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What Can a Nonprofit Database Do for Your Organization?


Storing information about your community and its members is an essential part of running an effective nonprofit in the 21st century. If you are starting to get frustrated with piles of paper files and messy Excel documents, it might be time to consider upgrading to a database. How can a database help? We have got all the answers you could want right here in this article, as well as a list of trusted nonprofit database solutions for your organization. 

Let’s go!

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What is a Nonprofit Database?

A nonprofit database is a software solution that allows you to store and manage data on a range of different contact types in your community. These include:

  • Donors 

  • Members

  • Volunteers

  • Event attendees

While these categories are the main types that are typically stored in a nonprofit database, a contact can be any stakeholder in your organization. Additionally, this is not just a static list of contact details. A good nonprofit database is able to synchronize with things like payment and member status, allowing you to track a host of different metrics automatically. This saves both time and, through donor retention capabilities, money. 

nonprofit-database-what-isTrish is in deep thought on nonprofit databases.

A key element of a nonprofit database is to have an overview of each contact’s history with your organization: when they paid, how they paid, what they bought, what events they participated in, and any special areas of interest within the larger mission. This information can be used to personalize and refine your activities. 


Benefits of a Nonprofit Database

Now that you understand a bit more about what a database is for, let’s talk about how it can benefit your organization. 

Track Key Information

A nonprofit database can track info on members, event attendees, and be used in a variety of ways. Let’s use the case of tracking donor information as an example of one way to leverage a database. The idea behind gaining donors for your cause is to keep them donating. While one-time donations are great and helpful, membership retention and repeat donors are ideal to keep a nonprofit moving forward. By using a database, organizations can track who is giving, when they typically give, and whether a donor has stopped giving. By running frequent analytics, you can capture lapsed donors before they are gone for good.

Build Relationships

Another important feature of philanthropy is creating a sense of partnership with your community. Someone who gives to your organization wants to feel as though they are making a difference, and the best way to convey that is by building relationships through personal communications. A database makes it simple to add personal touches to emails or letters–easily add the amount of time they have worked with you, how much they have given, what motivates them, and much more. 

With the data collected, you can also create a membership communication plan: effectively schedule important communications such as emails to welcome new members, thank yous for donations, e-postcards, and lapsed donor emails. 

Create a Better Idea of Your Target Audience

Who are your supporters, and how can you best motivate them? By gathering and organizing detailed info on each person, you can better understand:

  • How to communicate with them (do they prefer email, text, or paper letters?)

  • What type of fundraisers they will participate in (what events have they attended in the past?)

  • What drives their support (do they have a family member who benefits from your nonprofit? Do they work for your profession?)

With this data, you can create a more personal experience for every supporter. Your fundraising campaigns will be more effective if you know just what your target audience wants, and your social media drives will reach more people if you know what platforms most of them use. The more you know about your members and donors, the better you can make their experience with your community. And the better their experience, the more likely they are to remain active and passionate supporters of your cause. 

Increase Your Reach

Donor databases can help you get your message out to more people. You can use a prospect generator tool to find people outside of your network that are likely to support your cause. You can also use the information gathered to create targeted social media campaigns that are designed to empower donors to share your message with their own social networks. 

Pro Tip: While a nonprofit database is an incredibly useful tool, you should think carefully before spending tons of money right away. Many paid software companies include features that may not be necessary for very small nonprofits in the early stages of their journey. These nonprofits can get the same amount of value from a free version of the software, or even Excel. 


How to Use a Nonprofit Database

The effectiveness of your nonprofit database directly depends on how you use it. There are three main areas of focus that allow organizations to achieve the most from their database:

  • Gathering data

  • Drawing insights from the data

  • Communicating with your community based on these insights

Let’s take a closer look at these three areas. 

First and foremost, gathering information is key. You cannot use what you do not have. When you onboard a new member or donor, get as much info as you can: contacts, preferred methods of communication, relationships with other donors/ members, and their various interests. The more fields you have, the better you can personalize your campaigns. 

nonprofit-database-how-to-useDavid is feeling great about getting a nonprofit database!

Next, nonprofit database management includes drawing insight from the data you have. Run reports using any number of different metrics and fields. These reports will vary depending upon the information to maintain; however, you can use these reports to analyze the effectiveness of a certain campaign, or use it to segment donor data and create extremely personalized communications. 

For example, you can send one style of email to regular donors, and another to lapsed donors. A special interest group can be targeted for a specific campaign, while large recurring donors can be addressed differently than mid-level one-time donors. The efficacy of any one communication can be affected by how relevant the information is to the reader. By using a targeted approach, you can create higher engagement and bring in more donations for your organization. 


The Best Available Nonprofit Database Software in 2022

When shopping for a nonprofit database, you want to go with a trusted, time-tested company. To take out some of the guesswork and make your life a little easier, we have gathered some of the top membership database companies and will share some information about each. We will take a look at available features, and who the database is designed for. We will share free options that can benefit smaller nonprofits in addition to paid platforms that offer a wider range of tools for larger and more complex organizations. 

