By Dr. Allison Quintanilla Plattsmier, CFRE, CNP, CNC, Executive Director of the Jordan Thomas Foundation and Owner of AQP Consulting


The constant grind to find new funds is the challenge of every nonprofit. Fundraising comes down to one thing: relationships. The ability to track and monitor those relationships should be the #1 priority for organizations seeking to expand their donor base or increase their revenue. I have worked with many clients who opt against a CRM, preferring to keep track of donors in an excel spreadsheet or through Quickbooks, but these baseline tools don’t offer the functionality to track these relationships. One of the biggest concerns when searching for a CRM is affordability. How do you get the most functionality and return on investment while meeting the baseline needs of your donor constituency? 

1) Kindful :: kindful.com

Cost: $100/month for 1,000 contacts to $800/month for 85,000 contacts

Kindful allows users to create visually engaging peer-to-peer campaigns that integrate with your website, social media, and email marketing. There is a higher website conversion rate and donors stay on the website longer because of more opportunities to engage with the software. Kindful places a heavy focus on data, giving the user access to donors’ giving history, wealth details, and rating for likelihood to give. Individual pledge commitments or reports on pledged revenue by date, campaign, or program can be tracked easily. The power is in the hands of the donor with this software, giving donors access to login and change everything through their own profile. Supporters can even text a unique code and donate from their mobile device. They only con working with them in the past has been a lack of responsiveness on the customer support side, as well as issues with integration from previous platforms. 

Who Kindful is great for: Organizations looking for a simple, user-friendly CRM

2) Bloomerang :: bloomerang.co

Cost: Free for up to 250 records to $499/month for up to 40,000 records 

Bloomerang is super conversion friendly. They offer custom, individualized conversions and implementation assistance. Many other CRMs require extensive training and webinars to really be able to use it to the best of its functionality, but Bloomerang saves you a lot of this time. One of its best features is an interactive dashboard that features retention rates, improvement suggestions, and projections at the forefront. They have a nifty website integration feature that allows you to quantify constituents’ browsing activity on your website. Bloomerang also has smart features that include automatic address updates and NCOA updates for deceased donors. Finally, Bloomerang utilizes the Ahern Audit™ which measures usage of “you” versus “I” as well as reading level to ensure optimum engagement with your content.

Who Bloomerang is great for: Organizations who love dashboards

3) Little Green Light :: littlegreenlight.com

Cost: $39/month for 2,500 contacts to $149/month for 100,000 contacts. Payment processing fees are 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction plus a 1% LGL fee (capped at $50/mo).

Little Green Light has incredible functionality for such a small investment. Nonprofits can easily track in-depth information regarding the number of meetings, relationships ties, and giving history. It also allows you to track volunteers’ interests and hours, as well as generate volunteer statements thus further quantifying the engagement of your constituents. Little Green Light is also very useful for membership-based organizations or higher education institutions as it allows you to track in-depth information about membership levels, graduation dates, and more. 

Who Little Green Light is great for: Small organizations and membership-based organizations

4) Raiser’s Edge :: blackbaud.com/raisers-edge

Cost: Raiser’s Edge provides a custom cost based on organizational needs. Fees are on the higher end for CRMs, however, in this case, you get what you pay for. 

Raiser’s Edge is all about freeing up time for an organization. Their focus on streamlining data, reporting, and administrative processes is second to none. With Blackbaud, it is easy to consolidate processes and communications so that you are maximizing both efficiency and effectiveness. It integrates directly with your website to process online donations, pledges, and payment. You can also quantify individual and team performance, manage donor portfolios, and view touchpoints with ease. 

Who Raiser’s Edge is great for: Organizations with large development teams and aggressive fundraising goals

5) Neon :: neoncrm.com

Cost: $49/month to $299/month. Payment processing fees are 2.9% + $.30 per transaction, and an additional 1% for AMEX. 

Neon is a one-stop shop for communication and fundraising. Similar to Kindful, it allows peer-to-peer fundraising through constituent profiles. Neon is also a great fit for membership-based organizations because you can offer custom terms and discounts, a member login portal, a membership directory, and online membership forms. In addition to event management, Neon offers campaign tracking and social fundraising as well. Also of exceptional value is the Neon Web Studio. The service designs nonprofit websites following digital best practices that seamlessly integrate with your NeonCRM for about $90/month. 

Who Neon is great for: Organizations that use a lot of peer-to-peer fundraising or have a dispersed donor base

6) DonorPerfect :: donorperfect.com

Cost: $89/month + additional fees for customization

DonorPerfect boasts their over 25 years of fundraising experience for their functionality and fundraiser-friendly features. They tout a moves management module that creates ease and efficiency for any major gifts officer. They also have event management software and their own online forms system for easily collecting registrant information and payments. DonorPerfect has a series of resources regarding how to write the best appeal, as well as a Tributes Management system that helps organizations keep track of record updates and thank you notes. Their SmartGive feature which pre-populates a donation form with a previous donors’ contact information creates ease for the donor, thus increasing the likelihood of a gift. Finally, SmartActions allows you to set up trigger points such as an email to the Development Director when a major gift comes in, allowing you to keep high priority donors at the top of mind. 

Who DonorPerfect is great for: Organizations that live and breathe moves management

7) SalesForce :: salesforce.com

Cost: $25/month to $72/month (user-based subscription)

What’s cool about SalesForce is that they have program called the Power of Us where you can apply for up to 10 free subscriptions and then receive deep discounts on additional subscriptions. SalesForce was built for for-profit ventures, but their nonprofit arm is just as robust. SalesForce is extremely beneficial to large, national organizations that send out large batches of appeals and subsequent incoming pledges and gifts. They even have an academy where you can pursue a wide array of certifications. That being said, SalesForce is an extremely complex and comprehensive software, so employees should be prepared to learn the ropes if they have not had previous experience with it. 

Who SalesForce is great for: Organizations with a robust development team and national or international reach who need to track hundreds of thousands of constituents

8) Salsa :: salsalabs.com

Cost: Custom pricing based on the needs of the organization

Salsa has most of the features of the other CRMs listed, as well as online petitions, social publishing, mobile responsive, and A/B testing. They tout that they put the relationship first by allowing unlimited data per constituent as well as a dashboard that puts all donor interaction information in one centralized place. They also appear to have higher conversion rates of web traffic into contributions.

Who Salsa is great for: Organizations of all sizes that engage in online advocacy

It’s difficult to know the ROI numbers for any of the above platforms because ultimately your CRM’s effectiveness relies on how you use it. However, Neon has client testimonials that said the CRM more than paid for itself within the first month and SalesForce cites their customers have reported a 24% increase in donor retention and a 36% increase in donor engagement. When considering which CRM to use, consider carefully your staff resources, your target audience, and the number of constituents you will need to reach and retain to accomplish your mission. Best of luck and happy fundraising!


Founded by By Dr. Allison Quintanilla Plattsmier, CFRE, CNP, CNC, AQP Consulting builds the capacity of nonprofit organizations by offering fundraising consulting and services.

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