Must-Have Software: What Nonprofits Want

New report sheds light on nonprofit software challenges


What drives nonprofits to seek out new fundraising software? What types of functionality are they searching for? Which are ‘must-have’ features and which are ‘nice-to-haves’?

These questions were explored in a new report by Software Advice, a company that provides online reviews and research for fundraising and donor management software.

Software Advice recently surveyed 100 nonprofit professionals to uncover their pain points, unique challenges, and desired software features this year.

Some key findings include:

  • 133% increase in buyers seeking email marketing and outreach tools (a “must-have” for 42% of buyers, up from 18% last year)
  • 57% of buyers want accounting integration with their fundraising software.
  • Buyers’ top software purchase drivers include a need for more functionality (27%) and change/expiration of an existing contract (22%).
  • Top buyer-requested fundraising software integrations: website (22%); email marketing program (17%); and the nonprofit’s social media accounts (17%).

These findings point to one interesting conclusion: StratusLIVE for Fundraisers nonprofit CRM software is uniquely positioned to help nonprofits better cultivate donors.

Read on for a Q&A with the report’s researcher, Janna Finch of Software Advice.

What was the most surprising/striking finding of the survey?

This year, 133 percent more buyers specifically requested built-in email marketing and outreach tool. I was surprised to see such a large increase. It’s not surprising that buyers do request outreach functionality, of course, but it was a large jump. I think this is great.

Hanging on to existing donors by engaging them and building good relationships with them is a tried-and-true strategy for keeping contributions up. So, the fact that small nonprofits are being proactive about putting tools in place to make those connections possible is good to see.

How can nonprofits determine which fundraising software is best for their organization?

There are many considerations for nonprofits in the process of purchasing fundraising or donor management software. It is important to be thorough in this process, and strive to get the best return on investment, have a smooth implementation, and high user adoption rate.

I think the top three considerations for selection are budget, staff/volunteer skill level, and the activities you expect it to support.

What are the best ways to address those considerations?

If you’re not familiar with how fundraising software is priced, then read about total cost of ownership (TCO) so you know what licenses and fees vendors typically charge.

Software Advice has put together a pricing guide that lists the starting license costs for popular systems, which can be good place to start. Subscription licenses for Software as a Service (SaaS) products start around $50 a month for limited features, but can scale up depending on functionality.

Next, assess the technical literacy of everyone who will need to use the system. If you have a high percentage of short-term volunteers who use the system, then software that is very easy to use should be priority.

Take advantage of vendor demos and free trials to give the software a test-drive before committing. There is minimal time commitment and no risk to get a closer look. Nonprofit software that looks intimidating on paper may turn out to be the perfect fit for your organization.


To learn more about how StratusLIVE supports the features and functionality nonprofits demand—and ones they don’t yet know how they ever lived withoutcontact us for a free, personalized walk-through of our award-winning software.

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