20 Ways to Maximize Fundraising with Donor Management Software

Mark Kelly
October 3, 2016

If you work for a nonprofit that has faced the challenge of managing fundraising efforts without the right software, you know just how many problems using the wrong software can bring up.

First, there's the issue of unintegrated data. By using separate platforms to manage different aspects of your donor information, your data sources have no way to inform each other and, in turn, inform your fundraising efforts.

This isolation of your data makes it difficult for you to get a full picture of your supporters, which hurts your fundraising efforts.

Second, without the right software, you face the problem of messy data.

Without the automated cleaning features included in donor management software, like deduplication, you're left with more room for error. Plus, you're forced to spend valuable person hours on maintenance tasks that software can automate for you.

Donor management software centralizes data and automates processes to help nonprofits achieve deeper donor relationships and more targeted fundraising efforts.

That's why more and more nonprofits are turning to fundraising software to help them make their fundraising efforts less stressful and more successful.

Read on for 20 ways software can help you strengthen your fundraising efforts. Read them all to improve your overall fundraising strategy or jump to a topic by click a link below. 

With donor management software, you're sure to build stronger donor relationships and, in turn, reach new fundraising heights.

Donor Relationships

One of the primary functions of donor management software is to help facilitate deeper nonprofit benefactor relationships.

Software simplifies the process of collecting and organizing donor data. By centralizing all pieces of data in one place, they can communicate with each other to give you the most complete pictures of your donors.

By getting to know your donors as well as possible, you can make individualized appeals and enhance your fundraising strategies.

1. Create Detailed Benefactor Profiles

The days of incomplete donor profiles are history.

No longer will your records just consist of the basics like name and contact information, which tell you nothing about who your donors actually are.

With a donor management software, you can make your donor profiles as detailed as you want so you can get to know your donors personally and make individualized outreach efforts.

Profiles can include a variety of details, such as:

  • Contact information
  • Demographics
  • Familial and household relationships
  • Interests
  • Social media profiles

If you want to create a donor experience that's even more personalized, you can add custom fields with information that relates to your cause or even make notes to remind yourself of important donor interactions.

Once you've organized your donor profiles to your heart's content, you can segment your database into multiple lists based on certain criteria and target them with separate appeals.

With donor management software, you'll practically know your donors better than they know themselves!

2. Track Interaction History

Actions really do speak louder than words.

Biographical details aren't the only thing that defines your donors. Even more telling can be how they've interacted with your organization in the past.

Donor management software tracks every historical interaction a donor has had with your nonprofit, from past donations to event attendance and more.

By tracking all donor actions in one place, you can gain deeper insight and cater your outreach to your donors' interests, habits, and concerns.

Furthermore, by centralizing personal details and interaction history in one place, they can inform each other to provide you with a nuanced understanding of your donors.

For example, say you're looking at a donor named Sam. With a CRM, you could see that in March, Sam signed a petition to strengthen legislation protecting endangered species. Then, in December, he gave to a campaign that raised money towards conserving mountain gorilla habitats.

Now that you know Sam's passionate about helping wildlife, you can make a targeted approach and reach out to him when you're running similar campaigns in the future.

Sam will appreciate the opportunity to give, and your organization will benefit from more responsive donors.

3. Develop Annual Donors into Major Gift Patrons

For most nonprofits, 80% of contributions come from only about 20% of their donor base.

What's that 20%, you might ask? It comes primarily from major gifts.

That being the case, major gifts can be extremely valuable for organizations. Because they make up a good chunk of your yearly fundraising totals, they're worth focusing on. 

Fundraising software can ensure you're making the most out of your loyal donor base with built-in donor development tools that help you better cultivate your donors.

With the right software behind you, you’ll be able to more readily move annual fund donors along the pipeline toward major giving.

First, you can integrate your donor profiles with wealth screening tools to determine major gift prospects that might already be sitting in your database.

When you have your sights set on a donor, you can create detailed workflows to help you plan your approach and track every step of your outreach.

Lastly, once you've successfully developed that supporter into a major donor, you can run robust cultivation reports to better predict when your donors might make major donations.

With donor management software, you'll always have peace of mind knowing you're not missing out on a major gift donor hiding right under your nose.

4. Automate Reminder Emails

Although they may be passionate about supporting your cause, your donors are busy. When life gets in the way, they'll more than likely need a reminder that it's time to contribute.

As an organization who's equally as busy with your own efforts and operations, it can be all-too-easy to forget to reach out to your donors.

Make sure something as simple as a forgotten reminder never leads to you missing out on a contribution.

With nonprofit CRM software, you can schedule automated emails to remind donors to complete a number of actions, including:

  • Donating to a campaign
  • Paying membership dues and fees
  • Attending or volunteering at an event
  • Signing a petition
  • Following through on pledges

With your donor profiles on hand, you can segment your supporters into separate lists and send different reminders to different groups. 

