By Brittanie Murch Sep 25, 2012 No Comments
Ask the Experts: What donor management software do you recommend?

Donor Management Software: kissing a frog or…
By Barbara Powers, OneOC

Looking for that magic elixir to manage your donors? I know, us too. I wish our technology could work magic.

Here at OneOC, we frequently get questions about which donor management software to use. We have Salesforce and use Convio’s Groundworks with the Salesforce. We love it. Except when we don’t.

Nonetheless, there are a lot of options out there. While I don’t have an easy answer for you, I’ll share a few resources from sites we like. Perhaps they’ll help you make a choice:

Of course, we have to remind ourselves – and our staff – again and again. The software is just a tool, the data you put in there is the gold!

Donor Software: for today and tomorrow
By Jim Greenfield, Author, Retired - Hoag Hospital Foundation

The hard part of every donor records software decision is matching what you think you need today and for the next five years against what each candidate system can actually perform.  Seldom do these match perfectly.

Four elements to consider:

  • Current data size and current fundraising programs in operation is a starting guideline.  If less than 10,000 records currently with an active direct mail, benefit events and grants program in place, a simplified system can provide the level of support required.  If major gifts, capital campaigns and planned giving are added, plus a prospect research capacity, the level of sophistication expands quickly.

  • Converting your present data into a new software system is never easy or quick.  Find out other nonprofits experiences with data conversion with your choice of vendor.

  • Matching your fiscal data system with your in-house accounting software is important for both you and the business/finance office.

  • No matter the vendor choice, find out if a local "users group" is active as well as the level of training and technical support available for the annual operating fee.

Finding the Perfect Donor Management Software
By Priscilla Hung, Grassroots Fundraising Journal, a publication of GIFT

Groups are always looking for the perfect fundraising database. Maybe they’ve finally graduated from Excel or Access. Or their current software causes headaches and people avoid using it. Or maybe their organization has simply outgrown what they currently have. The bad news is that there’s no easy answer to what’s the perfect donor software because every group’s needs are different. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Logistics: Do you work on a Mac or a PC? Do you need something online that you can access from anywhere? Is there just one person using it or several people?

  • Capacity: How much is cost a factor? Do you have a dedicated person to learn the bells and whistles, or do you need something simple and straightforward? Must it be ready-to-use right out of the box, or do you have time and money to work with a consultant to customize it? Do you expect a lot of growth in the next couple of years and want your database to grow with you?

  • Fundraising program: Does your fundraising rely heavily on one major event? Or a sophisticated major donor campaign? Is planned giving a large part of your fundraising? What about a complex email or online fundraising program?

  • Donor data: How many records do you have? Are you looking to track basic donor data or is it more complicated? Is there a lot of overlap between your donors and another population you’re tracking (e.g. volunteers or clients)?

The good news is that a lot has been written to help you navigate this process. Here are some of my favorites:

And, of course, talking with others is helpful. But don’t just ask if they like their database or not – ask questions that are specific to the needs your group has. Happy hunting!

Ask the Experts

Do you have a quick question but don’t quite know whom to address? Ask the Experts takes questions OneOC frequently receives and gets various answers for you. These are not “move the earth” type questions, rather those quick check-ins for resources and solutions, the questions you might ask a colleague over coffee.

  • Do you have a question? Email Julie at

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