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Fundraising Software: 8 Top Providers (Updated!)

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe...no way! There's a better way to choose fundraising software. This guide will show you how.

Fundraising Software: 8 Top Providers (Updated!)

Let’s be honest. There are as many choices for fundraising software as there are nonprofits! How can you quickly choose the right platform for your organization?

While there are a lot of options, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. And that’s good news for your nonprofit because, just like Goldilocks, you can find the perfect fit.

At CharityEngine, we’ve worked with nonprofits for decades, and we know a thing or two about fundraising software. In this article, we’ve compiled our best tips and recommended some great options for you to consider.

In this article, we will share:

This article shares everything you need when you're ready to research fundraising software.

Key Features of Fundraising Software

When we talk about key features, we also must mention functionality. At its core, your fundraising software allows you to manage donor information efficiently with a centralized database. From there, you will want to see which features different platforms offer. You’ll want to match up the features with the nature of your nonprofit: you might want advocacy, or auctions, or payment processing. Identify the features you want (we recommend putting them in “can’t live without” and “sure would be nice” buckets) and use that as the benchmark while you’re shopping.

Which might you want? Here are the features you’re most likely to use, and the ones that are most likely to impact your fundraising:

  • Email Marketing Automation
  • Payment Processing
  • Major Gifts
  • Membership/Chapter Management
  • Online Forms and CMS
  • Reporting and Analytics
  • Sustainer Management

At CharityEngine, we offer an entire suite of capabilities that cover everything a fundraiser might want to do. So our solution also provides:

  • Advocacy
  • E-Commerce
  • Events and Auctions
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
  • Text-to-Give
  • Events and Volunteer Management
  • Online Auctions

Taken together, those two lists give you an excellent checklist you can use when looking for new fundraising software.

8 Options for Fundraising Software

When we wrote a guide to the top nonprofit CRMs, we wrote it to educate nonprofits, not to sell our software. Initially, we didn’t include CharityEngine on our list, just to keep the salesy stuff out of our content!

Our sales team was not happy.

So we will offer this caveat in this article: CharityEngine sells the best fundraising software out there. The story of how and why it was built, and how it is light years ahead of the competition, really is riveting. To intrigue you, it was built for a huge, household-name client when that client had three employees. It’s scaled as they’ve grown like crazy. Can you guess who it is? Give us a call, and we'll tell you!

We serve some of the biggest names in the business. If you want to see our software in action, book a demo. And we've included ourselves on this list, so you have an apples-to-apples comparison.

(Happy, sales team??!)

Now let’s look at vendors that do a pretty good job. All of these are solid options, depending on what you’re looking for. Do your research! Check online reviews, ask for software demos, and ask the right questions.

CharityEngineLogo_RGB-1

It's worth it to throw our own solution in the ring for comparison's sake. As we said, CharityEngine offers the best fundraising software for nonprofits. Our client list is impressive, and our technology offers functionality that you can't find with other nonprofit CRMs.

And we offer this word of advice: we might cost more than basic solutions, but we offer at least four times the value. Consider the ROI of a system; if you have more efficient operations and can raise more money, the value outweighs the cost.

Best for nonprofits struggling with data silos and poor donor data hygiene, as well as those who want a complete set of native fundraising tools in one place.

Top Features

  • With native fundraising tools, the software keeps all your data in one place. Data can be leveraged with robust reporting and analytics (and easily customized reports).
  • Advanced, secure payment processing with patent-pending fraud protection.
  • AI-enabled features calculate giving probability, enhance fraud protection, and make it easy to craft emails quickly.

Bottom Line

Pro: It's one of the only systems with native tools, so there's no uploading and syncing. Scales with your growth, to enterprise levels.

Con: Users say the software is so advanced that they would love to see more help center articles to learn more ways to use it. (We're on it.)

What Users Say

CharityEngine's claim to fame is that it's the only complete, natively-built fundraising platform. This simplifies your team's job and means you always have real-time, comprehensive data at the touch of a button.

In general, users like:

  • Expertise in payment processing and sustainer management
  • Staff is responsive and will build heavily requested features
  • Having data talk across modules makes it more powerful and helpful

Users don't love:

  • There's so much functionality that it's hard to take advantage of every feature
  • It can take time to learn the software
  • Communication about new features is improving but has historically been a weak spot

Bloomerang logo

Best for nonprofits looking for a platform that's easy to learn and has focused functionality.

Bloomerang hangs its hat on the fact that users love it. The software is basic, and the company claims it's because other solutions offer a lot of functionality many nonprofits don't want, but they end up paying for it. It is intuitive and easy to use but presents some limitations.

Top Features

  • Solutions for donors, volunteers, fundraising, and payments
  • Great customer support
  • Focused solution for nonprofits; not a lot of extra functionality

Bottom Line

Pro: Customers call it "delightful" - they appreciate its ease of use and straightforward features.

Con: One person might love the lack of extras, another might call it limiting. It doesn't offer a lot of modules and integration isn't simple.

What Users Say

Bloomerang focuses on smaller and medium-sized nonprofits and helps them deliver a better giving experience.

