We highlight a few of the best CRM systems currently on the market for non-profits, breaking down their pros and cons
This article has been updated as of 21/07/2020
A charity CRM system is the engine of many successful fundraising organisations. Able to bring together all a charity’s relationships together into one place, with features for analysis, reporting and automation, it can be far more than just a place to store and organise donor data.
The best CRM systems for charities offer benefits like:
Many charities have discovered that plugging data intelligence into their fundraising strategy via a CRM system can help them perform better, save time and drive donor retention and engagement.
While built primarily for sales organisations, CRM systems can be customised and tailored to charities, with many vendors specialising in the charity sector. We’ve picked out the providers in the list below because they are either specifically designed for non-profit organisations or have extensive experience working with charities and building systems to their needs.
There is a lot to consider when making the choice. Some questions to ask include:
When calculating the cost of a new CRM system, along with upfront cost it’s important to factor in things like training your staff might need, hardware upgrades for on-premises deployment, help with data migration, ongoing support, maintenance and upgrades, as well as any additional customisation or tweaks to the system you might need over time.
Small charities (Under £1m income)
Blackbaud eTapestry is designed to give smaller charities access to efficiency-driving fundraising and supporter management CRM features, so they can take a step up from spreadsheets and start getting smarter with their data to streamline processes and boost engagement.
Specifically designed for growing organisations, eTapestry gives charities simple donor data management and allows them to benefit from analysing giving patterns and donor behaviour without the steep learning curve.
It has features built for the smooth running of charity organisations, helping them isolate and fix data issues and cut down on inefficiencies in their communications and back-end processes.
eTapestry can consolidate payment processing, email automation, social media and event management into one platform and because it’s cloud-based, it can scale as organisation’s needs grow. Alongside fundraising there are also functions for membership management.
Although easy to use, tools for analytics and user testing are limited and the system is less flexible than Raiser’s Edge NXT or Blackbaud CRM.
Blackbaud works on a subscription basis starting at £99 per month for up to 1,000 records and 25,000 emails a year. Be aware that you may have to pay extra for some of eTapestry’s more advanced features, so check that you get the features you need with the basic version before diving in as this can cause costs to add up. On top of your basic package you can buy add-ons if you need to send more emails, for training packages and for telephone support for example.
As the name suggests, Donorfy is a donation management tool designed to help small and medium-sized nonprofit organisations. It’s a charity-focused cloud-based tool with features for data import, fundraising, gift entries, prospect tracking, event management and campaign management. The platform is designed to bring together the whole picture of your donors and integrates with tools such as MailChimp, JustGiving and charity websites, with a focus on improving fundraising.
Donorfy is built from the ground up for the specific purpose of helping charities learn more about their donors’ behaviour and simplify and automate many aspects of fundraising. Because it’s a fairly new system and made for smaller charities, it’s not overly complex and is user friendly and designed to be easy to learn, with features that are generally led by what the customer base needs.
As a fundraising database tool, Donorfy lacks lots of the more sophisticated features you’ll find in more rounded CRM systems. If you’re looking for a tool that can be expanded to include data and insight on your service delivery, volunteers or other aspects of your organisation this is where Donorfy is limited.
With Donorfy you can choose month by month payment plans starting at the completely free plan. The free version has all the basics designed to help charities move away from spreadsheets, for managing up to 500 constituents. The full-featured paid version starts from £59 a month for 500 constituents, and you pay more according to the number of records you have.
ThankQ CRM is a cloud-based tool from software firm Access that gives charities fundraising, membership and events management capabilities such as campaign management, donor management, event management, mobile giving, gift matching and grant management. The system also focuses on seamless website integration so data capture forms can be embedded without distracting from your brand, and has lots of integrations with common charity-specific software.
As a system designed for a variety of charity sizes and types, ThankQ CRM is built to be flexible and modular, so you can add the specific functionality you need for your type of organisation. This means you can add the tools you need to make the most of your unique fundraising opportunities, and built it out as you grow.
Again, this is a piece of software designed for fundraising and membership management, so it’s less configurable to other organisational needs around service delivery data.
There is no free version or free trial available of ThankQ CRM. Pricing is also modular and based on a custom quote, because their processes require more client-specific customisation. Get in touch to find out more.
Blackbaud’s mid-level CRM is designed with smaller and medium-sized non-profit organisations in mind, with many features to help guide charity decision making and save time to focus on their mission. Designed to integrate with The Raiser’s Edge database, Raiser’s Edge NXT is a new cloud-based system that gives fundraisers front-edge access to existing fundraising data through a new web-based interface.
With a focus on fundraising, Raiser’s Edge NXT has many versatile, advanced features specifcally for charity fundraisers such as powerful analytics that automatically makes smart recommendations about how to nurture prospects or prevent donor lapsing – but with a focus on being user-friendly and intuitive for prospect development managers.
Because it’s completely cloud-based, the new iteration focuses on being a sophisticated CRM ’on the go’, with a host of new features and with different dashboard views designed for fundraisers and for data processors and financers.
Although NXT does feature a much more user-friendly design than its predecessors, there’s still an expansive feature set with an inevitable learning curve to this software, and cost investment to match. Organisations will need to invest time and resources into getting the most out of it, factoring in any training you may need to buy from Blackbaud.
