This guide covers everything you need to know about buying fundraising software, including key types, features, and examples.

How to Buy Fundraising Software That’s Right For Your Nonprofit

Digital fundraising is crucial in today’s nonprofit landscape. In the current software-driven fundraising era, nonprofits, schools, and other charitable institutions must reassess their fundraising arsenals.

If this description sounds like your situation, you may be considering enhancing your existing toolkit or buying new fundraising software. To assist you in this journey, we’ve crafted a comprehensive guide for navigating this process. We’ll cover:

Improve your understanding of how fundraising software impacts organizations like yours and learn what to consider when searching for new tools. From matching gift tools to peer-to-peer platforms, we’ll cover everything you need to elevate your fundraising efforts.

Click here to download our matching gift guide and learn how your fundraising software can help secure more corporate giving donations.

Types of Fundraising Software to Know

A nonprofit fundraising toolkit includes multiple platforms that together perform all the functions you need to reach out to supporters and secure donations. Some solutions are “all-in-one” platforms, while others focus on a few specific features and can integrate with external add-ons to expand their functionality.

What platforms to include in your fundraising toolkit depends on your nonprofit’s needs and goals. However, a few types of fundraising software solutions can be considered essential.

There are several types of fundraising tools out there like online donation forms, peer-to-peer tools, and donor management systems.

Online Donation Forms

One of the core components of your fundraising toolkit is your organization’s online donation forms. These resources allow nonprofits to collect donations online.

The best donation pages empower users to:

  • Offer suggested (or custom) donation amounts
  • Accept gifts from desktop computers and mobile devices
  • Match their donation form branding to their organization
  • Facilitate one-time and recurring gifts
  • Collect additional donor information through custom form fields
  • Integrate with a variety of other nonprofit solutions, like Double the Donation’s matching gift software

Donation forms have one of the most straightforward purposes of all fundraising software, but there are still many providers to choose from. You may even choose one with more features than the ones we just listed.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Pages

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns elevate existing donors’ engagement while simultaneously expanding your reach to new prospects. Several peer-to-peer fundraising software options are available that enable organizations to:

  • Equip volunteer fundraisers with customizable campaign pages
  • Add images and other fundraising updates
  • Spread the word with social sharing tools
  • Track fundraising progress toward goals
  • Prioritize an accessible and easy-to-use giving process
  • Integrate with other nonprofit solutions

Remember, for peer-to-peer fundraising, your system should be easy for both your team and your donors to use.

Matching Gift Software

Tons of workplace giving revenue gets left on the table each year⁠—including $4 to $7 billion in unclaimed matching gifts alone. Luckily, nonprofits can leverage a matching gift platform to ensure their donors are tapping into these overlooked resources.

This type of fundraising software enables nonprofits to:

  • Market matching gift opportunities to donors and supporters
  • Locate detailed information about matching gifts and volunteer grants
  • Leverage an autocompleting search tool to identify employment information
  • Trigger automated outreach to provide valuable matching gift program insights
  • Ensure no matching gift opportunity falls through the cracks with timely follow-up cadences
  • Integrate with other nonprofit solutions

This is a sample matching gift fundraising software dashboard.

When it comes to matching gift software, we have to recommend our state-of-the-art solution, 360MatchPro. What puts our matching gift database over the top is our partnerships with corporate giving software, enabling automatic submission of matching gift requests.

Click here to learn everything you need to know about leveraging matching gift fundraising software.

Payment Processors

To accept donations and other payments online, you’ll need payment processing software that facilitates transactions behind the scenes. This tool essentially mediates between the organization, the donor, and their financial institution.

An effective payment processor empowers nonprofit organizations to:

  • Process contributions for multiple payment methods
  • Offer a simple user interface
  • Produce ready-built and custom reports
  • Maintain high levels of payment security standards
  • Integrate with other nonprofit solutions

This fundraising tool is essential for facilitating donations, so choose a secure one that strengthens your donation process. Note that a donation form differentiates in that it collects other donor information and may use various payment processors to complete transactions.

Donor Management Systems

When it comes to managing donors, there’s a lot for your team to keep track of. Ensure your fundraisers have the tools to improve operations through a robust donor data management system.

Also known as a CRM (or constituent relationship management tool), your donor database should allow your team to:

  • Maintain detailed supporter records with engagement histories
  • Add helpful notes within donor profiles
  • Segment your supporter base for targeted communications
  • Automate administrative tasks and donor outreach
  • Easily generate robust reports
  • Integrate with other nonprofit solutions

The best nonprofit CRMs simplify communication and strengthen relationships. By understanding your supporters better, you’ll be able to foster deeper connections with them.

