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20 Questions to Ask During Your Nonprofit Software Evaluation

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By Jess Woloszyn

Fundraising-vendor-evaluation

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Published June 30, 2022 Reading Time: 5 minutes

Selecting the right technology to unleash the full potential of your work, your staff, and ultimately your mission is a big decision. We’re here to help you ask the questions that best inform your choice based on your unique goals.

Finding the tools that are best for your organization comes down to knowing what to ask of a potential vendor. You may be looking to use nonprofit software for the first time. You may also be reevaluating whether your current provider can support your organization’s growing needs. Either way, this list is a great place to start the conversation.

20 Questions to Ask During Your Nonprofit Software Evaluation

The questions below are broken out into two categories in order to help you gather the most valuable information as you decide whether a fundraising solution is a good fit. You’ll want to navigate and cover both categories to make sure you find a true partner in your fundraising vendor:

  • Technical questions determine the features, functionality, services, and support that a potential fundraising platform can offer your organization on a product level
  • Holistic questions offer a preview into the partnership you would be entering into, so you can move forward with confidence that a potential fundraising platform’s values are a good fit for yours on an organizational level

11 Technical Questions to Ask a Potential Fundraising Vendor

Question: What types of organizations are most successful when using your solution?

What to Listen For:

comprehensive list of organizations and various ROI proof points.

Listen for the potential value you could see with the same set of tools and technologies, including specific details about:

  • The number of organizations currently using the solution
  • The number of national organizations using the solution
  • The history of growth across each organization’s customer base
  • The total donation volume the solution brings in year over year
  • The average size of a successful organization using the solution

Question: Is there a limit to how many campaigns I can create?

What to Listen For:

The potential to create an unlimited number of campaigns and campaign types.

Understand the supportive functionality available as your organization scales. This can include things such as campaign templates to make the process of creating multiple campaigns much easier.

Question: How quickly can I spin up a quality campaign to respond to current events or unexpected needs?

What to Listen For:

Tangible examples of campaigns launched quickly.

Ask about organizations that launched campaigns in response to recent world events or other timely emergencies. Some specific examples to ask about would be:

Question: Which payment options do you offer?

What to Listen For:

A clear understanding and investment in the payment options that people prefer.

Listen for how payments have proven to motivate donors to give at higher rates. Specifically, ask about the solution’s payment processor. Determine if it supports the following options donors may ask you about, in addition to traditional credit card payments:

  • Digital wallet payments (Apple Pay, Google Pay, etc.)
  • PayPal
  • Venmo
  • Cryptocurrency donations
  • ACH bank transfers

Question: Is everything built to operate seamlessly on a mobile device?

What to Listen For:

A solution that is optimized for mobile at every stage of the donation process, including:

Question: What is the typical process and timeline to fully adopt your solution if we decide to purchase?

What to Listen For:

The level of support offered to your team through training and development.

Understand if there is dedicated support staff to guide you through specific focus areas during implementation. Here are a few areas of support to ask specifically about:

  • The donor data migration progress
  • Support after implementation to become successful users of the platform
  • Ongoing education through specific trainingsfree blogs and resources, and industry reports that introduce innovative approaches to use the solution

Question: Is the software easy to use cross-functionally, and how do various roles within fundraising teams benefit from it?

What to Listen For:

A clear answer to how many users can access the solution at once.

Learn more about the value that each individual on your team can gain from working together within the solution regularly. Here are a few features to consider as you ask about the benefits this solution would provide for your team:

  • In-depth metrics for development and fundraising roles
  • CRM integrations and payment options for database owners
  • Customized campaign design and branding for marketing and design roles
  • Donation management and analytics for direct service roles
  • Payment reconciliation and fraud protection for finance roles
  • Performance, security, and integrations for information technology roles

Question: Does your platform currently integrate with other solutions my organization may already use?

What to Listen For:

Established integrations and thoughtful open APIs that make it easy for any user to manage donor information in multiple systems.

We recommend asking about some of the most-used integrations:

Question: Which types of campaigns can I run?

What to Listen For:

A variety of high-quality campaigns that support different goals.

Determine if you can maintain a consistent look and feel with your brand. You’ll want to understand how easy it is to manage donations and supporters across each campaign. Here are a few campaign types to ask about specifically:

  • Website donations
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Fundraising events and ticketing
  • Virtual and hybrid events
  • Recurring giving

Question: What tools are available to start or grow our recurring giving program?

What to Listen For:

Investment in understanding donor sentiments around recurring giving and its proven success.

See if the provider helps organizations create recurring gift programs that attract communities of loyal supporters. The following aspects are great talking points to bring up when discussing recurring gift options with a potential fundraising solution provider:

Question: How do you support both physical and virtual events?

What to Listen For:

A robust fundraising event venue and management solution that considers the needs of both in-person and online event attendees, as well as the needs of your team while scaling your events. Here are some aspects to consider:

  • Day-of-event support
  • Sponsors and expo management
  • Auctions and mobile bidding
  • Native and third-party live streaming, stages, and breakout rooms
  • Fundraising opportunities like fixed-priced item sales, and in-event giving
  • Fundraising thermometers and digital displays
  • Event messaging and reminders
  • Virtual tables and rooms, speed networking, chats, polls, and Q&A

9 Additional Holistic Questions to Ask a Fundraising Vendor

Your mission, values, and intuition will be the best guide for the following questions. Consider adding these to your evaluation once you’re narrowing down potential fundraising software providers.

  1. What is your company’s short and long-term vision?
  2. What’s ahead on your company’s roadmap and plan for future product innovation?
  3. How has your company become a thought leader in the social sector space and remained on the leading edge of what will drive fundraising into the future?
  4. How do you invest in your customers to ensure they’re successful?
  5. What, beyond the products, makes your company stand out in the market?
  6. What core customer metrics matter to you as a fundraising software provider and drive your decision-making?
  7. What do you envision as the future of giving and how are you working to support organizations like mine in preparing?
  8. How do you choose your leadership, and what values do your leaders hold when making decisions that impact your customers?
  9. How is your organization implementing customer feedback?

We’re Here to Help

With the right questions in mind, you will walk out of any future fundraising software selection conversation with the information that matters most to you.

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