Software subscription fees can sneak up on you. What seems like a small purchase at one time adds up as monthly charges continue to ding your credit card or bank account. Those recurring charges can slowly and insidiously drain your resources and should be avoided, especially if you don’t use the software frequently,
Review Software Needs Quarterly
It’s a good idea to review software charges quarterly and check with your staff to see who is using which software package. While it may be clear to all that an annual subscription to Microsoft Office is necessary for business, you may not know what other software is being used. Have a team member review subscriptions to ensure that you don’t accidentally cut off something that’s needed by a department or group.
Fundraising Software: a Smart Investment
One area where you won’t want to skimp is fundraising software. Although fundraising software came with a hefty price tag years ago, there are several platforms available that offer plenty of functionality at a low cost.
What should you look for when shopping for fundraising software? To get the most for your money, look for the following features:
- No contract: Contracts work in favor of the software owner, not the end user. Even though they may look good on the surface by locking in a rate or special features, your organization’s needs may change. Instead of long-term contracts, look for cancel at any time or at least a monthly contract that enables you to leave without cost with notice.
- No or low fees: Some software offers a free trial and free or low cost fees for nonprofits. Others enable nonprofits to have up to a certain number of users before fees are applied. Read the fine print and look for software with low or no transaction fees.
- Payment processing with standard rates: Review the fees the system charges for payment processing and compare them to standard rates. Make sure that the software vendor isn’t overcharging for payment processing to make up for giving away the software subscription ‘free.’
Best Features in Fundraising Software
Not all fundraising software is created equal. Each offers unique features and benefits. The right software for your organization is the one that solves the problems your team faces when it comes to managing fundraising activities.
- Easy integration: New software such as fundraising software should integrate easily with your existing software. If it doesn’t, you’ll end up spending precious resources to make it work. For example, manual data entry gets tiresome quickly if you have to import everything from the fundraising system into the accounting system by hand. Check to make sure that any new fundraising software under consideration integrates easily with your existing platform. If it doesn’t, what might you need to do to make it work? What are the costs, opportunities, and benefits of using it over another platform that does integrate easily?
- Customization: Can you customize messages to constituent groups? This is important because customizing messages can increase donation and gift size. The more you can speak directly to the interests and needs of groups on your list, the greater the potential opportunity. “Canned” responses that cannot be customized limit your fundraising abilities.
- Tracking potential: Does the software enable you to track potential donations or just incoming ones? Those that have layered tracking, giving you different views of where potential donations stand in the pipeline, offer greater flexibility.
- Planning capacity: Lastly, does the fundraising software allow for planning events and donations?
Not all software is needed or needed all the time. Fundraising software contributes directly to an organization’s cashflow and, as such, should be considered an important technology to keep. That doesn’t mean that you can afford to waste money on it, however. Reviewing your current package and considering a new one should be a routine step to maintaining the right fundraising software for your organization’s needs.
Welter Consulting bridges people and technology together for effective solutions for nonprofit organizations. We offer software and services that can help you with your accounting needs. Please at 206-605-3113 for more information.