Boost your year-end giving results with this helpful infographic.

Top Secrets to Year-End Giving Success [Infographic]

The end of the year is a crucial time for nonprofits. After all, over 25% of total charitable giving takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

If you’re not sure how to kick your fundraising strategy into high gear this holiday season, we’ve got the tips you need! Just check out MobileCause’s fact-packed year-end giving infographic below to learn everything you need to know.

Find out the secrets to year-end fundraising success with this infographic from Mobilecause.

9 Essential Elements of Successful Email Sign Up Forms

Email marketing is lauded year after year as the most effective digital marketing strategy. In fact, email is 40 times more successful at acquiring customers than either Facebook or Twitter. To top it all off, email marketing delivers a $38 ROI for every $1 spent.

However, enjoying the spoils of a 3800% ROI only comes to those marketers who invest in email marketing best practices, beginning with building successful email sign up forms. To ensure your team collects the right subscriber information from the get-go, here are 10 things to consider as you build the perfect email form.

1. Start with Goals

Before you even start creating your opt-in form, it’s vital to set goals. You want to predetermine what you will do with the information you collect from subscribers. When you know what you will do with the data you collect, selecting the correct form fields will be a cinch.

For example, do you plan on sending different emails to subscribers in different locations? If so, you’ll want to include location information on your subscriber form. Do you offer different products to women vs. men? If so, you’ll need to ask for gender information. Birchbox breaches this topic simply by asking if subscribers are interested in “beauty” or “grooming.”

Are there any other pieces of information you need from subscribers to provide your customers with the best experience? A goal setting session is the perfect time to determine what you plan to do with the data you collect on your subscriber form.

2. Design That Counts

One of the best things about using an email provider is the option to use a proven template. When you use a template, you can rest assured the code will work so you can collect new subscribers accurately and efficiently.

However, as with most email providers, you’ll notice the template is often generic, even boring. The purpose of this generic design is so you can customize the design to match your brand perfectly.

For example, check out Adidas newsletter sign up box. As soon as you click on “newsletter sign up” a box appears that looks exactly like their website.

You’ll also notice Adidas asks for gender information, just like Birchbox. Good work, Adidas!

3. Less Is More

You may be tempted to ask for more information than you need from your subscribers. After all, what if you end up needing more data to better personalize your messages, right?


No subscriber wants to feel like they are answering a personal profile survey. Furthermore, no customer has the time or desire to answer everything you may want to know about them.

This is why it’s important to set goals and only ask for the information you absolutely need just like Ripcurl does in their sign-up form. They ask for name, email, gender, and zip code, and that’s it.

You’d be amazed how well you can personalize with just a small amount of data. And, keep in mind, there are several other more effective ways to collect data on your customers.

4. Mobile-friendly

Did you know that the majority of all emails are read on a mobile device? Additionally, users spend 69% of their media time on smartphones. This means if you want to capture a majority of your subscribers, it’s essential you make it possible for them to subscribe to your email list via mobile device.

When creating your sign up form, make sure you use an email provider that optimizes for mobile devices. Test to see how your sign up form looks across all devices. Also, keep your sign up form in one column, so it looks good on mobile devices and is easy for subscribers to fill out. Here is how the same sign up form from Birchbox above looks on a mobile device.

5. Good Incentives

Few customers will sign up for your email list out of the goodness of their hearts. They will, however, sign up if you offer an incentive that piques their interest.

Give your subscribers a good reason to sign up. Maybe it’s a discount, a promise for awesome content, or free shipping. Determine what your subscribers value and then make sure you deliver on that promise.

6. Clear Drop-downs

In the event you plan on asking for extra data, make it easy on your subscribers. For example, if you are asking for the country they are from, include all possible options. Additionally, list the most popular countries for your company first, so subscribers don’t have to scroll through a hundred countries before getting to theirs. You may also consider adding a searchable option where they can type the name of their country and the rest of the form will automatically populate.

The more you can do to make your dropdowns easier to navigate, the more subscribers you will impress.

7. Submit Buttons

Your submit button is your call to action. As with any call to action, you want to draw the most attention to it. You can do this by surrounding your call to action in a button. Consider a blue button, or any other bright colored button that matches your brand, and stands out from the rest of your content.

Of course, you can go with the traditional “submit,” for your call to action. But, why not try something a little more catchy? Consider “subscribe now,” “sign up,” “let’s do this,” “hurry up,” “yes please,” or something else awesome.

8. Double Opt-ins

What’s the difference between single opt-in and double opt-in, anyway? I’m glad you asked! Single opt-in is when someone enters their information and they are automatically added to your email list. No questions asked.

A double-opt in is when a subscriber enters their email address, you send them a quick confirmation making sure they opted in on purpose, and then they confirm/verify they have. As soon as your email provider receives the confirmation of opt-in, the subscriber will be added to your list.

This practice is good form and ensures the people who you will be emailing actually want to hear from you.

9. Easy to Find

The last step in creating a perfect email sign up form is making sure your website visitors can easily find your subscriber form.

You may want to put your subscriber form in a box across the top of your website, place it visibly off to the top right corner of your website, or even add a pop up when visitors enter and/or exit your website. Pop ups have been known to improve conversions, so this method is an excellent idea.

Wrap Up

It’s true that you can see some of the highest conversions from email marketing. The journey starts with building the perfect subscriber form. Follow the steps listed above and you’ll be on your way to building a high quality subscriber list that converts.

Author Bio

Andrea Robbins is a demand generation marketer at Campaign Monitor. Her favorite things include getting outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and her Siamese kitty. Say hi on Twitter @andirobz

Discover the top nonprofit technology consulting firms in this list!

Top 8 Nonprofit Technology Consulting Firms — Reviewed!



Ready to work with a nonprofit technology consultant? Download our free resource to help streamline the process!

For nonprofits of all sizes, technology is crucial. Especially as your organization grows in scale, you’ll need to find software solutions to help you manage donor information, market your campaigns, and track fundraising data. And those are just the basics!

To fully capitalize on your technology, however, you’ll need a smart captain at the helm to guide your efforts and work with you to develop custom solutions that align with your goals and needs.

The answer? A nonprofit technology consultant, of course!

In this post, we’ll introduce you to our favorite nonprofit consultants who specialize in all things technology:

  1. DNL OmniMedia
  2. Donorly
  3. Morweb
  4. Whole Whale
  5. Heller Consulting
  6. Idealist Consulting
  7. KELL Partners
  8. Apparo

After checking out our favorite firms, you should be ready to take the first step in finding a trusted technology partner to help you get more from your software solutions.

DNL OmniMedia is our top pick for nonprofit technology consulting.

1. DNL OmniMedia — Our Top Choice for Nonprofit Technology Consulting

Consulting Firm OverviewDNL OmniMedia provides nonprofit technology consulting services including web development, Blackbaud and Salesforce solutions, and more.

A trusted Blackbaud partner and Salesforce solution provider, DNL OmniMedia understands nonprofit software—but more importantly, they understand nonprofits!

With Team DNL on your side, you’ll be able to develop a smarter nonprofit strategy that builds on the use of powerful technology.

Not only can DNL OmniMedia assess your needs and goals, but they’ll also develop software solutions that can bring your vision to life. Through custom web development and design, software configurations, and more, DNL can guide your nonprofit to more strategic fundraising and stewardship in no time.

Nonprofit Technology Services

DNL OmniMedia offers nonprofit-exclusive services including:

  • Technical strategy
  • Software implementation and customization
  • Website development
  • Data migration and clean-up

In addition to their services, DNL also offers custom nonprofit products to expand your Blackbaud Luminate system, including peer-to-peer fundraising and advocacy add-ons.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Team DNL has worked with many different types of nonprofits tackling a variety of nonprofit technology challenges.

From boosting fundraising through custom Blackbaud TeamRaiser donation forms for the North Shore Animal League to designing a one-of-a-kind nonprofit website for the Interlochen Center for the Arts, DNL has proven their expertise for a number of clients.

Check out DNL OmniMedia's nonprofit technology consulting services and products!

Donorly is our top choice for nonprofit technology consulting.

2. Donorly — Our Top Choice for Nonprofit Technology Consulting

Consulting Firm OverviewDonorly is a donor research-focused technology consulting firm.

Ever look at your fundraising goals and wonder if you can achieve them? The nonprofit technology consultants at Donorly know that you can if you just have the right information and assets by your side!