Nonprofit Event Tools

Hosting a fundraising event is an effective way to bring in new supporters, boost donor engagement, and increase fundraising revenue. Nonprofit event software can streamline the entire experience including planning, hosting, and following up post-event.

Specifically, the best event fundraising tools make it easy to:

  • Craft online event pages and/or microsites to promote upcoming opportunities
  • Offer free or paid ticketing options
  • Organize engaging in-person, virtual, and hybrid experiences
  • Facilitate digital bidding at auction events
  • Collect additional donations beyond ticket sales
  • Integrate with other nonprofit solutions

Events are a fundamental part of donor engagement, so make sure you can bring your community together to support your cause with the right event software.

Donor Acknowledgment Software

Appreciating your donors is a critical component of nonprofit fundraising⁠, especially if you’re looking to steward long-term relationships with them. Be sure you have some kind of donor recognition software in your fundraising toolkit.

While a regular email or thank-you letter can make do in a pinch, elevate your gratitude with unique and engaging acknowledgments⁠—like eCards!

When you buy fundraising software for donor acknowledgements, you can express genuine gratitude for supporters.

Your donor recognition software should empower your team to:

  • Brand messages to your nonprofit, including fonts, images, and colors
    Send acknowledgments in seconds
    Leverage multiple digital communication channels, including email and SMS
    Customize communications to cultivate personal donor connections
  • Track digital thank-you notes to determine when supporters interact with your outreach

Acknowledging generosity is crucial for retaining support, so think of appreciation software as a tool for investing in earning future donations.

Factors to Consider When Buying Fundraising Software

As you explore various software options, we recommend making detailed notes on the following components of each platform:

When buying fundraising software, assess each tool's functionality, ease-of-use, scalability, and more.

Functionality

Fundraising software is a broad term that encompasses many different types of platforms and features. That said, make sure you’re buying software that has the functionalities your organization needs.

At the same time, consider what you can live without. For example, if your organization has awesome event fundraising ideas but isn’t so big on advocacy, forgo tools with advocacy features in favor of ones that have excellent event planning capabilities. Or perhaps you’re looking for a new nonprofit CRM, and you already have a donation platform you love. In that case, look for exclusively database solutions that don’t offer a built-in online giving tool.

Donor Experience

Your donors will typically be the end user of your fundraising software. For example, they’re the ones who fill out your nonprofit’s online donation forms, participate in peer-to-peer campaigns, and interact with your matching gift database search tool.

Prioritize fundraising software that makes the donor experience quick, easy, and painless. If a process is too long or complicated, even your most dedicated supporters may abandon their gifts. Alternatively, a seamless giving experience will keep donors coming back to support your cause time and time again.

Backend Ease of Use

Organizations should choose tech solutions with a level of complexity that is manageable and suitable for their team. For example, if your nonprofit employs developers, a custom-coded solution might make sense. On the other hand, if no one on your team is particularly technical, you’ll likely want to prioritize an off-the-shelf fundraising platform for ease of use.

A solution that’s too technical⁠—and ultimately inaccessible⁠—will complicate operations and discourage staff members from using it altogether. Remember, it’s not just the software but what you do with it that matters.

Scalability

As your internal fundraising team grows, will your software enable enough authorized users? Ensure all staff members who need to use your fundraising platform can. Not only that but when it comes to CRMs in particular, confirm that your potential platform can hold all your donor data with room to spare.

If you anticipate major growth in the near future, prioritize buying a platform that has room for expansion. This will allow your new tools to scale alongside your organization without requiring a software platform switch too quickly.
When choosing fundraising software, consider that low-cost solutions may quickly become inadequate, leading to the need for future upgrades and data migration. That’s why it’s wise to make a forward-thinking decision from the start.

Integrations

Even the most comprehensive software solutions might not have all the features your organization needs. You may have to integrate additional programs or systems to assist your operations.

Here are a few common scenarios when you might need integrations:

  • An organization might have niche needs, where they may prefer to add their own software solutions (e.g., a particular payment processor or email application) to complement their existing tools.
  • The software company you’re buying from doesn’t offer tools to facilitate all of your operations (e.g., corporate matching gifts), requiring you to integrate specialized fundraising software.

If you find that you require software integration, communicate your needs to your potential new vendor. That way, they can help determine the compatibility between different systems. Perhaps there’s a native, ready-built integration⁠, in which case, great! On the other hand, if it’s difficult to integrate two solutions, reconsider your priorities or consider working with a nonprofit technology consultant who can develop a custom integration.

Cost

It’s important to go into any major purchase with a budget in mind, and fundraising software is no exception. Before evaluating specific platforms, decide how much your organization can spend. Consider base price, startup costs, and any additional ongoing fees.

