Switching your fundraising software can be a difficult decision.
Many nonprofits have painfully discovered that feature-for-feature comparisons tend to fall short in revealing just how effective a platform truly is. Though an item may be checked off on a list of features, that doesn’t tell you how well the software actually delivers on that feature.
The better approach: Ask the questions that help determine the overall value. When you know which areas will have the biggest impact on your fundraising, you'll know what changing will lead to.
Things to consider with Fundraising software:
- Fundraising capability
- Design flexibility
- Access to your data
- Ease of use for fundraisers, donors and admins
For each of these areas, here are the most important questions to ask when considering new fundraising software:
How flexible is it?
The more types of fundraising your software can do, the better. Consider runs, walks, rides, endurance, DIY, virtual events, emergency campaigns, general giving, capital campaigns, and ticketed events. Make sure the software is scalable to cover your needs now and in the future, since maintaining multiple systems can mean multiple headaches, added expense, and wasted time.
Can it handle enterprise fundraising?
Growing your nonprofit means growing your peer-to-peer fundraising infrastructure. Team fundraising, national signature events, chapter and affiliate permissions, real-time insights, ad-hoc reporting, and multiple-person registration are features you may not need now, but might become necessary as you grow your fundraising. Your software needs to do them and do them well, since switching becomes more cumbersome the bigger your nonprofit grows.
Does the software provide a seamless, mission-branded experience on every page?
Your fundraising site should be focused on building your organization’s brand and not your vendor’s.
Does the user interface drive better fundraising?
A clean layout, suggested fundraising amounts, and ability to configure what data is collected during the donation process are design elements that improve the giving experience and lead to more completed donations. Your software shouldn't feel like it was built in the last millennium.
Does the design include gamification?
Gamification of fundraising is important for success today. Achievement badges, progress thermometers, and leaderboards are expected features in peer-to-peer fundraising software.
Is it designed for mobile-first?
More than half of donor visits come through mobile. Be aware that responsive design can cost extra, or just be an afterthought.
Access to your data
Do the admins have a dashboard to quickly filter fundraising data in real-time?
Our research shows that waiting for data is one of the biggest frustrations for staff. Software that offers an interactive fundraising dashboard will save you from manually running reports.
Can you visually benchmark success to your past events?
You shouldn't have to export data and spend hours in a spreadsheet to get to critical success metrics.
Does it have built-in reports that cover most of what you need?
Last-minute requests for event data is a fact of life and it always seems to happen right before a board meeting.
Does it sync with Raiser’s Edge or Salesforce through connectors?
Moving fundraising data into your CRM through spreadsheets doesn’t cut it.
Does it have a comprehensive API to sync with any CRM software or other software?
Moving fundraising data is a necessity and APIs give you the means to sync with anything.
Targeted supporter notifications
Does it offer multiple channels for communicating with supporters?
Email and text message are pretty much required today.
Can you create scheduled notifications and modify triggered notifications?
In event fundraising, easily creating and controlling messaging is a powerful driver for fundraising. Having little control over these can result in poor motivation of participants.
Do supporters get motivational messaging based on their goals?
Automatically communicating through notifications is a huge factor in activating and motivating your fundraisers. Your software should be able to automatically track individual participant success, or lack of it, and send motivational messages based on the goals participants have met.
Can you reuse messaging for next year’s event?
Rewriting marketing communications each year is a big waste of time.
Ease of use
What’s the experience like for participants?
The experience for your participants is so important since they’re the ones doing the fundraising. They want to register quickly, have the tools to fundraise at their fingertips, and be coached in fundraising best practices automatically.
What’s the experience for donors?
Likewise, you need to make the donation process as easy and fast as possible to not lose your donors.
What’s the experience for staff?
They need to create events, monitor event success, and report results with a minimum amount of time invested from wherever they are. It's important to walk through these process as a participant, donor and admin for any software you’re considering.
How quickly and effectively does support respond?
Response time shouldn’t take a week. You also should verify that the software company offers their own experts and isn’t farming-out support to a call center.
What support channels are offered?
Phone support, email, and live chat are ideal. Do they offer emergency support? If you can’t get support on the day of your event, it could mean a loss of revenue.
Is an account manager part of the package?
Beyond product support, the company should offer strategy and success assessment from a human being.
What's the implementation process?
Make sure there's a thorough implementation schedule with clear project deadlines assigned by your project manager.
Is there training for the staff?
Be cautious if training is not included in your contract. This can be costly, especially if you have numerous people on your staff that need to be trained.
What’s the real price tag?
Make sure you know what’s included in the pricing. Companies can charge less up front, then nickel and dime you for the small things.
Are deeper supporter engagement opportunities part of the platform?
Options to cover transaction fees, get matching gifts, and accept recurring donations all drive more revenue.
How reliable is it?
Loss of data and downtime are not things software companies brag about. Are they honest enough to have a status page to show their track record at reliability?
Does it have a proven track record?
Make sure the software has a history of success and is robust enough to handle your needs. There have been many instances of software crashing under heavy fundraising because it hasn't been real-world tested.
Will they refer you to a current client with a program similar to yours?
They should be able to give you references and not just quotes from current clients.
Use this checklist when evaluating peer-to-peer fundraising software, and you'll have a much clearer picture of how successful you can expect to be.