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The Best Fundraising Software for K-12 Schools

Find the perfect technology partner for your school fundraisers.

The Best Fundraising Software for K-12 Schools

Every parent of young school-aged children has bought wrapping paper or popcorn to help outfit a team or supply a classroom. Fundraising plays an important role in our children’s lives, ensuring they have materials, facilities, and experiences that will enrich their education.

What about the staff members trying to manage all the fundraising efforts? Keeping track of who donated to what and which teacher or coach needs a new fundraiser can make your head spin.

Fortunately, there’s software designed to help nonprofits manage and engage their supporters, run campaigns, and raise money.

CharityEngine is fundraising software built for all nonprofits. In this article, we will offer some smart choices to consider when you're doing your research. Then we’ll look at what our K-12 clients are telling us they need, and how CharityEngine is the perfect partner for their bake sales and fair tickets.

Top Providers to Consider

If you're ready to start shopping, we have a list of vetted providers for you. Each of these five competitors has strengths that might align with your educational nonprofit's needs. Make a mental list of your top priorities, then see if any of these platforms align with them. After we introduce you to some other industry players, we'll throw CharityEngine's hat in the ring, too!

1. Bloomerang is a good option for teams that aren't overly technical. It has a straightforward user interface and is known to be easy to use. The downside is that you won't have the functionality you might want, like events or major gifts, but you won't be frustrated by complicated technology.  

2. Bonterra is an industry Goliath. Smaller CRMs like Salsa, EveryAction, and Network for Good (and others) were acquired and the resulting large company was rebranded as Bonterra. Needless to say, it offers a lot of functionality. But with a large, cobbled-together corporation, you are subject to for-profit moves, and your platform can be sunset quickly. It can be hard to feel a deep partnership. If you want tons of functionality and you're okay with a lot of flexibility, Bonterra might be a good choice.

3. Virtuous is a solid player in the fundraising software field. We find the company to be forward-thinking, and we are intrigued by its responsive fundraising approach. If native tools are important to you, Virtuous relies heavily on integrations, and it's hard to see a 360-degree view of donors or campaigns.

4. Blackbaud began as billing software for a school, and it's grown since then through many acquisitions. Since it's been around and growing for decades, it's a large and somewhat cumbersome offering. The database is huge and that functionality is great if that's what you need, but it seems outdated and complicated when there are other systems that are a bit newer and easier to use.

5. DonorPerfect advertises that educational nonprofits can raise 25% more funds in their first year, which is an impressive stat. It is an affordable option and is known for terrific customer service. The system, though, doesn't have all native modules, and some users don't like the idea of logging into Constant Contact to send an email. Data isn't centralized which makes it less actionable.

6. CharityEngine is an excellent option for K-12 schools. We're privately owned so you'll never be forced off our platform and onto another, and we offer core fundraising tools (including payment processing) native to our platform. You get centralized data in real time from multiple sources. Layer advanced reporting and analytics, and you can quickly spot trends or areas that need attention. When you need to customize your tech stack, we've got robust APIs that make it easy.

That's a taste of why nonprofits like Wounded Warrior Project and Easterseals choose CharityEngine. But what about our K-12 schools? What features of our software do they most appreciate? Let's take a look.

CharityEngine and Schools: A Perfect Match

A theme we hear repeated quite often is that of sustainability. This includes a focus on the health and mental well-being of kids in the classroom and extends to the environment, local community events, planting gardens, and recycling.

Our schools find that specific attributes of our fundraising software enhance these efforts. Software makes planning community events and tracking donations easy, and e-commerce storefront capabilities mean you can sell tickets to events and galas or school spirit wear. When you want to marshal volunteers to help plant and maintain a large vegetable garden, CharityEngine can help.

And when it comes to the nuts and bolts of fundraising and campaigns, we’ve got that covered, too. Let’s look at some ways CharityEngine helps K-12 schools.

Authentic All-in-One Fundraising Platform

What this means is that we have not built CharityEngine by sticking together acquired systems and calling it robust software. To be sure, it’s robust if you can send emails, plan fun runs, operate a school store, and get all the details on your donors.

