Having the right tools in your nonprofit software stack is the key to running an effective organization. In fact, the right resources can make all the difference between running a successful, mission-driven organization and one that ends up shutting its doors.
In the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this has become even more true. COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions in nonprofit operations—from the way they fundraise to the way they build meaningful relationships.
As a nonprofit professional, you’re likely aware of these changes and are looking for ways to minimize negative consequences as much as possible. With the move to a remote workforce, efficient communication practices are more important than ever—both internally with your team and externally with constituents.
However, many nonprofits lack the innovative software required to operate effectively, especially when in a newly remote situation. That’s why now is the perfect time to invest in new tools that can bring your nonprofit to the next level. Let’s take a look at four categories of nonprofit software that can set any organization up for success:
You might be thinking that now is actually the time to be pinching pennies, not making expensive technological investments. However, we know that investing in the right tools is the most important prerequisite for establishing a thriving organization.
After all, you’re not throwing your money away. You’re investing it! And when you consider the impressive ROIs that can result, you’ll see that it’s a worthwhile strategy. Let’s jump in!
1. Time-tracking tools
Did you know that businesses can increase their profits by more than 30% by employing digital productivity tools? That’s great, but what does that have to do with nonprofits?
By leveraging some of the same productivity tools as for-profit businesses, nonprofits can improve their own day-to-day operations by a substantial amount!
Some of the benefits of nonprofit time tracking include:
- Higher levels of employee productivity: Studies have long shown that effective time-tracking practices can result in fewer gaps in productive work time, often leading to substantially smoother daily operations. When employees can directly visualize where their time is being spent—and know that their employers can, too—they’re more likely to stay on task and focus on reaching an overall goal.
- More effective project management: Similarly, time-tracking tools can allow teams to allocate tasks more efficiently and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Easily answer questions like how much is this project costing, how can we cut down on unnecessary expenses, and how should we adjust our budget going forward based on our current nonprofit programming.
- Easier reporting on resource allocation to funders: One of the biggest differences between nonprofits and for-profit businesses is their source of funding. Nonprofits rely significantly on charitable contributions from generous donors and grant-giving institutions, so transparency concerning the way that funding is used is essential. Because one of the biggest overhead costs in any nonprofit is that of staff salaries, time-tracking practices can help nonprofit leaders report on funding in a simple and accurate manner.
Don’t settle for paper printouts or DIY spreadsheets—we’re talking about innovative software, after all. Nonprofit timesheet software might be just the answer you’re looking for! Digital time tracking tools are often more accurate, easier to use, and more effective to report on.
2. Online donation platforms
One of the biggest nonprofit challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak is maintaining stable fundraising revenue despite all the roadblocks. Because in-person events and other key nonprofit fundraising strategies have been postponed, organizations everywhere are seeking to expand their virtual fundraising opportunities.
If you have yet to explore the world of online fundraising, now is definitely the time to do so. Here are three things to look for in an optimal online donation platform:
- Multiple forms of payment: One of the top perks of online fundraising is the ease with which users can give—expanding their options from offering cash or mailing a check. That’s why, in order to be most effective, an online giving platform should offer the ability to accept payments via credit/debit card and ACH payments using the payment processor that’s best for you. Additional payment processing options like Stripe, PayPal, and Square can offer the donor an even more convenient experience.
- Recurring gift functionality: Recurring payments are the backbone of successful virtual fundraising strategies. As a nonprofit, all you have to do is build a lasting relationship with a donor who decides to contribute automatically on a regular basis. This helps to negate some of the ebbs and flows of fundraising revenue, especially in a negative economy. As a donor, they get to support a cause they care about without having to be constantly re-entering their payment information!
- Donor management dashboard: A donor management system, or nonprofit CRM, is crucial for building life-long donor relationships, tracking fundraising revenue over time, and ensuring an optimized fundraising strategy. While this might be a separate tool that you can integrate with your giving platform, many donation software platforms offer a built-in CRM dashboard within their own software.
3. Marketing software
You can’t expect anyone to give to your nonprofit if they’ve never heard of it! That’s why getting the word out about your organization and raising awareness for your cause is such an important part of running a nonprofit.
Luckily, there is an array of nonprofit software that can help. Here are three types of marketing software that can help you drum up support for your mission:
- Email automation: Email outreach is one way that nonprofits reach current and potential supporters, request donations, and build long-term relationships. Email marketing tools like Mailchimp, Emma, or Constant Contact can help you schedule messages ahead of time, customize templates to address the individual recipient, and track successful engagements.
- Social media management: Social media is a powerful tool for nonprofits, as it’s one that can be used for marketing and fundraising purposes. Social media marketing software can help you plan and schedule posts ahead of time across multiple platforms, as well as keep track of engagement metrics and follower count to help you boost your organic following.
- Web analytics tracking: Tracking and analyzing marketing metrics is a great way to get an accurate feel for where your nonprofit stands in your community. Briefly mentioned as a way to track email and social media success, analytics tracking can also be useful to recognize opportunities for growth. If you see that your nonprofit website isn’t getting as much web traffic as you’d like, it might be a sign that you should do some updates.
Similar to the online donation platform software, some providers might offer an all-in-one solution that has functionality for these three things and more. On the other hand, other providers might specialize in one or the other. It’s important to do some research and select a provider(s) that works for your needs.
4. Accounting resources
Nonprofit accounting is one of the most important aspects involved in running a charitable organization—although not necessarily the most exciting. As we mentioned earlier, donors and institutions backing your nonprofit want to see that their money is being put to good use.
One of the most obvious ways to do that is by accurately and efficiently handling your nonprofit finances. And while that might seem overwhelming at first, here are two types of nonprofit accounting resources that can help:
- Utilizing accounting software: Smaller organizations may be able to get by with a more DIY-approach to accounting. With top platforms like QuickBooks and other nonprofit accounting software, even non-accountants are able to track revenue and expenses fairly easily.
- Hiring a nonprofit accountant: On the other hand, larger organizations might require a specific nonprofit accountant to ensure accurate records and provide financially sound advice. However, even with an accountant, it’s still important to have the right accounting software in your toolkit. Make sure you know what to expect before you make the decision to hire your nonprofit accountant.
Your nonprofit finances are the key to ensuring a positive, transparent relationship between your team, your donors, and your constituents. Shady financial practices can lead to donors losing trust in your organization! Don’t risk making such a mistake, and instead choose to prioritize your nonprofit accounting with the right tools.
It’s hard to get anything accomplished, especially in the nonprofit sector, if you don’t have the right tools for the job. Lacking effective resources can be frustrating for the team and lead to little-to-no results overall. On the other hand, fully equipping your staff with the software they need to thrive is a great way to boost employee morale and see strengthened results toward your mission.
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.