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Best fundraising software: 11 great platforms for nonprofits

August 14, 2021
These nonprofit professionals are working together in front of their laptops with the help of their fundraising software.

Fundraising software allows nonprofit organizations to accept and manage donations. Whether your nonprofit is large or small, there is a fundraising software solution out there that can help you communicate with and process donations from all your existing donors and future supporters.

This article will cover some frequently asked questions about fundraising software and help you begin your search for a great fundraising software solution. Let’s get started!

Fundraising software FAQs

What is fundraising software?

Fundraising software is any application used by nonprofits to accept and manage donations. This software helps to boost your donations, foster a positive user experience for your donors, and provide a way for you to manage interactions with donors in an ongoing capacity.

Many fundraising software solutions also double as marketing automation systems which allow you to segment donors into groups, send email and social media messages, and communicate via text or SMS messaging. Complete supporter engagement systems can also include tools to manage events such as advocacy campaigns, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer events, and nonprofit auctions.

Who uses fundraising software?

Fundraising software is used by nonprofits of every size and in every industry, including social services, health-based organizations, issue advocacy groups, civil rights organizations, and everything in between. Within nonprofits, a single fundraising system can be used across several departments and by multiple staff members.

Typically, the development team takes ownership of the fundraising system, with the development director or major gifts officer creating and implementing the overall strategy. In larger nonprofits, the marketing team will also use the fundraising software to communicate with prospective donors, and the executive team will use it to pull analytics and run reports for the board of directors.

What are the different kinds of fundraising software?

There are many kinds of fundraising software, and each one is typically designed to perform a specific function or solve a problem that most nonprofits face. More complex systems may perform multiple functions or solve a variety of problems. However, keep in mind that the more complex a fundraising solution is, the more training your staff will need to use it to its fullest.

The most common types of fundraising software include the following:

  • Online donation software and payment processors. Any software that allows you to create forms that can be placed on your website or other locations and accept payments virtually falls into this category.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising. This type of software allows your supporters to create campaigns to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. They share them with their own networks, allowing you to reach more potential donors, boost your revenue, and grow your email list.
  • Mobile and text-to-give software. Because mobile giving is increasing in popularity, some fundraising software tools enable you to send targeted text messages and accept donations through apps or fundraising pages that are mobile-optimized.
  • Giving day fundraising. This is software made specifically to handle larger volume transactions in a single day of giving, like Giving Tuesday. They typically include some type of event component, with registration and donation capabilities.
  • Fundraising CRM. This complex system not only processes online donations but also allows you to run reports and track donor information, such as name and giving history. Some fundraising CRMs also allow you to segment your contacts into meaningful lists, send email messages, and more.
  • Fundraising auction software. This type of software helps your organization run nonprofit auction events by keeping track of bids, facilitating bid increments, automatically choosing the winning bidder, and processing payments.
  • Social media fundraising software. Social media fundraising software usually allows you to create online fundraisers and share those events with your supporters. It also includes a direct link or donation button supporters can use to make donations directly on the social media platform, which are then sent to your nonprofit’s bank account. These software solutions are usually specific to a single social media platform.

Depending on what your nonprofit’s operations and fundraising campaigns look like, you will probably need some but not all of these types of fundraising software solutions.

What features should you look for in fundraising software?

While the exact list of features you need will be specific to your organization, there are certain features that you should look for in fundraising software. These include:

  • Visual form designer. One of the primary uses of fundraising software is the creation and management of fundraising forms. Choose software with easy-to-use form design tools that allow for customization, and ensure that the forms are mobile-optimized.
  • Email automation. Depending on your organization's needs, be sure to evaluate email design features, the ease of drag-and-drop builders, automated email workflows and triggers, and email performance tracking.
  • Campaign tracking. Evaluate campaign tracking features by looking at the reports and visual graphs that are available for specific campaigns and overall fundraising. Make sure the system you choose offers dashboards that report on key performance indicators that are important to your nonprofit.
  • Integrations. If your organization uses a CRM, accounting system, or other software that is essential to your operations, consider whether potential fundraising systems can integrate with those applications.

