Can Donor Software help Your Planned Giving Programs?

Software for Nonprofits can help your planned giving abilities.

Planned giving is an important source of revenue for nonprofits, case but many organizations lack the technology to make the best use of their opportunities. In this article, we wanted to highlight how donor software may strengthen your ability to grow planned giving at your nonprofit. And, we will take a look at how the right donor management software can help you and your donors achieve your philanthropic objectives.

Yes, Donor Management Software can make a difference

Planned giving has traditionally been defined as the gift that an individual makes near the end of his or her lifetime. More than 90% of planned giving takes the form of bequests, but there are plenty of other vehicles including annuities, trusts and gifts of stock or property. Planned giving basically refers to any gift that requires more thought and effort than just writing a check.


Whatever the vehicle, planned giving is based on personal relationships. By selecting donor software that helps strengthen relationships over time, you’ll have the support you need to reach out to donors every step of the way. The basic tenants of customer management is about developing relationships. Donor Management software should have the ability to help you store demographic information about donors, track giving history and participation, perform basic activity management, and help you communicate more efficiently throughout your process with donors.

Identifying and Targeting prospects:

Sadly, organizations often don’t know that their donors have made a bequest until they receive a notification letter from an estate attorney after the individual is deceased. Keep in mind that people who make planned gifts are not necessarily major donors. They’re more likely to be people who make frequent gifts over a long time period. A good donor software for nonprofits can help you analyze giving history so you can recognize them sooner.

Personalizing cultivation strategies:

At the very least, you want to stay in touch with people who you know have included your organization in their will. You can use software to zip sort them for visits when a staff member is in the area. You may also want to send them special materials like event invitations and greeting cards which can be segmented via a good donor database system.

Managing complex information:

Automation will also help you with segmentation to tailor your solicitations to the donor’s profile. Mid-career professionals may be starting to think about their wills. Elderly widows may appreciate the income from an annuity. At the same time, you’ll want to track which marketing campaigns are most effective so you know how to allocate your resources. Email marketing solutions and even more advanced marketing automation software can help automate even the most complex giving campaigns.

If you are seeking a solution or would like to visit about options, please Contact us for help in finding the exact software automation needed to achieve your mission. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.


Email Marketing Software can help nonprofits achieve results in planned giving. Free ebook!

The Paradox of Software Choice, What a Pain in the Ass!

finding nonprofit software is tough. For more than half a century, scientists have been studying the fact that too much choice makes people unhappy. This has been dubbed “the paradox of choice.” In this article, we explore the impact of “choices” and provide several tips to structure your team in such a way as to avoid some of the stress and anxiety related to finding the “right” fit for your organization.

The New Yorker recently ran an article on this topic entitled, “When it’s Bad to Have Good Choices“. In this article, the writer mentions the theory of Buridan’s ass: an apocryphal donkey that finds itself standing between two equally appealing Software Choice can make you anxiousstacks of hay. Unable to decide which to consume, it starves to death.

Further, the author cites one study which showed that when shoppers were presented with six choices they had a much easier time making a decision than when presented with twenty-four or thirty items.

This wasn’t that surprising. However, what was interesting was when the number of choices was smaller they discovered that the level of satisfaction about the choice was also higher.

This reality was neatly summed up by another scientific researcher who concluded, “When you have more good choices, you don’t feel better. You just feel more anxious.”

As an Association or Nonprofit Executive, you and your staff may be overwhelmed by how many software choices there are on the market today. In fact, we have compiled well over 120 Membership Software Solutions and equally as many Donor CRM Database Software for you to review on our site.

When shopping for software for your nonprofit, it’s critical to know that it’s natural to be overwhelmed and anxious when presented with too many choices. In an earlier post, we offered 10 tips for narrowing your selection from the options available.

Below we offer some tips for how to approach the software selection project in order to work together to reduce some of the potential anxiety.

5 Tips for Avoiding Software Choice AnxietyTop 5 ideas to alleviate software choice anxiety

1. Form a Selection Team — Getting a group to agree on anything is a challenge, but that’s the benefit of having a team make the selection. Include team members from different departments, with different levels of responsibility. In the selection team, decide what will be a “Good Software Choice”. For small organizations, The Executive Director should be involved!

2. Acknowledge the Paradox of Choice The project leader will need to gather the team and discuss the reality that having too many choices causes anxiety. Ask people to let the team leader know when anxiety is creeping in. The expression “forewarned is forearmed” is very fitting here!

3. Make Sure Everyone’s Voice is Heard — Ask each member of the team to come up with a list of things the software must be able to do. The more extensive the needs of the group, the fewer software options there will be to consider. Don’t forget your members and donors!

4. Brainstorm Ways to Reduce the Number of Options — Members of the team may already have experience with certain companies or types of software that will make it easy to eliminate them from the list of contenders. Or they may know that only a few software providers can meet the needs of the group. Go to your peers for feedback as well!

5. Divide and Conquer — Give individual members of the team specific assignments. Each person can be charged with becoming an expert in one or two areas, and researching software options based solely on these factors. This keeps things simple and prevents information overload. It also turns an ad hoc team into a group of members with specialized expertise. Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford.

