Raising More While Spending Less

Written By: Bill Malone

from January 1, 2012

When it comes to donor management or fundraising software very few Nonprofits claim to be satisfied with the software solutions they have in place. There are many reasons for this dissatisfaction but in the end most are tied back to cost. Nonprofit customers state that solutions are too expensive, generate steady streams of fees, and are too complicated. These same customers try to cut costs by skipping training and avoiding pay per incident support. We find that in most solutions out there, two commonly paid for services are training and support. In short, these added expenses only add to the frustration, confusion, and complication of this type of software.

If you are frustrated with your donor management/fundraising software and are considering implementing a new solution, there are a few costs you need to consider. Look very closely at what you get for the purchase price or subscription price. Costs can surface in a variety of ways.

  • First, the cost of the actual application—the software solution itself. Some on-premise solutions will run thousands of dollars per user with setup fees, licensing fees and annual maintenance fees of 20%…more.
  • Second, the cost of training and support—these costs can vary widely solution to solution.
  • Third, the cost of added functionality—many popular solutions charge setup fees, licensing, and maintenance for any additional modules or functionality you might select.
  • Consider the task of data conversion. Data conversion is critical to ensure that your historical data is brought over and is usable in the new system.
  • Along with the application you must consider where the application will reside—on your existing server, a workstation, new hardware, the cloud? All are possibilities, which one best fits your organization?

Let’s take a moment to delve into data conversion. Along with license costs, data conversion tends to be the second big cost in implementing a new system. Unless you are starting from scratch, moving your data from your old/current system to the new one will cost you time/money. Many vendors will provide this service and they are normally quoted on a case-by-case basis and billed based on the amount of time required to move the data from the old system into the new system. Companies should provide estimates of the expected cost before any work begins.

Training and support are areas that are commonly overlooked or cut in the budgeting process for a new software project. Our position is that you can buy the best system in the world, but without first preparing and then supporting your users training, the staff will struggle and ultimately the system will go underutilized. Plan for training staff when you first purchase the system and ensure adequate training and support in each and every year. If you have a plan for training and support each year it will allow you to train existing users in the more sophisticated features of the system or train new staff members as they join your organization. Ongoing support must also be considered. If users get stuck it is important to get them answers quickly so they can keep moving in their jobs.

Recently, a number of options are becoming available online. Monthly per user, subscription-based pricing exists for around $40 per user upwards to $200 per user. Keep your eyes on exactly what is included in any purchase or subscription price. Remember, some companies provide additional modules for advanced functionality that further increases cost.

Cloud-based subscription services bring with them a very interesting value proposition. You needn’t maintain a server or system upon which your solution resides. This means no expenses tied to hardware upgrades, and no expenses tied to product updates. In other words, your server never gets old or fills up, and your software doesn’t require constant updating and patching. To put it another way, your software is always the current version. The “cloud” brings with it some very compelling economies any business must consider, but perhaps most importantly, a small to medium sized Nonprofit with no dedicated IT department. You can spend your time and resources furthering your mission, not updating and maintaining hardware and software.

One fundraising solution that is designed to lower your overall costs and increase your success is PeakNFP Donor Management built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform. Check it out today.