Under the direction of president Sandra Davis, the Donorly team channels their creativity and passion into creating elegant donor research solutions specifically for your nonprofit. With their comprehensive donor information, your nonprofit can reach higher than you thought possible.


Nonprofit Technology Services

When it comes to donor research, the Donorly team provides your nonprofit with the foundations for:

  • Capital campaign management
  • Board expansions and recruiting
  • Grant proposal writing
  • Interim staffing

Donorly promises a customized approach, based on their unique engagement model.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Many of Donorly’s clients come from the arts and culture or humanities space, though the team has worked with nonprofits across the sector. Their client lists includes the Seattle Children’s Museum, Playwrights Horizons, Martha & Mary Lutheran Services, and the Studio Theatre.

Donorly offers donor research-focused nonprofit technology consulting services.

Morweb is our top choice for nonprofit technology consulting.

3. Morweb — Our Top Choice for Nonprofit Technology Consulting

Consulting Firm OverviewFind out more about Morweb, a top nonprofit technology consulting firm.

For nonprofits looking to get started building a beautiful website, Morweb will be the perfect partner. Pairing their unmatched CMS with expert support services, your web design strategy will be more effective than ever.

When you leverage Morweb’s consulting services, they’ll walk you step-by-step through the website creation and implementation process.

After your website is live, you can still call on them for additional consulting if you ever want to update your style, change your strategy, or otherwise improve the functionality of your site.

Nonprofit Technology Services

Morweb offers the following nonprofit web design services:

  • Customizable themes and layouts
  • Search engine optimization
  • Form builders
  • Donation processing
  • Technology and design consulting

Even better, Morweb has scalable products to meet the needs of all kinds of nonprofits. This way, you can pay for what you need now and have the option of upgrading down the line.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Morweb has experience enhancing the web design strategy of a diverse range of nonprofits, from small, regional organizations to international ones.

Their portfolio of clients includes nonprofits like 4th Street BRZ in Canada, Habitat for Humanity of St. Joseph County, Society of University Surgeons, and the Driving School Association of the Americas.

Visit Morweb to learn more about how their nonprofit technology consulting firm can help your team.

Check out these top nonprofit technology consulting firms to find one for your organization.

4. Whole Whale

Consulting Firm OverviewWhole Whale is a nonprofit technology consulting firm specializing in digital strategy.

Whole Whale is a digital agency dedicated to helping nonprofits enhance their strategic use of technology. They’ll help your organization learn valuable skills and implement best practices so that you don’t need to rely on a consultant or third-party administrator. 

To achieve that goal, Whole Whale provides one-on-one consulting services for clients with like-minded missions. On top of their long-term projects, this firm also offers online training courses through Whole Whale University in areas such as social media, Google AdWords, and more.

Nonprofit Technology Services

Whole Whale takes a holistic approach to digital strategy, with key services that include:

  • Google AdWords grants management
  • Google Analytics
  • Web design and development
  • Content marketing

Each Whole Whale project is customized based on nonprofit needs, so you won’t have to worry about getting a canned approach.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Notably, Whole Whale worked with the Malala Fund to improve the nonprofit’s use of Google Analytics for tracking user actions on their site. Following their engagement, the Malala Fund was able to successfully implement Google Analytics on their own, without any ongoing support from a consultant.

Get started with Whole Whale, a nonprofit technology consulting firm, today!

5. Heller Consulting

Consulting Firm OverviewHeller Consulting offers nonprofit technology consulting services for organizations of all sizes and missions.

Since 1996, Heller Consulting has worked exclusively with nonprofits to develop effective strategies in data management, communications, fundraising, and other vital areas.

In particular, the Heller consultants are passionate about working with nonprofits to get more from their CRM systems. With their services, your organization can outline a clear vision for your constituent relationship management, implement and customize your technology, and learn best practices for your software.

Nonprofit Technology Services

Heller Consulting works primarily with nonprofits and higher education institutes, offering a variety of technology services such as: 

  • CRM strategy and design
  • CRM implementation
  • Online fundraising strategy
  • Google Analytics

In addition, Heller Consulting maintains an active blog on their website to help organizations continue gaining and sharing knowledge about nonprofit technology.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Heller Consulting has worked with nonprofit clients in multiple sectors, including advocacy, healthcare, higher education, and social services. Some of their past engagements include the ASPCA, Make a Wish National Foundation, and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

You can check out their website for more information on recent projects and case studies detailing their work with specific software solutions, such as the Salesforce Community Cloud.

Learn more about the nonprofit technology consulting services offered by Heller Consulting.

6. Idealist Consulting

Consulting Firm Overview Idealist Consulting offers nonprofit technology consulting services as well as general digital consulting for all types of organizations.

With about 60% of their clients being nonprofits, Idealist Consulting specializes in Salesforce and marketing automation consulting. They can help you build out a custom Salesforce experience that works for your organization, with strategic app integrations and personalized configurations.

Idealist Consulting works with organizations to get more from the Salesforce system and raise funds and awareness for their cause. Their four-step consulting process always concludes with increased impact made possible through strategic technology implementation.

Nonprofit Technology Services

Idealist Consulting offers services that build on your existing technology and online presence through:

  • Salesforce CRM development
  • Email marketing automation
  • Online form optimization
  • Salesforce application integration

On top of all of that, Idealist can also work with you to build out a custom Salesforce app of your own!

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Among their other nonprofit and for-profit clients, Idealist Consulting worked with The Banfield Foundation, an animal welfare organization, to move their data to the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack for improved fundraising and donor data management.

By learning how to track small donations more effectively in Salesforce, The Banfield Foundation increased their online donations by over 300%! Idealist Consulting also developed custom fields within their CRM and helped them generate unique reports showing donor trends and demographics.

See if Idealist Consulting's nonprofit technology consulting approach is right for you.

7. KELL Partners

Consulting Firm Overview KELL Partners is a nonprofit technology consulting firm offering unique products and software solutions.

As a Salesforce Premium Partner, KELL Partners strives to remove the confusion from the nonprofit data management and fundraising experience.

With KELL, you’ll have access to a full suite of services specific to the Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack. Their team of strategic consultants can analyze your data and current practices and develop a path forward that helps you achieve your goals, no matter how simple or complex they may be. 

Nonprofit Technology Services

KELL can lend their expertise to every phase of the nonprofit Salesforce experience, helping you with:

  • Data manipulation and migration
  • Systems integration
  • Application development
  • Web development

With their KELL360 plan, the KELL team can build out a system of must-have integrations to take your baseline CRM to a whole new level.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

KELL Partners helped the New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity centralize the data they’d been storing across multiple fundraising and volunteer management systems using Salesforce. With a newly integrated system, the nonprofit was able to see fuller picture of their constituents and more effectively design engagement strategies for each supporter.

See more of the case study here!

Check out KELL Partners for your nonprofit technology consulting needs.

8. Apparo

Consulting Firm Overview Apparo offers volunteer nonprofit technology consulting services to empower local nonprofits in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.

Apparo seeks to “empower nonprofits through technology that enhances their missions.” They provide volunteer nonprofit technology consulting to organizations of all sizes and skill levels in the Charlotte, North Carolina, community. 

All of Apparo’s consulting services are individualized and unique to the organization. They’ll get to know your organization so they can most aptly pinpoint challenges and areas for improvement before working to push your mission forward.

Nonprofit Technology Services

Apparo’s consulting team offers a wide variety of free nonprofit services, including:

  • Basic Microsoft coaching
  • Nonprofit technology panels and forums
  • One-on-one technology assessments
  • Training groups

As a nonprofit themselves, Apparo is dedicated to helping philanthropic organizations within their community. Their volunteer consultants can help organizations with almost anything, from selecting the right software to learning the most up-to-date best practices in the nonprofit tech community.

Nonprofit Technology Portfolio

Apparo’s many success stories include the Carolina Raptor Center, a nonprofit working to rehabilitate and release injured birds. Prior to working with Apparo, the Center relied on paper tracking and Excel spreadsheets for all of their volunteer information, costing them time and data.

With Apparo, the Center was able implement more strategic software that reduced paperwork and increased their supporter engagement possibilities across the board.

Check out Apparo to see if their nonprofit technology consulting services can help your organization grow.

Once you find the right nonprofit technology consulting, implementing and using your software will be easier (and more effective) than ever before.

