By donorsearch

Top 9 Software to Take Your Museum to the Next Level

Museums house artifacts from the past, but who’s to say your operations have to stay there, too? By implementing museum software, you can get smarter about fundraising, membership management, and collections. Of course, all museum software is not created equal, just like all museums have different missions and operational structures. Art galleries will require different fundraising event features than natural history museums, for example, and every museum has a different budget. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry! We’ll go through the top 9 software solutions that can ease your museum operations, allowing you to focus on the other aspects of your work.   Keep reading to find the perfect museum software for your institution!

1. DonorSearch — Top Prospect Research Museum Software

Museum Software Overview

For any kind of museum, chances are you rely on major donors for a significant portion of your fundraising revenue. Next time you launch a fundraising campaign, take the guesswork out of major gifts with DonorSearch. DonorSearch offers prospect research services to identify major donors by their wealth markers (Do your donors have enough money to give?) and philanthropic indicators (Are your donors likely to give charitably?). You can submit an existing list of individuals, like your membership list, or request DonorSearch generate a list of prospects for you.

Why We Love This Museum Software

It’s not just major gifts that sustain museums — planned gifts make a huge difference for collections and special projects. So in addition to major donor screening, DonorSearch also screens for planned giving prospects among your membership base.  

2. Doubleknot — Top Event and Membership Management Museum Software

Museum Software Overview

No matter how expansive your staff, building, or programs are, Doubleknot can help you manage your operations smoothly and effectively with integrated software solutions. If you’re hosting special events, you can sell tickets, register guests, and even collect donations with a secure POS solution through Doubleknot software. Plus, by integrating your membership list, your members will see their benefits automatically applied at checkout. It’s not just one-time events that are easy to manage with Doubleknot — you can also coordinate summer camps, classes and lecture series, and complex, multi-day and multi-track conferences to bring supporters to your museum.

Why We Love This Museum Software

Doubleknot is so much more than an event management software; it’s also a membership management solution and a targeted communications platform. You can seamlessly integrate your membership profiles with your event planning efforts, making it easy to update your museum members via email, view analytical reports, and apply automatic member benefits like discounted admission or early registration.  

3. Double the Donation — Top Matching Gifts Museum Software

Museum Software Overview

For any fundraising effort, you can make the most of your supporters’ donations through matching gifts. And with Double the Donation‘s matching gift software, you can empower your donors to follow through with the matching gift process! You can add Double the Donation’s matching gift plugin to your donation form, a designated matching gift page on your website, and even your donation confirmation emails.

Why We Love This Museum Software

Matching gifts are such an easy way to boost your fundraising revenue, but sometimes, the process can seem intimidating to your supporters. Double the Donation guides your museum members through guidelines and forms to help them make their gift go further!  

4. Fundly — Top Crowdfunding Museum Software

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By donorsearch

How does prospect research vary by nonprofit cause?

The first little pig needed straw. The second little pig required sticks. The third little pig sought bricks. And that big bad wolf? He needed enough breath to blow all those houses down. Depending on who you are, what you need to succeed varies. No two types of nonprofits seek the same prospects. An education-based nonprofit won’t build its fundraising campaign from the same prospects as a healthcare organization, which will differ in prospects from fraternities and sororities. Like a home, you build your life out of the materials at hand, and you hammer away at your work until something stands upright that you can be proud of. While the various types of nonprofits use prospect research to unearth similar information, they’re doing so for different types of donors and for a wide range of causes. We’ll talk about eight different nonprofits that use prospect research:
  1. K-12 Education Organizations
  2. Higher Education Institutions
  3. Healthcare Organizations
  4. Greek Organizations
  5. Arts and Cultural Nonprofits
  6. Community Foundations
  7. Faith-Based Organizations
  8. Advocacy Groups, Social Service Organizations, and Environmental Groups
jQuery(window).on("hashchange", function () { window.scrollTo(window.scrollX, window.scrollY - 200); }); Keep reading as look deeper at these types of organizations and how they can use prospect research to their advantage.

K-12 Education Organizations

Unless they’re prodigy pop stars or the lucky inheritors of a family fortune, young adults tend not to have the funds to give major gifts. This leaves their parents as the prime major gift prospects. Each year, new students arrive, old ones leave, and parents come and go with their children. It’s important for schools to screen their lists of parents at certain times throughout the year in order to identify who to pursue with their limited fundraising resources. Good screening times include:
  • the beginning of the school year
  • the end of the year around graduation
  • in between semesters
It’s important to space out screening prospects so as not to overwhelm your fundraising team with too much information at once. Most parents remain involved with schools for multiple years, so time is on your side, but you want to make the most of it.

