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The Best Fundraising Software for Food Banks

Food banks need robust technology to power their donor engagement and fundraising.

The Best Fundraising Software for Food Banks

Food banks address one of the most basic needs of our communities. Food insecurity and hunger permeate every aspect of an individual’s life, and more than 53 million Americans are served by nonprofits dedicated to filling hungry stomachs.

But it’s not always easy for the food bank teams to get from wanting to help all the way to fully stocked shelves. Between limited budgets and funding to volunteer shortages, demand fluctuations, food supply challenges, and regulatory compliance, there’s a never-ending list of worries keeping nonprofit execs up at night.

While we at CharityEngine can’t solve many of those challenges, we have been working with food banks for many years and can promise that technology will help you find and manage donors and significantly impact your fundraising.

In this article, we will lean on our experience with these industry clients to share the software features our food bank clients most appreciate. This isn’t a CharityEngine commercial in the form of an article; it is a checklist of features you might want to consider for your current or future fundraising software. If you want to talk to us or one of our many food bank clients, we’re happy to help. At the end of the day, we want all food banks to be successful, whether we’re the right fit or there’s a better solution for you.

In that spirit, we have spent time comparing different vendors, so any nonprofit has a good list to start. We will begin this article with a high-level look at the strengths of companies we suggest you contact, and then we will share the specific features of our software that food bank clients love.

Six Top Providers! Fundraising Software Vendors to Consider

Like any industry, the fundraising software field has key players that always rise to the top of nonprofit shortlists. They're on the shortlist for a reason: they're all excellent options for nonprofits, depending on what you're looking for. So, in no order, here are some solid options and a quick description of what we consider to be their strengths.

1. Bloomerang provides technology that small to medium-sized nonprofits love. It's basic - you're not paying for or enjoying the advanced functionality of more sophisticated systems - but it gets the job done.  

2. Bonterra is the result of many popular nonprofit CRMs (like Salsa, EveryAction, and Network for Good) being acquired by one organization, which rebranded as Bonterra. They have technology in their stable to do whatever your nonprofit might want, but be warned that you must be nimble and able to switch to a new system if an older one is abruptly sunset.

3. Virtuous is worth a good look when you're shopping for fundraising software. It's solid and tends to be forward-thinking. The only caveat is that the software relies on a lot of integrations for full functionality, and that means your data lives in a lot of different systems. It can be hard to get a holistic view of your donors or campaigns.

4. Blackbaud has been around longer than almost any other company in the donor management and fundraising software industry. It's an enormous, comprehensive database built for enterprise-level nonprofits that need to store a lot of data. It's complicated, so the happiest clients have an IT team member on staff.

5. DonorPerfect is one of the very few companies not owned by a bank or large corporation, meaning there's little risk of you being forced onto a new platform. It's known as a good value (it starts at $99 a month!) and has great customer service. It does rely on integrations for the most basic functionality, like email.

6. CharityEngine pops up as a segue to the rest of the article. Compared to the vendors we just listed, there are two significant differentiators: we're privately owned and not planning on going anywhere, so our clients aren't at the mercy of corporate whims. And all of our fundraising tools (and there are a lot) are natively built in our system. There aren't syncs or downloads, all your data is right there, in real time.

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

CharityEngine Helps Food Banks Help Others

Let’s look at some of the technology features that have the greatest impact. Good tech can help you with managing donors, collecting in-kind donations, and personalizing outreach to improve fundraising outcomes.

Take a look at this list of valuable features. If you’re happy with your fundraising software, check to ensure these features are available. If you’re shopping, stick these at the top of your wish list.

Comprehensive Database with Native Tools: No More Data Silos

Consider the many data points triggered by your donors. Did they call and ask a question? Submit an online donation? Drop off a few bags of canned goods? Attend an event? Win an auction item, or bid really high but come in second place?

What if you had a single system that collected all these data points and displayed them in real time? No syncing, no uploading, no delays. Just always-on information on any interaction a supporter has with your nonprofit.