Remember that your nonprofit’s needs will be different from those of other nonprofits, and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to evaluating which software features you’ll need. Brainstorm what’s necessary to your operations, and determine which potential software solutions best suit your nonprofit based on that information.

How much does fundraising software cost?

There is no single answer to this question, as there are ranges of fundraising software costs that depend mostly on the features offered in the software and the value it delivers for your organization. Some fundraising software systems charge by the month, while others require an annual license.

Note that there are enterprise systems that allow you to run your entire operation on their software. If you’re considering one of these types of systems, keep in mind that to understand the system, you’ll need additional staff training, a commitment of several months to several years, and sometimes a reorganization of your nonprofit’s operations and fundraising strategy. 

When used properly, these enterprise systems can be amazingly effective at raising your overall revenue and helping you create consistent growth and increased engagement among your supporters.

11 best nonprofit fundraising software solutions

1. Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Giving Days solution

Bonterra Giving Days (formerly GiveGab) offers the number one digital solution for giving days such as GivingTuesday. This software solution empowers fundraising professionals to host giving day fundraising events that are easy and effective, and allows you to:

  • Access fundraising technology, regardless of your organization’s size.
  • Attract new donors and re-engage past supporters.
  • Make giving accessible to all donors.
  • Expand your capacity-building efforts.
  • Cultivate fundraising partnerships.
  • Create and celebrate philanthropy.

Bonterra Giving Days is equipped to help you with all of your giving day fundraising needs, including personalized support from dedicated Project Managers. This software solution is perfect for nonprofits looking to scale up their existing fundraising efforts and run a full-scale engagement campaign. 

2. Bonterra’s Mobilize solution

Mobilize helps nonprofits create and manage events and recruit event volunteers. Nonprofits that have used Mobilize saved five to ten hours weekly per staff member, a 30% reduction in no-shows, and more donations from engaged supporters.

Mobilize allows you to:

  • Conveniently set up in-person and virtual events.
  • Grow your network of supporters.
  • Automate events, including event reminders and follow-up messages.
  • Build a community by empowering volunteers to host events and recruit their friends to become supporters.
  • Track impact and manage volunteers.

If your nonprofit is looking for a way to streamline administrative tasks associated with running a volunteer or supporter program, the Mobilize solution offers many great features to help you grow your supporter base and report their impact.

3. Bonterra Program Management’s Case Management solution

Bonterra Case Management (formerly Social Solutions) is a software package that handles your nonprofit or social service agency’s cases, projects, and programs with ease. It allows your organization to get a comprehensive view of the care it provides to constituents, incorporates your outcome goals and metrics, and helps you grow your impact in your community.

Its features include:

  • Mobile capabilities
  • Progress tracking
  • Compliance support
  • Streamlined and closed-loop referral systems
  • Reporting dashboards
  • Customized intake or application process
  • Community outreach insights

Bonterra Case Management can help your organization care for its constituents by helping you manage your data, create impact reports, and build infrastructure that will serve your organization in the present and future. You can get up and running in as little as four weeks with Bonterra Case Management’s templates and on-demand training videos.

4. Double the Donation

Double the Donation is the leading matching gifts software, with more than 8,500 organizations using it. Its comprehensive, updated database gives you access to thousands of profiles that can help you connect with companies that offer corporate giving programs, such as matching gifts and volunteer grants.

Some of the great features Double the Donation offers include:

  • Streamlined matching gift search
  • Automated email streams
  • Donation form and CRM integrations
  • Unlimited users

You can reach out to Double the Donation to learn more about their plans and get a personalized quote for your nonprofit’s needs. Furthermore, you can also request custom features that aren’t listed above to fully customize this software to your operations.

5. PayPal

For those smaller nonprofits just getting started or those planning expansions of their first websites, sometimes offering a simple PayPal donation button can get them through the transition period to a more robust nonprofit CRM and fundraising software solution.