Are you in the midst of a choice like Buridan’s Ass?

If you don’t have the time, resources, or experience to embark on a software selection journey, you may find a lot of value in a software advisement firm.

Please contact us for your “Free Software Advisement” today.

We do not sell software. We are software advisers.

Top 10 Reasons Your Database Software May Suck?


Database Software for Nonprofits

According to our records, there are well over 150 commercially developed database software vendors who purport to offer a system for member and donor based organizations today. Whether you call it Donor Management Software, Association Membership Software, Software for Nonprofits, Membership Management Software, Fundraising Software, Philanthropic Software, Software for Member Management, or even Engagement Management Software etc. the options are plentiful. In this article, we wanted to explore some reasons why nonprofit association management software may fall short of meeting expectations.

When Database Software May Suck!

For those starting a nonprofit, the good thing  is there are many database options. The bad thing for those who have been searching is that there are many options too! As one Nonprofit Executive recently told with disbelief and a sense of bewilderment:

” Why are there so many systems, does all the software designed for nonprofits suck? Or, are they all just terrible?”

My answer was an emphatic “No!”. There are actually a considerable amount of good commercially off the shelf software options for all sizes of nonprofits today. The challenge is that unless the people, processes, and technology are fit right even the best database can stink. And, a lot of success is dependent on the people, processes, experience involved in determining satisfaction with a particular solution.  So, we agree that there are a lot of options designed for different nonprofit sectors, right?


No doubt, as a Nonprofit Executive today, you and your staff have many nonprofit software options. I know all too well. I have spent a large part of my software career personally reviewing hundreds of these systems and know their solution and teams members well. Suffice it to say, each and every one of these applications above come to the proverbial table with their own unique way of providing an online database which was designed to solve the needs of nonprofit organizations. It simply takes some time to figure out your “unique” needs and then determine which is best suited.

When May a Database Suck….The Top 10 List  

If you get focused on searching for the best software today, you will certainly “google” your way to a perpetual beating. Or, you may have found a plethora of feedback (good and bad) on various software review sites which has you either shaking your head to agree or disagree with the submitters. The reality is that anyone of these membership database software or donor software programs can potentially be perceived as sucking, stinking, and being terrible by users:

  1. Poor Fit: When they are not properly fitted to your specific requirements, staff, and resources.
  2. Improper Goals: When the expectations are out of line with what the program was designed to solve.
  3. Bad Implementation: When they are not implemented the right way.
  4. Expectations: When the companies have unrealistic expectations & forget they are nothing but databases.
  5. Awful Processes: When Nonprofit Executives, staff, and service consultants don’t reinforce the right processes.
  6. Project Management: When companies don’t assign strong administrators or project management.
  7. Out of Date: When Nonprofit Executives do not pay to stay up to date on the software (in the case of on premise options).
  8. Staff Turnover: When there is staff turnover and there is no commitment to training of new hires.
  9. No Standardization: When Nonprofit Executives don’t enforce rules for standardizing data input ongoing into the system.
  10. No Integration: When the system isn’t used by everyone due to lack of integration, you will have shadow IT solutions and poor results.

The Complex Psychology of a Software Review 

According to one report from Lehman Reports on membership software, clients remain only moderately satisfied with their current membership database software. This would support the perception felt by some that all nonprofit sucks. Right? But, I believe it’s important to take reviews and studies with a grain of salt. Word of mouth is subjective and sometimes knowing the context of a review (attitudes, experience, expectations, what was sold etc.) tends to make every opinion a little clearer. And, that’s challenging to do in any survey, review site, or conversation with a peer. So next time you are on getting a software recommendation from a friend, remember that too!

Most Membership Software, Donor Databases, & CRM Software Are Good

In the last 20 years in the software business, I have reviewed & interviewed many types of databases. As a result of my time in the software industry and nonprofit world, I am certainly more forgiving of bad perceptions and hearing of various software failures than many others. And, despite hearing many bad things over the years, I am still a firm believer in the value of databases (CRM, Donor, Membership etc.) which can and do help improve the lives of so many types of businesses.

As a result of this time in the market, I am more convinced that software success is usually found when paired with the best service and support from a reputable software vendor who is committed to the success of the client, focused on the industry, communicate effectively with their clients & consistently delivers results.

The secret sauce of software success is that Support Matters!

Folks, I am certainly not wearing rose colored glasses. Yes, any database or online membership website can be (become) terrible (even suck) if neglected or run in an ill-advised manner. Like any instrument used in the wrong way (knife, gun, or golf club) or provided to the wrong audience (child or responsible adult) they can and do go wrong.

If done well, software projects usually do not fail based on selection. If the database is fitted appropriately and placed in capable hands from a trusted vendor, database software can be a powerful tool for executing your mission and increasing your value to your donors and members.

Do you believe that your software sucks? Let’s talk, OK?

We can help determine if you may have some “fixable” problems or may need to sort through the options and be your guide in the selection process. Schedule your free consultation today.

Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind!


Free Software Advisement for Database Software