Check out these resources for more help with your nonprofit software:

  • More Nonprofit Consulting Firms. From fundraising consultants to IT consulting and more, this comprehensive page will introduce you to even more great nonprofit consultants with a variety of specialties. Check it out!
  • Best Technology Solutions for Nonprofits. A nonprofit technology consultant can help you take your software to the next level, but if you’re not sure what software solutions to get started with, this helpful post from DNL OmniMedia can guide you.
  • Top Blackbaud Partners. Looking for nonprofit technology consultants with Blackbaud expertise? Want to expand your Blackbaud products with integrations? @Pay’s got a list of solutions (and solution providers) for you.

7 Disaster Relief Fundraisers with Matching Gift Opportunities

7 Disaster-Relief Fundraisers Using Matching Gifts to Raise More Money

The past few months have seen some of the worst natural disasters in recent memory strike. Between the earthquakes in Mexico and the hurricanes in the Caribbean and southern parts of the United States, there are so many regions and people in need of help.

If you’re considering donating to a fundraising campaign that’s sending money to places such as Puerto Rico, Houston, Mexico City, and the Virgin Islands, you can actually take your gift one step further.

Currently, there are multiple active fundraising campaigns where you have a chance to get your gift matched. That’s right. You can donate to a campaign benefiting a region affected by a recent natural disaster and get that money doubled (and even tripled in some cases).

After doing a bit of research, we’ve identified seven disaster-relief campaigns with matching gift opportunities. Take a look, choose a campaign, donate, and get your gift matched!

  1. Greater Together for Disaster Relief
  2. The McShane Foundation – Hurricane Harvey Support
  3. Hurricane Relief for PacSun Associates
  4. Mexico Earthquake’s Relief Fund
  5. ACU Employee and Member Disaster Fund
  6. Index Fest (Houston) – Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
  7. Hope for Houston

Let’s take a look at each campaign individually.

1. Greater Together for Disaster Relief

Philips Lighting Greater Together Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “Greater Together for Disaster Relief“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? This campaign wants to raise $40,000 to provide lighting solutions to those affected by the hurricanes in the Atlantic as well as the individuals impacted by Mexico City’s earthquake.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? All donations to the campaign will be matched. So, for every dollar you give, Philips Lighting will give another dollar.

2. The McShane Foundation – Hurricane Harvey Support

McShane Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “The McShane Foundation – Hurricane Harvey Support“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? This fundraiser is looking to help Houston rebuild after the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. They’re aiming to raise $50,000.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? The foundation has agreed to match contributions to the campaign to help increase the impact of their fundraiser.

3. Hurricane Relief for PacSun Associates

PacSun Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “Hurricane Relief for PacSun Associates“:

  • What’s the campaign goal? This is a direct donation account to help out PacSun associates impacted by the hurricanes. It’s goal is to raise $25,000.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? PacSun will match up to $25,000 total.

4. Mexico Earthquake’s Relief Fund

Mexico Earthquake Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “Mexico Earthquake’s Relief Fund“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? The campaign organizer wants to raise money to help the victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico. The campaign’s current goal is $10,000, and the money is being donated to an NY-based nonprofit, Project Paz, which has been crucial in the relief effort in Mexico.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? Through Edrington Americas, this campaign is offering a double match to every donation. In other words, for every dollar donated, Edrington Americas will give two dollars!

5. ACU Employee and Member Disaster Fund

ACU Member and Employee Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “ACU Employee and Member Disaster Fund“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? This campaign was set up to help the employees and members of the Associated Credit Union of Texas. They’re aiming to raise $25,000.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? The ACU has pledged to match any donations received up to $25,000.

6. Index Fest (Houston) – Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

Index Fest Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “Index Fest (Houston) – Hurricane Harvey“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? Index Fest wants to help Houston’s recovery effort and has created a fund that offers special incentives to patrons who donate to Harvey recovery efforts.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? Index Fest is going to match the total donations received up to $5,000.

7. Hope for Houston

Hope for Houston Disaster Relief Fundraiser with Matching Gifts

Here’s what you need to know about “Hope for Houston“:

  • What’s the campaign’s goal? The Texas-based bridal jewelry designer, the Sylvie Collection, is looking to raise $15,000 to aid in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
  • What’s the matching gift opportunity? The Sylvie Collection will match all donations up to $15,000.

As you can see, there are many disaster-relief fundraisers out there right this minute that you can give to and get your gift matched.

Make a donation, and see your money go twice as far!

How to Raise Money and Support Victims of the California Wildfires

4 Ways You Can Raise Money and Support Victims of the California Wildfires

This post was last edited on 10.10.17 at 3:07 PM EST.

On Sunday night, fires ignited in Northern California in areas including Napa and Sonoma. According to CNN, these massive wildfires (in excess of a dozen) have already destroyed more than 1,500 homes and commercial buildings as well as covered approximately 120,000 acres and continue to consume even more in Napa wine country.

While the most immediate task for emergency crews is to help people evacuate residents, fire officials are working on a plan to end the wildfires despite the dry winds and lack of resources.

Because you’ve come to this article, you’ve likely heard this devastating news and want to show your support.

If you’re looking for a way to raise money, donate to, or volunteer to help victims in Northern California, we have 4 ways you can show your support:

  1. Launch your own crowdfunding campaign.
  2. Consider getting your donations matched.
  3. Encourage others to support causes on social media.
  4. Give to nonprofits that are supporting that community.

No matter how you decide to support the wildfire efforts in California, every amount donated counts! Get ready to learn how you can help.

If you want even more ways to raise money and support the California wildfire efforts, check out Fundly’s list of ideas.

1. Launch Your Own Crowdfunding Campaign

If you or someone you know is personally affected by the wildfires in California you might feel compelled to tell your story and start a crowdfunding campaign. Since the aftereffects can be extremely costly, raising money online is a great way to rally support in a short period of time.

Crowdfunding is a great tool to raise funds because campaigns can be set up in a matter of minutes and they’re inexpensive to create. 

If you’re still not convinced, look at these successful crowdfunding campaigns to see just how much you can raise.

Additionally, campaigns can easily be shared on social media, email, and via text message so that you can reach everyone in your network and encourage them to support your cause.

To get started, you’ll need to:

  • Choose a crowdfunding platform. The platform that you choose will play a huge role in the success of your campaign. Look for a platform that will let you keep the funds even if you don’t reach your goal or meet your deadline so you can donate every penny you raise. We recommend Fundly.
  • Set a goal. Having a goal is important as it will help you rally supporters and show donors how far you’ve come.
  • Write a compelling description and upload photos. If you or a loved one is personally impacted by the wildfires in California, don’t be afraid to tell your story. Even if you’re not directly impacted, use the description to show people why this cause matters.
  • Promote on social media. Last, but certainly not least, post your crowdfunding campaign on social media and send emails to your friends and family to encourage them to donate. The more you spread the word, the better chance you have of gaining donors and reaching your goal.

If you’re in a time crunch to look for the right crowdfunding platform, we have a list of our top recommended options.

We recommend Fundly because it’s a “keep-it-all” platform and has highly shareable pages. Sign up for a campaign by clicking here or the image below.

Head to the Fundly homepage and start your own crowdfunding campaign for wildfire relief.

Even if you can’t create your own campaign, consider donating to the many campaigns that are currently supporting the victims of the Northern California wildfires.

Here are two certified fundraisers for wildfire relief that you can give to right now.

1. California Fire Relief Fund — Double the Donation set up the California Fire Relief Fund on October 9 in response to the wildfires. This campaign promises to donate any funds raised to the fire departments combating these wildfires, as well as regional nonprofits that are serving the people affected by this great tragedy. Check out the campaign:

California Wildfire Relief Fund

2. Relief Efforts for Massive Sonoma County Fire — Launched by the Fundly Team, this crowdfunding campaign aims to help the victims of the wildfires in Santa Rosa, CA. It’s already gained quite a bit of traction. Check it out:

Relief Efforts for Massive Sonoma County Fire

2. Consider Getting Your Donations Matched

Whether you donate to a crowdfunding campaign or local nonprofit, don’t forget about matching gifts. Having your donation matched by your employer (if you’re eligible) will make your donation go much further in supporting the wildfire efforts in California.

Many companies will match your donations at a 1:1 ratio, which means that for every $1 you donate, the organization or crowdfunding campaign will get another $1 from your company.

Moreover, there are some companies that even match at higher ratios so that you raise additional funds for your organization.

