Since you’re a part of a growing nonprofit, you probably already know that fundraising software is one of the most important tools available to your organization to help you reach your goals.
There’s a fundraising software solution out there for everyone; in some cases, you might even decide to pair programs, such as CRM (constituent relationship management) supplemented by event management software.
Fundraising software isn’t a one-size-fits-all purchase, but once you pick the right solution, you can take your nonprofit to new heights.
But be warned: fundraising software is an investment, and you’ll need to justify that investment to your board before you’re able to make a commitment.
When presenting your pick of fundraising software, there are a few things you should know. Here are four steps to take when approaching your board to get guaranteed buy-in:
- Identify your nonprofit’s needs
- Pick your software
- Put yourself in their shoes
- Make your presentation count
Ready to present your case to the board? Let’s get started!
1. Identify your nonprofit’s needs
Perhaps you recognize that your organization is facing some logistical roadblocks that can be better handled with dedicated fundraising software. Or maybe you have an idea of what kind of software you should invest in already, but you’re waiting for the right time to share it with your board.
Either way, the first thing you need to do before approaching the board is realistically identify your nonprofit’s needs. Not all fundraising software is created equally, and it’s important to know that the software you invest in is right for your organization.
Before deciding which software to present to your board, make a short list of the common issues your nonprofit faces. They can be complications on the macro level, such as a disorganized donor database, or problems on the micro level, such as the logistics of event planning.
After you’ve made your list, take a look at the different fundraising software products that are available to you.
With this list in mind, you can make a more informed decision about which software is worth your nonprofit’s investment. Be sure to check out Double the Donation's guide to fundraising software for some insightful product comparison.
2. Pick your software
With all the options out there, it can be difficult to figure out which type of software is right for your nonprofit.
To help you determine what kind of needs fundraising software is equipped to address, here are three examples of common issues nonprofits face and the types of fundraising software designed to solve them.
Problem: You struggle with event logistics
- Do you require a dedicated software to help you plan fundraising events?
- Do you need a way to process ticket purchases and oversee your guests?
- If you plan on holding an auction, would you benefit from auction-related event planning features?
Solution: Event fundraising software
As a nonprofit, you likely rely on fundraising events to help raise a significant portion of your annual donation revenue. Not only do these events help you raise money for your organization, but they’re also a great way to engage with your constituents and grow your network of active donors.
Event fundraising software serves to help manage the logistics of these types of events by keeping all elements of event planning and execution in one place. For example, with features like ticket processing, you can easily both sell and keep track of guest tickets at the same time.
Similarly, the software can assist you in carrying out specific tasks common to fundraising events such as auctions. In-person and online auctions are some of the most commonly used fundraising tools for nonprofits, and if your organization looks to these fundraisers to bring in donations, then you might consider investing in dedicated charity auction software.
Problem: No (or poor) online donation capabilities
- Do you need a way to accept donations online?
- Are you looking to emphasize mobile giving to your constituents?
- Do you want to be able to collect donations on diverse giving platforms?
Solution: Online giving software
If your nonprofit is looking to accept donations online, picking a solid online giving software is absolutely essential. Not only does online giving software allow you to collect donations over the internet, but it also helps you make the process as seamless as possible for your donors.
With online giving software, you can create online donation forms to streamline the giving process. Further, online giving software helps you process these donations securely, giving your constituents peace of mind concerning their credit card information.
Online giving software can also save information on donors (such as their names, contact information, donation amounts, etc.) that you can use to better engage with constituents in the future.
You may realize that you have specialized online giving needs. For example, if you anticipate a large part of your audience donating from a mobile device, consider adopting text-to-give software, or choose a product that also supports mobile donations. The more diverse the giving platforms you offer donors, the better!
Nearly every nonprofit accepts online donations these days. What can set you apart is giving software that offers donors a variety of giving channels, both on-site and online. You may even consider supplementing your online giving software with a more specialized product for event-specific needs, such as mobile bidding software if your organization hosts auctions.
Problem: Disorganized donor data
- Do you have trouble organizing your constituent data?
- Do you maintain multiple, disjointed donor databases across many platforms?
- Do you need help communicating with your donors?
Solution: CRM software
Constituent relationship management (CRM) software helps you keep a handle over all of your constituent data.
Essentially, CRM software helps you build better relationships with donors by adding efficiency to and insight into your interactions with them. You can also integrate your CRM with other fundraising software to collect data across all levels of your organization.
Most CRM software enables you to build donor profiles to help keep track of all of the data you have filed on individual donors. Once your donor profiles are set up, you can use that information to inform the way you reach out to constituents.
For example, donor profiles can contain information on communication preferences, keep records of constituents’ addresses, or note if they work for a company that has a matching gifts program. They can also help you figure out who has given generously in the past, and how to entice particular donors to give more.
Note: Online giving, CRM, and event fundraising software are just three of the many types of fundraising software out there. If you want to learn more about other fundraising software solutions, check out Fundly’s article Fundraising Software: 9 Types Your Nonprofit Must Know.
3. Put yourself in their shoes
Now that you’ve evaluated your organization’s needs and matched those needs with the right fundraising software, it’s time to start preparing for your presentation to the board. The best way to do this is by putting yourself in their shoes.
Think about what might be your board’s biggest concerns when considering your proposal. They might ask:
- What will be the cost of adopting this software?
- Why is the software preferable to our existing setup?
- How long will it take for us to see beneficial results?
If you can think of any other questions the board might ask, take the time to come up with thoughtful responses before you meet. As for these general questions, think of them as jumping off points to more specific concerns the board members may have.
For example, each of these questions can be broken down into smaller, more specific questions, such as:
- Will we need to hire new support staff to manage the software?
- How will the cost of the software change over time as the technology is perfected?
- Can we modify our existing methods to mimic this particular software?
- How do we know that the problems we are currently facing won’t follow us once we convert to this new software?
- Will the benefits of the software be seen immediately?
- If it takes time to see results, why is it worth making this investment?
It’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your board members well before you go to make your presentation. Give yourself adequate time to address any foreseeable questions they might bring up, and make sure that you’ve done your research.
You might be picking the perfect fundraising software for your nonprofit, but if you aren’t prepared to justify the investment, your board probably won’t take you seriously.
4. Make your presentation count
Picking the right software and coming prepared to answer your board members’ questions is only half the battle. The way that you present your proposal is just as important, and if you can’t grab the board’s attention, you likely won’t be able to convince them to adopt the new software.
To make your presentation count, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- If you’re sharing slides, focus on a single point per slide.
- Present your data visually, but only use graphics that are easily understood from the audience’s perspective.
- Speak with conviction, enunciate, and project your voice.
- Keep the presentation short (no more than 15 minutes).
It’s always a good idea to practice a presentation beforehand to work out any complications you might have missed. If possible, see if a board member can serve as a test audience for you to rehearse with.
Further, you should try to meet with board members one-on-one before your official presentation. If you’re able to test the waters, you can get a better idea of whether or not the board is in a place to invest in the type of fundraising software you’re proposing.
If you think your nonprofit would benefit from investing in fundraising software, you need to let your board know. As long as you come prepared, justify the investment, and take the time to thoughtfully address the board, you should be confident they’ll agree with you.
Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the director of marketing for OneCause (formerly BidPal). Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.