What Do You Need From A Donor Management System?

Idealware Donor ManagmentLast month, 501cTECH co-sponsored Idealware’s report, “A Consumers Guide to Donor Management Systems," a comprehensive resource to help guide any nonprofit through the process of vetting and ultimately choosing the right system for their organization.

We strongly encourage nonprofits interested in improving their donor management to download and read the full report, but just to help get you started, 501cTECH created a checklist to make sure you understand your organization’s donor management needs, and how the right system can help meet them.

Decide how you’ll use the system

You can use a donor management system for more than communicating with donors and collecting data on them. Go through all of your organization’s contacts and review your methods for interacting with them. Would you like to consolidate that all into one system, or is a standalone donor management system enough for you? Not every donor management system supports email and mail merging, so make sure you choose one that does if you’d like to take the all-in-one-place approach.

√ Establish your budget

Decide how much your organization can afford to spend on a donor management system, and understand the pricing nuances. Some systems charge a sizeable one-time licensing fee, while others are Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and require lower fees on a monthly or yearly basis. Try to also project out, as best you can, the number of donors you’ll have a few years from now. Some systems become much pricier with a larger donor base, so choosing one that allows you to grow your database at lower costs might make more sense if you’re expecting a decent increase. Beware of over-investing. For many nonprofits, a simple low cost solution is just fine.

√  Evaluate your current process 

How are you currently communicating with donors and managing data? Your existing process may align more seamlessly with one system than it does another, and that will make the transition much smoother. However, using a system that forces you to adapt and streamline your process, bringing it closer to standard practices, could serve you in the long run.

√ Consider your accounting

How important is it for your donor management system to easily reconcile donations with your accounting software? Make sure you’re aware of the features a system offers in that area, because some are very limited, and others allow for a lot of customization.

This checklist reveals only the tip of the iceberg that is donor management. Read through Idealware’s report for the full picture, and find confidence in your newfound knowledge when it comes time to choose a new donor management system.

If you’d like more help selecting and implementing a donor management system, give us a call! We would love to help. (202) 234-9670 ext. 115.

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