CharityEngine breaks through data silos and offers native fundraising tools, meaning the data is all contained in your CRM. You can access more than 90 out-of-the-box fundraising reports or customize your own to slice and dice your data however you want.

Comprehensive dashboards, which can also be customized, display your data in real time. It’s easy to identify trends to leverage or outliers to watch! This always-on data, displayed however it will help, elevates donor management to a new level and informs your campaigns with precision.

Custom Donation Forms

Food banks receive all kinds of gifts, from in-kind donations to monthly pledges. It’s important that you can customize donation forms to manage the types of donations you receive. With CharityEngine, you get optimized forms right out of the box. With one-click giving, one-line address entry, multiple payment options (including virtual wallets), and an easy toggle to make a one-time gift a monthly gift, your conversions will increase.

Another helpful feature for food banks is the ability to track soft credits. Not only can you credit multiple constituents for the same gift, but you can also control how the soft credit amount figures into reports and giving totals.

Major Gifts

One of our food bank clients, Food Bank for the Heartland, particularly appreciates major gift technology. They commented,

“Managing our major gifts program through CharityEngine has allowed our gift officers to track opportunities, pledges, and payments, reporting all in real time.”

Having technology designed to help you manage major gifts takes the mundane recordkeeping and tracking and automates it. It also keeps data together and makes reporting and analytics easy.

Advanced Payment Processing

Advanced sounds like an odd descriptor for payment processing, but bear with us for a second. Like every other feature, payment processing is native to our system, and no other vendor can say that. You will save money because there aren’t middlemen taking a cut.

We are SOC 2-certified and PCI-certified, but we also offer patent-pending fraud protection. This fraud protection stops bad actors from getting to the payment processor 99% of the time.

If you’re a food bank with monthly donors, or sustainers, this is a game changer: every other payment processor will tell you that 15% of your donations will be lost due to passive churn, or credit card declines. They will say there’s nothing that can be done to retain that money.

CharityEngine clients don’t retain only 85% of their sustainer revenue. They retain 98% of their monthly revenue, because CharityEngine is the only payment processor serving nonprofits that has specialized technology to retain money lost to passive churn. You read that right: only CharityEngine increases sustainer collection so you keep 98% of the dollars raised.

Email Automation

Nonprofit teams are busy people, and even the most basic technology can automate many of your daily tasks. With email automation, you can schedule a series of emails triggered by actions. A welcome series can launch immediately after a first donation is made. A lapsed donor series can be sent to reignite supporters who have faded.

But there’s more you can do. Try custom sending options, email validation tools, A/B testing, custom tracking URLs, and advanced analytics to be certain your emails are hitting the mark. Use “if/then” logic to personalize emails and fundraise smarter.

A note of caution: Don’t assume all nonprofit CRMs offer email automation. Ask!

Multichannel Campaigns to Reach All Supporters

Because all fundraising tools are native to the system, you can run multichannel campaigns. Incorporate email, direct mail, phone, SMS/text, or even go a little crazy with radio and Direct Response TV. Mail a postcard with a QR code that leads to your online form.

The Red Cross has raised millions of dollars by texting supporters and tying a response text to an automatic donation. While the average nonprofit won’t ever do that, it demonstrates the power of creative fundraising through different channels. You provide the ideas; we have the tools.

Social Media Integration

Finally, food banks can use social media integration to find new supporters, engage current supporters, spread awareness of your mission, and raise more money. Regular posting can help you engage with the community and rally support for events, such as peer-to-peer fun runs or walks.

Any time you amplify your voice, you’re reaching a broader audience and increasing support for your work.

CharityEngine is a Partner to Food Banks

We can tell you about features you need, and we can list competitors you can check out. We urge all nonprofits to ask the tough questions and keep looking until you find satisfactory answers.

We can even write articles sharing features of our own technology that other food banks find valuable. But the very best way for you to give CharityEngine a once-over is to book a demo. A 30-minute call is a start to revolutionizing your donor management and greatly increasing your fundraising.