What is nonprofit software?
Nonprofit software, also known as software for nonprofits or nonprofit technology, is any program or application that helps nonprofits manage their day-to-day functions. Nonprofit software assists nonprofits on various levels, including administration, fundraising, donor relations, accounting, marketing, and more.
Incorporating a few nonprofit software programs can maximize your nonprofit’s outreach, productivity, and donor engagement; the hurdle is often determining where to start.
We know that stepping into the world of nonprofit software can seem overwhelming; however, by the end of this article, you will be fully equipped to identify what software solutions are best for your nonprofit.
How does software & technology benefit nonprofits?
Researching nonprofit software can be overwhelming. That said, there is hope amid the confusion. Nonprofits that find the software that integrates with their mission and team can reap several benefits.
For example, nonprofit software can help cultivate relationships with donors and volunteers through advocacy campaigns, regular communication, and automated responses. Nonprofit technology can also help you stay organized by reducing data redundancy, tracking donor activity, and reporting results automatically. With nonprofit technology that specializes in areas like accounting and data management, you can add expertise to areas where your team may have limited prior knowledge.
With nonprofit software, your nonprofit can ensure it’s putting its best foot forward to maximize its impact and accomplish its mission.
What are the different types of nonprofit software?
There are several types of nonprofit software designed to meet your nonprofit’s specific needs. They generally fall into three categories where many nonprofits’ needs arise: fundraising, management, and marketing.
We’ve outlined some basic information about each of these categories and given examples of each below. This will help you identify what your nonprofit needs and give you a list of some nonprofit software providers that can help.
Fundraising software is exactly what it sounds like: a program that makes giving to your nonprofit easier through outreach and donation processing. For example, fundraising software can help organize peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives, enabling your donors to utilize their networks to support your mission.
Overall, fundraising software makes giving to your nonprofit intuitive for your donors and processing donations simple for you. Some examples of fundraising software are:
- Crowdfunding software like Qgiv and Handbid
- Online fundraising software like Kindful and Classy
- Online donation processing software like Stripe, PayPal, and Square
Management software includes programs that organize the internal, external, and relational aspects of your nonprofit’s work. For example, donor management software organizes your donor data and outreach in one place, ensuring you maintain the valuable relationships of others dedicated to your mission.
With management software, you can ensure the day-to-day aspects of nonprofit work are taken care of so you can focus more attention on connecting with partners, working in the field, or expanding the scope of your mission. Here are some examples of management software:
- Donor management or CRM software like Kindful
- Membership management software like Join It
- Volunteer management software like Golden
- Grant management software like Fundly
- Event management software like Eventbrite, BidCoz, and TicketSpice
- Project management software like Monday.com, Asana, and Trello
- Accounting software like QuickBooks
Marketing software includes programs and applications dedicated to getting your message in front of those most likely to partner with you. One of the most common forms of marketing software is email marketing software. This allows you to organize your email contacts, target your outreach, and automate your responses.
Another important critical aspect of marketing software is branding and design. An attractive platform and recognizable brand can make a huge difference in your nonprofit’s ability to garner supporters and make an impact. Some examples of marketing software include:
- Email marketing software like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Emma
- Website management software like Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress
- Graphic design software like Canva and Venngage
- Social media management software like HootSuite or Sprout Social
What’s the best software for nonprofits?
While every nonprofit has its own unique needs, some aspects of nonprofit work are foundational to success. One of these is donor acquisition and maintenance. For those reasons, it’s essential to invest in CRM software so you can understand and maximize your relationships with donors. With CRM software, you can ensure your nonprofit’s foundational needs are covered, and you can add other programs to your suite as needed.
Where to look for software
Once you have identified your nonprofit’s specific needs, it’s wise to research what software platforms and providers meet those needs most effectively. Finding programs that work with similar nonprofits or mesh with your organizational vision are good places to start. Here are a few ways you can ensure you’re getting exactly what you need:
- Review sites
Review sites are some of the quickest ways to find nonprofit software and measure the efficacy of similar programs quantitatively. Sites like Capterra, G2, and Software Advice regularly publish articles with comprehensive data on user experience buying guides for industry professionals.
- Other nonprofit professionals
Talking with others in your field is a great way to integrate new software into your suite. If you’re going to be working with this software every day, it’s great to get a behind-the-scenes analysis from those who are already familiar with the software.
- Check out their website
Before you fully commit to a software provider, make sure you look at their site. This can answer some of your basic questions about the software and familiarize you with the differences between providers.
- Talk to someone from the software provider
To see if a software provider caters to your nonprofit’s specific needs or if you have any unanswered questions, you can always contact the service provider directly. This is also an excellent way to analyze the provider’s customer service, which is good to consider if you plan on working with that provider.
Questions to ask before choosing your software
To ensure you’re making the right choice when it comes to choosing your nonprofit software, we’ve included a list of questions to ask yourself or your software provider before making a commitment.
- Does it integrate with the other software we’re using?
If you’re already familiar with nonprofit software or have other software programs you want to use, integrations can further improve your user experience. By integrating your software programs, you can keep all of your data organized since data will sync across information systems.
- Is it easy for our team and supporters to use?
The last thing you want is to spend money on software that slows you down. With that in mind, make sure your nonprofit software improves your team’s and donors’ experience with your organization.
- Is it trustworthy?
There are many great software solutions out there, but there are also ones you want to avoid. Before you put your funds and resources into a nonprofit software, make sure it fits your nonprofit’s ethical standards.
- Is it in our price range?
It’s no secret that nonprofit work comes with financial pains. Though many nonprofit software programs give back what you put into them, make sure you don’t break the bank paying for software your nonprofit cannot afford.
- Will the software help us save time, raise more funds, and do more good?
Returning to what we said earlier, make sure your nonprofit software provides measurable, positive changes to your nonprofit’s mission and culture.
Is there free software for nonprofits?
Though most nonprofit software comes with a price tag, there are a few programs that offer free trials or limited access for free. For example, many nonprofits use G Suite for office-related tasks. While we recommend moving away from G Suite for more nonprofit-focused assistance, it is free for nonprofits.
Additionally, software programs like Salesforce and Mailchimp offer free services for a more limited experience. This is a good way to test whether the software is right for your nonprofit without spending its valuable resources.
Nonprofit software is any program or application that maintains or assists with your nonprofit’s day-to-day operations, allowing you to maximize your outreach, engagement, and productivity.