Maximize Fall and Year-End Fundraising by Using the Right Donor Management Software

Fundraising Software from SmartThoughts

Donor Management Technologies and Strategy

It is no secret that many nonprofits and foundations rely on year-end donations for a large percentage of their annual giving. It’s clear for many you need to be sure that your donor management software is up to the task. In this article, we wanted to take a look at these proven strategies you may need along with the right technology to start thinking about now to be ready for the months ahead.

We know that it is still summer, but it is also the perfect time to plan your year-end campaign. If you put things off until December, it is going to be too late. According to Charity Navigator, most charities receive about 40% of their annual contributions in the last few weeks of the year. By getting an early start you can extend the giving season and celebrate a better new year.

Sending Out your fall and year-end appeals: 

Many organizations get their best results by sending out three or more appeals timed around late summer, Thanksgiving and the middle of December. Use a combination of email and mail efforts. Segment your high dollar and major donors for more personalized communications with your donor management tools found in many integrated fundraising software tools like The Databank. 

Data Enhancements and Data Intelligence: 

Before you send anything out, this is the time to take a look at your donor database records. A trusted data quality expert like Updentity can help your nonprofit reach-out to constituents and donors in a more effective manner by appending quality data profile records before you spend a dime on postage. Using state of the art technology, Updentity is able to analyze your database and donor history. With this analysis, your organization could obtain a prediction including which of your donors are most likely to donate.

Google Ad Grants: 

Google Ad Grants is the nonprofit edition of AdWords, Google’s online advertising tool. Google Ad Grants empowers nonprofit organizations, through $10,000 per month in in-kind AdWords™ advertising, to promote their missions and initiatives on You have time now to take advantage of this awesome offer. Use the advertising to drive memberships, newsletter subscriptions, social media engagement, volunteers and sponsors. Ads can increase revenue through new donors, advertising opportunities, event attendance, traffic to your online store, and more.

Making solicitation and Thank You calls: Social Signals from Nimble CRM from SmartThoughts

Taking the time to call your donors (see great blog article from Pursuant) increases giving dramatically. Round up as many people as you can including your staff, board members and volunteers to staff the phones. Ask people to follow-up with their personal prospects. Give them briefings when they are calling people they do not know and update your files with the data you collect. Know as much as you can about your constituents before you make that call. Monitoring what your contacts say on social channels is every bit as important as reading their emails. Today, we are fortunate to have CRM tools like Nimble CRM which can add considerable value to your existing donor management software tool to provide social insights (if feature not in current Donor Database). Further, you may consider getting financial profiles for your donors and prospects before you call via a service from WealthEngine.  This type of data (Social and Financial) via various tools is an awesome combination for many development officers!

Video Email for Enhancing the Ask:

This year, maybe it’s time to do something different to increase annual giving via a new technology. We have been using an awesome new video email tool internally, and it’s great for nonprofits too. With Video Emails, you may send holiday & special occasion greetings, send targeted messages to specific groups, share updates on missions, projects, & goals. It’s very impactful and could greatly increase the power of your message.

Implementing your digital strategy: 

Online gifts can come from any source, and they have been representing a larger share of year-end giving each year. Harness the power of your website via donor database tools like StayClassy and social media. Create a splash page on your website asking for contributions the last 48 hours of the year. Use social media updates on an ongoing basis to reinforce your campaign.

These are a few of my thoughts on ways to plan now for the end of the year in the heat of the summer. What ideas do you have?

As always, Contact us for expert advice on the exact nonprofit software automation you may need for your year-end giving campaigns. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

What should you expect of Membership Management Software today?

Expectations in nonprofit software and membership software selection

When is Good, Good Enough? What to Expect in Membership Management Systems

For most member based nonprofits, the association management software selected to help run the organization is likely the most important decision which an Association Executive will make. Suffice it to say, it is important that you select the right membership solution to fit with your specific business requirements. In the midst of the plethora of membership solutions in the marketplace today, we often get asked what one should expect from the software available to them. In this article, we wanted to explore that question.

What makes each different?

Well, that’s a tough question. To make a long explanation shorter, it is usually the software features, background of each vendor (in terms of development history) and references (who they typically work with). To that end, we wanted to underscore some of the general features that comprise many Membership Software Systems today below.

Integrated Communication Channels

In order to meet the needs of a busy membership organisation and connect with your members you need to ensure you manage your member data efficiently by ensuring all communication is maintained, targeted and relevant.

