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The Best Fundraising Software for Faith-Based Nonprofits

Faith-based organizations need to attract and nurture donors and communicate the value of their support. Here's how technology can make that easy!

The Best Fundraising Software for Faith-Based Nonprofits

If you’re a faith-based nonprofit, you rely on dedicated donors to support your mission and programs. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

It’s likely not a big surprise that as participation in organized religions fade, so does philanthropy. The Philanthropy Roundtable recently said that in 2000, nearly 47% of American households gave to congregations or religious groups. By 2018, that number had slipped to 29%.

While this might be more alarming for a small church needing repair than for a large community partner, it’s a bellwether for all faith-based organizations. You need to move beyond flower shows or bake sales to share awareness of your mission and the increasing value of the supporters who believe in it.

We recommend thinking beyond traditional fundraising strategies and using a robust fundraising platform to find, engage, and nurture donors.

CharityEngine offers unique advantages to faith-based nonprofits. As an example, we partner with Hope Media Group. This client embraces technology and data, so it was no surprise when one of their radio stations, 89.3 KSBJ/God Listens, used CharityEngine’s real-time data feed during a live fundraiser to publicly thank donors as they called in or pledged online. Another client, 88.7 The Cross, used the software similarly during a five-day fundraiser. They doubled their goals!

While that’s a splashy way to use our system, we wanted to share a few other advantages of our technology that might pique your interest. We know we’re not the right fundraising software for every faith-based nonprofit, and you’ve got tons of choices (some of which we list below), so it’s a privilege to spend a few minutes with you sharing how we think we could impact your fundraising this year.

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Top Providers to Consider

When it's time to research fundraising software for your faith-based organization, solid choices await. In no particular order, here are some top providers we'd recommend you consider:

1. Bloomerang is known to be a good option for small to medium-sized nonprofits. It offers basic tools to help your nonprofit with donor communications and relationship management. While it has the core features smaller nonprofits need, it doesn't offer robust events management, membership management, and major gift modules, all of which our faith-based clients need.

2. Bonterra was created when a company acquired several smaller CRM companies (like Salsa, EveryAction, and Network for Good) and rebranded as Bonterra. While Bonterra is notorious for sunsetting software and pushing users to different platforms, it's indisputable that it has acquired a lot of functionality. We like that Bonterra can help nonprofits do just about anything, but we also talk to many customers who aren't happy they get pulled off systems they like.

3. Virtuous can help faith-based organizations increase personalized outreach with automated donor journeys. They tout the software's ability to make it easier to create meaningful connections with donors and help smaller teams be more efficient. This solid player is known for being forward-thinking. One note: full functionality relies pretty heavily on integrations, meaning you'll have siloed data in different systems.

4. Blackbaud is known as the grandpa of nonprofit CRMs. It's been around longer than anyone else! While they say their technology solutions will help you grow your church, take your mission further, and make the greatest impact, Blackbaud's strength is its enormous, comprehensive database that is a good solution for enterprise-level nonprofits with a lot of data. Blackbaud clients agree that it's most helpful to have an IT member on staff, because it's a complicated system.

5. DonorPerfect reports that religious and faith-based organizations see double-digit fundraising growth in each of their first three years with the system, which is an impressive statistic. We like it because it has a low price point to get started, making it palatable for smaller organizations, and the customer service is known to be excellent. The only caveat is that even email is achieved through an integration, so getting a holistic view of donors or campaigns is nearly impossible.

6. CharityEngine is, of course, our top recommendation. We're not for sale, so you'll never be forced off our platform or asked to bend to a bank's will. Even more importantly, all the fundraising tools you need are native to our system. All your data is right there, in real time, without syncs or downloads. And if you have third-party systems you want included, we offer robust APIs to make it easy.

That's a taste of why nonprofits like Wounded Warrior Project and Easterseals choose CharityEngine. But what about our faith-based clients? What features of our software do they most appreciate? Let's take a look.

CharityEngine: Fundraising Software for Faith-Based Nonprofits

Before we talk about specific aspects of our software, our clients enjoy two big benefits. We’d be remiss if we didn’t start our article with these biggies:

  • Every fundraising module is native to the software. You do not need to integrate Mailchimp or Eventbrite or Stripe. The benefit? Data from every source is always in real time, right at your fingertips, giving you a constant 360-degree view of every donor and every campaign. Without siloed data, you can personalize your communications, spot trends proactively, and run multichannel campaigns with ease. We’ll talk more about that soon.
  • Our payment processing means you retain an additional 15% of your sustainer revenue. You can read more about this, but the bottom line is that we’re the only payment processor with the specialized technology to retain the money lost to credit card declines.