Not sure if your corporation has a matching gift program? When you make a donation, look out for a matching gift search bar (either on the organization’s “Ways to Give” page or directly on the donation form), that will let you search for your corporation’s matching gift program.

Also, we’re making our matching gift search tool available to folks looking to get donations to the relief effort matched. Just type your company name into the search feature below:

By taking the initiative to have your donations matched, you’ll be able to raise even more funds for your organization with just a little extra effort on your part.

3. Encourage Others to Support Your Cause On Social Media

Spreading the word is an effective way to rally the support of others—and there is no better place to do this than on social media.

With so many followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you’ll be able to reach even more people to encourage them to contribute.

No matter how much you donate, share your donation on your social media accounts to make others aware of the ways they can support the wildfire efforts in California.

Think about it this way: if you’re friends see that your invested and passionate about this cause, it might spark them to learn more and potentially donate as well. 

To craft the best social media posts:

  • Use images and video to draw people’s attention.
  • Link to the crowdfunding campaign or organization you donated to.
  • Share posts (like this one) to inspire your friends and family to get involved.

There are so many ways you can spread the word and encourage others to support those who will be impacted by the wildfires in California. For example, see how this campaign is being shared by donors on Twitter.

Sharing this wildfire relief campaign is bound to help it get the traction it needs.

With just a short tweet, this campaign supporter was able to spread the word about a fundraiser that’s working to help California stop the fire.

Find a campaign you can stand behind and give it a social share!

4. Give to Nonprofits That Support the Community

If you’re feeling the urge to help, but aren’t sure where to turn, look to the community-based nonprofits and organizations that are stepping up to the plate.

Nonprofits who are already cemented in key Northern Californian communities will know the best way to use funds and provide aid to those in need. Plus, you’ll be sending your support directly to the organizations—and people—who need it most.

Check out our list of organizations that can help the afflicted communities:

  • This emergency shelter information for Santa Rosa includes information about where volunteers are needed most. As the fire progresses, these shelters may need further supplies and donations.
  • The Red Cross is actively helping Northern California evacuees. See how you can help!
  • For families with animals, the Sonoma Humane Society is building a grassroots effort to find shelters that are open to pets.

Any of these organizations can help you send aid to the right places. After all, they’re already on the ground, helping those who need it!

For additional ideas we encourage you to check out this Fundly article which has even more ways you can donate to and support Northern California, Sonoma, and Napa Fire Relief and Recovery Efforts.


It can be difficult seeing what’s happening in Northern California and not knowing how you can contribute. Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to take action, whether it’s through starting your own campaign or donating to a local charity.

5 Tips to Keep Your Giving Tuesday Momentum Going Year-Round

According to data reported by Blackbaud, Giving Tuesday 2017 has yielded at least a 28% increase in online giving over 2016 campaigns. In 2016, Giving Tuesday yielded over 168 million in donations. This figure does not include the amount of volunteer hours that were also provided to nonprofits due to the initiative.

Remember, a volunteer hour is estimated to be worth $24.00 so there is real value there.

Giving Tuesday offers nonprofits a unique opportunity to test online campaign messaging in front of a large-scale audience. How is your nonprofit using this data to optimize campaigns year-round? Is your nonprofit implementing the right strategies to keep your Giving Tuesday momentum going by reaching the right donor and volunteer prospects?

Here are a few tips to incorporate into your year-end giving strategy and year-round prospecting plan.

Keep Giving Tuesday Momentum Going by Creating Compelling Content

One of the biggest takeaways from Giving Tuesday is that compelling content drives donations and volunteer opportunity signups. Did you know that on average people view four pieces of content before deciding to take a specific action or not? How is your nonprofit captivating your target audience and enticing them to complete your call to action? A recent study conducted by the content marketing institute found that only 30% of nonprofits have a clear vision of content marketing success and how to achieve their content goals. The same study determined that only 25% of nonprofits have a documented content marketing strategy.

Even though many nonprofits do not have a clear process for content marketing many still see the value that content marketing creates. 65% of nonprofit professionals are creating more content than they were a year ago.

If your nonprofit wants to be successful in driving leads from your content marketing efforts a clear-cut plan is a must.

Here are a few tips that will help your organization create compelling content year-round:

  • Showcase your cause in a compelling and engaging way.
  • Share stories that demonstrate your organization’s impact.
  • Use your content as an opportunity to trigger urgency.
  • Use your content to appeal to your supporters on a personal level.
  • Make sure your content focuses on the end-goal (what do you want people to do?)
  • Incorporate actionable language into your nonprofit’s content.

Creating content that is compelling can help captivate your audience and drive prospects to support your cause.

Keep Giving Tuesday Momentum Going by Investing in Strategic Tools

There is a plethora of tools available that can help your organization create a process and strategically push your nonprofit forward. Fundraising tools and volunteer management can help to bridge the gap between your prospects and your organization and allow supporters to help market your cause.

Identifying and investing in the right tools can help your nonprofit increase engagement with supporters as well.

Did you know that the average first-year median donor retention rate in the nonprofit industry is only 29%?

Engagement with volunteers is also low. Believe it or not only 55% of nonprofits assess volunteer impact as a metric of success.

Here are a few ways fundraising and volunteer management tools can positively impact your organization:

  • Free up your staff’s time (time is money) to focus on other important aspects and growth.
  • Integrate with your nonprofit’s CRM system to provide more insights into prospect behavior.
  • Allow your organization to easily create actionable CTAs that can be incorporated into your content and collateral strategies.
  • Bridge communication gaps between prospective volunteer, donors, and your nonprofit.

Keep Giving Tuesday Momentum Going by Becoming Data Driven

Making decisions based on data is a must in 2017 and beyond. Organizations that make decisions based on data are on average 4% more productive and 6% more profitable than their counterparts.

Decision-making based on data can help your nonprofit avoid pitfalls, identify opportunities, and predict future trends.

Did you know that 44% of marketers have a data management platform and 33% plan on getting one in the near future? Marketers understand that data is the key to success and understanding your nonprofit’s prospects should affect all of your business decisions.

Here are a few ways to become data-driven in 2017:

  • Decisions need to be an integral part of your data collection process.
  • Manage reporting based on the data points that align with your organization’s goals.
  • Get support from upper management and your organization’s IT department.
  • Focus on data that will predict and optimize business outcomes.
  • Embed analytics into every action your nonprofit takes.

Keep Giving Tuesday Momentum Going by Leveraging Matching Gifts

Focusing on corporate philanthropy can help to increase your supporters and monthly fundraising commitments from prospects.

One of the best corporate philanthropy strategies is matching gifts. Did you know that over 18 million individuals work for companies with matching gift programs?

An estimated 2-3 billion dollars is donated through matching gift programs annually.

If your nonprofit is not promoting matching gifts there are a few steps you can take to take advantage of this corporate philanthropy strategy:

  • Fully understand the eligibility requirements for matching gift programs.
  • Identify a matching gift coordinator to focus on building corporate relationships.
  • Raise awareness in the community around matching gifts and the benefits.
  • Create dedicated matching gift pages as part of your fundraising strategy.
  • Easily allow donors to see if their company offers a matching gift program.


Giving Tuesday and the end of the year is a great time to build an audience around your fundraising campaigns and volunteer opportunities.

Nonprofits can keep the momentum going by creating compelling content, investing in strategic tools, making decisions based on data, and leveraging corporate philanthropy.

To learn more information on donor and volunteer management best practices download our report that provides insights from 200 nonprofits, including CRM utilization rates, donor management best practices, and tips for converting volunteers to donors here.

Author Bio

Eric Burger is the marketing communications manager for VolunteerHub, an organization that provides volunteer management solutions for nonprofits across the globe. Eric has worked in the B2B software industry for the past two years and has over five years of experience in digital marketing.

8 Ways to Raise Money for and Donate to Victims of the Mexico Earthquake

Updated 9:57 AM EST on Friday, September 22nd.

While reports come in about the earthquake that hit Mexico on Tuesday, the news keeps getting sadder and sadder. As of today, the death toll numbers 273 people and the rescue effort is still underway, meaning that number is likely to rise. Much of central Mexico has been turned to rubble, and this comes after the deadly earthquake that struck the southern coast of Mexico two weeks ago, killing upwards of 90 people.

Tuesday’s magnitude-7.1 earthquake struck Mexico City and its surrounding region including the states of Puebla, Mexico, and Morelos. The images and video footage from the region are absolutely devastating, and all evidence indicates that recovery from this natural disaster is going to take a long, long time.

