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Donor management software guide: 9 options and how to choose

March 18, 2024
Two nonprofit professionals strategize how to share information about tax-deductible membership dues with supporters.

Quality donor management software doesn’t just house donor data — it also allows your nonprofit organization to segment supporters effectively and optimize your communication, engagement, and fundraising strategies. Because it’s such a fundamental tool, selecting the best donor management system is an important project that should be given serious consideration.

But how do you find a comprehensive and intuitive database that suits your organization’s needs? This donor management software buyer’s guide will cover the best software options, essential features to look for, and how to choose a system that best suits your nonprofit.

What is donor management software?

Donor management software allows nonprofits to track important information about their donors, volunteers, and other supporters in a centralized database. 

Also referred to as a donor database or a nonprofit constituent relationship management (CRM) system, this tool enables organizations to house and analyze data about donors, fundraising activities, and more. This information is critical for getting the full picture of your donor base, which allows you to communicate with supporters effectively and retain their support long-term.

While some donor management software comes with additional features like automation and fundraising tools, the main purpose of every solution is to help you build stronger relationships using data.

Benefits of donor management software for nonprofits

By making it easy to manage your nonprofit’s most important data, donor management systems enable you to:

Three benefits of using donor management software for nonprofits, also explored in the sections below

Personalize donor communications

Having access to each donor’s past donation amounts, involvement histories, and charitable interests enables you to easily personalize bulk outreach and connect with every supporter. Additionally, tracking custom information relevant to your nonprofit allows for even richer communications. For example, if you work at an animal shelter, you might use your donor database software to track what pets your donors own and mention them in appeals.

Segmentation features also help you boost the relevance of your messages. This makes donors feel valued and engages them more deeply. Group donors by shared characteristics such as giving level or frequency in your database, then use your segments to improve audience targeting and tailor messages to each group’s unique interests and preferences.

In the example below, for instance, a nonprofit used its donor management software to group donors by membership level.

A screenshot of segmentation features within Bonterra’s donor management software

Build stronger relationships

With all your donor data in one place, donor management software enables you to get a better understanding of every donor and tailor outreach accordingly to cultivate stronger relationships.

For example, you could see from your donor profiles that a group of donors regularly give in December. Then, you can send personalized end-of-year appeal letters to recognize their previous donations and encourage them to participate in the holiday giving season again.

You can also record information about donors’ motivations and interests to help your team build meaningful, long-lasting relationships with them. By writing notes and utilizing custom fields in your donor database software, your team can reference donors’ unique interests in conversations and outreach to build on established connections.

Boost team efficiency

Compiling all of your data in one centralized location helps you break down data silos, making it easier and faster for team members to find the information they need. Plus, you can leverage features like automated email blasts, predictive analytics, and workflow automations to reduce manual tasks and save your staff valuable time and energy.

Features to look for in donor database software

While there are many CRM systems available on the market today, nonprofits need to look for nonprofit-specific solutions. These donor management systems come right out of the box with features and fields related to donations, event attendance, and other nonprofit-specific activities.

In particular, you should seek out solutions with a few essential features that every robust donor database should have:

A person looking at a dashboard surrounded by donor database software features to look for, listed in the text below

Secure data storage

Since the benefits of donor management software lie in the information it stores, focus on this core functionality first to ensure you can track and display the most important data for your nonprofit.

Don’t stop at which data a system can store — carefully evaluate how that information is stored, too. Ask yourself if your data will be secure, private, and easy for relevant team members to view and update. A good donor database will have an intuitive user interface that allows your staff to quickly enter a new supporter record, find the supporter information they need, and update existing information.

Donor profiles

Comprehensive donor profiles are essential for guiding your supporter interactions and helping you measure your fundraising success. Therefore, be sure to look for features that allow you to customize donor profiles with useful information, such as: 

  • Contact information. Track and update supporters’ email addresses, mail addresses, phone numbers, and even social media profiles.
  • Family units. Your system should allow you to track donations and activity by family as well as by individual.
  • Demographics. Save information about supporters' ages, locations, preferred pronouns, careers, and more.
  • Giving and engagement data. Store data about the campaigns your supporters participate in, the events they attend, and even the fundraising emails they choose to read.

Additionally, make sure you have segmentation options that allow you to group your supporters based on commonalities, making it easy to personalize messages to different sections of your supporter base. 