In general, users like:

  • Learning curve is easy
  • Customer support is excellent
  • Users can find what they need

Users don't love:

  • It's so easy to use that some users feel the interface has been "dumbed down"
  • Limited functionality and flexibility
  • Simplicity of dashboards means you can't dive deep into data

Bonterra logo

 

 

 

Best for nonprofits looking for a broad range of technologies. Must be willing to switch platforms periodically.

Bonterra is what happened when smaller companies you might recognize, like Salsa, EveryAction, and Network for Good, all combined under one roof.

The upside is that they’ve got every feature and functionality you could want somewhere in that conglomeration. The downside is that you can’t get wedded to any software; they’re often sunset as the company consolidates. We’ve had lots of Salsa lovers crying on our shoulders as of late.

Top Features

  • Advocacy solutions
  • Nonprofit fundraising and engagement solutions
  • Corporate social good and philanthropy solutions

Bottom Line

Pro: Bonterra is a great option for nonprofits that have wide-ranging needs (social services, fundraising, grants, corporate philanthropy) because there are many companies under one roof.

Con: With an acquisition-based business model, nonprofits can't get too comfortable with any one software platform. It's commonplace to sunset software if an acquisition renders it duplicative.

What Users Say

Bonterra has so many different companies under one roof that it's tough to find general reviews as they're specific to each company. 

In general, users like:

  • Easy-to-build forms and reports
  • They may not upgrade software, you can still use it
  • Email features have improved

Users don't love:

  • Can be a difficult learning curve
  • The many integrations mean nonprofits have to request reports in order to reconcile accounts
  • Data and payments can be held for prolonged periods of time

virtuous logo

Best for nonprofits that appreciate cool functionality but don't need advanced functionality.

Virtuous is a solid player in the nonprofit software industry. While some reviews complain about mediocrity, lousy customer support, and a lack of user-friendliness, others disagree and say they are “confident they (Virtuous) will continue to improve.” It’s got a lot of modules under the hood but does rely on a significant network of partners for full functionality, which is a selling point to some and an un-selling point to others.

Top Features

  • Nine out-of-the-box automated workflow templates
  • Automated recommendations based on financial and social scores
  • Personalized ask amounts based on wealth data

Bottom Line

Pro: Virtuous is forward-thinking and embraces integrations to enhance the user experience and knowledge.

Con: Membership tracking and automated sequences are limited, and common modules, like events or advocacy, are unavailable or costly.

What Users Say

Virtuous coined the term "responsive fundraising," which means that personalized donor journeys respond to the needs of each individual. They also wrote a book about the concept!

In general, users like:

  • Great marketing automation functionality
  • Ability to search for donors via maps
  • Personalized ask amounts based on wealth data

Users don't love:

  • The price - it's considered to be expensive
  • Support is limited
  • Lack of an advocacy module; events module available for a fee

donorperfect logo

Best for nonprofits looking for value and a solid solution.

DonorPerfect is one of the few players in this industry (hint: we’re another) not owned by a bank or large corporation. That’s a plus in our books. It’s often referred to as a good value, so smaller nonprofits needing to keep costs down might want to take a look. It integrates easily with other programs, meaning that you can piece together a robust solution. Not everything is native to the system, but they can do quite a bit all in the same place.

Top Features

  • Rich donor management functionality
  • Easy to learn and intuitive
  • Affordable

Bottom Line

Pro: This is an excellent choice for nonprofits that want user-friendly, budget-friendly fundraising software. The fact that DP is not part of a conglomerate means we don't expect their platform to be discontinued any time soon.

Con: The software doesn't include native email functionality; it relies on an integration with Constant Contact and users must log into the third-party platform. There's also limited customization with forms and fundraising pages.

What Users Say

DonorPerfect says it's rated #1 in overall value for fundraising software. With prices starting at $99 a month, it seems as though they might be right. 

In general, users like:

  • It's easy to learn
  • It's affordable
  • Great customer service

Users don't love:

  • Lack of native functionality; many features are integrations
  • Multiple logins required
  • Limited ability to customize forms and fundraising pages

Blackbaud logo-1

Best for large nonprofits that want access to a lot of data and have the resources to find it in the system.

Blackbaud is a behemoth in the industry. It has a lot of different offerings and, if you talk to the Blackbaud sales team, I’m quite confident you'll see they have the technology to meet your needs. That said, it’s a behemoth. This is one system that likely requires a pretty tech-savvy team at your nonprofit. It’s made for enterprise-level clients, and we hear from a lot of nonprofits that aren’t enterprise-level and are struggling.

Top Features

  • It's just been around so darn long - 40 years!
  • Powerful system with a comprehensive database
  • Users have access to a lot of data

Bottom Line

Pro: Blackbaud offers a powerful solution and can house a tremendous amount of data.

Con: It's a complicated system that doesn't integrate well with other tools. Each module is also siloed so the data can't work together.

What Users Say

Blackbaud leans on robust fundraising software and 40 years in the industry. Raiser's Edge NXT is the name of its fundraising and donor management CRM.