It is hard to know what to do in times of such unthinkable tragedy. But if you’ve made it to this page, it is because you want to help the relief effort and are looking for some ways to get involved. Below, you’ll find a list to get you started.

8 Ways to Join the Relief Efforts for Victims of Mexico’s Earthquake

We’ll start with advice for organizing your own fundraiser.

1. Run your own fundraiser.

One of the most hands-on methods of fundraising for Mexican relief is running your own crowdfunding fundraiser. It sounds challenging but is actually relatively simple. Of course, seeing your campaign through will take true dedication, but helping the people of Mexico will be more than worth it.

Crowdfunding is an effective fundraising option for earthquake relief in particular, because it is quick, efficient, and global. You want to start your campaign (do so here) sooner rather than later, while the relief effort is still at the front of everyone’s minds. 

If you’re interested in launching your own crowdfunding campaign, here’s the rundown of how it will go:

  1. Choose a platform — We recommend Fundly because it is free and lets you create a visually compelling and highly shareable campaign in mere minutes.
  2. Establish your goal — Find a sweet spot between achievable and challenging. Donors need to feel like your goal is possible, but you also want to raise enough to provide for the people of Mexico.
  3. Set up your campaign — When you set up your campaign, you’ll be looking to include a few things: compelling copy, high-quality images, a descriptive title, and a verification of who you are.
  4. Promote often — Online fundraisers succeed and fail based on how their promotion goes. You have to generate an audience for your crowdfunding campaign.
  5. Collect your donations — When the campaign is over, it’ll be time to collect your donations and use them to fund the relief effort in Mexico.

We compared the top crowdfunding platforms and recommend Fundly for disaster-relief fundraisers! Click the image to start your campaign.Run a crowdfunding fundraiser to raise money for earthquake relief in Mexico.

Make sure you carefully select a recipient of the funds you raise, so look to local nonprofits or global organizations that are focused on disaster relief. In other words, trust the experts.

Next step: Click to start a campaign right now

Click to start a crowdfunding fundraising campaign to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico with their relief effort.

2. Donate to a crowdfunding campaign.

Not everyone can run their own crowdfunding campaign, but the good news is, there are plenty of campaigns created each day that are worthy and in need of donations. So, if you support and appreciate the crowdfunding model but don’t have the time or ability to run your own fundraiser, you can donate to someone else’s campaign.

Head over to a crowdfunding website, like Fundly, and search the existing campaigns. You can either type your query into a search bar or browse through the platform’s categories. The picture below gives you a preview of what the disaster relief category looks like. Click the picture to be taken to the page and category shown.Check out the disaster relief category on Fundly's website for fundraising options for the earthquake.

Outside of looking through a crowdfunding website, you’ll want to visit your main social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and see if any of your immediate contacts are running a campaign. If so, review their campaign goals and details and decide if you’d like to contribute to their work.

With minimal digging, either through your own social channels or through a crowdfunding platform, you should be able to find a number of campaigns to peruse. 

Just be careful to make sure that any campaign you donate to is legitimate. It’s a sad fact, but there are scammers out there who take advantage of natural disasters like these. Most crowdfunding sites do an excellent job of scrubbing illegitimate campaigns from their platforms, but as a donor, you should also be vigilant about doing your own research.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the organizer have an existing online presence?
  • Is the organizer Facebook verified?
  • Is the campaign transparent about its goals?

Once you’ve properly vetted the campaign and organizer, all that’s left to do is make a donation and support the recovery effort.

For example, here’s a great campaign that was recently started to help the earthquake recovery effort. The campaign is even has a special offer where all donations are being matched, meaning double funding for the relief effort.Donate to this crowdfunding campaign for the relief effort in Mexico following the earthquake.

Next step: Visit a campaign and donate.

3. Join the rebuilding effort.

The earthquake in Mexico absolutely destroyed much of central Mexico’s buildings and infrastructure. Construction and rebuilding in the region is going to be a huge priority and part of the recovery effort.

Luckily, you can help out by supporting nonprofits that specifically focus on fulfilling such needs. For example, consider donating to, raising money for, or volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.

You can donate to Habitat for Humanity or any earthquake-related campaigns run by Habitat for Humanity and use your money to help kick-start the rebuilding process. To donate, head over to and explore this page:

Supporting the Habitat for Humanity Global Village program is a great way to help the earthquake relief effort.

By donating to Habitat for Humanity, you’ll join the over 76,000 donors who have helped the organization raise $14,074,690 for its global volunteering program so far.

For example, here’s a campaign for a Habitat for Humanity build that is set to go to Mexico next year (donate here), when the region is going to most certainly need still need rehabilitation assistance:

Check out how you can help the rebuilding process in Mexico.

Next step: Donate to Habitat for Humanity’s rebuilding effort.

4. Get your gifts matched.

If you work for a company that has a matching gift program, that essentially means you can make your donation go twice as far.

Here’s the definition of matching gifts, for those who don’t know (learn more here):

“Employee matching gifts are donations a company makes to match its employees’ charitable contributions. Employee matching gifts are typically at a dollar-for-dollar rate but some companies go even further by tripling or quadrupling their employees’ donations.”

At Double the Donation, we build and maintain a database of companies that match donations along with the forms, guidelines, and steps you should take to submit your match. Across our database, 15-19 million individuals work for companies with matching gift programs.

And for relief for recent disasters (Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Imra, Hurricane Maria, and the two earthquakes in Mexico) we’re making our database available for FREE.

You can use our matching gift tool right now. In the search bar below, type in your employer (ex. Home Depot, Verizon, Microsoft, etc.) to see if your company offers a matching gift program and to access forms, guidelines, and instructions.

Or if you want to view a list of the top matching gift companies click here. It’s all really that simple, and by filling out a little bit of paperwork, you could be doubly helping the people of Mexico.

Next step: Search for matching gift companies with the above search tool. Then Link to this page ( from your website or social media to share this matching gift information with other supporters.

Click to start a crowdfunding fundraising campaign to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico with their relief effort.

5. Donate to a disaster-relief nonprofit.

When in doubt, trust the experts. In other words, if you don’t know where to send your money, look to large and established nonprofits that already have folks on the ground and plans in place to aid the relief effort.

Primarily, you’ll be donating funds more than anything. While Mexico will surely be in need of items like non-perishable food and clothing, it’s often best to send money first that can than be allocated as needed. You certainly don’t want to end up sending goods that clutter airports and shelters and won’t be put to good use.

Nonprofits to consider include:

For example, Project Paz is working in conjunction with the El Paso Community Foundation to help raise money for earthquake relief in central Mexico.

Project Paz is just one example of a nonprofit earthquake relief effort you can contribute to.

At the end of the day, consider regional, national, and global organizations, and pick the program and relief effort that you feel most passionately about. A range of help is not only needed, it is necessary.

Next step: Review your options for donating and pick a nonprofit to support.

6. Share and promote fundraisers you support.

One of the quickest ways to help out a cause you care about, any time, is to share and promote the fundraising effort. For example, if you are a big proponent of your local homeless shelter and they’re running a campaign, you can help by sharing that campaign with your friends, family, and broader social media network.

The same principle applies to sharing and promoting fundraisers for the disaster-relief work being done in Mexico. So, visit your favorite campaign and share it.

Here’s an excellent example from Raul Gonzalez, who is the organizer of a crowdfunding campaign that is raising money (and doubling donations) for relief in Mexico following the earthquake.

Share and promote fundraisers that are for the relief effort for after the earthquakes in Mexico.

It might seem simple, but just a few clicks and short message can go a long way toward increasing how much money a fundraiser brings in and is able to put toward the cause. In fact, the average campaign share raises $97!

Next step: Find a crowdfunding campaign and share it to help the victim of Mexico’s earthquake.

Click to start a crowdfunding fundraising campaign to help the victims of the earthquake in Mexico with their relief effort.

7. Contribute to the United Way’s Fondo de Emergenicas.

The United Way is one of the most recognizable nonprofit names in the world. The United Way focuses on building strong, sustainable communities through three key areas of impact: education, income, and health.

The United Way has a branch in Mexico and has created an emergency relief fund dedicated solely to the recovery effort from the numerous disasters that have occurred in the country over the past month or so.

