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Why Nonprofit Software Is Essential for Your Fundraising

While we like to bemoan frozen screens and 10-second load times, software solutions have saved all of us valuable hours and hard-earned dollars. But with the plethora of options out there, it can be hard to know where to start and what to prioritize. For many nonprofits, the root problem lies in relying on for-profit software rather than software tailor-made for nonprofit organizations. The solution? Purpose-built nonprofit software.

What are we talking about when we say “purpose-built” or “tailor-made” nonprofit software?

In the context of technology, “purpose-built” or “tailor-made” refers to software that was designed to meet specific industry requirements. This means that it was built with a certain audience in mind, with all of the features and functions optimized to meet that audience’s needs.

Software built just for nonprofits is tailor-made to meet your unique organizational needs. On the other hand, for-profit software that can be used for nonprofits often includes extra and irrelevant features, leading to a clunky user experience and jury-rigged solutions.

Why is a tailor-made tool or tech stack right for your nonprofit?

With those key terms defined, we can turn our attention to why purpose-built nonprofit software is the way to go.

1. It knows what you need.

And not in a creepy way. Because nonprofit software is designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, it’s built to meet all of your needs. That means it’s tailored to nonprofit workflows, reporting requirements, and compliance regulations.

2. Save time and money.

Purpose-built tools save you time and money that more general tools don’t. There are no costly add-ons and no opportunity cost loopholes. In short, specialized tools squeeze the most donation dollars from every effort, and everyone wants more juice for the squeeze!

3. Rest assured you’re the priority.

AmazonSmile recently shuttered its program with little warning. HubSpot substantially reduced its nonprofit support. For stretched nonprofits who relied on these resources, these events are damaging. But they’re also a wake-up call that tools made for for-profit businesses are not prioritizing nonprofit needs. When you use purpose-made software, you know you’re always the #1 customer.

4. It’s all about impact.

Nonprofit software is built with your needs in mind, so you can bet that there’s an emphasis on meaningfully measuring, analyzing, and sharing the impact of those donor dollars. With the right tech stack, you’ll have all the data that’s fit to share right at your fingertips, making it easy to whip up a success story or an annual report.

5. Folks who’ve been there — and care.

Tailor-made nonprofit software is usually built by nonprofit folks, and that means they come with a priceless resource: people who actually know what they’re talking about. So, when you reach out to customer support, you’ll get answers that align with your needs. Furthermore, you’ll join an active community of fellow fundraisers who can share advice and provide guidance.

Once you’ve decided to go with a tailor-made nonprofit software solution, you need to determine if you’re looking for one specific tool, building a custom tech stack, or going with an all-in-one solution. There’s nothing wrong with any of these options, but if your nonprofit has a specific strategy or goal in mind, you’ll want to turn to top-tier tools across the board. That means taking the time to do your research and (tech) stack it up.

What about tools that do it all?

Once you’ve made the purpose-built leap, there are still choices to make. You can go with one general nonprofit software tool with a variety of features or a tech stack of several even-more-purpose-built tools each serving a different purpose. While we can’t make that choice for you, we can tell you that the best technology solutions solve your primary problem and connect you with other critical tech infrastructure. That way, you’re never at a loss when a new issue crops up.

Speaking of tools that do it all… pardon our partiality, but in our opinion, the Virtuous-Funraise partnership offers everything you need to perfect your giving experience and then personalize the post-donation follow-up. Read on for all the details.

How to find purpose-built tools for your needs

So, what’s what here? Now, you know why purpose-built tools are necessary for nonprofits, but how do you identify them in the first place? The best place to start is a company’s website. First, check that they’re highlighting nonprofits and speaking to the challenges nonprofits face. Then, look for key features that meet your organization’s unique needs, be they donor management tools or marketing automation.

If you don’t want to poke around on 100 websites, we see you. Here are a few of our favorite options.