The base price is the vendor’s list price on the platform you want to buy and will be what most of your investment goes toward. It encompasses the core functions of the platform but usually excludes expansions or optional add-ons.

Be sure to ask exactly what is included in the base price to make sure you receive all the capabilities you need. If the base price doesn’t include any of your organization’s necessary features, consider how much the excluded features cost to add on.

From there, you might run into additional hidden costs such as:

  • Staff training
  • Maintenance fees
  • Online donation processing fees
  • Future updates or add-ons

Going into the buying process with a clear budget will naturally limit your options, making the selection process easier. It also, of course, ensures that you won’t be spending more than you can afford.

Customizability

When buying fundraising software, you’re likely looking for a solution that can complement your organization’s operations with its out-of-the-box features. Even so, many platforms are customizable and can be further tailored to fit your cause.

Customizability is a sliding scale, and what level of customizability your nonprofit needs likely depends on your size, resources, and goals. For instance, enterprise-size nonprofits often require fully customizable solutions that are essentially built from the ground up, while small nonprofits may see required customization as an unnecessary strain on their time and budget.

In your search, you may find that software customization can apply to many different features, including:

  • Supporter profiles
  • Donation and sign-up forms
  • Email marketing templates
  • Reporting and tracking tools

With customizable features, you can mold your software to fit your organization’s unique needs better. Your fundraising software will feel custom-made, more effectively driving impact toward your overall goals.

Training and Ongoing Support

When you first get started with a new fundraising platform, your team will need to go through training or an onboarding process to become proficient with the new tools. The level of instruction can vary drastically from vendor to vendor, making it an important consideration in your search.

Here are a few general questions for your fundraising software company in regard to team-wide training:

  • How long is the training process?
  • How is training administered (e.g., virtual, on-site, etc.)?
  • What proficiency level does your training cater to?
  • What are the associated costs?

From there, consider ongoing support availability as well. After all, if your nonprofit hires new team members after your initial onboarding session, they’ll need to be trained, too.

Compare software support options by making the following inquiries before you purchase:

  • Do you offer IT support?
  • How do I get in contact with support if there’s a problem?
  • What’s your typical response time?

Remember, the better you and your team understand your software, the more functional it will be, so choose a provider that offers the support you need. With the right support level at your fingertips, your software will perform well for years.

Security

Chances are, your organization will use its fundraising software to collect, store, and manage supporters’ sensitive data. Thus, it’s critical to choose a secure platform that can protect this information.

When chatting with vendors, ask about the software’s flexibility in controlling user permissions, so you can select which users can access sensitive information.

When it comes to donor payment information, consider industry security standards in your search, such as the following protections:

  • PCI compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a set of requirements designed to ensure that credit card information is processed, stored, and transmitted securely. For fundraising software, it’s essential for protecting donor payment information.
  • Encryption and Tokenization: Encryption converts data into a coded format to prevent unauthorized access. Tokenization replaces sensitive data with unique identification symbols that retain all the essential information without compromising its security. Both are used to protect sensitive data like credit card numbers.
  • Password Security: Strong password security measures ensure access to fundraising software is guarded against unauthorized users. This includes requirements for complex passwords, regular password changes, and secure storage of passwords.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring two or more verification factors to access a resource, such as a database or online account. For instance, your fundraising system might require users to enter an emailed code after entering their login details. This significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

Confirm that donors’ data will be kept safe and sound within your fundraising platform, a ensure that supporters feel comfortable entering their payment information in the first place!

Questions to Ask Before Buying Fundraising Software

To ensure you find software that perfectly aligns with your needs, here are some recommended questions for your selection process!

How difficult are the initial setup and data transfer?

Because you buying fundraising software, account for the initial software setup and data transfer from your previous solution. Your nonprofit data is the key to strengthening donor relationships and optimizing fundraising efforts, so it’s essential that it translates to your new platform without issue.

First, determine that it’s possible to transfer your data to the new system in its proper format. Then, consider how you’ll prepare your data for this process. If it turns out that transferring your data from one system to another requires a lot of time and labor on your part, consider whether the software offers other benefits that make it worth the effort.

Does it have the integrations my organization needs?

Integrations are essential for an effective fundraising software ecosystem. Unintegrated software can result in time-consuming manual data migration and data silos. With integrations, however, your technology can function as a cohesive unit, rather than a collection of disparate tools.

Therefore, one of the most important questions when buying fundraising software is “Does it offer the integrations my team⁠—and technology ecosystem⁠—needs?”