Custom fields

No system provides every field you need out of the box. Check that your donor management system can track all the unique information that is important to your organization by offering custom fields. Evaluate your options by asking the following questions:

  • Is there a limit to the number of custom fields you can create?
  • What types of custom fields can you make?
  • Can custom fields store text, dates, numbers, etc.?

Make sure that you have a good grasp of how custom fields work in your potential database. It should be easy for you to set up custom fields without needing to involve a software expert or pay for additional services.

Fundraising tools

The best donor management software comes equipped with plenty of additional fundraising tools alongside data storage. Look for full-suite solutions that include features like: 

  • Fundraising forms and payment processing
  • Offline donation processing
  • Donor history that includes both online and offline giving
  • Giving analytics that help you determine calculated "next suggested gift" amounts
  • Omni-channel marketing tools with automated workflows

With a robust, integrated toolset, you’ll be able to seamlessly track, manage, and improve your fundraising campaigns — all from a single donor management system.

Reporting and analytics features

The information you store in your CRM is only as good as your ability to view and analyze that data. Intuitive reports and dashboards help you develop an accurate picture of donor history as well as organization- and campaign-level progress. 

Make sure that your donor management software has the following:

  • Fundraising analytics that you can use to determine what works and what doesn't. Leverage this information to optimize future campaigns, capture more supporters, and raise more money.
  • Prioritization tools that allow you to indicate important tasks. For example, have staff members reached out to all of your major donors during the latest fundraising campaign? Or are there still some stones left unturned? 
  • Custom reporting you can leverage to identify useful insights for improving your fundraising and donor stewardship programs. Custom reports give you the ability to see your organization’s most valuable information at a glance and communicate takeaways clearly and easily.

Tracking all of the supporter information you need is important, but being able to view that data in ways that support data-backed decision-making is just as vital. Think through the questions you need answers to every day and take a look at how you could answer those questions with the donor database software you’re evaluating.

Integration capabilities

While your donor management software serves as the foundation of your nonprofit’s toolset, most organizations need additional tools to manage email campaigns, handle events, launch advocacy campaigns, and so much more.

Since your nonprofit likely has additional software already, check that your chosen donor database can easily integrate with each of your important tools to ensure all of your software can work together seamlessly.

#1 best donor management software: Bonterra Donor Engagement

A dashboard within Bonterra Guided Fundraising, the #1 donor management software for nonprofits

Now that you know what to look for, let’s dive into our #1 recommended donor management software: Bonterra Donor Engagement.


Donor Engagement is a full suite of donor management and fundraising solutions that includes two unique donor databases for nonprofits of all sizes: Guided Fundraising (formerly Network for Good) and Development + Digital (formerly EveryAction). Guided Fundraising provides growing nonprofits with robust communication and event management tools to engage donors, while Development + Digital offers a unified CRM platform with best-in-class data analytics features.

Our donor management software does more than just securely house your most important data — it also allows you to automate communications, process donations, manage grants, and more. Handle everything you need, all in one place.

With over 16,000 nonprofits in our network and $3.5 billion in donations made through our software, Bonterra Donor Engagement is the #1 software that enables nonprofits to make the greatest impact possible. Explore our case studies to learn why thousands of nonprofits trust our platform to power their purposes.

Best features

Bonterra’s Donor Engagement solutions include standout features like:

  • Comprehensive, customizable donor profiles that allow you to track all your most important donor data.
  • Predictive analytics that help you optimize donor segmentation and targeting.
  • The ability to create personalized email, text, video, and direct mail appeals.
  • Donation forms designed to enable donors to give with a single click.
  • Multi-channel communication and marketing automation tools.
  • Moves management action plans for cultivating major giving prospects.
  • Professional fundraising coaches who are available for growing nonprofits to help you make the most of your donor management software and improve fundraising strategies.


Access personalized pricing for your organization’s unique needs with no per-user fees.

Other donor database software options

Explore these other popular solutions to help you make your decision about the best donor database to invest in:

Raiser’s Edge NXT

Website product page for Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT, one of the best donor management software options for nonprofits


Raiser’s Edge NXT is a fundraising-focused CRM offered by Blackbaud. While not as robust as other options and limited in its integrations, Raiser’s Edge includes plenty of fundraising features designed to help you improve your results.

Best feature

Artificial intelligence tools including AI-driven suggested ask amounts and major donor prospect insights can simplify your nonprofit’s donor stewardship efforts.