A purpose-built partnership in nonprofit software

When it comes to tailor-made tools for nonprofits, our list is short for a reason. Integrating Virtuous with Funraise gives you the best of all nonprofit worlds (and a better world is what we’re all working toward, right?) Here are some of the dynamite nonprofit solutions you get with the Virtuous-Funraise team:

  • Funraise. Funraise is your one-stop fundraising shop for nonprofits. We provide a carefully curated collection of nonprofit fundraising tools, including:
    • Campaign site builder tailored to your fundraising strategy.
    • Peer-to-peer fundraising (instead of general crowdfunding) tools.
    • Events and ticketing platform, including ticket sales registration, custom questions, and check-in.
    • Dashboards and data through our Fundraising Intelligence feature, including fundraising dashboard templates and custom donation reports, from LYBUNTY to SYBUNTY.
    • Automated key processes, like donor communications, company matches, and account expirations.
  • Virtuous. Virtuous’ nonprofit CRM provides a suite of tools to automate your marketing, engage your donors, and mobilize volunteers.
    • A nonprofit CRM that helps you build better relationships and increase impact with confidence
    • Automation tools that make it easy to determine your next best action with real-time data from each donor
    • Marketing & email tools that allow you to send multichannel campaigns to activate donors and increase engagement
    • Signals that provide you with actionable insights that help you retain donors and extend engagement

Top general tools

Tailor-made nonprofit software tools are great, but there are some excellent general tools out there, too. And remember, all of these work better and harder for you when integrated with a purpose-built nonprofit software solution.

  • QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks integrates with most nonprofit platforms, making even the most complex nonprofit accounting easy.
  • Facebook and Instagram. By connecting your social platforms to your purpose-built nonprofit tools, you can boost revenue and build community.
  • Shopify. E-commerce can be a great source of revenue for nonprofits, especially when you can integrate Shopify with your favorite nonprofit tool to segment shoppers.
  • Slack. In our hybrid working world, Slack makes it easy for nonprofits and for-profits alike to get on the same page, share files, and catch up after a long weekend away.
  • Canva. This general graphic design platform has a ton of useful resources for nonprofits, including the Canva Design School for Nonprofits and Canva templates for nonprofits.
  • Intuit Mailchimp. This user-friendly email platform is perfect for digital appeals and integrates with most platforms.
  • Google Analytics. Google’s analytics platform helps you understand each user’s journey through key metrics and predictive analytics.

What types of tools should you consider replacing?

Now that you have a list of great pieces of nonprofit software, it’s probably time to replace those that aren’t serving your needs. Here are a few at the top of our “needs improvement” list.

  • PayPal donation form. While many nonprofits use PayPal’s payment processor, the giving experience is clunky and leaves you to do all the heavy lifting, like tracking your donors and providing tax receipts.
  • Google Sheets/Excel. Rather than manually entering data and clicking between 100 tabs, use the Virtuous CRM to streamline and automate your donor management with the added bonus of data-driven insights.
  • Crowdfunding tools. Crowdfunding is P2P’s cousin — the resemblance is clear! But while it has its uses, nonprofit fundraisers are not the primary audience for crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is great for individuals who need help financing personal needs or goals.
  • General email service providers (ESP). Whether it’s AWeber, SendGrid, Emma, or something else entirely, you’ll be better off with Virtuous’ ESP. It lets you easily communicate with donors across multiple channels, with personalized email templates, ready-made sequences, and intuitive segmentation and reporting.

Whether you believe a nonprofit should be run like a business or not, nonprofits definitely have unique needs compared to other organizations. By investing in tailor-made software for nonprofits, your staff, donors, and fundraising numbers will thank you.

Purpose-built nonprofit software: Key takeaways

  • “Tailor-made” or “purpose-built” nonprofit technology is software designed to meet the specific needs of its audience.
  • Because nonprofits have very different needs from for-profit businesses, purpose-built software is preferable for effective fundraising thanks to specialized features that get the most out of every donor gift.
  • Nonprofits can choose between a more general tool with a variety of tailor-made features or they can combine different tools for a customized tech stack.
  • If you’re spending time cobbling together solutions or wishing your software had such-and-such feature, consider replacing tools that aren’t meeting your individual organizational needs with software made just for nonprofits.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Schedule a discovery call with us, where we can show you around, answer your questions, and help you see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

If you know another nonprofit pro who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via Email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.

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Todd Shinabarger
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