3 Questions to Ask Before Taking the Plunge with a New Donor Database

KindfulMarch 13, 2015

3 Questions to Ask Before Taking the Plunge with a New Donor Database header image

Shopping for an integrated donor CRM is daunting. You want your database to help your organization’s growth, not hinder it, and the unfortunate truth is, when you’re looking for a comprehensive solution to your fundraising and data management needs, not all systems are created equal. That’s why when you’re shopping for a new donor database, you can’t simply compare upfront costs. You have to also consider all the indirect costs that will affect the return on your investment in the long-term as well.

But while researching, and eventually committing to a new donor CRM solution may seem downright scary, it doesn’t have to be! To help you determine what you need, here are three questions you should consider before committing to a donor database:

1. What features are included in the base price and how much will it cost to add the integrations I need?

When it comes to finding a donor database that can grow with your organization, finding out what features or integrations are included with your software solution is one of the most important questions to ask. While it may seem logical for a comprehensive fundraising CRM to include all the integrations you need for fundraising, the reality is that most donor management tools actually require you to purchase additional modules to make sure your database is fully integrated with all your fundraising needs. If a sales rep from one of the major nonprofit CRM providers quotes you a low price that seems too good to be true, chances are, it is too good to be true. Most often, you’ll get hit with unexpected add-on costs if you want to set up something like an event management integreation or peer to peer fundraising pages. Don’t always assume that the base fee is all that you’ll be paying – ask for a list of what’s included in the initial activiation and a list of additional integrations and how much each one costs.

2. Does the database have automatic data integration with other online fundraising tools?

Do you use QuickBooks to manage all your donations? Or MailChimp to send monthly newsletters to your supporters? Or Eventbrite to track and manage your fundraising events? There are a multitude of amazing platforms to help you capitalize on your nonprofit fundraising and management, but it can waste a ton of time (and money!) if it takes forever to integrate all the data you collect from those platforms into your donor database. Before you commit to a new fundraising CRM ask the vendor what level of automatic data integration their system has with third-party fundraising tools. You should know upfront if you’ll have to spend time manually exporting data from your online fundraising tool and importing it into your database.

3. Is there a cost for training and support?

If you really want to make the most of your donor database, you want to know how to use it! No matter how intuitive or easy-to-use, learning a new donor CRM system can take some time, and you want an expert to show you how to learn it right. Unfortunately, that’s one more way that you can get dinged with unexpected costs when it comes to your donor management software. Be sure to ask your sales rep what the costs are for training – both during the initial setup of your database and if you’re in need of additional training once things are up and running. It’s also a good idea to ask what the costs are for customer support if you need emergency help or troubleshooting with your database. The worst time to get hit with hidden fees for customer support is when you have an urgent issue that needs to be addressed right away!

While there are a host of other questions you’ll want to consider before taking the plunge, these three are a great way to start a conversation about what you’ll actually be paying for when it comes to a new nonprofit CRM tool. As long as you do your research and take the time to think about what you need, committing to a donor database doesn’t have to be scary – it can be an exciting step forward in the growth of your organization!

Wondering how Kindful would answer these questions? Give us a call at 888.854.0933 or set up a demo today and find out how we stack up against the competition… we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!


Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Donor Management