It’s easy to overlook day-to-day task management when you’re busy fundraising or handling the dozens of other responsibilities that pop up every day. Whether you’re running an email campaign or organizing an event, you probably have your own ways of managing that work well enough. But is there room to simplify your workday?
When you have a seamless process for automating some of your recurring tasks, you can spend more time concentrating on creating targeted, impactful campaigns that drive greater engagement and more generous giving. The best fundraising management software is designed with that goal in mind.
What is Fundraising Management Software?
Fundraising management software is designed to make it easier for nonprofits to connect each of the individual parts of a campaign. It’s a type of centralized hub that you can use to manage donor or member details, communicate with supporters, process and acknowledge gifts, and review the success of any given event.
A lot of this software’s value lies in its ability to streamline time-consuming tasks, taking them off your plate so you can focus on the things that will further your mission. In the for-profit sector, it’s estimated that people spend 58% of their day on “work about work.” That means well over half of your day is almost certainly dedicated to day-to-day task management. Examples include:
- Searching for information
- Switching between computer programs
- Setting tasks for yourself and others
- Communicating about work
- Following up on campaign or project statuses
Many of the tasks associated with nonprofit fundraising campaigns are filled with similar “work about work” tasks. They’re necessary, but they take up time and effort that could otherwise be used on more valuable activities.
Fundraising management software is designed to address that dilemma. It uses well-organized donor information, integrations, and automation tools to help streamline your workflows and overcome task management challenges regardless of campaign type.
Fundraising Types, Workflows, and Challenges
While there are virtually hundreds of different types of nonprofit fundraising, there are five specific campaign types that are particularly popular: Email, direct mail, peer-to-peer, social media, and events.
Connecting with people through email campaigns is a popular tactic among nonprofits. Email is low-cost, easily accessible, and fairly easy to execute even if you don’t have tons of experience. It’s popular with donors, too: 48% of donors cite email as their preferred form of communication with the nonprofits they support, and it’s one of the most effective channels for fundraising. (Psst: If you’re interested in learning more about these statistics and how you can use email more effectively, check out The Nonprofit Email Report: Data-Backed Insights for Better Engagement.)
Email campaigns are great options for lots of different kinds of campaigns. It’s an effective tool for mass market approaches where you’re connecting with a lot of donors at once. It’s also helpful when you’re communicating with specific segments of donors! It’s exceptionally useful for fundraising, too. In fact, it’s estimated that email-based marketing and promotions account for almost 30% of online nonprofit revenue.
But emails don’t write, build, and send themselves. There are lots of individual tasks that go into creating an email campaign. Here’s a look at some common tasks:
Email Campaign Workflow Example
1. Choose a campaign goal.
2. Create a draft email template for the campaign.
3. Review the donor database to select campaign prospects.
4. Establish payment gateways to collect campaign funds.
5. Send the email using a tool like Mail Chimp.
6. Track responses.
7. Send a thank you email to donors.
8. Send a follow-up email on non-responses.
9. Track donations in bookkeeping software.
Common Email Campaign Problems
Building an email campaign manually leaves lots of room for error, whether you’re adding contact lists, handling and tracking responses, or following up with constituents. One of the biggest killers of email campaigns is bad data. It can cause all kinds of problems, like incomplete constituent profiles that can cause errors, incorrectly-uploaded lists, misspelled donor names, and more. When you have incorrect or incomplete data, it will be harder for you to create an email that reaches your supporters, makes a positive impression on them, and inspires them to respond.
The average open rate of a nonprofit email is 28.59%. While this is great compared to most other forms of email marketing, there’s still lots of room to improve. Click-through rates tend to average around 3.29%. While that click-through rate is generally higher than that of for-profit organizations, it does mean that only a few of your email readers will take action after reading an email. While there are ways to improve those numbers, many manual processes make it difficult to do anything but the bare minimum. Making sure you’re segmenting your emails, for example, can help improve engagement rates. But categorizing, sorting, and uploading different lists of supporters can be time-consuming.