Plus, never again will you have to spend time drafting and sending out emails that your computer can send for you.

5. Always Say Thanks

Your donors are hugely valuable when it comes to helping you further your cause.

Make them feel appreciated by always saying thanks after they make a contribution.

Like reminder emails, a constituent relationship management system can help nonprofits segment, automate, and manage thank yous.

For large scale campaigns where it's harder to reach out to each individual personally, you can draft thank you letter templates for each segment of donors and schedule them to send out when your software registers that a donor has made a contribution.

After your CRM sends the donor an automated email, follow up with a phone call or handwritten letter to thank your donors personally. Software makes it easier to keep track of whom you've already contacted and how.

Never again will you have to fear missing a donor or sending repeat messages!

For more expert tips on how to improve your donor acquisition, check out this list of 14 best practices. 


Annual Development Plan Checklist



Donation Processing

When it comes to the donation process, CRM software can make a world of difference for both organizations and donors alike.

For organizations, donation processing features streamline the process of accepting donations and give you greater diversity in where and how you can accept these donations.

Donors, on the other hand, will appreciate a quick, easy, and hassle-free donation process that never discourages them from doing good.

With donor management software on your side, you can achieve the most comprehensive and flexible donation experience out there!

1. Offer the Option to Donate Online 

Many nonprofits already offer donors the option to give online through payment processing websites like PayPal.

If this is the case for your organization, you already know that this strategy leaves something to be desired.

A payment processing website might work insofar as it lets you accept online donations, but there still remain the major problems that come with decentralized data.

Here are some common issues many nonprofits face when using a third-party site to take online donations:

  • Using a generic donation form limits the types of donations and payment methods you can accept.
  • Donation forms can't be branded or customized to reflect your organization and its needs.
  • There is no easy way to incorporate donation forms onto your website. Because you can't integrate these forms, contributors are forced to leave your page and stop interacting with your site when they want to donate.
  • Your organization is unable to track donor contributions in the same platform as donor profiles, resulting in less informed fundraising efforts down the line.


Donor management software addresses these problems by enabling nonprofits to accept, process, and track online donations in one platform.



With software, organizations can build customizable, campaign-branded donation forms and then easily incorporate these forms into their websites for a smoother digital donation experience. 

Plus, because the software also processes these payments, it automatically keeps track of donation history to give you a more complete picture of your donors.

When you switch to software, third-party sites will pale in comparison.

2. Go Mobile

Give your donors as many opportunities as possible to donate by going mobile with your fundraising.

It's estimated that 14% of total online donations were given on mobile phones last year. And with more and more people browsing the web on their smartphones, that number will only continue to rise.

Plus, studies have shown that customized mobile-responsive contribution forms yield better fundraising results by around 40%.

Stay ahead of the trend and optimize your efforts by incorporating opportunities for mobile giving into your fundraising campaign.

Many CRMs ensure that your customized online donation forms will also be mobile responsive so donors can give from wherever whenever.

The ability to accept mobile donations can also come in handy for fundraising events, because they enable you to securely and wirelessly process payments with the help of a mobile card reader.

With mobile giving software, the opportunity to give fits right into the palms of your donors' hands.

3. Accommodate More Payment Methods

Now, there are more ways to pay than ever.

The more payment methods you can accommodate, the more convenient the donation process is for your donors. The more convenient it is, the more likely they are to give.

Software lets you accept all kinds of payment methods, both digital and physical, to provide contributors with a highly flexible donation experience.

Not only can you accept cash, checks, and credit cards with ease, but you can also take less common methods like eChecks and ACH payments.

And with automatic contribution history tracking, you can gain valuable insights into your donors' preferred payment methods to make future appeals more relevant.

Never again will something as avoidable as an incompatible payment type keep you from getting the donations you need to further your cause.

4. Accept a Wider Variety of Contributions

Donor management software was built especially for nonprofits.

That being the case, it's really the only platform that can accurately process and distinguish between all of the different donation types that nonprofit organizations accept, including:

  • Major gifts
  • Recurring gifts
  • Gifts in memoriam, honor, or tribute
  • Matching gifts
  • Gifts in kind
  • Planned gifts
  • Stock gifts

Powerful gift entry and tracking features enable nonprofits to accept and make records of all types of gifts so the donation process is more nuanced and precise.

Plus, a CRM's automated features allow you to process multiple contributions in minutes.

With detailed donation histories on hand you can get a feel for your donors' giving habits and make sure you've properly acknowledged all of their contributions.

5. Provide clearer documentation.

Managing different parts of the donation process in separate platforms can make procuring accurate financial reports difficult at best and impossible at worst.

At the very least, financial documentation is important for keeping track of your nonprofit's progress and fiscal health.