Higher Education Institutions

As with K-12 schools, parents are a primary focus, but they’re not the only focus. Alumni networks are filled with wealthy folks eager to support their alma maters. Many colleges and universities use telefunds to reach out to their alumni networks, and telefunds are most efficient when they organize prospects according to certain criteria, such as a specific calling pool for major gift prospects. This allows schools to keep track of their most important donors and call them at the right times of the year with specific ask strategies. If you’re interested in learning more expert advice on how colleges and universities can raise funds, check out our university fundraising guide. Keep in mind that reaching out to current students and recent graduates may not be fruitful, especially in terms of landing major gifts, but it’s important to plant the philanthropy seed early. That way, when these people do make big bucks they remember to give back to the place that set them on the right path. Learn more about prospect research for education-based organizations.

Healthcare Organizations

People get sick, people feel better, and people are constantly coming and going from hospitals. This leaves healthcare organizations with little time to discover who among the masses is a major gift prospect. Hospitals can bulk screen patients daily, weekly, or monthly, according to their schedules. It’s important to stay on top of the constant influxes and departures of patients, as cultivating relationships takes time. You don’t want to miss out on your chance to begin dialogues with the people most likely to give large donations. Many nonprofit hospitals run grateful patient programs, which consist of teams of doctors, fundraisers, and other staff who use prospect research to pursue donations from the major gift prospects either staying in or recently departed from their hospitals. Grateful patient programs work best with daily patient screenings, as you don’t want to miss out on a single opportunity to pursue a donation

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By DonorSearch

Milwaukee Film, Social Media, and Donor Engagement

DonorSearch’s blog is dedicated to covering prospect screening and other fundraising-related topics but sometimes we like to highlight interesting examples of donor engagement. So we reached out to Sarah Bernstein of Philanthrodata and Jessica Bursi of Milwaukee Film to give us insight into how Milwaukee Film engages with their donors through social media. Last year, during Thanksgiving week, Milwaukee Film embarked on a Twitter campaign to steward their donors, sponsors, and volunteers. But it was their approach to this stewardship which got my attention. Full disclosure: I am not (yet) a donor to Milwaukee Film. I follow them on Twitter because I was a film major in college, and a Milwaukeean. However, this Twitter campaign excited me as a prospect researcher. Milwaukee Film is the nonprofit organizer of the annual Milwaukee Film Festival, but their mission statement shows that they are driven by a deep love for our city, and the people in it:
Film can entertain, educate, and empower. It can bring change on levels both intimate and epic. And it’s at its best as a communal viewing experience, with the best possible sound and projection. As a nonprofit cultural institution, Milwaukee Film has made it our mission to communicate all of this to the city that we love, in a way that is both true and unique to Milwaukee.
As a prospect researcher, I was struck by the way Milwaukee Film’s Thanksgiving tweets showed remarkable insight into their donors and what makes them tick. So I highlighted some of their tweets on my blog. However, as time went on, and discussion about social media ethics heated up in the prospect research community, I wanted to know more. I was particularly interested in knowing more about how Milwaukee Film gained their knowledge about their donors and how they used social media to engage with prospects and build a fundraising constituency. I was especially interested because they are a small local grassroots organization, without the level of staffing in prospect development and social media that universities typically have. So I contacted their development director, Jessica Bursi, and we had a lively conversation. The transcript below follows that conversation and some questions which I had later.

Sarah: Last Thanksgiving, Milwaukee Film undertook a remarkably donor-centric stewardship campaign on Twitter. How did that come about?

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By DonorSearch

Prospect Research for Arts and Culture Nonprofits

Imagine a world without music: stages bereft of the patters of ballerina feet, theaters stripped of their actors, and galleries deprived of inquisitive conversation. No art. A culture built upon rationality and devoid of its hallmark creativity. Such a world may never exist, but just like hospitals, schools, and homeless shelters, the human spirit requires funding in order to thrive. Prospect research is the key to how your arts and cultural nonprofit can survive and thrive! Ticket sales and membership fees won’t fund your organization quite like a major gift will. It’s the difference between eating a pile of Halloween candy instead of one giant slice of dark, dense, creamy chocolate cake. The chocolate cake is more food, more satisfying, and you don’t have to open multiple wrappers to enjoy it. A few significant donations will help you to attain your fundraising goals better than a plethora of small gifts, and prospect research is the best way to identify major gift donors. It’s hard to identify new prospects and donors. Like, solve-a-Rubik’s-cube-while-blindfolded-and-with-one-hand-tied-behind-your-back hard. Okay, maybe not that hard, but, without the proper tools, prospect research can be both time consuming and imprecise. Your time is valuable, and you don’t want to spend it searching for and then pursuing the wrong prospects. We’ll cover the following topics so you can gain a better understanding of how your arts ad cultural nonprofit can benefit from prospect research:
  1. How screening for arts and cultural nonprofits is different
  2. Who arts and cultural nonprofits should screen
  3. How arts and cultural nonprofits should preform prospect research
  4. When arts and cultural nonprofit should screen prospects
For more advice on how to receive gifts from major donors, download our free whitepaper on Major Giving: Prospects and Approaches