For example, Double the Donation integrates with 70+ of the industry’s largest nonprofit technology providers, including donation platforms, peer-to-peer software, CRMs, corporate giving solutions, and more. If you use (or plan to use) Double the Donation’s matching gift software, we strongly recommend exploring the giving tools with which we partner.

How do I maintain effective use of my software over time?

The buying process doesn’t just end the minute your software is set up and your staff knows how to use it. For your software to keep running at its highest capacity, consider how you’ll maintain it over time.

Before deciding, ask if the software has any built-in features to keep your data clean and up-to-date. This is one instance where automation can make a big difference. Automated features like deduplication can help maintain a clean and accurate database, ensuring your records never become messy and out of hand.

Second, ensure that your maintenance support includes installing updates⁠, or if it doesn’t, that these updates are fairly easy to install yourself. By keeping your software up-to-date, you’ll get much more life out of it and ensure it stays secure.

Key Steps for Buying Fundraising Software

As you navigate the fundraising software buying process, keep these key steps in mind.

When buying fundraising software, follow these steps to make the best choice for your nonprofit.

1. Determine your fundraising goals, must-have features, and budget.

Start by determining what you want to achieve with a new platform. Perhaps you want to:

  • Boost matching gift revenue with software that identifies eligible donors, markets match opportunities, and streamlines the matching gift request process.
  • Increase donation page conversions by leveraging fundraising software with a user-friendly interface, customizable calls-to-action, and a seamless donation process.
  • Improve data flow from your donation form to your CRM by automating data entry and minimizing duplicate entries via deduplication.

Notice how each goal has correlating features that allow you to accomplish those objectives. Allocate your funds based on these goals, must-have features, and anticipated number of users.

The best advice we can give is not to overcomplicate the fundraising process when buying fundraising software. Your new software should make your organization’s current operations better. If your new solution overcomplicates things for your team and donors with unnecessary features, it’s probably not the one.

2. Create a list of potential vendors.

With so many fundraising software solutions available, it can be difficult to narrow down your options. To kickstart your research with trusted providers, we recommend heading over to Double the Donation’s partnerships hub to check out the range of innovative, best-in-class solutions that we work with.

Still too many choices? Use our software search tool to filter for different platform types, verticals served, and key functionality. In doing so, you can find the right tools and equip your team with Double the Donation’s matching gift solution to drive corporate giving revenue.

3. Check out the reviews.

You don’t have to go through the buying process alone. In fact, organizations that have previously used a particular fundraising software can be a huge help when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy. Because they’ve had experience with the product, they can attest firsthand to how it functions.

Consult online reviews other organizations have provided about the software you’re evaluating. If you see certain patterns regarding the platform’s strengths or weaknesses, it’s fairly safe to expect a similar experience.

Additionally, try reaching out to your connections in the nonprofit sector. Fundraising professionals at organizations similar to yours may have insight into the software they considered, which solutions worked, and which sent up red flags for them.

4. Book demos.

Before making your final decision, see the tools in action. Most software vendors offer informational demos, allowing prospective clients to get a better idea of their product before buying.

Check the vendor’s website to see if they feature any pre-recorded demo videos. Some providers may require basic information about your nonprofit and how you intend to use the software first, then send an on-demand demo (or perhaps even a free trial) over email or through their site.

For those further along in the buying process, many vendors also offer live online demos upon request. These experiences are more personalized and can provide a closer look at how the software will work for your organization. From here, you can make your final decision and buy the fundraising software that’s the best fit for your organization!

5. Purchase your fundraising software.

Based on your demos, make your final decision and buy the fundraising software that’s the best fit for your organization! Work with your vendor to get the technology up and running. You can also work with a fundraising technology consultant to integrate the new tools into your processes.

Our Top Fundraising Tool Pick to Drive Engagement + Revenue

Following the tips on selecting the best fundraising software, you might be wondering what our top fundraising software recommendations are. To maximize donor contributions and fundraising efficiency, we suggest choosing 360MatchPro⁠—our complete matching gift automation platform. It empowers you to identify corporate match opportunities, pinpoint your highest-value opportunities, and drive those matches to completion.

Some of the benefits of 360MatchPro's fundraising software include identifying more matching gift opportunities and boosting revenue.

360MatchPro Overview

360MatchPro by Double the Donation enhances the matching gift process for nonprofits and their donors, increasing matching gift revenue. Our platform integrates seamlessly with a wide range of fundraising tools, such as donation forms, peer-to-peer software, and donor management systems.