In general, users like:

  • It's a "Cadillac" - fully loaded
  • The database can house a tremendous amount of data
  • Allows for high-level tracking, analysis, and pipeline movement

Users don't love:

  • Many consider the product to be outdated and overcomplicated
  • It's expensive and support (we've been told) is terrible
  • Each module is built separately, so data is siloed

Salesforce.com_logo.svg

Best for big nonprofits with in-house IT support.

We’ll add Salesforce, even though its Nonprofit Success Pack is a little newer to the industry, just because it’s very good technology. This CRM is very well known for sales and has customized a solution for nonprofits, which means it is a good solution for some. We’d recommend larger organizations look to this solution, and definitely those with in-house IT support at the ready. Using Salesforce isn’t for those looking for an easy transition.

Top Features

  • Excellent software with good functionality
  • Software for fundraising, grantmaking, operations, marketing, and program management 
  • AI-driven, personalized experiences

Bottom Line

Pro: Salesforce has excellent technology and is a robust solution for larger nonprofits.

Con: It's technical technology! Nonprofits need IT support to get it set up and troubleshoot. It's not easy to use.

What Users Say

While the Nonprofit Success Pack isn't the main product Salesforce offers, the company has a long history of solid software offerings. 

In general, users like:

  • Strong reporting capabilities
  • A lot of tools at your fingertips
  • It can be customized for nonprofits

Users don't love:

  • Very costly
  • Requires a lot of technical knowledge or hiring a database administrator
  • Complex and difficult to learn

NeonOneLogo

Best for small to midsize nonprofits that may not have used a CRM and want basic fundraising, event, and email functionality.

Neon One’s strength lies in its commitment to creating a connected ecosystem of fundraising tools at an accessible price point. Their growth strategy is through acquiring smaller tech companies or integrating with third-party systems.

Top Features

  • Access to a variety of tools
  • More affordable than other platforms
  • The tool is easy to implement and use

Bottom Line

Pro: NeonOne is an excellent option for smaller nonprofits with finite needs.

Con: The system can automatically create duplicate accounts, which makes data hygiene tricky, and significant tools (such as grant tracking and advocacy) are offered through integrations, so that data is siloed.

What Users Say

Neon One bills itself as a solution for small to midsize nonprofits and offers many “Neon babies” – like Neon CRM, Neon Websites, and Neon Fundraise – to create a broad solution.

In general, users like:

  • The ability to build and share custom reports
  • Workflow automation
  • Multiple resources

Users don't love:

  • Functions require steps in different parts of the software
  • Expected integrations, like PayPal and Stripe, aren’t available
  • Pricing and policy changes aren’t clearly communicated

10 Questions to Ask When Purchasing Fundraising Software

We’ve written a whole guide on shopping for new software, but we can highlight some key questions here that you might not have considered. This is a mix of questions to ask yourself/your team and questions to ask vendors.

  1. Ask about hidden costs. Are those modules really included, or extra? What about customization – are there extra fees for this?
  2. How long will implementation take?
  3. How does the vendor handle data migration? (Hint: there should always be an option in which the vendor does this or helps with it. If it’s all on your shoulders, it’s a warning sign.)
  4. Who makes the decisions in your organization? Do you need board buy-in? What is your internal process? Asking the vendor to make an additional presentation to your board can be helpful.
  5. Ask about how you can consolidate functionality with new fundraising software. For example, if it offers email automation, you don’t need Mail Chimp. This will save you money and help you nurture your donors to keep them engaged.
  6. What is the vendor’s growth strategy? In our industry, the majority of the big players are owned by banks. Their growth strategy is to buy companies to add functionality, and then flip the companies and sell them in a few years. That’s okay if you’re willing to be herded into new fundraising software every time the company is bought and sold. There are a few vendors (ah-hem) that are founder-driven and not for sale. If stability matters, it’s an important consideration.
  7. What is your internal technical expertise? Can your team manage IT functions? If you don’t have a technical team, ensure you have a very user-friendly solution.
  8. Does the vendor offer a sandbox? This is a valuable opportunity to “play” with your fundraising software and put it through its paces.
  9. What about support? Online, chatbots, phone calls, emails, help centers, texts, articles, videos? How fast do you want to get help and in what ways? And does it cost more?
  10. This is a big one: “Can I talk to the implementation team?” It might not make the sales team very happy (which is a warning flag!), but the implementation team is usually pretty serious about setting realistic expectations.

Those ten questions might not lead you down the path to a perfect fundraising software match, but they’ll steer you away from some bad fits.

Find One That's Just Right

You likely can’t go wrong with any of these companies! Just ask the right questions, and when your gut tells you something isn’t going to be as easy as is claimed, realize that's likely overstated and think about walking away.

While we were a little tongue-in-cheek about saying we’re the best, we really are, for some nonprofits. Each of these other solutions is the best for other nonprofits. Do your homework, ask the right questions, schedule as many demos as you can. We promise, just like Goldilocks, you'll find the one that's just right.