1. How Screening for Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Is Different

Prospect research has a lot of consistency across various nonprofit industries, but hospitals acquire prospects differently than schools who acquire prospects in a unique way from arts and cultural organizations. How people engage with your nonprofit can dictate when and where to look for major gift prospects. Other nonprofit industries don’t have members and ticket purchasers who are already giving money to your organization. This makes discovering financially capable prospects different from how hospitals, schools, and other nonprofits identify prospects, and prospect research can fill in all the missing details that can separate potential prospects from those worth pursuing. Furthermore, your organization is a form of entertainment. From gardens to animals to ballerinas, arts and cultural organizations show off forms of creative work. Many of the people who come to see your work have a certain amount of personal investment in the subject matter, which makes finding new prospects unique as people have to be passionate about what you create. As a form of entertainment, you receive plenty of audience feedback. These critiques let you know what prospects care about, as they want these particular things fixed. Or they might love your work! Either way, feedback lets you know who cares about what, so you can use those particulars to both make more specific donation pitches and perform in-depth research on prospects. Arts and cultural nonprofits have a unique angle for getting to know prospects, and learning how to think about different patrons in order to segment donors for screening is an important skill to learn.

2. Who Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Should Screen

Major gift prospects can be segmented in a variety of ways. For arts and cultural organizations, prospects tend to fall within one of the following categories:
  • Members
  • Single-ticket purchasers
  • Special event attendees
  • Consistent donors


A unique aspect of museums, aquariums, theaters, and other arts and cultural organizations is that they offer memberships. While memberships might demonstrate a sincere loyalty to an organization, they also may represent economical financial decisions more so than a desire to invest in an organization. For instance, take Gertrude, who attends her local art museum for the first time and discovers that a single day ticket costs $10, while a year-long membership costs $35. Gertrude decides that, between her friends, family, and personal interest in art, she’ll visit at least four times throughout the year, so she purchases a year-long membership. Gertrude becomes a member because she is trying to save money, and not because she wants to contribute more than required to the art museum. Membership is best looked upon as an indicator of association with your organization, but not a guarantee that people want to donate.  Arts and cultural organizations should disregard membership participants completely, however. Going back to our example, if Gertrude continues to renew her membership year after year, this could be an indicator that she is interested in supporting your organization. Keeping a record of your organization’s members can offer insights into which donors are likely opting into the program to save money or because they want to support your cause. Whether you’re a museum, theater, or zoo, your members can play a vital role in your fundraising plan (just check out what this guide from Doubleknot has to say!). Keep in mind: most major donations to arts and cultural nonprofits do come from members, so, while membership is not a tell-all detail, it is something to pay close attention to.

Single Ticket Purchasers

Arts and cultural organizations also have consistent influxes of single-ticket purchasers. Like memberships, single-ticket purchases don’t indicate any particular affinity for your nonprofit, but they do demonstrate engagement and permit you to open up the conversation about donating.

Special Event Attendees

Special event attendees have a lot of potential to become major gift prospects since galas, museum dinners, and similar events include pricey entrance fees and attract the intelligent elite, who tend to have money to spare. However, never assume any prospect is or is not a major gift donor without conducting prospect research, as you might miss out on significant donations. Not only is prospect research a best practice for any fundraising campaign, but it can unearth hidden details about consistent donors.

Consistent Donors

Consistent donors, who tend to be members, are your prime major gift prospects, as they already give and engage with your nonprofit on a regular basis. A proper wealth and philanthropy screening can unearth previously unforeseen major gift potential among these loyal donors. This allows you to ramp up your gift cultivation from their normal amount to a more significant gift that can improve your nonprofit’s fortunes.

3. How Arts and Cultural Nonprofits Should Perform Prospect Research

Most prospect research companies favor wealth data over philanthropic histories, but that’s an ineffective approach

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