Upon receiving a donation, donors who used their work email addresses for their gift are automatically evaluated by 360MatchPro to determine if they are eligible for a matching gift from their employer. If they are, the platform then sends tailored, company-specific instructions for submitting a matching gift request. If eligibility is uncertain, the software prompts donors to use an embedded company search tool to confirm their status and access real-time instructions.

Plus, 360MatchPro assists fundraisers in tracking incoming matches, providing valuable insights for forecasting match revenue, pushing stalled matches forward, and offering comprehensive reporting and analytics to assess success and identify areas for improvement in your matching gift strategy. Not to mention, our auto-submission feature is the latest advancement in matching gift technology and simplifies the donation process immensely. Watch this video for a rundown of how it works:

Studies indicate that employing a matching gift automation tool (like 360MatchPro) increases matching gift revenue for nonprofits by 61%! It even drives individual giving. 84% of survey participants indicated they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, and 1 in 3 donors indicated they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied.

Leveraging our fundraising software will help you boost matching gift revenue.

With our matching gift software, the process is entirely automated, saving your organization significant time and resources. Matching gifts have never been easier⁠!

Get a demo to see our matching gift tools in action before buying our fundraising software.

Examples of Fundraising Software In Action

When considering fundraising software, it can be useful to envision exactly what it can do for your nonprofit. Rather than relying on hypotheticals, try looking for case studies and examples of organizations that use the tools you’re considering.

To show off how the right software can elevate a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, we’ve put together a few examples of top fundraising platforms in action:

Marietta College

*Uses GiveCampus and Double the Donation

Marietta College is a private liberal arts school consistently ranked among the top colleges in Ohio. Let’s look at the essential elements of Marietta College’s fundraising strategy and how its technology supports its goals.

Donation Page

Here's a sample donation page that Marietta College created with its fundraising software.

Marietta College’s donation page is quick and easy to complete, prompting users to input basic gift details and contact information. There are also optional fields, including employer for matching gift programs, affiliation to the school, and class year, to provide additional insights for the institution.

Once the form is completed, the school’s fundraising software lets donors check out using Venmo, PayPal, Google Pay, debit/credit card, or bank transfer. Providing multiple payment methods enables organizations to meet donors where they are and drive more gifts to completion!

Confirmation Screen

Marietta College used its online fundraising software to create this confirmation page.

After submitting their contribution, the donor is automatically rerouted to a gift confirmation screen. This web page thanks supporters for their generous contributions and provides detailed information about their employers’ matching gift programs⁠, including eligibility criteria and how to complete their matches.

By telling donors how to pursue available matching gift opportunities, more matches are driven to completion, and more revenue is generated for the institution.

Follow-Up Email

Within its fundraising platform, Marietta College created follow-up emails to send to donors.

A few minutes after finalizing their donations, Marietta College supporters receive customized email follow-ups in their inboxes. These messages include appreciation emails in addition to reminders about matching gift program availability, links to online submission portals, and actionable encouragement to complete their matching gift requests.

This keeps the college and its fundraising needs at the forefront of donors’ minds for longer and ultimately results in increased corporate matching revenue to help the school reach its goals.

African Impact Foundation

*Uses Fundraise Up and Double the Donation

The African Impact Foundation was established in 2008 to equip children in Southern and Eastern Africa with the education and skills to uncover pathways out of poverty. Here’s how the foundation collects donations using powerful fundraising tools.

Multi-Step Donation Page

Using its donation software, the African Impact Foundation created this multi-page donation form.

The African Impact Foundation leverages a multi-step donation form with which donors can submit their gifts to the organization. On the first page, individuals can select their intended donation from suggested gift sizes or enter their own amount. Additionally, they can choose to give on a recurring basis, dedicate or designate their gift, or add optional comments. The fundraising software offers multiple opportunities throughout the giving process for donors to upgrade their donations.

On the next page, donors are encouraged to double their gift impact with a matching donation. They are provided access to a matching gift company search tool to name their employer to view guidelines and available forms. In the final step, donors can choose to cover their transaction costs and check out using a credit card, PayPal, or Google Pay.

Follow-Up Email

After donating, supporters receive a follow-up email triggered by the African Impact Foundation's fundraising software.

Using the employment information provided during the initial donation process, the African Impact Foundation’s fundraising software triggers automated matching gift follow-up emails⁠, providing donors with company-specific program information and detailed next steps for submitting requests. They also use the follow-up email to thank donors and encourage them to get their gifts matched by their employing companies.

What’s Next?

With the right tools and resources in your team’s tech stack, you’ll be able to bring in more fundraising revenue without a hitch.

Interested in learning more about strategic nonprofit fundraising and the solutions available to your team? Check out these additional fundraising resources:

Get a free demo of our fundraising software and learn how you can secure more matching gifts.