They currently have a 3-stage intervention plan that the funds will go towards:

  1. Advance team — A small, experienced group of people deployed to assess what each community’s most urgent needs are.
  2. Brigade — A larger group of volunteers who bring necessary support as specified by the advance team.
  3. Reconstruction — Longer term work to rehabilitate buildings and homes.

The United Way of Mexico has a disaster relief fund to help with the earthquake recovery effort.

Contributing is as easy as visiting their website. They even have an easy translate option for non-Spanish speakers.

Next step: Visit the United Way’s website and contribute to the fund

8. Support Direct Relief’s efforts.

For those who don’t know, Direct Relief is a nonprofit that serves all 50 states, as well as 80 other countries, including Mexico.

Their mission is simple: “Improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty and emergencies.”

Due to their emergency relief focus, they’re extremely well-equipped to help the people of Mexico recover from the devastating earthquake.

According to their website, “Direct Relief is coordinating with Mexico-based companies and national emergency response organizations to get desperately needed medicine to those impacted by the earthquake.”

Additionally, “Direct Relief has Donataria Autorizada status from the Mexican government, allowing companies in Mexico to receive tax benefits for donations to the organization.”

On top of accepting donations and doing vital work in the damaged region, their site also features frequent updates and news stories, to keep donors and supporters fully informed (shown below).

Direct Relief is not only providing earthquake recovery help, it also have a great news resource on its site.

As you can see, you can visit their site and not only donate, but read first-hand accounts about what is occurring on the ground in Mexico.

Next step: Check out Direct Relief’s website and explore how you can provide support.

There are the eight ideas. So hop to it. Start helping and spread the word about how everyone can support the relief effort. Mexico needs us, and we need to step up for them in this time of tragedy.

Raise money for Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria with crowdfunding or donate to a campaign.


8 Storytelling Tools to Boost Donation

Human beings like stories. We are exposed to them from the moment we are born and learn how to connect with and learn from others through storytelling. Although everyone is not a natural born storyteller, everyone does have the ability to tell a good story if given the right tools.

Developing storytelling skills is essential for nonprofit fundraisers because the key is nothing more than telling a great story to your donors. People are more likely to convert from visitors to donors when there is a narrative they can follow and connect with. Here is a list of 8 tips we have compiled to get you started on your storytelling journey.

1. Hands on experience

Write what you know. This is one of the first pieces of advice any young writer is give and, it still applies to storytelling for nonprofits. You can’t tell an authentic story if you have never experienced some aspect of it. I’m talking to you, development team, it’s time to get involved.

There is a natural divide that exists between program and development staff at any nonprofit. You view each other with distrust, always thinking the other is doing less. But as a member of the development team you need access to the best stories which means a good working relationship with your program staff. Make it clear that you value the work that they do. Set up bi-weekly or monthly meetings to share stories about your work. This will give your team access to stories which appeal to donors and humanize the development team to program staff.

Attend volunteer events. Your development team should be required to attend a certain number of volunteer events each year. This allows you to experience first-hand what your organization does and get you some great stories.

2. Write with your ideal donor in mind

One of the first rules of storytelling is to know your audience. While you are creating content for many people, that content is being consumed individually. For your readers, your content isn’t generated for the masses, it’s created for them.

Use donor surveys and craft donor personas. Your donor personas represent those who give to your cause. A donor persona includes job title, average age, gender, communication preference and other important information that tells you who your donors are. Once you know who your donors are, write to them.

3. Impart your vision

When you are storytelling for your nonprofit your goal should never be “to raise money.” It’s not specific enough and doesn’t give you a story to tell.

Consider instead what the money you are looking to raise will be used for. Is it a specific project? Tell the story of that project and what impact it will have on lives.

If you need money for basic operational or administrative costs tell the story of what would happen if your organization wasn’t able to do the amazing work it does. For example, if your organization didn’t exist- would lives be affected? How many? In what way? Craft a story around this idea with donors as the heroes, the ones who make your work possible.

4. Present conflict and make your donors part of the resolution

If you read your story and realize there is no conflict, then it’s not a story; it’s a pitch. This is essential because the conflict in your story is the reason your organization exists. If your organization builds wells in rural Zambia when individuals already have access to clean drinking water, then your organization exists for no reason.

When crafting your story and thinking about your central conflict consider the following questions:

How does your organization address issues in your community?

What do you need to address this problem?

How much funding?

What exactly will the money do?

Who provides the money?

Who is the hero of the story?

Asking these questions will help you story tell in a way that appeals to your donors.

5. Create a sense of urgency

Your story should be time sensitive. You should make donors feel that there is only a limited amount of time to give and to help. Adding a deadline is one of the easiest ways to create that sense of urgency.

International Rescue Committee does an incredible job creating a sense of urgency in their story about the Rohingya population from the Rakhine state of Myanmar. This population is facing persistent violence in Myanmar with hundreds of thousands of refugees in need of basic services.

6. Use a variety of methods and channels

Sometimes we get locked into the idea that stories can only be written. But in many cultures, storytelling is still a mostly oral tradition and there are many different ways to express them.

Remember the section on “knowing your donors above”? Well, not all donors are going to want to read your stories. Some, especially younger donors, want to see videos, pictures, infographics.

Tell the same story in different ways and see if one method yields different results. Stay creative and agile because storytelling is a fluid art.

The example above from shares Malala’s story in an interactive timeline,which integrates many different storytelling mediums from image to video to text. It is dynamic and easy to follow.

7. Inspire others to share their stories

Most people are more likely to connect with a story when it is autobiographical. This may not be applicable if your organization doesn’t work with people, but if it does, get the people you serve to tell their own stories. Interviewing people about their own experiences creates a more authentic story and allows your donors to connect to what you do on a more emotional level.

If you don’t work with individuals get donors to tell their stories. People like hearing from others who have given before because it legitimizes giving and provides them with realistic expectations about where their money will go and how to give.

8. Litmus test your story

You want to test your story before you send it out to the world. The best advice I have heard on this topic is to litmus test your story at the dinner table. If it doesn’t perform well there, then it isn’t good enough.

This also tells you how simple your story should be. How much do you hate it when someone monopolizes the conversation at the dinner table with a story that takes 15 minutes but could have been told in 5? Don’t be that person. You will bore and alienate your donors.


Great fundraising is great storytelling. Every great nonprofit fundraiser will tell you the same thing. If you want to boost donations, then further developing your storytelling skills is the best way to make it happen.

Just remember, you tell stories everyday and you have been telling them since you had the ability to speak.

If you want to read even more on the subject The Storytelling Nonprofit is a great place to start. Happy storytelling!

Author Bio

Emma Wolfe is the Communications and Partnerships Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. Emma has been involved in the nonprofit world for years working at multiple NGOs located both in the United States and abroad. Her experience ranges from refugee occupation counseling to empowerment programs for youth in West Africa. When she isn’t traveling Emma loves doing yoga and trying new food.

Before settling on Raiser's Edge, make sure you understand all the advantages and disadvantages this software has to offer.

Raiser’s Edge: 5 Critical Pros and Cons (You Need to Know!)

If your nonprofit is considering implementing Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge as your all-in-one fundraising solution, you’ll inevitably have a lot to think about.

While a number of nonprofits have made Raiser’s Edge (and its newest iteration, Raiser’s Edge NXT) their Blackbaud software product of choice, like any software, Raiser’s Edge comes with a number of advantages and disadvantages.

To help you navigate the myriad of product reviews and cut down on research time, we’ve compiled the most important pros and cons you need to consider before buying Raiser’s Edge.

We’ll look at the following:

  1. Pro: Nonprofits can use Raiser’s Edge for virtually all of their fundraising needs.
  2. Con: Raiser’s Edge isn’t always user-friendly.
  3. Pro: Raiser’s Edge is highly customizable.
  4. Con: Blackbaud may not supply enough Raiser’s Edge training.
  5. Pro: Nonprofits can integrate matching gifts into their Raiser’s Edge platform.

But before we dive into the details, you can take a bird’s eye look at the buying process by reading DNL Omni Media’s walk-through of Raiser’s Edge from consideration to implementation.

Nonprofits can use Raiser's Edge for virtually all of their fundraising needs..

1. Pro: Nonprofits can use Raiser’s Edge for virtually all of their fundraising needs.

If you need expansive fundraising software, Raiser’s Edge won’t disappoint.

With features designed to improve operational efficiency, enhance donor acquisition and engagement, and of course, boost fundraising revenue, Raiser’s Edge is truly comprehensive. 

