5 Nonprofit Tech Stack Essentials

Thanks to a wealth of digital fundraising tools on the market, building a strong tech stack is a no-brainer for the modern nonprofit. If you don’t have these five systems in place, now is the time to get started so you’re ready once year-end rolls around. Let’s talk tech.   

1. Constituent or Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

This one is a biggie, so we’re keeping it front and center. Your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) is your donor database, where you house all of your data. Donors, fundraisers, volunteers, contact info, donation records – all the juicy details. This ensures you have the tools to properly communicate with each segment of supporters, and can help to determine goals and plan.  Examples include Salesforce, Every Action, and Mobile Cause, to name a few. When choosing a CRM, consider:
  • What organizational needs can this CRM solve? 
  • How many staff members will be using the CRM regularly?
  • What kind of donor management, online donations and communications services does this CRM offer? Will our nonprofit have the opportunity to build donor personas and segment communication?
  • Can we transfer our existing data? 
  • Does this CRM specialize in nonprofit relationship management? 

2. Fundraising Platform

Your fundraising platform is the space where you accept all online donations – whether it be for recurring gifts, fundraising events or one-time donations. Most fundraising platforms can also act as your CRM where you track donor activity, fundraisers and social sharing. Examples include Classy, Funraise, and Give Lively. When choosing a fundraising platform, there are a few questions to ask your team to be sure that it’s the right fit for your organization’s needs. There are plenty of options out there, so do a bit of research before you pull the trigger. Consider budget, goals, desired capabilities and what systems you may already have in place.  Consider with your team:
  • How much does the platform cost? Factor in any recurring fees, transaction or processing fees, or any additional fees the platform may incur.
  • Can we host a peer-to-peer fundraiser with social sharing capabilities on the platform?
  • Is the platform optimized for mobile in addition to desktop donations?
  • Can the platform accept offline donations (for any donors that may prefer to write a check, or sponsors that send in money separately)?
  • Are there existing integrations to add the platform to your existing website?

3. Marketing Automation & Email Service Provider (ESP)

Email management capabilities are often integrated into your CRM, but go one step further to help you design and deliver engaging emails at scale. Email Service Provider (ESP) & automation tools include Mailchimp, Campaign Monitor, Pardot, Twilio, etc.  Though it may sound nice to individually welcome new donors, sending one-off emails likely isn’t the best use of your time – but is still crucial to ensure high donor retention rates. That’s why automation is a beautiful thing. Implementing marketing automation tools makes sure your nonprofit communication is on point so you don’t have to be every time a new lead is generated or another action occurs. Consider implementing marketing automation for your new donor welcome series and new supporter welcome series – for the folks that sign up for a newsletter, but still need some convincing from your organization about why your nonprofit’s impact is worth their donation. Use these automation tools to convince them while you continue to work on impact.  

4. Project Management & Productivity Tools

As your nonprofit juggles work amongst your team, freelancers, volunteers, and partners – determining who is doing what can become a bit hazy. Utilizing project management tools ensures everyone is kept accountable and helps to divide and conquer. This may depend on the size of your organization, as your nimble team may already leverage open communication to stay on top of tasks and deadlines. If not, GSuite, Asana, and Trello are all great examples of project management tools that keep your team in check.   

5. Google Analytics

If you haven’t already, take advantage of this FREE invaluable tool that tracks activity on your organization’s website. Take the time to set up analytics, and make sure your team understands how it works. Once set up, you will be able to:
  • Determine how long visitors stay on your website, how they get there, and what they explore while they’re there. 
  • Compare user retention over time – are there days or times when you have more or less users? What might this information tell you about engagement?
  • Set goals and track progress

Pro-Tip: Factor in your team’s hours when making tech decisions.

It might take your in-house, jack-of-all trades marketing lead several months to evaluate, learn, and build processes around a new CRM, where a consultant could quickly assess your needs, make recommendations on which platform in collaboration with key stakeholders and outline processes. Then, staff is primarily dedicating their valuable time to learning and getting comfortable within the new system and defined processes, as adoption will be required for success. Know when to call in outside support to boost the productivity of your team in the short and long run.  

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