When you have a tool that helps you manage your data and use it effectively, though, you free up time to spend more crafting compelling subject lines, writing engaging content, and creating beautiful design elements that encourage clicks and responses. Good fundraising management software can help you avoid inaccurate or missing donor data, track constituents’ communication preferences, and keep your records up to date.
Direct Mail Campaigns
Direct mail might seem old-fashioned, especially if you’re a tech-focused individual who loves to experiment with new tools. But it remains an invaluable tool in the nonprofit world. And for good reason! 77% of people report they open mail as soon as they receive it, giving it an advantage over email. Direct mail is a great solution for bringing former donors back into the fold. In fact, 62% of individuals report that a piece of direct mail inspired them to take action, making this a great engagement tool.
Creating a direct mail campaign requires extensive planning and lots of different tasks. Let’s take a look at some common processes involved in communicating via direct mail.
Direct Mail Workflow Example
1. Create a draft campaign letter.
2. Pare down the donor spreadsheet for the best candidates.
3. Recheck the spreadsheet for accuracy.
4. Order letterhead, postage, envelopes, and other supplies.
5. Create several test drafts.
6. Approve the final draft.
7. Run the mail merge and spot-check copies.
8. Print letters and envelopes.
9. Stuff the envelopes and add postage
10. Mail the letters.
11. Collect donations and deposit them.
12. Track donations in accounting software and member records.
13. Send thank you letters.
Common Direct Mail Problems
Direct mail campaigns are one of the more expensive mass communication options because of the postage, supplies, time, and effort involved. It can also take a while to get results, especially when using low-priority mass mail programs. When time is of the essence, direct mail is not the ideal solution. Tracking can also be a challenge. Many donors—including Millennial and Generation Z donors—respond to direct mail appeals by making a gift online.
Despite the challenges inherent to direct mail, it’s a great tool for reaching donors. Supporters’ email inboxes are increasingly crowded, and people are bombarded with hundreds of social media posts, advertisements, and updates every day. Direct mail, though, is a much less “noisy” channel—the expense and time required for a direct mail campaign are offset by high open rates and responses.
Nonprofits can get an even better return on their investment if they take the time to pare down direct mailing lists to control costs. Simply removing inactive donors from your database and making your addresses are up to date can help you ensure your postage isn’t wasted. To do that, though, you’ll need an organized donor database you can use to target the campaign effectively.
A well-managed fundraising management platform can help. With the right tool, you can easily pull lists of constituents who have historically responded well to direct mail messaging and remove inactive supporters from that list. Some platforms even include tools that automatically check and update constituents’ addresses, which can save nonprofits the hassle of spending money on postage for messages that cannot be delivered.
Peer-to-peer campaigns are fantastic for nonprofits. They give nonprofits a wonderful opportunity to reach new supporters by empowering participants to raise money on your behalf. Done well, a peer-to-peer campaign can deepen your relationship with individual supporters, get your messaging in front of their friends, family, and colleagues, and hit your fundraising goals along the way. It’s a powerful strategy! In fact, these types of campaigns helped charities raise over $154 million in 2021.
While these types of campaigns can be a powerful way to raise money, reach new audiences, and expand your donor base, peer-to-peer fundraisers require extensive staff time and dedicated peer-to-peer software. Those costs can be even higher for event-based fundraisers, which may also include venue fees, supplies, and other expenses.
Peer-to-Peer Workflow Example
1. Seek out participants for the campaign.
2. Train fundraising participants to raise money and use their fundraising tools.
3. Set up peer-to-peer fundraising pages.
4. Help donors create their personal fundraising pages.
5. Manage and support fundraising participants.
6. Keep fundraising participants up to date on fundraising progress.
7. Add fundraising participant and donor information to the nonprofit’s database.
8. Monitor and engage with participants’ posts and activities.
9. Cross-promote participant pages to drive engagement.
10. Track results of various campaigns.
11. Follow up to provide assistance, especially for event-based campaigns.
12. Collect donations and note their source.
13. Send a thank-you message to participants.
Common Peer-to-Peer Problems
Peer-to-peer campaigns can be a massive undertaking. You’ll need to set up a primary event, recruit participants, encourage them to personalize their fundraising pages, give them the assets they’ll need to raise money, and track your progress toward your goal. You’ll also probably need to set up some welcome emails and thank-you messages for new donors!