PayPal offers a quick and secure option for online giving and a touch-free option for events with QR codes. They’ve also been a trusted nonprofit credit card processor, offering discounted processing to the nonprofit industry for many years.

PayPal’s fee for donations in the U.S. is 2.98% of the donation when you use the PayPal Donate button, plus $0.49 per transaction. If you choose PayPal’s other fundraising options, such as a listed PayPal Fundraiser, the fee will be different.

6. Donor Search

DonorSearch provides a software solution that can enhance your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy by providing wealth screening options and profiles for donor prospect research. You can use these tools to better understand your donors’ financial and philanthropic backgrounds through key indicators.

DonorSearch's extensive database can be used to find information about:

  • Wealth indicators. These indicators provide insight as to how much an individual may be willing and able to give.
  • Philanthropic indicators. These indicators show an individual’s history of giving to different nonprofits and their previous interactions with various causes, helping you learn more about their affinity for your cause.
  • Affiliations with other nonprofits. Affiliations will to organizations similar to yours may indicate that an individual will be receptive to a donation appeal from your nonprofit.

Aside from its database, DonorSearch also allows you to efficiently build your list of prospects, create marketing plans based on insights the software collects, and make data appends. Furthermore, they integrate with a variety of other nonprofit software, making it easy to use for your existing operations.

7. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online has been the industry-standard accounting software package for decades, but it’s also a great software solution for tracking your nonprofit donations. It offers the following features for nonprofits:

  • Easy expense sorting
  • Detailed budget tracking
  • Integrations with donation apps
  • Automated specialized reports

QuickBooks Online offers multiple plans for all kinds of nonprofits, including a desktop solution with remote access. These plans range from $85 to $200 per month, with the more expensive plans offering extra features such as on-demand training, built-in templates, and business analytics.

8. Handbid

Handbid is an auction management platform designed to make auctions more fun, accessible, profitable, and easy to manage. With Handbid, you can automate much of the auction process, allowing your team to focus on what matters most. 

This software solution offers an easy-to-use mobile app with features including:

  • Mobile bidding
  • Mobile auction management
  • Text to give
  • Real-time livestreaming
  • Custom themes
  • Reporting and goal tracking
  • Third-party integrations

You can tailor the app for your unique event, attend strategic meetings with experienced fundraisers, and encourage giving with Handbid’s software solution. Additionally, Handbid also offers night-of-event support for any software hiccups that may occur during your auction.

9. ShopRaise

ShopRaise works with nonprofit organizations to give supporters a simple way to benefit their favorite cause through shopping. Your nonprofit will earn up to 10% on each supporter’s purchase, and with thousands of participating retailers, it’s easy for supporters to generate funding for your cause.

ShopRaise’s app seamlessly integrates with your nonprofit’s brand at no cost to you. It will help you engage with supporters on a day-to-day basis, reach your fundraising goals, and even promote your nonprofit’s purpose with customized marketing. You can also view which supporters have the app and how much they are contributing, making it easy to show your appreciation and recognize your supporters.

10. Canva

Canva is a graphic design tool that makes it easy for individuals without any design experience to create professional-looking graphics. Some of the great features Canva offers nonprofits include:

  • Drag-and-drop design tools.
  • Logo builder
  • Branded templates
  • Desktop app
  • Animations
  • Design sharing

Canva provides its premium features to nonprofits for free. You simple need to fill out a form, wait for verification, and then you can get started creating all the graphics you need. These can range from social media posts to branded merchandise to your nonprofit’s logo.

11. Facebook

Although Facebook is first and foremost a social media platform, nonprofits can raise a significant amount of money through it, especially towards the end-of-year. Facebook helps nonprofits fundraise with donate buttons on pages, posts, channels, and live streams. Supporters can simply click on these buttons to conveniently make a donation to the participating nonprofit.

Deciding on fundraising software for your nonprofit

There are many nonprofit fundraising software solutions with unique features available to you at a range of different prices. In order to decide on which software to use, determine what your nonprofit needs to streamline its operations. Match those needs with nonprofit software features that address them to narrow down your choices, and then make your final decision.

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