How to Choose the Best Nonprofit Donor Management Software

Donor management is essential for securely storing and managing your donor data, segmenting the data for personalized communication, and strengthening your relationships with your donors. Learn about the best donor management software options available to you and how you can choose the right one for your organization.

13 minutes read
How to Choose the Best Nonprofit Donor Management Software


As a nonprofit professional, you know how important your donors are. Without them, you wouldn’t have the support you need to complete your mission. You know you spend a lot of time thinking about how to get new donors, but do you spend enough time considering how to optimize the donor relationships you do have?

That’s where donor management software comes in. This vital tool allows your organization an easy-to-use way to organize donor information so you can keep track of every aspect of the donor relationship from the first donation to the donor’s demographics to the latest communication you had with them.

If you’re just starting to look for the right donor management software for your nonprofit, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll help you figure out what key features to look for and which software might be the best fit for your organization’s needs.

We’ll look at the following:

Finding the right software can be tough. But with the right knowledge at hand, you can find software that works for all of your donor-related needs—and more!

What is Donor Management Software?

donor management software

Donor management software is a tool that helps nonprofits keep and analyze donor data for the purpose of understanding and strengthening their relationships with new and existing donors.

Often, donor management software helps your organization store information like donor name, donor address, gift amount, gift frequency, and more. With the right software, you should be able to sort this data with specific filters to help you get a better understanding of this data. Some software even makes recommendations for how to increase your donations.

Why Should Nonprofits Invest in Donor Management Software?

If you’ve been collecting donations, chances are you have some sort of management system in place for information about your donor. A spreadsheet, a list, or—even more complicated—you’re relying on the memory of your staff alone.

Investing in donor management software is important for any kind of growth. While your methods might work at the moment, you know better than anyone where the weaknesses lie—your staff doesn’t always record the right information (or know what information is valuable for your records), your spreadsheets are mismanaged and difficult to share across your organization, and you need a better way to sort data that works for you.

Donor management software helps you control your growth by analyzing your past donor data to help you build strong relationships with those donors and cultivate relationships with new donors.

If it’s time for a more efficient way to manage your donor information, then it’s time to invest in donor management software to bring in more (and more consistent!) donations.

8 Key Features to Look for in Donor Management Software

Not every donor management software is made alike. What features are most important for a smooth donor management process? Read on to learn about the key features you should look for when choosing donor management software for your nonprofit.

donor management software

Fundraising capabilities

1. Multiple Fundraising Options

A pre-requisite of a good donor management tool is strong fundraising capabilities. Does the platform offer a donation form / dedicated fundraising page? Is the platform optimized for recurring donations? A strong fundraising solution is likely to provide the best donor and donation management features as they are building the product for the unique requirements of nonprofit fundraising. Besides encouraging recurring giving, your donor management platform should allow you to have customizable donate buttons. Donation buttons are the main call-to-action that you provide to your donors – it is where the donation journey begins!

Text giving is a feature to watch out for! Although a secondary feature, text-giving makes mobile giving super easy and your donation page/ donation form more accessible.

Crowdfunding campaigns are an efficient way to raise donations by focusing on a single cause or a project. Can your donor select company gift-matching? Employee matching gifts are an undeniably important feature of a good donor management/fundraising platform. For example, Donorbox donation forms offer the option to select the company matching option on the donation form – letting the donor easily select their employer and give up to twice their donation amount to your cause.

Fundraising and donor management features are interconnected, you want to watch for all the basic fundraising features when selecting your donor management tool.

tips for fundraising

2. Flexible payment processing

Payment processing is important to your donors. You want to provide multiple, flexible payment options to your donors and be able to track the source and method of the donations you receive. Any good donation platform will let you accept donations via cards, wallets, and bank transfers. Some alternate payment gateways are more popular in certain countries. For example, Bancontact cards are a popular electronic payment method in Belgium, if your target donors are from Belgium, you might want to make sure you are open to their preferred payment method.

Donorbox lets nonprofits accept donations via cards, Apple Pay, low-fee ACH & SEPA bank transfers, Google Pay, and PayPal. Hence, it becomes easy and convenient on the donor’s part. Nonprofits simply need to connect their Stripe or PayPal accounts with Donorbox to get started. And then proceed to enable the payment methods that you want to offer to your donors.

You can also sort your donor database based on payment methods – analyzing your donations and understanding your donors.

