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The Best and Most Available Tools for Identifying Prospective Donors

donorprofileTicket sales and registration fees help cover the costs of an organization’s activities, but donors are a non-profit’s life-blood. Cultivating current donors and attracting new ones is often a time consuming task, so choosing the right tools to help simplify the process is essential.

Today, an array of CRM database programs and services are available to non-profits with the purpose of integrating all of the relevant customer and donor information into a single program. Tracking and reporting tools provide nonprofit professionals with valuable data and empower the organization to mine prospective donors from its own wealth of knowledge. After all, having information about a particular donor is nearly useless if that information is scattered across multiple filing cabinets, computers and notebooks.

Three top rated donor management database systems are Donor Perfect, Salesforce and GiftWorks:

Donor Perfect (www.donorperfect.com) A highly rated program based on monthly subscriptions, Donor Perfect is designed to be easy to use and lower in cost. Features include things like automatic electronic funds transfers, targeted e-mailing, donation summaries, and the choice between a software version and an online version. For small and growing nonprofits, the online option means that there is no need to install software, and the database is accessible from anywhere. Their web site has more information about special packages for small organizations with fewer than 1,000 donor records.

Salesforce.com (www.salesforce.com) Salesforce is a popular option for more advanced users. Designed as a CRM tool for businesses of all sizes, it is easily adaptable to nonprofits. This online service requires no software installation, which can make setup much faster. Non-profits can apply to receive up to 10 free Enterprise level licenses so multiple users in your organization can have individual accounts.

GiftWorks by Mission Research (www.missionresearch.com) A more traditional option for locally installed software on Microsoft computers, GiftWorks integrates with Microsoft Outlook and QuickBooks. This full featured programs helps organizations manage donor relationships, track payments, process electronic funds transfers, target mailings, track grants, and create reports. Costs for purchasing GiftWorks software licenses start at $499 for the compact version, but paying more up front may help your nonprofit save money in the long term by eliminating monthly bills.

Other top rated programs available to nonprofits today include eTapestry, Nonprofit Manager by Trailblazer, and DonorPro. All are worth consideration, but it is advised that your organization takes time to decide what the most important functions and features are to make your donor search the most effective.

Questions you should consider before shopping for your donor database service:

  • How much training and technical support will your staff need?
  • Will you need to target potential donors based on factors like past donations, interests, attendance, or lifetime giving?
  • Will you need to be able to direct mail and e-mail donors?
  • Do you require payment and website integration?
  • Most importantly, what can you afford to pay for?
Databases are very powerful tools for donor research, but if your organization isn’t ready to launch into a potentially expensive and time consuming search for the perfect database program there are other tools to try.

Mailing Lists

Email marketing services like Mail Chimp make collecting contacts and creating professional e-mails easy work. Email marketing is the perfect way to market to members, visitors, and other interested individuals who have opted in to receive communication from your organization. Spending money on an email marketing service can give you the power to utilize special reporting features such as the ability to track who opened your e-mails and what they click on. Upload your current contacts to these services, create e-mail templates, integrate with social media, send an e-mail blast, and then track your success.

iContact (www.iContact.com) Free for up to 500 subscribers, plans start at $10 a month for 500-100,000 subscribers.

Mail Chimp (www.mailchimp.com) Free for up to 2000 subscribers, paid plans offer expanded features and start at $10 a month, in addition to the pay-as-you go method for $0.03 per e-mail.

Events & Event Marketing

Non-profits rely on galas, auctions, seminars, and other special events to raise funds and attract new donors. Enhance your event marketing strategy and increase attendance with web-based tools designed to create invitations, foster word of mouth, simplify the registration or RSVP process, and estimate attendance in advance.

In addition to ticket cost, the one of the best ways to increase attendance is to make registration and payment as simple as possible. Nonprofits lacking a web developer to create slick web site forms and shopping carts or box office facilities to process transactions can still make event registrations and ticket sales simple for attendees.

Brown Paper Tickets (brownpapertickets.com) Brown Paper Tickets allows you to create your own event, fill in the details, and select payment methods, as well as providing social media sharing links and allowing you to change discounts and details later on. You can even integrate the ticketing service into your own website, sell tickets at the door, distribute tickets to media outlets and use promotional codes. Ticket charges of $0.99 + 3.5% are paid by the buyer, while free events incur no fees.

The Ultimate Internet Marketing Tool?

Looking for the Swiss army knife of donor marketing solutions? Constant Contact is a robust and highly rated Internet marketing solution that targets small businesses and nonprofits.

Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) A very popular Internet marketing tool, Constant Contact plans start at $15 a month. Combine your mailing lists, surveys, and event marketing tools into one service and integrate them all with social media to make a big impact with current and potential donors. If your staff needs training, Constant Contact seminars occur regularly across the US and online.

Start Identifying New Donors

The services listed above are only a small selection of what is available to non-profits that seek to increase income without spending too much money or burdening staff members. Most of these solutions are web-based, following the Internet trend of “cloud computing,” and in case you missed it, all of these solutions have the ability to integrate social media. This is because social media is an excellent tool for establishing donor relationships. Many young people will become donors in the future, and today they are learning about nonprofits through websites and social media profiles. Don’t overlook the power of social media to cultivate donors for the future.

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