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By Ryan Ponzurick

Your donors are the backbone of your organization: without their ongoing support, your nonprofit wouldn’t be able to complete any of the projects that are vital for achieving your goals. Every donor is unique, with different passions and motivations. They give at different levels, for different reasons, at different times of the year. And that can be a lot to keep track of, especially when you want to maintain strong relationships with all of them! So what’s a nonprofit team to do? Invest in donor management software! With a strong centralized database to keep track of your donors’ personal information and engagement history, you can strengthen your fundraising strategy, moves management, event planning, and marketing tactics, all within one software platform. What do you need to look for in donor management software to ensure that your nonprofit can steward your donors to the highest degree? Our favorite donor management software features are:
  1. Software customization and flexibility.
  2. Major gifts stewardship tools.
  3. Reporting and analysis capabilities.
  4. Event planning and management.
  5. Subledger capacities for contribution income.
With these five features, you’ll be able to improve your relationships with existing donors, cultivate new ones, and strengthen your nonprofit’s strategies across the board. If you’re ready to learn, let’s get started!

1. Software customization and flexibility.

In order to effectively use a donor management software as the central database around which to build your fundraising strategy, you have to be able to customize the software solution to fit your organization’s unique needs. There are many ways that software needs to be flexible—appearance, user permissions, and the ability to integrate with other programs are all important ways that your donor management software needs to be able to adapt. But those aren’t the only things to keep in mind! As a nonprofit, your organization has unique needs that your donor management software should address. With your new software, your nonprofit’s team should be able to:
  • Create custom donor profiles. A robust donor management software should provide you with comprehensive donor profiles, but you should also be able to add custom fields based on your organization’s unique relationship with its donor population. These additional fields also improve understanding of a donor and strengthen your database management strategy.
  • Build custom reports. Your organization needs to be able to make data-driven decisions in order to strengthen all facets of your strategy. To do that, you’re going to have to analyze and understand your data. With custom reporting abilities, you can create reports based on any criteria your organization needs.
  • Design custom dashboards. Every member of your organization’s team has a slightly different job and will need to see different things. With customizable dashboards, each team member can design their homepage to include the information most crucial to their position and daily tasks.
Customizability and flexibility of your software solution is important for an organization that wants to increase efficiency and strengthen donor relationships in a consistent and predictable manner.

2. Major gift stewardship tools.

Major gifts are a nonprofit organization’s crowning fundraising achievement. These gifts represent months of careful cultivation and personalized solicitations, and your donor management software should be able to help your team gain more of these donations. Major giving strategies rely on the ability of your organization’s team to build strong, meaningful relationships between your nonprofit’s mission, your organization, and your potential major giver. But what does this look like in practice?
  1. Use your donor management software to identify donor prospects with an integrated wealth screening tool, and analyze existing donors for opportunities for cultivation with a comprehensive search tool.
  2. Create a personalized dashboard for major gift solicitation opportunities that includes donors, active proposals, and other important information for your major giving strategy.
  3. Strengthen your moves management strategy with the ability to track meetings, phone calls, event attendance, and other interactions, as well as schedule follow-ups automatically.
  4. Create specific cultivation timelines for each major gift prospect, and monitor the status of their cultivation process on an individual basis.
Using software to manage your major giving strategy allows your major gift officers to set standards and create a predictable, consistent process for your cultivation and solicitation strategies. When your team has a strong strategy in place, you can analyze each step and determine where your weaknesses are. If prospects are dropping off at a certain step in a majority of opportunities, you can quickly identify the issue and determine how best to prevent it. Your nonprofit should prioritize investing in software that makes your major giving cultivation process easier. These gifts can change the game for your organization, so make sure that you’re giving your team all the advantages that you can. For extra help with learning the basics of prospect research and how it can help your organization’s strategy, check out this prospect research guide from the experts at Donorly!