While they are great for driving revenue, these campaigns may also be challenging to track, especially if your fundraising participants are raising money on different channels. Tracking becomes even more difficult as a campaign becomes more intricate. Event sponsors, solo participants and fundraising teams, non-fundraising participants, cash donors, and other types of supporters must all be tracked, managed, recognized, and engaged.
Since these campaigns typically run alongside annual campaigns and other programs, it’s vital to carefully separate peer-to-peer fundraising results from other fundraising activities without creating information silos. That’s a particularly challenging feat when using manual tracking methods.
Fundraising management software can help. Different activities can be attributed to the different kinds of supporters that engage with your campaign. Fundraising participants’ efforts can be tracked alongside donations made during other parts of the year, new donors can automatically be imported to new constituent accounts, non-fundraising participants’ support can be tracked without financial transactions, and more.
Social Media Campaigns
Running a social media campaign can help nonprofits achieve a number of different goals. They’re a great way to engage existing donors, inspire potential donors, reach new audiences, and raise awareness about your cause. Building an online community on social platforms can also improve donor retention rates, reach supporters of different ages, attract new clients, and more.
Every major social media platform has its own fundraising tools nonprofits can use to raise money directly through that platform. These are generally available only to qualified charities, and organizations can submit applications to use them. Facebook Fundraisers is possibly the most well-known social media fundraising tool, but it’s far from the only option. Other platforms may offer fundraising tools, reduced or free ad services, and other features that can help nonprofits connect with people who are passionate about their cause.
Of course, nonprofits can also use social media simply as a marketing vehicle that raises awareness about their work, connects them with new audiences, and directs users to their sites and donation pages. The versatility and tools available on social media channels make it easy for nonprofits to run engaging and effective campaigns.
Social Media Workflow Example
1. Select a target platform.
2. Create a content campaign.
3. Set up any applicable in-platform fundraising tools.
4. Select hashtags and keywords.
5. Share the post with the appropriate hashtags.
6. Encourage followers to share the post.
7. Use data to identify potential donors from other similar communities.
8. Create a message targeting those supporters.
9. Start an in-platform ad campaign to share the message.
10. Continue to monitor the results of the campaign.
11. Moderate user-generated content.
12. Respond to comments.
13. Thank donors.
Common Social Media Problems
Effective social media campaigns require a lot of legwork. You need an existing presence on each platform if you’re going to drive engagement. Engagement takes work, too! A big part of building your presence and creating an active community of supporters is encouraging user-generated content.
We’ve seen great examples of this with the Ice Bucket Challenge in 2015, which supported ALS research, as well as with the Movember Foundation’s annual mustache-growing challenge to drive awareness of men’s health issues. These events have gone viral because they engage supporters and encourage them to submit their own stories, photos, and videos.
However, to get that kind of engagement, you need to build an audience of advocates. Finding your organization’s unique tone and voice will be important. Working with the right staff, consultants, followers, and influencers will also be critical if you want to drive awareness around your cause. This requires extensive research and a deep understanding of your donors and their preferences. Unfortunately, a lot of nonprofits don’t have the right databases or processes in place to gather this information.
Luckily, many fundraising management tools can help. As you build profiles around your different supporters, you should be able to start getting a picture of the types of people who are passionate about your cause and will support your work online. Understanding your donors’ demographics, motivations, and communication preferences can help you identify the social channels you’ll want to use, build relationships with people who may be willing to amplify your messaging online, and find deeply-committed supporters who can create content with or for you.
Events are a staple of nonprofit fundraising for a single reason: They work. 84% of event fundraising pledges are fulfilled. However, running fundraising events is not easy. Summarizing the various processes and tasks required to execute even an average event would take whole pages. We know this for a fact: Check out the length of this article about nonprofit event planning!
Instead, let’s focus on the first step of any event-based fundraising campaign—donor prospecting.