While nonprofits of all sizes can use Raiser’s Edge, its broad functionality makes it an ideal fit for nonprofits who need to store a significant amount of data and implement more complex fundraising strategies.

For instance, Raiser’s Edge can play an instrumental role in streamlining all of the following processes:

  • Data enrichment.
  • Communications and marketing.
  • Online payment processing.
  • Event management.
  • Wealth analytics and prospect research.
  • Crowdfunding and social engagement.

Of course, if you’re not prepared to use all of the tools within Raiser’s Edge, this pro can quickly turn into a con.

Having an overwhelming set of fundraising resources in front of you with no idea where to start is a position no nonprofit wants to be in. To avoid that situation, make sure you’ve done your research to find out exactly what kind of fundraising software you need.

Or, seek out the help of a nonprofit technology consultant who can guide you through the implementation process and ensure you’re on track for success!

Raiser's Edge isn't always user-friendly.

2. Con: Raiser’s Edge isn’t always user-friendly.

Because Raiser’s Edge is so multifaceted, some nonprofits have a difficult time finding their way around the product.

While the newest version of Raiser’s Edge, Raiser’s Edge NXT, is a notable improvement from the earlier Raiser’s Edge 7 interface, there are still some bugs that limit usability for this platform.

Typically, users struggle with a few important aspects of the Raiser’s Edge system:

  • Implementation. Many users note that while Raiser’s Edge is eventually a workable platform, it takes a lot of trial and error, testing, and training to get them to a place where they feel confident within the software. If you have a hearty IT team and plenty of time to devote to figuring out the system, you’ll be able to work your way through Raiser’s Edge. But if you need to understand all the features Raiser’s Edge has to offer quickly, your team might have some frustration to deal with.
  • Creating queries. Raiser’s Edge provides the ability to pull information on specific groups or segments of constituents using their query tool. However, many users have found that this feature is difficult to understand and utilize, and that the query process can leave them with duplicate information.
  • Generating custom reports. While Raiser’s Edge allows organizations to run reports on virtually any metrics within their database; unfortunately, a number of users aren’t able to take advantage of the full scope of analytics available because of the complicated process. Instead, they rely on the canned reports that come pre-set in Raiser’s Edge, which might not fully address their needs.

Blackbaud does have a highly competent support team who can walk you through these issues if you do encounter them. Even so, it might be necessary to look into third-party help (i.e., a nonprofit consultant) who can ensure you’re getting the most out of your software.

After all, what good is a comprehensive fundraising solution if you can’t take advantage of all of its features and tools?

Raiser's Edge is highly customizable.

3. Pro: Raiser’s Edge is highly customizable.

For organizations who like to get under the hood of their fundraising software and design a platform that’s fully unique, Raiser’s Edge may be a good fit.

With a multitude of configurable settings and customization options, Raiser’s Edge is most useful when organizations take advantage of the ability to adapt the platform to their needs.

Let’s look at just a sampling of what your team can configure:

  • Role-based views and permissions.
  • Donor profile settings, including addressees and salutations.
  • Business rules and defaults.
  • Tables.
  • Constituent categories.
  • Fields.
  • Integrations and links to other platforms.

And that’s truly just a taste of what you can customize!

However, it’s important to understand that Raiser’s Edge configuration is not a task just anyone can try their hand at. There are resources to help you understand the customization process, but even getting through the configuration guides may be a major time commitment (most Blackbaud online guides range from 60 to 200+ pages!).

To truly capitalize on the advantage of in-depth customization, your organization will need to work with an experienced professional. 

A web developer or nonprofit technology consultant with Blackbaud expertise can save you time, headaches, and potentially damaging mistakes. Plus, a nonprofit consultant can take the time to understand your fundraising strategy and then implement the customizations that are proven to put you on the path toward success.

When Raiser’s Edge is already such an investment, you need to go the extra mile to make sure your configurations are in line with your goals and fundraising needs. A nonprofit technology consultant can be that missing link!

Blackbaud may not supply enough Raiser's Edge training.

4. Con: Blackbaud may not supply enough Raiser’s Edge training.

For a product that’s so extensive (and not necessarily user-friendly), you can anticipate that there will be a learning curve during the first stages of Raiser’s Edge use.

That being the case, you’ll likely seek out some form of training for your team as you get started with Raiser’s Edge. The problem? Many customers report that Blackbaud does not offer enough resources to adequately train nonprofits on using the platform.

While there are some online and in-person Raiser’s Edge training options offered by Blackbaud, it takes some digging around to find exactly what you need. (Though this master list of training resources from the Blackbaud experts at DNL OmniMedia can alleviate some of the time you spend on research!)

Moreover, a large population of users have found that the training options are not yet comprehensive, and that they still must do a great deal of self-training to get fully acquainted with the platform.

Obviously, not having access to robust training presents a major problem.

Many of your team members will be utilizing Raiser’s Edge on a daily basis, each in unique role-based ways. If everyone has a different level of understanding of how to use the software, you’re setting yourself up for inconsistencies, errors, and a lack of efficiency—which is exactly what Raiser’s Edge is supposed to help you avoid!

You can use Blackbaud Learn, the online Blackbaud Community, and free online guides and resources to supplement your learning, but the best way to ensure your team is all on the same page is to seek out dedicated Raiser’s Edge training from an expert Blackbaud consultant.

Your consultant can offer a personalized training plan with role-based paths, in-person coaching, and general counsel regarding using Raiser’s Edge as part of your fundraising strategy.

If you’re hesitant to invest in a consultant, look at it this way: do you want to spend your time and resources pulling together the information you need to use your software, or would you rather streamline the experience and guarantee your staff is ready to use Raiser’s Edge?

Nonprofits can integrate matching gifts into their Raiser's Edge platform.

5. Pro: Nonprofits can integrate matching gifts into their Raiser’s Edge platform.

Saving the best perk for last, we can’t forget that Raiser’s Edge makes it possible to seamlessly incorporate the oh-so-important matching gift process right into your fundraising software!

You already know how vital matching gifts can be to your fundraising strategy. Raiser’s Edge accounts for this by making it easy to store matching gift information within your database and use that intel to (literally) multiply your gifts. 

Within a Raiser’s Edge donor profile, you have the ability to view corporate giving data in a dedicated Matching Gifts section. All the relevant information, such as the company, match amount, and date, will be visible in one central location to make it easy to keep track of your matched funds over time.

Let’s look at a few ways you can take advantage of this pro:

  • Store donors’ employer information. You’ll have a hard time securing matching gifts if you don’t have your supporters’ employer data on file. You can request this information through event registration or donation forms, or simply reach out to donors to ask.
  • Create constituent profiles for employers. You should keep employers’ data on file in separate constituent profiles. That way, you can centralize important data such as matching gift ratios, deadlines, and eligibility requirements. Having their contact information on file also makes it easier to send them their own communications and thank-you notes for each matched gift.
  • Integrate a matching gift tool into your donation process. If you’re using Blackbaud NetCommunity as part of your Raiser’s Edge system, don’t forget to integrate Double the Donation’s easy matching gift tool on your donation confirmation pages and acknowledgement emails! Read this simple integration guide to find out how.

And if you’re a larger organization interested in implementing matching gifts into your fundraising strategy, see how 360MatchPro can help you take your efficiency to the next level through a Raiser’s Edge integration!

No software is perfect, but with the right guidance from a nonprofit consultant and a little research, Raiser’s Edge can be an excellent partner in your fundraising efforts.

Learn more about fundraising software by checking out these additional resources:

Find out if Blackbaud CRM is the right donor management solution for your nonprofit by reading through these 5 tell-tale signs.

Blackbaud CRM: 5 Ways to Know If It’s Right for You

If your organization is considering upgrading to new constituent relationship management (CRM) software, the well known product Blackbaud CRM might be toward the top of your list.

While Blackbaud is known for having a wide range of versatile nonprofit software products, Blackbaud CRM is a unique solution designed specifically for established organizations with highly expansive fundraising and constituent management needs.

That being the case, you’ll need to think carefully before choosing to invest in this powerful software.

To help you figure out if this CRM is the best fit for you, we’ve put together a list of 5 tell-tale signs that you should continue considering Blackbaud CRM:

  1. You’ve outgrown your current CRM.
  2. You need a CRM that can centralize your operations.
  3. You’re prepared to implement Blackbaud CRM.
  4. You have a plan to customize your Blackbaud CRM.
  5. You have room in your budget for Blackbaud CRM.