Like wth Blackbaud CRM, Raiser’s Edge NXT employs a fully customisable subscription-based pricing model, with a significant jump in price for organisations with more records and more complex needs.
Another giant in the CRM industry, Microsoft Dynamics 365 is cloud-based system with lots of CRM features from the basic all the way up to advanced machine learning and AI capabilities, so organisations can manage all key areas of their supporter-facing activity.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a feature-rich system and because it’s modular you can add or take away the functionality you need to track fundraising goals, automate supporter communications, process income and Gift Aid and even manage events and volunteers.
Because it’s Microsoft, the system integrates seamlessly with cloud tools like Office 365 and Outlook and the layout will be fairly intuitive to people already familiar with Microsoft.
The system is not built for charities out of the box, so you’ll need a third party tool or partner to help customise it to your needs, which has to be factored into any cost. There are some charity-specific Microsoft partners that specialise in offering a bespoke, non-profit version of Microsoft Dynamics 365, like M-hance with its track record of charity customers.
You need a Microsoft 365 account to get started.
Because the system is modular and flexible, pricing will depend on the features you want to add, and Microsoft licensing can be notoriously complicated to understand, so it’s best to get a custom quote for your organisation.
Eligible charities can find discounted and donation Microsoft Dynamics 365 user licenses on Charity Digital Exchange.
DonorPerfect is a web-based donor management solution offering a wide variety of standard fundraising functionality. It prides itself on ease of use, online donation and payment platforms and powerful donor reporting. Its higher paid plans get access to Constant Contact email marketing automation and segmentation platform as standard.
Aimed at smaller to mid-sized charities, DonorPerfect is a versatile fundraising solution with a lot of customisation options to tweak the system to your organisation’s specific set-up and needs. The system is great for creating versatile reports that can go as detailed and specific as you like, and is intuitive enough to be used by a broad range of user types.
There is a learning curve to this highly customisable system and you’ll need some time to make sure everyone is making the most out of its features, for those that want to go deeper. It also doesn’t integrate with MailChimp as the system comes with its own email automation as standard, and lacks integration with some third party apps.
DonorPerfect’s pricing varies according to the number of constituent records, starting at £69 a month for up to 1,000 records and the most basic CRM capabilities.
Eligible charities can get access to discounted rates on a one year subscription of DonorPerfect by signing up to Charity Digital Exchange.
Salesforce is a global giant in CRM systems, used by many top sales enterprises. The non-profit version of the platform, hosted exclusively in the cloud, comes with a range of industry-specfic features for retaining and engaging donors, and for monitoring resources and funding.
Salesforce is a beast of a CRM system with all kinds of features for tracking and optimising every aspect of a charity organisation. The system is built to be almost endlessly customisable and can carry out almost any kind of automation or workflow you can dream up.
Being the world’s largest CRM provider, it’s likely to work together with just about any legacy or external system you need to plug into it thanks to the huge range of integration tools and apps it can connect to. And if you get stuck, you can learn with online training and an extensive community of like-minded users.
Though impressive, this is not really for the small charity on a budget. Salesforce is one of the most all-singing-all-dancing systems going, and its price point reflects that.
You may want to take advantage of the generous charity offer of up to ten free licenses, however previous experience with Salesforce is strongly recommended as there can be a steep learning curve.
Registered charities can apply for 10 free licenses through Salesforce’s Power of Us programme – find out more here. After that licenses are charged at £120 per user, per month.
Built specifically for the non-profit sector, Blackbaud CRM is a cloud fundraising and relationship management system built on Microsoft Azure. Blackbaud CRM is one in its family of CRM offerings, each with a slightly different customer base and set of features.
Blackbaud CRM is aimed at larger organisations and because of that its suite of features is comprehensive, designed to give charities enterprise-level tech for increasing operational efficiency, attracting and engaging donors and increasing the impact of their missions.
Blackbaud’s clients are largely non-profit organisations and it’s built out of the box to be sector-specific, with features purposely designed for charity relationship building. For example, constituent profiles allow chariites to collect a really in-depth wealth of information about their constituents in order to analyse, communicate and solicit donations.
Blackbaud CRM is a sophisticated and powerful tool for the right charity, but much like Salesforce it would be overkill for a smaller organisation without the need for advanced functionality. Pricing and learning curve reflect that.
Pricing scales according to the number of records kept and level of functionality – contact the vendor for a custom quote.
CiviCRM is an open-source CRM project built by and for non-profit organisations, with huge range of functionality to manage constituent information and build complex, highly customised workflows. There are a large variety of add-ons for anything you could think of, including HR processes, different layouts for different teams, data visualisations, volunteer management, text message fundraising... you name it.
Because it’s open-source, the software can be adapted to each organisation’s needs and has a large, supportive community of like-minded non-profits driving its development and offering advice. There’s a wealth of functionality to explore and the system is highly adaptive to unique types of non-profits or those who are growing their services in new directions and expanding their audiences. If you need something truly bespoke, CiviCRM is it.
The whole point of CiviCRM is the customisability, but as a result setup and administration is quite technical, and building things yourself can be complicated. You will need to hire a developer to build out the features you need or a specialist consultant to guide the uninitiated.
Believe it or not, CiviCRM is completely free. This is because it is available as open-source software – software which is built collaboratively and in which the source code is made freely available, making it great value for money for charities. The trade-off is the cost needed to hire a consultant or developer.