When you consider how key it can be for securing grants, maintaining your status as a tax-exempt organization, and influencing other factors that greatly affect your organization's success, proper financial documentation becomes not only important but crucial.

Avoid a huge headache in the future by using donor management software to handle all of your payments from the beginning.

By tracking all contribution histories in one place, you're sure to have the most accurate and up-to-date financial reports available.

With software, you can also enhance the donation process for your contributors by sending them automated receipts after individual donations and year-end reports that reflect their annual giving.

You and your donors will always be on the same page, and you'll be your accountant's favorite client.


Annual Development Plan Checklist



Event Planning

As a nonprofit organization, you know that hosting fundraising events independently or in conjunction with other efforts can reap big rewards.

But as with any of your operations, managing fundraising events in a separate platform from your donor management system can make executing these events a lot more complicated.

With a donor management software that has built-in event management features, you can house donor profiles and event planning under the same roof to execute more successful fundraising events.

1. Collect registrations online.

Don't discourage potential participants with a cumbersome sign-up process.

Online registration enables contributors far and wide to sign up for your event in seconds.

Remember fundraising software's handy tool for helping you build donation forms and incorporate them into your website? Well, donation forms aren't the only thing this feature is good for.

You can also create customizable registration forms and feature them on your website so volunteers can register for your events by simply typing in their information. 

The beauty of customization is that you can tailor your forms to be completely unique to your organization and event. 

Donors won't have to waste the time entering any unnecessary information, and you'll only be receiving the data you need.

Start off your event planning right with online registrations.

2. Instantly input contact information.

There are many online event sites out there that can offer payment processing to nonprofits.

However, they may not offer an easy method to track attendees' contact information and put it into an existing donor database.

Constituent relationship management software with event planning capabilities automates the data collection process by instantly inputting event attendees' contact information into your donor database.

With software, you'll have a more complete list of supporters to draw on, and you'll waste less time manually inserting data.

It's also easier to reach out to donors. With their contact info at hand, you can send them reminder emails leading up to the event and thank yous after.

A CRM's automated tools mean you'll never miss out on a valuable donor relationship.

3. Pre-authorize credit cards.

By the time your event rolls around, your donors will be dying to jump into whatever exciting attractions you have planned.

Don't make them wait if they don't have to!

With donor management software, you can cut out some of the logistics and get to the fun faster by pre-authorizing your attendees' credit cards before the event.

Fundraising software stores your attendees' payment information in a secure place so you can process it as quickly as possible at the event site. You don't even have to use a credit card swiper!

But never fear: if you also need to process payments during the event, software makes it easy to do that, too.

Plus, with your donor profiles built into the same software, you can automatically send follow up receipts and thank you notes to contributors' emails for a seamless event experience.

With pre-authorization features, you'll have one less thing to worry about so you can focus all of your energy on hosting an amazing event.

4. Sell merchandise.

If your nonprofit has the resources, selling event-branded merchandise can be an excellent way to expand your fundraising efforts.

Not only can selling merch raise you more money, but it can also help you draw more attention to your cause by advertising your event.

Plus, people love to have mementos to help them commemorate their attendance, so if you have a quality stock, this strategy is practically guaranteed to make you money.

Here are just a few souvenir ideas to entice your volunteers:

  • T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, and other apparel
  • Accessories like bracelets
  • Buttons and magnets
  • Posters
  • Journals and calendars
  • Water bottles and coffee mugs

With software, you can get ahead of the game and start selling merch before the actual event with customizable form building and online payment processing.

Because your data is all in the same place, it's easy to match donors with their purchases and make sure everyone receives their goodies on the day of the event.

5. Hone your Auctions

CRM with event planning can be particularly helpful for organizations that host annual silent auction fundraisers.

Advanced donation processing makes it easy to accept gifts in kind leading up to the event and organize all auction items in one convenient database.

With the features of your donor management software, you can see which items each contributor has donated and follow up with personalized thank you notes once the event is over.

You can also track the desirability of certain auction items over the years, so you can pinpoint popular sellers and steadily raise starting bids from year to year in hopes of increasing your donations.

Input from multiple data sources helps you smarten your auctions and enhance your fundraising.


Annual Development Plan Checklist



Integrated Efforts

When it comes to donor management software, teamwork is the key.

You can make your fundraising efforts even more comprehensive by integrating them with software that includes features and tools to help you run your organization's other operations, such as:

  • Advocacy
  • Marketing
  • Volunteer Management
  • Staff Management
  • Peer-to-Peer

By housing donor profiles in the same platform as all other operations of your organization, you'll have the most informed fundraising strategies possible.

Read on for just a few of the ways each of these integrations can help.

1. Turn Everyone into an Advocate

If you're an organization seeking to influence legislation on top of your fundraising efforts, you need a way to organize your supporters and get them in touch with the right leaders.

