also provide additional social engagement tools with more privacy and content protection than public networks.
Since marketing and communications are only one aspect of your larger fundraising and donor engagement strategy, it’s important that you’re able to connect these tools with the rest of your fundraising software.
Many CRMs have some built-in marketing tools, but if you need to take a more comprehensive approach, you can integrate a dedicated marketing platform with your other software.
Before you decide what kind(s) of marketing, engagement, and communications software you want to implement, consider how extensive your needs are.
While there is no shortage of email marketing or content management solutions, you might also consider finding one end-to-end marketing solution that can cover all of your various needs in one place. For example, Blackbaud’s Luminate Online Marketing platform offers holistic email management, online fundraising, and digital marketing tools that can integrate with other key tools like online community software.
5. Software Integrations Streamline Your Operations
So far, we’ve covered a number of different types of software and the many effects they can have on your organization.
However, you may be wondering how exactly you can take these various solutions and implement them in a way that uniquely meets all of your nonprofit’s requirements. For most organizations with a broad spectrum of needs, seamless integration is the key to a complete fundraising software system.
By connecting all of your software together, you’ll have a more complete view of your operations and your constituents. Plus, your team won’t need to worry about bouncing back and forth between different platforms; everything you need to access should be available in a central location.
For example, consider implementing these common (and important!) integrations for your nonprofit CRM:
- Website. Connect your website to your CRM or database so that all information captured on your site’s donation forms, event registration forms, and other forms flows automatically into your database, no manual data entry needed.
- Online community platform. Regular activities and content in an online community keep your constituents engaged with your organization while generating valuable activity data on what constituents are interacting with. Integrate your community with your CRM so activity data can be used to inform fundraising strategies.
- Event management software. Having complete data is key to planning successful events! You should use your constituent data to inform your event strategy, so having access to your event planning tools alongside your CRM data is vital.
- Peer-to-peer software. You’ll need specialized peer-to-peer software to enable your supporters to create their own fundraising pages and collect gifts. If your CRM doesn’t have this functionality, you’ll need to integrate peer-to-peer tools so that all new donations are reflected in your database.
Of course, with a little development know-how, there’s almost no limit to the kinds of fundraising software you can pair together.
Be careful, though—integrations can be complicated! You’ll need to make sure that each platform lines up so that data transfers correctly. For best results, seek out the help of a nonprofit technology consultant or your platform vendor to oversee the integration process.
Leverage Technology to Engage and Motivate Your Constituents
In the fundraising world, innovation is key to keeping your constituents excited and invested in your organization. With the right technology on your side, you’ll have everything you need to develop out-of-this-world strategies that will appeal to any and all of your supporters.