Donor management

3. Recurring donations, donor profiles, and donor dashboard

Recurring donors are important. Your donor management platform should be equipped to manage and improve your recurring donations. This means that you need to be able to add different recurring donation intervals and highlight your preferred interval on your donation form. Establish your own donation tiers that work the best for you and suggest the donation amounts on your donation form. Donorbox, for example, lets you preselect a donation amount – letting you make it an easy choice for the donor. Your donor can still choose to give a custom amount.

Small features can give great results. For example – adding a brief description of the impact against a particular donation amount can be a game-changer in improving your average recurring donation amount. Simply put, you want to choose a donor management platform that lets you add small customizations that have high potential.

One of the first things your donor management software should do? Make donor information easily accessible to you. A donor profile is essential for you to track information like their gifts, interactions, contact information, and other important details.

Your donor management software should allow you to track all kinds of donors, from your greatest, recurring donors to one-time donors and even in-kind donors. Hence, look for software that has a user-friendly interface to make it easy for you and your staff. Each donor should have a unique profile with important information and communications your staff has with them. This means all the information you need is in one place and only a click away.

Donorbox lets you edit and add donor information and contact details. You can also add two addresses and update the latest contact information on a specific donor profile. Update those new donor contact details easily in your donor database and never miss sending an important communication that they need to see.

Can your donors manage their recurring donation plan?

Recurring donors commit to supporting your nonprofit’s mission. It means that you need to provide them the flexibility to manage their donations. Donorbox automatically creates donor accounts for your recurring donors. The account details are promptly emailed to the donor, allowing your donor to easily manage their recurring donation plan – extend or edit the donation period, update their card/payment information, or cancel their recurring plan. Empowering your recurring donors also helps increase donor’s trust in your organization, offer an easy donation experience, and help you build a strong relationship with them. You want to make sure the donor dashboard is very easy to use.

 4. Segment donor database and donations

Segmentation refers to sorting your database of donors with specific criteria in mind. This is an important function of any donor management system for the following reasons:

  1. It allows you to generate email lists based on specific qualities like location, age, and amount given. This also helps you communicate with donors in a targeted, more personalized way.
  2. It helps you see your data more clearly. Are most of your donors local? Do you have few young people in your donor database? Once you have this data, it can help you make decisions about what kinds of donors are most drawn to your organization. You can also think to change your messaging to target new demographics.
  3. You can quickly and easily access information about specific donors like how they prefer to be contacted and plan your communications around this info. Additionally, this improves your interactions with donors—and helps build a positive relationship.

Great donor management software will even help you pull reports if you are looking for specific kinds of donors so you can have a clear, easy-to-read list ready to help your organization grow.

As a nonprofit, it’s important to be able to sort your data to look at what kinds of donations and what kinds of donors your organization gets most. Hence, with a tool like Donorbox, you can do it easily. You can sort with things like recurring donation interval, the number of donations, the total amount given, location, and time of donation.

The following image shows how this sorting looks like on your Donorbox dashboard:

donor management system

5. Maintain a clean donor base – Merge contacts

Consider all the different ways you accept donations. Online, through cash or check, through the mail, through social media. By choosing a software that lets you manually add donor records whenever you need to, you can be sure each one of these transactions is recorded and that your data is easy to find.

You should look for software that will merge any repeating donor records so that your database can be as clear and organized as possible. Moreover, your donor management tool needs to help you maintain a clean donor database. This means that you should be able to update old information, merge duplicate contacts, sort donors based on various different filters. Such filters include donation interval, donation frequency, payment method, currencies, donation plan, location, donation amount, etc. You should also be able to easily download the donors’ list if required.

6. Automate donation receipt

Sending donation receipts manually can be a tiring process that’s difficult to get right. This also drains your staff’s time. If your organization doesn’t have a fundraising platform that automates donation receipts, it’s time to find donor management software like Donorbox that also serves as an easy-to-use fundraising platform.

When donors give using your Donorbox-powered online donation form, they receive an automatic thank-you email and a donation receipt. Plus, Donorbox makes the end-of-the-year receipt process easy so your staff doesn’t have to scramble to make sure each and every one of your donors has the appropriate receipt.

Simply add your information to the template and personalize the message to match your organization’s messaging. You can generate both emails and PDFs at the same time. For example, check this template editor.

donor management system

Donor Tracking & Integrations

7. Improve donor engagement

Okay, you’ve used your donor management software to segment your donor lists and send some targeted communications. Great! Next step? Record those communications in your software so that you know exactly who has already been contacted.