Compounding advocacy software with your CRM makes reaching out to legislators quick and easy so you can start enacting political change.

Here are just a few of the ways advocacy software can help you make a difference:

  • Match constituents with influential leaders and legislators in their areas.
  • Automate webforms so supporters can send letters to policymakers by simply typing their name.
  • Let legislators know when you disapprove of their actions or thank them when you want to applaud their achievements.
  • Tweet at representatives about important issues.
  • Build customized petition forms that supporters can sign online.
  • Track constituent actions with detailed activity reports.

By centralizing donor management and advocacy features in the same platform, your donor profiles can inform your advocacy efforts, helping you target the appropriate leaders from the beginning.

In addition, by tracking all advocacy actions, your donor profiles will be even more detailed to give you further insights for future efforts.

With advocacy software and a CRM, your appeals will always reach the right ears.

2. Make More Effective Email Marketing Appeals

Donor management software already helps you get to know your supporters better. 

Combined with digital marketing software, you can take the knowledge you've gained and use it to hone your outreach.

CRMs with marketing features let you segment your supporters into different lists based on their interests, habits, and demographics, then send targeted marketing emails to appeal to each group.

Marketing tools converse with your CRM so you can even autofill fields from your donor profiles to make a more personalized approach.

Send email campaigns out right after you create them or schedule individual emails and drip campaigns. With powerful A/B testing features, you can experiment with your campaigns and continue to hone your strategies as you see what works.

Plus, software ensures high deliverability rates and mobile responsiveness, so your emails are sure to reach supporters' inboxes no matter what device they're browsing on.

3. Organize your Volunteer Base

CRM software doesn't just have to be for donors.

If you're a nonprofit, you likely also rely on the goodwill of volunteers to help you achieve your fundraising goals.

With the insights of CRM software, you can organize your volunteers to make their efforts more efficient.

Similar to the donor profiles discussed earlier, you can build profiles for each volunteer that include:

  • Contact information
  • Interests
  • Demographics
  • Skills
  • Volunteer history
  • Customizable fields
  • And more

A CRM will help you delegate the appropriate tasks to each volunteer so you can utilize their strengths for a more effective fundraising strategy. Then, organize these efforts by creating workflows that will keep everyone on track.

Additionally, with those handy form building tools, you can create volunteer sign-up forms and integrate them into your website. From there, supporters can volunteer with just a few clicks.

When you plan your volunteer efforts more strategically, you'll have a stronger and more unified base at your side.

4. Manage Membership

Some supporters are so enthusiastic about your cause that they want to become loyal members of your organization.

Your members are there to help you further your cause and expand your fundraising efforts. Take good care of them!

CRMs streamline the membership process so that dedicated donors will always have a positive membership experience.

Software can help you with the entire membership process from start to finish, including:

  • Building membership sign-up forms you can incorporate into your website.
  • Creating detailed member profiles and segmenting them into lists.
  • Tracking start dates, end dates, and renewals for existing members.
  • Automating reminder and thank you emails for renewals and fee collection.
  • Processing online due and fee payments.

By automating many aspects of your member outreach, CRM systems ensure that you will always keep members up-to-date and never miss a renewal request.

The more members you gain and maintain, the better your fundraising results will be.

5. Expand your Efforts with Peer-to-Peer

Luckily, you don't have to fundraise alone. 

If done right, peer-to-peer fundraising efforts can be extremely successful. Many nonprofits have already caught onto this fact, considering the number of social fundraisers has increased by 32% in just the last three years.

Hop on the bandwagon by hosting your own peer-to-peer fundraiser!

If you've never tried to run a P2P effort before, the thought of organizing and overseeing a large base of fundraisers can be intimidating. 

But don't worry. Once again, software can come to the rescue.

CRM software with peer-to-peer fundraising features have many valuable social tools, including:

  • Best practice email campaign templates to inspire supporters to become fundraisers.
  • Detailed profiles that can link up with fundraiser's social media pages.
  • A platform where fundraisers can build personalized donation pages.
  • Automated collection of donor contact information.
  • Online donation processing.
  • Social publishing options that make it easy for fundraisers to share their donation pages with friends.

By collecting all peer-to-peer efforts in one platform, you can easily keep track of your fundraisers' progress and see how they're getting you to your goals.

Fundraising is a huge ongoing effort for nonprofits.

CRMs automate many once manual processes, so you can put your efforts towards the most valuable, human-driven pursuits.

Even more importantly, the integration of many separate data sources helps you get to know your donors better so you can hone your outreach for smarter fundraising efforts and better results.

You can make your efforts even more successful with a range of integrations to put your separate efforts and operations in contact with each other.

If you want to unlock more supporter management and fundraising tips, check out these additional resources:

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