Free Software

Main Features Available:

  • Free for qualifying nonprofits and charities, for up to 10 users

  • Cloud-based software

  • Integrated tools for seamless email campaigns

  • Fundraising software

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage your entire nonprofit community.


Main Features Available:

  • Simple sign up process to track, schedule, and program

  • Three user logins with free version

  • Limited integrations with other nonprofit management software

  • Volunteer recruitment tool

Who is it for? This database is best designed to manage volunteers.


Main Features Available:

  • Can collect donations

  • Organize contacts and donors

  • Easy-to-read and user friendly interface

  • Free up to 100 members, with discount options available if your organization decides to upgrade to a pay version

  • Ability to automate reminders

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage members and donors.


Main Features Available:

  • Organize donor data and run reports

  • Gift tracking, wealth screening, and smart reporting

  • Automated donor communication

  • Free for up to 250 contacts and $100,000 in annual revenue

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage donors.

nonprofit-database-free-softwareAnthony can't believe how many free softwares there are!

Paid Software 

Springly Serenity

Main Features Available:

  • Powerful CRM that is also user-friendly

  • All-in-one software allows users to manage member info, fundraise, communicate with members, and develop a nonprofit website. 

  • Cloud-based databases keep your information safe and secure

  • 24/7 support

  • Import your contacts from Excel with no technical skills required

  • Automatic double entry detection

  • Assign unlimited administrators with different access rights

  • Detailed search features

  • Cloud-based software offers easy accessibility

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage your entire nonprofit community.

Pricing: Starts at $39/ month


Main Features Available:

  • Role-based access and security restrictions

  • Built-in word processor and mail merge for direct mail fundraising

  • Customizable dashboards

  • Easy query tool

  • Detailed donor profiles that track relationships, contact data, interest, social media, and more

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage your entire nonprofit community

Pricing: By request only


Main Features Available:

  • Customized reporting

  • Fundraising and donor management

  • Event registration and management

  • Can set up automatic activities and reminders for each donor profile

  • Create custom online donation forms, email blasts, and automatic tax receipts via email for IRS filing

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage donors and members.

Pricing: By request only.


Main Features Available: 

  • Run digital fundraising with real-time reporting metrics for greater insight

  • Integrates with over 1,500 apps

  • Live web-based chat and phone support available

  • Mobile friendly

  • Available in free version (up to 100 members), Lite, and Standard packages

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage donors and members.

Pricing: Standard pricing starts at $155/ month


Main Features Available:

  • Offers fundraising tools

  • Tracks donors in real-time 

  • Provides wealth insights for donors

  • Mobile friendly

  • Weekly webinars and video tutorials are available for user support

  • Offers multi-tiered pricing plan to help nonprofits find the right fit

Who is it for? This database is designed to manage donors and members.

Pricing: Starting at $100/ month


Main Features Available:

  • Personalized service to help choose the right features for your nonprofit

  • Offers association management software, event management software, and membership engagement products

  • Offers partnerships integrations with other vendors 

  • Offer APIs for data transfers, and single sign on (SSO) capabilities

Who is this for? This database is designed to manage the entire nonprofit community.

Pricing: Pricing not disclosed. 

Fundly CRM

Main Features Available:

  • User friendly interface and easy accessibility (no training required)

  • Allows integration with your nonprofit website

  • 6 tier pricing platform to help your nonprofit find the right fit

  • Sell tickets to fundraising events online

  • Register new members and renew old ones

  • Volunteer sign up and activity log capabilities

Who is this for? This database is designed to manage the entire nonprofit community

Pricing: Starting at $1/month but fees taken on all funds raised. 


Final Thoughts 

A nonprofit database is one of the most useful tools available to organizations of today, and is certainly an excellent starting point to begin your nonprofit journey. While very small and new nonprofits can get by on Excel or paper files, to really streamline all the processes necessary to take your organization to the next level, you will need something more than just spreadsheets. 

Nonprofit databases offer enormous insight into your supporters, and allow for you to easily organize and create reports with this data for optimal communication. If you are just starting out, research several companies and get a feel for which options have the tools and features that you are looking for. Many even offer a free trial, or a free version so that you can decide if it is the perfect software for your organization. 

Finally, make sure that you take advantage of your database. Gather as much information as possible, and use the insights from reports and analytics to increase your donor, member, and volunteer engagement. By equipping your nonprofit with the right tools, and understanding just how to use those tools, your organization can really make the most of its supporter base. 

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💡What is a nonprofit database?

A nonprofit database is a software platform that allows you to collect and store information on your various supporters: members, donors, volunteers, and event attendees. A database will also allow you to run reports for greater insight into your base, and personalize their experience through communication integration. Find out more. 

🔑 What are the benefits of a nonprofit database?

A nonprofit database offers many benefits. First, you save time with automated reports. You can also analyze data using a variety of different metrics to give greater insight into your base or your donation campaigns. Finally, you can increase donations with these insights and easily personalized communications. Find out more. 

📝 Are there free nonprofit databases available?

Yes there are free nonprofit databases available, but there are typically limitations. You will only receive certain features, and many will only allow a free version for a limited amount of users or contacts. Find out more.  

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