15 Questions to Help Assess Your Fundraising Software

4 min
fundraising software questions
William Schmidt
Will Schmidt

One of the best ways to keep pace with evolving giving trends is to invest in software that keeps today’s modern donor in mind and adapts to their expectations. While it can be cost-heavy to purchase new software, it can cost just as much to stick with a platform that doesn’t meet these changing expectations and paints your brand as outdated.

The key is to find a fundraising platform that accounts for new trends, continually works to stay ahead of them, and scales with your organization. To help, we explore some of the trends in online giving and the questions you should ask to find out if your current fundraising option is up to par.

It’s Time to Change   

“If [nonprofits] don’t dramatically change the way they do business they’re not going to be able to survive and thrive. Nonprofits have to make some significant changes if they want to survive in this new reality.”

Nell Edgington
President of Social Velocity

What engaged and activated audiences 10 years ago might not work today. For example, if you bring in donations through direct mail appeals it’s not enough to just send the letter. You should also include your website on the letter so people can either mail in their donation or go to your donation page online to give.

There are two ways to change the way we operate in the social sector. First, create a fundraising strategy that incorporates what’s new and trending in the world of online fundraising and donor behavior. Second, use a fundraising platform that’s been built with the ever-changing nature of the industry in mind.

Trends Shaping the Sector

Recently, we spoke with various people across different departments at Classy to explore the trends they noticed in their area of expertise. We dig into a few of them here, and why your organization should pay attention to them.

See the Full List of Trends for 2018

Recurring Giving Optimization

Today’s modern donor doesn’t just give their money to you; they look at their support as an investment. Recurring giving, then, can elevate this investment mentality as organizations provide options to give that encourage more than a one-off donation. People are investing every month in the success of your mission.

To drive recurring giving, everything about your fundraising—from email appeals all the way to campaign page design and layout—needs to be built and designed accordingly. What’s more, this trend is only going to pick up steam as time goes on.

Image of Terry Breschi, Product Design Manager

As organizations realize how important it is to have regular monthly donors, we’re seeing subtle changes in their design because of it. From larger calls to action to ‘Donate Monthly’ buttons, or even entire campaigns built to encourage recurring gifts like charity:water’s ‘The Spring’ campaign, we’ll see more organizations encourage supporters to give monthly.”

Terry Breschi
Product Design Manager

Impact Transparency

Nonprofits exist to solve problems, and it’s crucial they show their impact on these causes. While annual reports have been the traditional way to highlight progress, there’s a growing trend among nonprofits to showcase their impact year-round.

Image of Pat Walsh, CIO and Cofounder

The ability to measure and articulate impact is critical for organizations that want to build meaningful relationships with their supporters. We’re already seeing forward-thinking organizations in the sector pioneering new ways to convey the impact of their programs in a real and tangible way.”

Pat Walsh
CIO and Cofounder

For example, during Giving Tuesday 2017 some of the top leaders in the social sector—Charity Navigator, Guidestar, and Global Giving—partnered with Classy to showcase the impact thousands of nonprofits made that day.

Personalized Marketing

The world of marketing is moving more toward personalization and further from a generalized outreach approach. As such, nonprofits need to choose the right message, the right time, and the right channel to engage supporters.

Image of Erin Stender, VP of Marketing

You see this in personalized video content platforms with custom messages, re-targeting platforms that make advanced display advertising easy for small budgets, and social media algorithms that intelligently deliver content you care about to the top of your feed.”

Erin Stender
VP of Marketing

It’s crucial that organizations take actions like email list segmentation, so they can send laser-targeted messages that increase click-through rates and conversions on donation pages.

These are only a few of the many trends shaping the future of the nonprofit world. And it can be incredibly difficult to keep a pulse on all of them yourself. Further, trying to build them into your fundraising strategy is just as hard.

That’s why choosing a fundraising platform that keeps a pulse on them for you is so important. You won’t have to worry if you’re up to date. You’ll confidently know that you are.

Ask Away 

You have to start asking yourself and your team questions to assess if you’re in the right place with online fundraising efforts, or if you need to upgrade to something new. We met with our product, operations, and sales enablement teams to curate a list of guiding fundraising software questions that can help you with this process:

  • When was the last time your organization discussed the state of your software?
  • Is your current technology prepared to evolve alongside the industry?
  • If you stay the course, how will you scale and keep up with the demands of a rapidly evolving industry?
  • Do you feel empowered to try new fundraising initiatives with your current toolset?
  • When there are new product features on your platform, are you made aware of them ASAP?
  • Are the products and integrations in your technology ecosystem connected to each other, or disconnected?
  • Do different product features integrate with one another? What about with third-party vendors?
  • Do your products require long training processes to learn how to use them?
  • Are products and pricing a la carte from your vendor, or are things bundled into one platform at one price?
  • Are you restricted to your own proprietary donor management or CRM platform?
  • What does your process look like for creating new campaigns right now? How easy or hard is it?
  • What branding and customization options are available to you currently?
  • Do you feel that the experience you provide donors lives up to your band standards?
  • How does the public react to newly created and launched campaigns?
  • Is your software cost-prohibitive to the point where it doesn’t provide the ROI you want or need?

This list addresses a variety of common points of friction we’ve seen across the social sector when it comes to purchasing fundraising software. If you run through this list and don’t feel satisfied with your answers, you need to ask yourself one final question:

“Is it time to look for something newer, better, stronger, faster, or more effective?”

If you’re considering changing things up, feel free to a reach out and ask about improving your organization.

Otherwise, make sure to read some of our other content around switching software and modernizing your efforts.


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