Being able to communicate with your members through both traditional and online methods are essential for any membership organization today. Many systems today enable you to communicate via:  

  • Mail merge – Direct mail campaigns
  • Email Marketing – Powerful, integrated and fully functional email marketing tool
  • E-Surveys – Integrated and automated feedback management tool
  • Social networking – Public and Private

Self-Service Membership Web Portal

This is fundamental for any membership management database today. A membership management solution that offers you a fully web-based portal will allow your members access to their personal information at any time and from any location. Your members should be able to simply log in using their unique username and password and update/amend/edit their personal information. A comprehensive membership software solution will ensure relevant information is captured for each individual member account. A comprehensive member web portal should offer a number of modules which include online capabilities such as:

  • Contact Management
  • Event Registration Management
  • Billing (Paying Dues Online)
  • Orders Management (Allowing a member to buy something)
  • Social Networking: Forum interaction, Blogs, wikis, etc
  • Survey Management
  • News and content aggregation
  • Member to member communication
  • Web Content Management (Either integrated or Single Sign-On)

Reporting: Using Big Data for Making Smarter Business Decisions

Improving the service you offer your membership base can really only be achieved through the measurement and analysis of the feedback you get from your members. Many membership systems across the spectrum offer standard reports, onscreen views of data, and even dashboards of Key Performance Indicators.

In selecting the right membership solution, the reporting functionality within the membership software will make it easy for membership managers to create off the cuff reports and new reports on demand. The sophistication of the reports and how much you need to create more reports can be an indication of moving to one solution or the other.


Most membership management systems have taken the “Best of Breed” approach in the area of financials. In other words, they act as a subsidiary accounting system and only handle accounts receivable functionality. Membership systems will handle dues billing, sending out invoices, and collecting cash payments. From there, they allow for an export/import routine to the General Ledger of their choice such as Quickbooks. There are a few systems which provide an “All in One” financial experience where everything is handled (GL, AP, AR, etc.) but for most membership systems this isn’t the case today. 

Ease of Use:

It’s tough to discern general practices which make one system easier to use over another. The General User Interface can be viewed as easy by one audience and difficult by another. In light of that, membership systems today should be accessible from anywhere on any device today by your staff and members. The system should be Responsive. Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).

Integration and Open API’s

Selecting a membership software solution that integrates into your business makes for a more resourceful, efficient and complete internal business solution. In most cases, the less you pay, the less sophisticated the integration capabilities of the membership system. Technically advanced membership software solutions will have the flexible architecture (Open API’s) which will allow integration with all other business systems whether it is now or in the future. For example, a Learning Management System, Financial Management System, Event Management System, or Government Relations offering can work in concert with the main membership system.

So, there you have it. This is a quick list of general areas which you should expect today in a Membership Management System. In the coming weeks, we will be taking a look at many leading Membership Database Management software options on the market so hopefully you will stay tuned. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Nonprofit Consulting
Searching for Membership Software? Click Free Consult.




Top 10 Actions To Do To Avoid Software Selection Anxiety

10 Tips For Nonprofit Software Decisions

Top 10 Items to Consider To Avoid Anxiety in Software Searches 

We know! There are simply too many membership management and donor database software choices on the market today. The human brain is just not equipped to process an overload of information. And, having an abundance of software options for your nonprofit may actually cause anxiety.

When it comes to making decisions about procuring or upgrading technology, software selection anxiety can be an enormous issue. The more staff members who are involved, and the longer the process takes, the more negatively software selection can impact an organization. In our opinion, the key to avoiding software selection anxiety is to know what matters most, before beginning the buying process.

In other words, don’t go shopping without a clear list of priorities. That noted, here are the top 10 quick suggestions before you “google” your way to a new software option:

  1. Know Your Business Functions: What exactly will this software be used for? Having a list of functions that the software must perform will limit the choices from the start. Ex. I need a system which will handle recurring drafting. I need a system which can handle Purchase Orders.
  2. Is Scalability Important?: Look for software packages that can grow with the organization. If a big expansion is planned in the future, the software must be able to handle the changes.
  3. Understand Your Key Performance Reports: What kinds of reports are needed to make informed decisions? New software must be able to create them.
  4. How important is Security?: How sensitive is the data? Software must have adequate security features to meet the organization’s needs.
  5. Does reliability matter?: Stability is important. Look for software with an excellent track record for reliability.
  6. Who Needs to Use the system? Ease of Use and knowing how many people will be using the system is important. Therefore, take this into account when assessing software. If only a handful of technologically savvy staff will use the software, that’s one thing. But if every staff member and volunteer will be using it, then the interface needs to be easy to learn and easy to use.
  7. Where do users reside? Will this software reside on a few workstations in one location, or will staff members need access from anywhere? Cloud based systems are the norm today but there are still systems which are not!
  8. What is a realistic budget? How much can the organization afford? Calculations should include any hardware upgrades that will be needed to run the software (if applicable). Once there is a firm budget number, this could narrow the choices considerably. You need to have a good starting point.
  9. Any recommendations?: Consult with other organizations that have similar needs. Go to a review site laser focused on the type of software you are searching for like With this information, you will benefit from your peers who may have been through the same process recently and have useful information to share.
  10. Do you need expert Advice? Seek counsel from a software adviser who can help sort through the noise and act as your guide through the process.

Is software selection anxiety impacting your organization? If so, please contact us to find out how we can help or schedule a call now for our “Free Software Advisement” offer by clicking the Learn More button below.