Choosing a donor management software that allows you to record donor communication is key to keep track of your communications. With Donorbox, adding communications to each donor’s profile is easy. Just go to the profile, click “Communications,” and enter the information.

This tool is especially helpful to record interactions with cultivation contacts so you and your staff come across as excellent communicators.

donor management system

Outreach notifications

Often, finding the best time to reach out to donors can be tricky. Hence, to help stay connected with your donors, find software that lets you set automated tasks and reminders to help maintain donor relationships. This can be as simple as reminders to reach out to a top donor on their birthday or even as big as reminding you to prepare grant materials for an upcoming proposal deadline. That’s why it helps to choose a software that gives you notifications of important donor “moments” like:

  • The first-year anniversary of their first donation.

You can send an email celebrating this milestone (and ask them to mark the occasion with another donation!).

  • When a donor cancels their recurring donation.

This is an opportunity to reach out for feedback. Remember, don’t be pushy—you don’t know how your donor’s financial situation might have changed—but if they canceled for any other reason, that’s helpful to know so you can adjust your strategy. It also shows them that you care and are sad to see them go!

  • Their first donation.

This is exciting! If you’re using a tool like Donorbox, your thank-you email will already be sent automatically. But getting this notification gives you the opportunity to follow up personally to thank your donor and show them just how much you appreciate their interest in your organization and mission.

  • When a donor increases their recurring donation amount.

Offering recurring donations is an excellent way to increase your overall donations, so it’s important to mark any increases with some good donor appreciation. Once you get this notification, be sure to reach out to your donor and let them know how amazing this increase is. Try to give them real, concrete things that their funds might be used for every interval. For example, if they give $50 a month, explain how that provides a month-long amount of kibble for two dogs in your shelter.

With Donorbox, you’ll get notifications for all of these moments. These are the kinds of things that are almost impossible to track on a spreadsheet or through another method. Having a donor management software that gives you these alerts removes some labor-intensive tasks for your staff (can you imagine adding donation anniversaries to your Outlook calendar? Yikes!) and makes sure that when it comes to your donors, you never miss a beat. Here’s how it looks –

In addition to informing you of important moments to reach out to your donors, you should look for donor management software that makes emailing easy. This means that you should be able to use your donor management software to generate lists and to automatically personalize emails so your donors know that what they’re receiving is meant for them. You can also use segments to send specific kinds of emails to specific kinds of donors.

Donor management software like Donorbox integrates seamlessly with email marketing platforms like Salesforce and Mailchimp, This means that you can boost donor engagement even further. Your donors can receive automated, personalized thank-you emails without you lifting a finger. The more personalized you can make your outreach, the more work it will do toward establishing strong donor relationships and even encouraging new donors to give.

8. Integrations with existing workflows

One of the most important features to look for? Ability to integrate with the tools you and your team already rely on.

Some important integrations to consider include the following:

  • Email marketing. If your team uses platforms like Mailchimp, Salesforce, or Constant Contact, you should look for donor management software that’s compatible with your platform.
  • Payment processing. Whatever donor management software you choose should be able to use your preferred payment processors to collect donations like PayPal and Stripe. Additionally, f your software can take mobile payment systems like Google Pay or Apple Pay to give your donors choices, nothing like it.
  • Content management system. Choose a software that’s a one-stop-shop—in other words, something that helps you transform the tools you already have like your WordPress, Squarespace, or Wix sites into powerful fundraising platforms. With Donorbox, you can easily integrate your personalized online donation forms to make the most of your online presence.
  • Accounting software. You should look for donor management software that integrates with your accounting software like Quickbooks to make accounting for your organization a breeze.

The point of choosing software is to make your life easier. Hence, don’t complicate things by choosing software that won’t work with the workflows you have already established!

5 Best Donor Management Software for Nonprofits in 2021

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to decide where to look. In this section, we’ll outline the top 5 donor management software options for nonprofits in 2021 so you can decide which best suits your organization’s needs.

1. Donorbox

nonprofit donor management software

Trusted by over 35,000 nonprofit organizations, Donorbox is your one-stop-shop for donor management and fundraising.

Manage your donor information in a user-friendly database that can be accessed through your Donorbox dashboard. Through this tool, you can add new donors, merge donor records, segment donor information, record donor communication, and more. You’ll never lose track of any donor information because it’s as easy to record it as it is to search for it.