Pricing for Raiser’s Edge NXT is customized for each organization.

Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud

Website product page for Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud, one of the top donor management software options


The Salesforce CRM was originally designed to serve for-profit companies and assist in managing the sales process, but Salesforce now offers multiple solutions that tailor its base CRM for nonprofits. The latest iteration, Nonprofit Cloud, includes fundraising, program management, and case management features for large and enterprise-level organizations.

Best feature

Because Salesforce offers a variety of products and serves many different industries, they have an extensive support network and a comprehensive training hub for users. 


Pricing for nonprofits starts at $60 per user per month, but additional features like 24/7 support and guided onboarding come at an extra monthly cost.


Screenshot of Givebutter’s homepage, promoting its donor management system


Givebutter is a basic CRM for nonprofits with limited budgets. It’s designed to take growing nonprofits from spreadsheets and disorganized processes to their first centralized donor database. However, Givebuter offers limited scalability and reporting features. 

Best feature

The best feature of Givebutter is its pricing. Givebutter advertises its platform as a free nonprofit CRM since most organizations don’t pay flat fees.


Givebutter doesn’t charge a base platform fee — instead, it asks your donors to pay processing fees called “optional tips” to fund the solution. If you disable this option, you have to pay a percentage-based platform fee.

Best donor management software integrations

As mentioned earlier, integrations are crucial for making the most of your donor management software and connecting all of your most important tools. Check out a few of our favorite donor management software integrations.

Double the Donation

As the nonprofit sector’s leading provider of matching gift information and search tools, Double the Donation integrates with select donor management systems to enable you to earn, track, and increase donations from corporate matching gifts. Add an intuitive matching gift search tool to your donation page, automate matching gift outreach, and seamlessly monitor donors’ matching gift participation in your CRM.


Prospect research tools like DonorSearch give you additional information on the giving history and capacity of your current and prospective donors to help you cultivate major donor relationships. Save this additional information in your donor management system to ensure that you solicit donations in an enticing way and with appropriate ask amounts.

Omatic Cloud

Simplify data entry and migration with an Omatic Cloud integration. This tool helps you automatically import key data into your donor database, improve the quality of your data, and easily connect other apps with your CRM for streamlined data migration between systems.

Fundraise Up

Fundraise Up is an online giving platform that includes optimized campaign pages, streamlined donation forms, global fundraising tools, and more. When integrated with your donor database, this tool syncs gifts made on your Fundraise Up donation pages with your CRM for streamlined donation tracking.

Donate Stock

Looking to expand your donation options and engage more high-capacity donors? Make stock giving easy by integrating Donate Stock with your donor management system. Donate Stock enables you to add an intuitive, secure stock donation button to your existing online donation page.

How to choose the right donor database software

Selecting new software can take time, especially if you are looking for something as central to your organization as donor database software. Follow these steps for a thorough selection process:

Five steps for choosing donor management software, listed in the text below
  1. Evaluate your needs and timeline. Outline distinct goals, milestones, and tasks for the selection process. This will give you an idea of when you need to have your software selected. It will also help you determine a goal for when the new system should be fully functional and integrated with your nonprofit’s operations.
  2. Identify your donor database requirements. These should include both unique requirements that other nonprofits may not have and the essential features we covered above. Focus on the features that are critical for your nonprofit that not all nonprofit CRM systems will have.
  3. Determine your budget. This can help to narrow down your list early in the process and save you time as you research prospective providers.
  4. Research options and request demos. Dive deeper into the websites and customer reviews of each of your options, then schedule live demos to see each platform in action and ask any questions you have.
  5. Make your decision with input from leadership. Compile all the information you’ve gathered and discuss it with your nonprofit’s leadership team and board members. When you’ve come to a conclusion, contact the provider to move forward with your chosen solution.

Your donor database will be an important part of your nonprofit’s day-to-day operations, so make sure to create a thorough implementation plan and have a clear idea of how your staff members will use the software.

Getting started with donor management software

No matter which system you choose, your donor management software will be a powerful tool for your nonprofit’s growth. Using a donor management system that’s tailored to your organization’s needs will help you deepen relationships, boost engagement, improve efficiency, and increase your fundraising results. Evaluate your options thoroughly, and you’ll be ready to power your purpose in new ways with game-changing software.

See the #1 donor management software in action

    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Digital communications & marketing
  • Fundraising ideas