Now let’s talk about some ways CharityEngine can help you be more effective fundraisers.

All Your Data in One Place

We briefly touched on this, but it’s an important aspect of what we offer faith-based nonprofits. Whether a donor buys an item at a bake sale, purchases a ticket to an event, participates in a fun run, or mails in a check, all the connected systems in CharityEngine will instantly update the donor record. If you’re using a different platform for email, direct mail, payment processing, and events, you never know if that data is synced and up to date. With CharityEngine, you always know you’re looking at data in real time.

This level of in-depth knowledge means that you can increase engagement at every turn. Prospects will be flattered that you are appealing to them the way they want to be approached. Current donors will be delighted when you call and thank them for their continued monthly gift and the purchase of two tickets to an event.

Customizable Dashboards

What can you do with all the data you collect? It can be quickly organized and displayed any way you want on custom dashboards. Track trends, identify donors who need extra attention, and see how your campaigns are performing while you still have time to adjust them.

CharityEngine offers clients almost 100 out-of-the-box reports, or you can drill down into any metrics you want to see. If, for example, you want to see the correlation between gift amounts and channels, it’s easy.

Multichannel Outreach

With the abundance of data CharityEngine collects, you know exactly how your prospects and donors want to engage. Some will want a mailed fundraising postcard, some will want a telephone call, some will want an email, and even others will want a text on their mobile phone. When you can do all of this from one system, you’re creating an optimized communication channel to get the most positive result.

If you don’t know how your audience wants to be engaged, launch a multichannel campaign and track the data on a dashboard. You’ll quickly identify trends by age, location, previous giving history, and event attendance, and you’ll have a road map for engaging them in the future.

Donor Journey Mapping

Creating a donor journey map is one of the surest ways to increase your donors and your fundraising. In it, you formulate a persona that moves through the stages of a donor journey—awareness, consideration, conversion, retention, and advocacy—and see what questions or needs they might have at each stage.

stages of the donor journey

Our system will allow you to create comprehensive donor profiles, including contact information, giving history, communication preferences, and notes about why and how they give. This holistic profile will help you see how the donor engages with your nonprofit, enabling you to understand their behavior, interests, and giving patterns. As you overlay the stages of a donor journey, you will understand where each prospect is and what they might need to move to the next stage.

Email Marketing Automation

We’ve spent so much time advising you to reach out to all these people that we haven’t explained how the software automates much of the work. It’s easy to set up sequenced emails targeting prospects: you can send an email introducing your organization and mission and, if that is opened, send one a week later detailing the value of donors and their contributions. A three or four email sequence is often a successful way to move donors through the donor journey and communicate the value—to your mission and to them, personally—that donating offers.

CharityEngine lets you launch personalized emails with content that will resonate. You can customize the content and frequency of emails in a sequence—even dropping in a video or using artificial intelligence to help you craft the message. Then you let the technology do the work.

Finding Major Donors

Every nonprofit organization hopes to leverage some major gift donors, and faith-based charities are no different. It can be difficult to know who among your supporters are potential major gift donors, but technology can help.

A good portion of this is you knowing your donors and even the administrators of donor-advised funds. You can also calculate the RFM (Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value) of donors, or find software that does it for you (CharityEngine does!). But where our technology really shines is in our Gift Probability tools. With any donor, you can tell if it’s the right time to ask for a gift and, if so, how much you should ask them to give. With recommended asks, probability scores, and? engagement scores, it’s easy to see where you should focus your efforts. It’s also where potential major gift donors will rise to the top!

Fundraising Software Helps You Succeed

Faith-based nonprofits have specific needs. You want to cultivate donors and communicate the value of your mission beyond a financial transaction. You want to reach people where they are and use different channels to communicate your messages through stories, videos, testimonials, and impacts.

CharityEngine can help you with all donor management and fundraising needs, and we can assure you we will be a valued partner for years to come. We can also share examples of how other clients, both smaller and larger, have used our software in creative ways to smash through donor acquisition and fundraising goals.

Interested? Give us a call. We’d be happy to hear about what you want to accomplish and formulate a plan as to how we can help.

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