3. Reporting and analysis capabilities.

The number one rule of nonprofits and for-profit businesses alike is that data-driven decisions are better decisions. Therefore, you should choose a donor management software solution that makes it as easy as possible to make those decisions. No matter if you want to more deeply understand the results of your events, campaigns, or more intricate projects, make sure that your software solution has the capacity to run those reports. Some other important features to look for include:
  • The ability to schedule reports to run automatically, providing monthly, weekly, or even daily reports on what your nonprofit needs to know.
  • Analysis of your donor population, your gift appeal success rate, your major gift opportunities, or capital campaign activities.
  • Return-on-investment reports for your fundraising events, campaigns, and appeals.
  • Reporting for individual units of larger nonprofits, like regional offices or chapters.
Don’t forget to check the options that your donor management software can offer. Your software solution should offer a library of pre-built reports, to make crunching numbers a snap, as well as the ability to create reports based on your organization’s unique and essential fundraising metrics. Drag-and-drop creation abilities are a major plus! When your organization is able to use its data in an easy to understand and functional way, you can strengthen every step of every process.

4. Event planning and management.

Fundraising events are an important part of any nonprofit’s calendar. They’re the perfect opportunity for your team to get to know your donors more personally, as well as bring in some new faces to learn about your mission. But planning events can be time-intensive, expensive, and difficult overall. Between venue rentals, catering, parking, registration and check-in, and advertising for the event, it’s easy for things to slip through the cracks and get forgotten. Your nonprofit may already be using an event planning software solution. But does it integrate with your donor management software? The easiest way to ensure that you’re planning the best possible event is to choose a donor management software that comes with event planning and registration capabilities built in. When your event management strategy is fully integrated with your donor management software, you’ll be able to more easily host successful events. Some features of event planning your nonprofit should look for are:
  • Budgeting and tracking capabilities.
  • Registration pages and payment processors for online sign-ups.
  • Automatic email confirmations and reminders for registrants.
  • Guest preference tracking, like food restrictions and accessibility needs.
  • Volunteer sign-up and assignment management.
Your donor management software should also allow you the option to strengthen your advertising campaigns, through options like sending targeting emails to specific segments of your supporter population. When your event planning and management is done through software that can generate reports for you, you can more easily measure costs and understand your return on investment. This, in turn, strengthens both your fundraising strategy and your event planning strategy for the future.

5. Subledger capacities for contribution income.

The donor management software should automatically feed all the necessary information to the general ledger software in the finance department without any manual intervention. Your donor management software, then, should be able to act as a fully auditable subledger for contribution income. For example, when your auditors need to find the transaction details for gifts over a certain amount, they would check the donor software because the general ledger will only have summary information. With accounting capabilities wrapped up in your donor management software, you can simplify reconciliation and data flow between your fundraising and finance teams, ensuring increased efficiency and accuracy of financial accounting. For this feature to be as robust as possible, the software solution needs to be able to track detailed accounting information for every donation, so that the appropriate GL codes are applied to the donation when communicated to your finance software. What are some important details that your nonprofit’s donor management software should be able to track in its subledger?
  • Project-based and time-based restrictions, like when a donation was received, and if there are any specific project-based restrictions on how the money must be spent.
  • Pledge receivables. The donor software should help eliminate any confusion between the development and accounting teams regarding the definitions of promise vs. intention, timing of payment, and restrictions governing how the money will be spent.
  • Status of a specific donation or transaction, like whether or not it has already been sent to finance and how that transaction has been reconciled to the bank.
A donor management software solution with the capability to produce trustworthy subledger reports is a major advantage for your nonprofit. Your organization can move to a fully automated reconciliation process, and your finance department will always be able to trust your fundraising department’s reports by eliminating human error. Do you want to learn more about how all of these capabilities can strengthen your major giving strategy? Head over to this guide to major giving from the ClearView CRM team! Your nonprofit organization should invest in a donor management software. And if you look for one with these 5 important features, you know that you’ll be able to strengthen every part of your strategy, from wealth screening to event planning, and increase support for your mission.

Author Bio

Joe Klimek is CEO of SofTrek, developer of ClearView CRM fundraising software. With more than 20 years’ experience helping organizations adopt new technology and processes, he has deep knowledge of the challenges that nonprofits face.
Donor Management Software: 5 Features All Nonprofits Need