Like many other types of non-profits, churches and other faith-centered organizations often launch their development programs without using any kind of fundraising software, other than perhaps an Excel spreadsheet. This method serves them fine, up to a point. Unfortunately, many organizations – and faith-based non-profits in particular – often hold on to the spreadsheet database method far longer than they otherwise should.
A strong fundraising database can be a huge boon to your organization’s development program. Good fundraising software can be the difference between a successful, comprehensive fundraising program run by happy fundraisers… and a disjointed, wasteful fundraising program run by a stressed-out staff. Here’s why finding the right fundraising software matters for your non-profit:
#1 – Good software allows you to run a smart, integrated fundraising program.
Most modern non-profits run complex fundraising programs. Even small organizations and congregations generally host one or more fundraising events, send out multiple fundraising mailings, raise money online, and engage in face-to-face fundraising with their major donors. Mid-sized and large organizations add to that complexity by adding other fundraising tactics, as well as employing multiple team members to implement their fundraising plans.
With all of that activity, it can be hard to track donor communications and analyze how different donors respond to each of the different strategies you are using. Good fundraising software makes this much easier by providing a central repository for all of your development data. The right software solution will allow everyone on your team to have instant access to your donor data, as well as to information on where each donor and prospect is in the fundraising process. Likewise, your fundraising software will enable your team to immediately analyze and report on each of your fundraising tactics.
Simply put, good fundraising software will allow your non-profit to run an integrated fundraising program that maximizes efficiency and enables better decision-making.
#2 – Good software makes donor cultivation easier and more effective.
Your faith-centered non-profit likely communicates with donors in a number of different ways: through in-person meetings, phone calls, cultivation events, snail mail and e-mail newsletters, written fundraising appeals, and more. Without good fundraising software, it can be extremely hard to communicate with your donors effectively.
Most fundraising software allows you to print up donor thank you letters and fundraising appeals (both e-mail and snail mail) right from within the system. Likewise, your software tracks who receives what, so that you’ll know which donors received each appeal letter, which donors received your newsletters, and which donors were invited to or attended each of your fundraising events. This makes your donor cultivation process easier and more effective by allowing you to communicate with different segments, track donors through your fundraising funnel, and instantly see team member notes from in-person meetings and phone calls.
#3 – Good software allows you to do more with less.
Most non-profits are short on resources. This is particularly true for faith-based organizations and churches. Rare is the faith-focused organization that has enough time, budget, and staff to do everything it wants to do to raise money. Non-profits that are duplicating work or focusing on strategies with a low return on investment are likely to raise far less than they otherwise would, and to do so with more stress and hassle than necessary.
Good fundraising software allows your development team to do more with less by making sure that donor information is at everyone’s fingertips. Instead of having to search through Excel files or review copies of mailing lists by hand, your team can immediately get the information they need to do their jobs effectively.
Even better, your fundraising software allows you to focus your time and resources on those fundraising strategies that are working well for your non-profit. You can run reports that analyze the return on your investments of time, money, and other resources for each of your fundraising strategies, and know with certainty which fundraising tactics to focus on, and which to phase out. Good fundraising software enables your organization to implement the effortlessly implement the 80/20 rule and put your resources to work where they will make the biggest difference for your faith-centered non-profit.
Written By: Joe Garecht
Joe Garecht has almost twenty years' experience in non-profit fundraising. He is the President of Garecht Fundraising Associates and previously served as the Founder of The Fundraising Authority, one of the world's largest providers of online fundraising classes and seminars.
He has served as an executive director, development director, and consultant to thousands of non-profits worldwide. Joe is the author of How to Raise More Money for Any Non-Profit and several other books on non-profit development. You can find him online at Garecht.com.