donor database programs for non-profits?
June 29, 2007 2:21 PM   Subscribe

My non-profit needs a better method of tracking our donors, what database programs are out there for us?

We need to be able to track donors and contacts within categories: major donors, members, volunteers, event attendees, etc. My ideal program would also have input for events (auction item donation tracking, etc.) The other half of the database equation is that most of my coworkers are pretty basic computer users without a lot of experience using complicated programs. Do any of you have and recommendations or advice?
posted by nerdcore to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The Raiser's Edge from Blackbaud is pretty much the industry standard. If you go with that, when you hire development personnel with experience elsewhere, they'll be familiar with it and you won't have to get them up to speed. The interface is pretty uncomplicated.
posted by beagle at 2:36 PM on June 29, 2007

Raiser's Edge is really the way to go, everyone that is been in a nonprofit will be used to using it. However, its expensive and support is kind of a joke. If you want it to have a lot of functionality besides the basics they will be willing to sell it to you, for a lot, then charge you a lot more to tell you how to do it.
posted by stormygrey at 2:39 PM on June 29, 2007

I've used Sage Fundraising Software and GiftMaker Pro. (It looks like Blackbaud acquired GiftMaker Pro and seems like they're pushing people to migrate to Raiser's Edge.) I don't know how these compare to Raiser's Edge in terms of price or functionality because I haven't used Raiser's Edge, but thought I'd pipe in with some alternatives. They might be worth a look.
posted by loulou718 at 2:50 PM on June 29, 2007

If you're not opposed to doing some customization - gives non-profits free access (up to 10 users I think) for anyone with a 501c. The nice thing is that once you do have it setup to do whatever you want it to do - the UI for end users is dead simple.
Disclaimer - I'm an employee. email is username at gmail if you'd like more information.
posted by Wolfie at 3:01 PM on June 29, 2007

There are lots of database programs geared directly toward nonprofits, and you can probably get a substantial discount through TechSoup, which is where the organization I work gets our software.

That being said, depending on how big a geek you are and how much time you have to devote to the process, you might be able to cobble together something just as good, if not better, yourself, using Microsoft Access. The nonprofit I work for has a giant master-list of clients, donors, etc. built on an Access foundation, and it doesn't really do what we wanted to, so we were looking into paying a consultant to fix it for us. My boss agreed to send me to a two-day seminar on Microsoft Access, so I'd have a better idea of what was going on when we started talking seriously with software developers, and now I feel like I've got a good enough handle on things to tackle the whole project myself. We don't use it for donor tracking, per se, but now that I have a basic idea of how relational databases are built, I'm pretty sure I could build something for that, too. Incidentally, I'm only the resident geek at our organization by default; I was an English major in college and was hired to write grant proposals, so this is something I've just sort of slipped into. In any case, if you already have Microsoft Access at your organization, it might be something worth looking into, if you have the time and inclination.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:22 PM on June 29, 2007

I should add that no one at my company really has a lot of computer experience, either, but as I build us a new database over the next year or so, I plan on building a lot of things into the system and designing new forms to keep things as simple as possible.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:24 PM on June 29, 2007

DonorPerfect is another system that is out there, but all the places I've worked recently have used Raiser's Edge. I agree with beagle that it's industry standard and most new hires should know how to use it.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:22 PM on June 29, 2007

One of the non-profits I work for uses Telosa Exceed Premier, much cheaper and more basic than Raiser's Edge.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 4:24 PM on June 29, 2007

I use Raiser's Edge daily and we have about 20,000 records in our database. I've gotta say, I'm not a big fan. It could be that I work at an educational institution and the software seems geared to "standard" npo's.

RE certainly get's the job done and it's a very robust database, but it could be overkill if you're just getting started and don't predict rapid growth in the short term. It's not a simple bit of software to use, but people who understand how db's work will pick up on it quickly enough.

I've played around with CiviCRM - a free crm focused on npo's but again, I'm not familiar with the needs of your organization.

Hope this helps.

P.S. If there are any open-source guru's reading this, It's my opinion that this field is ripe for picking.
posted by stuboo at 4:25 PM on June 29, 2007

CivicCRM is wonderful but it takes a bit of nerdiness to get it up and running. You basically install it on a php web server and use browsers to get to it. It's really no more of a pain than any of the other programs of the sort I've used (that includes, Raiser's Edge, iMis, artifax, and servus.)
posted by advicepig at 8:16 PM on June 29, 2007

The place I work has a custom filemaker database. I think we got a volunteer to make it, though.
posted by salvia at 10:30 PM on June 29, 2007

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