But think about each of those common tasks and think of the data in different systems. Maybe Mailchimp runs your emails; that software has all your email addresses. But then you use Eventbrite for your annual auction, and that software has all the details on who attends and bids. You want to use email automation to thank all the attendees, but Eventbrite and Mailchimp aren’t talking to each other. It's a time-consuming, manual process.

Even when siloed systems are integrated, you rely on nightly syncs. So you never have a real-time handle on data like donations and pledges.

CharityEngine is different. We were developed to help a start-up nonprofit become one of the nation’s 50 largest. The only way we could conceive of supporting that astronomical growth was to build one system with tools native to that system. All your data is right there, in real time, from all sources.

Extensive APIs

Yes, a fundraising platform with all the tools you need to manage donors and execute campaigns is vastly superior to a cobbled-together system. But what about the SIS your district uses? Your software must integrate with it.

No problem. While CharityEngine alone is more than enough for many nonprofits, some that have special circumstances—enterprise clients, for example, or schools—have proprietary or industry software that must be integrated into any database of record. In that case, CharityEngine offers extensive APIs so you can customize your system.

Perhaps you will use our front-end Javascript API to integrate a third-party website, embeddable widgets to customize your user experience, our powerful SOAP API to perform data integrations, or leverage integration APIs to sync data across platforms. No matter your unique needs, we have built a system that can seamlessly integrate with third-party software or systems as well as provide all the native tools you need.

Robust Database and Custom Dashboards

Our database collects information from every source, giving you a complete look at your donors and trends in real time. You can take this 360-degree view of your donors and view it from any angle you want.

We offer customizable dashboards, so you can run any one of almost 100 out-of-the-box reports (or a custom report you create) on that data and display it on a real-time dashboard. So, if you need metrics on PTA campaigns and participation, or want to analyze giving trends from alumni based on demographic data, track individual giving histories, or even find potential major gift donors, you can do that.

When it comes time to ask donors for a gift, the system uses AI and BI and tens of thousands of data points to help you understand the best time to contact them and the most appropriate ask, given their history.

The database collects so much information that when a parent or alum calls into your office, you can immediately pull them up and personalize your conversation. You can thank them for a donation, congratulate them for having the winning bid at an auction (or sympathize with them that they were the runner up!), or help them with major gifts or DAFs.

Capital Campaigns

Most private schools run capital campaigns at some point, and the features we’ve discussed so far are invaluable. The database can help you segment your supporters and plan personalized outreach. Particularly in a capital campaign, having the core fundraising tools natively built into the system can help you run a multichannel campaign with ease.

E-Commerce Storefronts and Payment Processing

Teachers of younger grades often need to request supplies from parents. With CharityEngine, you can track in-kind gifts such as school supplies or previously loved toys or books. Forms make it easy to track contact information and the value of a gift. You can customize giving levels when requesting donations, like $25 for school supplies for one student.

Common school fundraisers are the buy-a-brick campaigns. Use our storefront to sell the bricks and use our payment processing to collect the donations. CharityEngine’s native payment processing speaks directly to the big card companies, cutting out middlemen who want to take a cut and putting more of the funds into your school.

Offering multiple ways to give boosts donations. These days, parents are likely to use Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Venmo for transactions. With CharityEngine, you can offer virtual wallets. The ones who want to pay by cash, check, or ACH transaction will also have a smooth giving experience.

Fraud Protection

Keeping donor data – and dollars! – safe is a top priority for schools. We’re PCI and SOC 2 certified, and we offer advanced fraud protection that is 99% effective at preventing sophisticated fraud attacks. 

If you use our donation forms, you can enable our patent-pending fraud protection to identify and block fraud attacks before they hit the payment processor. We keep your nonprofit protected, and you save money by avoiding transaction fees on fraudulent charges. By the way, with single sign-on, one-click giving, and one-line address entry, our donation forms improve the donor experience and help you raise more money.

Fundraising Software for Schools

When you go through the list of benefits—multichannel outreach built in, a storefront for supplies and donations, secure payment processing, completely centralized data that is always in real time—the choice becomes clear. CharityEngine is the right partner for K-12 fundraisers.

If you’d like to schedule a quick call, make a list of your pain points and give us a call. Sometimes we aren’t the right fit, and we’re always honest if another platform would serve you better. After all, our tagline is “powering the good to be great,” and we’ll do anything to deliver on that promise.