Additionally, it also has powerful fundraising capabilities like text-to-give, crowdfunding, and online donation form creation and management. Donations from these tools integrate smoothly into your donor management database. Using one tool for both aspects of fundraising—collecting donations and managing donor data—means less work for you and the easier organization overall.

Key donor management features:

  • Create unique donor profiles
  • Track donor communications
  • Get donor moment alerts
  • Use advanced donor filters to segment your donor data
  • Send personalized emails
  • Merge offline donor records with existing records
  • Integrate with email marketing, content management, payment processors, and accounting software
  • Automate both thank-you emails and donation receipts, including year-end tax receipts

Pricing: Donorbox charges a 1.5% fee so that you only start paying when your organization starts receiving donations through Donorbox. You’ll only pay when Donorbox is already working for you and generating important donation income for your organization. Moreover, it’s 100% free to get started—no setup fees or contracts.

That means if you raise $500 in donations, your Donorbox fee is only $7.50. And you have the option to ask donors to cover fees on your online donation form, saving your organization even more.

Get Started With Donorbox

2. Bloomerang

nonprofit donor management software

Founded in 2012, Bloomerang offers donor management tools to help your organization stay on top of its donor data. They offer some additional usability like volunteer management and membership tracking.

Key donor management features:

  • Donor moment timeline in donor records
  • Email design & distribution
  • Trend reporting
  • Donor segmentation
  • Donor surveys

Pricing: Bloomerang charges a monthly fee based on how many donor records you have in your database. Their general pricing starts at $99 a month for 0-1,000 records, but they also have small shop pricing with limited features.

3. Kindful

best donor management software

Kindful is a product of Bloomerang with a slightly more streamlined approach to donor management. Their app allows organizations to keep donor information in an easily accessible database. They have tools and a Data Services team to help you upload any data you have stored in other databases.

Key donor management features:

  • Donor records
  • Donor segmentation
  • Wealth insights
  • Task management
  • Merge donor records

Pricing: Kindful charges a monthly fee (billed annually) based on how many donor records you have in your database. The fee starts at $100 a month for 1,000 contacts, but it goes up to $200 a month for 5,000 contacts.

4. DonorPerfect

best donor management software

DonorPerfect offers a variety of tools to make donor management easy, with a special emphasis on development teams that are remote and need some additional support through online tools like virtual onboarding and a webinar series. They also have some fundraising capabilities including event management.

Key donor management features:

  • Constant Contact email marketing integration
  • Donor targeting
  • Task assignments and alerts
  • Reports and insights

Pricing: DonorPerfect charges a monthly fee based on how many donor records you have in your database, starting at $99 a month for 1,000 constituent records. Additionally, the fee increases to $179 a month for 2,500 constituent records.

5. Virtuous

donor management software

Located in Phoenix, AZ, Virtuous offers some strong donor management options for keeping your donor data together over multiple channels and fields. They also have some usability for volunteer management and event management, depending on your organization’s needs.

Key donor management features:

  • Donor segmentation
  • Track campaign performance
  • Personalized communication
  • Automated thank-you emails
  • Online donor portal

Pricing: Virtuous charges two monthly fees: one for “Responsive CRM” and one for “Automation & Email.” At 1,000 contacts, these two fees bundled are $350 a month. To add online giving, the fee is an additional $100 a month. You can also add on things like extra users and extra emails for additional monthly fees.

Which Donor Management Software is Right for Your Nonprofit?

donor management software

If your organization is ready for the next step, it’s time to invest in donor management software.

To help make your decision, consider sitting with the key members of your team in development, administration, and marketing. You should work with them to establish the following:

  1. Make a list of features they think would be most helpful for their department. And then compare those lists to create your master list of required features.
  2. Consider your budget. Will your organization struggle with steep monthly fees? Does it make more sense to have a fee dependent on the actual donations you receive to support your mission?
  3. Establish a growth plan. Have clear goals about your fundraising efforts, how many new donors you’d like to acquire, and how any growth will impact your team’s workflow.
  4. Ask your team for useful integrations they need. Does your account manager love Quickbooks? Is your marketing person obsessed with Mailchimp? Find out which integrations should take priority.

Once you have input from your key players, you can review the list of features above. Out of them, choose the donor management software that is right for your needs now and in the future.

For more tips on donor management, check out the rest of our nonprofit blog.

Avatar photo

Raviraj heads the sales and marketing team at Donorbox. His growth-hacking abilities have helped Donorbox boost fundraising efforts for thousands of nonprofit organizations.

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