Event Planning Workflow Example
1. Set the fundraising goal.
2. Gather internal donor data from various programs and accounting software.
3. Compile a report of historical donor giving for similar campaigns.
4. Review the report for high-potential donors.
5. Create an ideal donor profile based on that information.
6. Complete research to locate similar potential supporters.
7. Compile the best prospects into a detailed database for future contacts.
Common Event Problems
Events are big. The list of tasks that go into running a small, local event is going to be extensive, especially when you factor in vendor management, obtaining sponsors, sourcing supplies, running awareness campaigns, inviting donors, and more. If you’ve ever planned so much as a birthday party, you know that events rarely go off without a single problem. The ability to adapt your strategy if something goes awry is critical. However, when using outdated software, it’s challenging to change direction.
That is why good fundraising management software is so critical. With it, you can control the massive processes and workflows associated with your event and focus your efforts on the areas that matter most. In addition to reviewing historical event performance to identify potential high-value donors, you can also build guest lists, set fundraising goals, connect with potential sponsors, collect in-kind donations, and more—all before you even start planning the details of the event itself.
Good fundraising management software will be there for you every step of the way. When you store details about your donors’ past support, historical event attendance, wealth indicators, and other information, you can use it to inform future events. Setting fundraising goals, inviting people who are likely to attend, identifying donors to connect with intentionally, and managing relationships with in-kind donors are all easier if you can base your strategy on past data.
Tools That Improve Fundraising Efforts Across Categories
Every fundraising campaign is different, but many of the workflows associated with them are similar. You’ll always have to track donors, send emails, manage payments, and monitor the status of projects. When you use good fundraising management software, you can simplify those processes. This will be easiest when you choose configurable software that includes automation tools and integrates with other systems you may want to use to support your event.
A configurable system allows you to update your form fields, donor categories, email templates, and other tools for your specific needs. For example, if you were to create an employer-sponsored giving event, you’d be able to create accounts for individual donors and separate ones for the businesses that employ them.
You can then create a relationship field to track that connection and target campaigns around it. These custom fields will be incredibly useful for pulling reports that guide current and future campaign decisions.
Some fundraising management software allows you to automate certain tasks, like sending thank-you and welcome emails or even setting tasks for others.
For example, imagine a donor to one of your fundraising campaigns makes a particularly large donation. Your automated system sends a customized email to them within a few moments of their gift. A day later, the system follows up with a personalized thank-you email that shares more details about the impact they’ll make with their gift. It also creates a task for your development director to follow up with a personal call. The automation improves fundraising engagement and eliminates the need to do all of this manually.
No technology can exist in a vacuum. Today, many platforms are designed to work together so you can get a total picture of your fundraising efforts. A system that can combine your Eventbrite info, Mail Chimp campaigns, and accounting software, for example, can provide incredible insight into what you’re doing right and where you can improve.
Integrations are also key for driving many automation tasks; automatically adding donors to certain mailing lists, updating accounting software, and eliminating manual data migration all depend on having the ability to integrate with different tools.
A great non-technical feature that some fundraising management platforms offer is revenue-based billing. While some software programs bill based on the number of records or donor accounts in your database, this common pricing structure can cause issues as you grow and attract new supporters.
As your records storage needs grow, your revenue won’t necessarily keep up. And that’s not bad! Many potential donors need multiple interactions before they make their first gift. But maintaining accounts of inactive donors can get expensive quickly, forcing you to choose between cultivating relationships with potential donors and deleting records to save money.
By using a platform that bills based on revenue, you can ensure the cost of your system scales with your organization’s capacity, not your lists.
Simplify Your Fundraising With Neon CRM
The different processes, workflows, and to-do lists that go into running a nonprofit will always be a challenge regardless of the types of campaigns you run. To manage all those individual tasks, you need fundraising management software that’s configurable, automated, and integration ready. With the right tool, you can simplify the work that goes into many of your fundraising tasks as you reach new and existing audiences, raise money, and gain support for your cause.
Neon CRM can help you manage everything from simple email campaigns to complex peer-to-peer fundraising events. If you’re ready to learn more about how you can use our tools to simplify your fundraising with the help of our platform, request a demo today.
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