But before we start, make sure that you’re familiar with Blackbaud CRM by reading this helpful guide from Blackbaud experts and nonprofit consulting firm DNL OmniMedia.

If your current CRM doesn't have the scope or functionality to meet your needs, Blackbaud CRM might be a smart software choice to consider.

1. You’ve outgrown your current CRM.

As you may know, Blackbaud CRM was built for enterprise-level nonprofits and includes tools tailored to organizations with large-scale needs.

With that in mind, it makes sense that you should only consider Blackbaud CRM if your existing CRM system doesn’t meet all of your data management, fundraising, or donor engagement needs.

While some CRM software is built to be more lightweight to accommodate small or midsized organizations, if growth is a priority for your team, you’ll need a CRM with scalable functionality and a variety of features to support your many needs.

Blackbaud CRM comes with all of the following features to meet a diverse array of nonprofit needs:

  • Total relationship management for donors, volunteers, members, and more supporter types.
  • Support for multiple nonprofit chapters, field offices, departments, or programs.
  • Dynamic communications and marketing tools.
  • Custom analytics to measure success in all areas of your organization.

Plus, Blackbaud CRM can be even further expanded through configurations or integrations.

It’s important to note that if your organization doesn’t need access to tools that cater to such far-reaching needs, you’ll likely not want to invest in a platform as massive as Blackbaud CRM.

To get a better idea of how Blackbaud CRM’s feature set compares to other top-ranking software, read our reviews of the top 12 nonprofit CRMs!

Blackbaud CRM might be right for you if… your fundraising and donor management needs aren’t met through your current CRM solution.

If your nonprofit has far-reaching needs that require a number of fundraising and constituent management solutions, Blackbaud CRM can centralize your efforts.

2. You need a CRM that can centralize your operations.

In addition to enhancing your CRM functionality, Blackbaud CRM can also streamline your overall nonprofit operations in a holistic way.not

If your organization is currently relying on a variety of disparate fundraising platforms, donor management software, and other data sources, Blackbaud CRM can centralize those efforts.

Blackbaud CRM seeks to simplify the nonprofit management experience by giving you access to all of the information and tools you need in just one system.

Through the Blackbaud CRM platform alone (i.e., without any third-party software integrations), you’ll be able to manage all of the following aspects of your organization’s fundraising and constituent relationship management efforts:

  • Annual or capital campaign giving.
  • Major and planned giving.
  • Volunteer systems.
  • Social media.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Web design.
  • Multi-channel marketing.

(And more, if you can believe it!)

Having access to a full scope of fundraising capabilities in one system gives your nonprofit ultimate flexibility when it comes to planning out your strategies.

While you can always integrate external software or build out custom solutions, Blackbaud CRM comes equipped with a robust feature set that can allow you to manage every aspect of your nonprofit in one place, thus limiting the need for complicated data migrations and mitigating the risk of lost or damaged data.

Blackbaud CRM might be right for you if… your organization is using a variety of disconnecting platforms to manage your fundraising, donor management, and constituent engagement efforts.

The Blackbaud CRM implementation process requires time, money, and strategy.

3. You’re prepared to implement your Blackbaud CRM.

So far, we’ve spoken pretty highly of Blackbaud CRM. It’s multi-functional, powerful, and scalable—what’s the catch?

It’s true that Blackbaud CRM can do a lot, but before you can capitalize on all of its features, you’ll need to successfully implement the system at your organization.

The Blackbaud CRM implementation process can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly. If it is the right software for you, the payoff will be well worth the time you spend getting set up with the product; however, you’ll still need to carefully consider if you’re prepared to take on such a project.

Here’s what we recommend doing to make sure you can move forward with implementation confidently:

  • Set an implementation timeline. To stay on track and limit unnecessary interruptions, your team will need to establish a timeline for the implementation process. If you’re working with a nonprofit technology consultant, they can help you set a realistic time frame, complete with benchmarks along the way.
  • Appoint an implementation manager. Not only will an implementation manager help keep the team on track, he or she will also help resolve any confusions, report progress to stakeholders and your board, and work with your consultant to document your process and establish best practices moving forward.
  • Determine the best path for training. After you get your platform up and running, you’ll need to train your staff on how to actually use the Blackbaud CRM system. Know your resources and be aware that you’ll want to receive the most comprehensive training possible, not just a hodgepodge of videos and how-to articles.

Be forewarned: while it might be tempting to manage your CRM implementation and training on your own to save some money, when it comes to Blackbaud CRM, implementation is not a one-person job.

You’ll receive help from your vendor (and hopefully, your IT department), but we strongly recommend seeking the help of a nonprofit consultant to walk through the process with you as well. They’ll be able to provide structured support, guidance, and training, as well as an expert’s perspective on how to maximize your new system.

Blackbaud CRM might be right for you if… you’ve spent some time considering the implementation process and have mapped out a plan to minimize risks and maximize long-term success with your new software.

If you're considering Blackbaud CRM, make sure you know how you'll customize your software through integrations and configurations.

4. You have a plan to customize Blackbaud CRM.

To really get the full Blackbaud CRM advantage, you’ll need to make your software your own.

How do you do that? Simply put, you’ll need to customize your CRM to fit your nonprofit, which you can do in a variety of ways.

Working with an experienced developer or Blackbaud consultant, you can integrate third-party platforms or build out completely custom solutions within your CRM.

For examples of how you might integrate your platform, you might consider adding:

  • Matching gift tools (we suggest 360MatchPro!).
  • Mobile giving software.
  • Dedicated event fundraising software.
  • Payment processing software.
  • Email or direct mail marketing tools.

Integrations can be more complex than you might think, so before you decide what you’ll need to add to make your CRM complete, make sure you have professionals on hand to conduct the integrations.

In addition to integrating existing software, you can also work with a nonprofit technology consultant to build out your CRM in ways that are totally unique to your organization.

Before you dive into the search process for your perfect consultant, though, take some time to assess your current fundraising and stewardship strategies to find out how Blackbaud CRM can enhance your efforts. What areas could be improved through existing software? Where do you need to take a more custom approach?

Blackbaud CRM might be right for you if… you know how you’ll include integrations and configurations in your software, and you’re ready to work with a nonprofit technology consultant to carry out the customizations.

Blackbaud CRM is an expensive product, so your organization will need to map out a budget that makes room for all the associated fees.

5. You have room in your budget for Blackbaud CRM.

With so much to consider, it’s no surprise that Blackbaud CRM implementation will cost a bit more than some other CRM choices.

While you’ll need to reach out to Blackbaud for an exact quote, what we can tell you is that you can’t expect to get such a full-service CRM solution for a minimal fee. Blackbaud CRM is a pricey solution built for organizations who need—and are prepared for—a long-term investment. 

Of course, you’ll need to consider your Blackbaud CRM price quote before deciding if you can move forward with purchasing the software. But if you’ve been paying attention so far in this post, you’ll already know that you should also consider such expenses as:

  • Integrations. Syncing your CRM up to other software? You’ll need to pay for any products you don’t already own, and you may also need to purchase connector applications or pay for a third-party developer to conduct the integration.
  • Training. Blackbaud typically only offers the lowest level of training with their product packages, so you’ll need to either opt in to their more exhaustive training programs, or work with a nonprofit consultant to develop a personalized training plan that fits your needs and budget.
  • Additional fees. If you’ve ever used a CRM, you’re probably aware that you should add padding to your software budget to account for payment processing fees, expansions, upgrades, or other “hidden” costs you might incur down the road.

While some costs (such as a nonprofit consultant) are vital to your success, other costs (such as paying for constituent profiles or user access) may not be as necessary. Make sure you’re only paying for what you need and that the benefits of the software will outweigh the costs over time.

If you ultimately find that Blackbaud CRM is too much for your team right now, it’s not too late to backtrack and find another more cost-effective option!

Blackbaud CRM might be right for you if… you’ve laid out enough room in your budget (with some give-or-take for unexpected costs) and feel confident selling the purchase to your stakeholders and board.

Blackbaud CRM is a big purchase, so don’t take the consideration process lightly! Make sure Blackbaud CRM fits into your strategy perfectly and that you’re all set with the tools you need to use it effectively.

Need to learn a little more about Blackbaud CRM (or CRMs in general) before making your move? Read these additional resources to get up to speed: