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An association management system can be a huge help in tracking your members, newsletter subscriptions, special gifts, invitations to events and workshops, and discounts on products and services. In this article, which was updated from a 2008 version, we asked a number of different nonprofit experts about the systems that have worked for them.

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Let’s say you’re a mid-sized organization with a desire for more integrated and meaningful reports. You have four different software packages that are each tracking some aspect of the constituents you deal with – for instance, your donors, activists, several different types of clients, and volunteers. Each system is working pretty well by itself, but it’s very hard to look across the organization to get a full picture. How likely is it that a volunteer will donate? What is the full value of services you're providing to each client? What kind of constituent is most likely to be a lifelong donor? They’re interesting questions, but almost impossible to determine at the moment.

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Does your organization maintain several database systems, each built by a different vendor, consultant, or employee? Do these systems communicate poorly with one another, or not at all? If an active supporter's address changes, does someone have to log on to the member management system, the donor management system, and the volunteer management system to update each one separately? Do you have multiple applications all sharing access to the same data? Are you collecting mountains of data in multiple systems but finding it difficult to extract aggregate, summary information you can use to inform your organization's decisions?

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Without an effective system to track donors and other constituents, you can spend too much time just trying to figure out who to contact and miss out on many fundraising opportunities.

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These days, most participants expect to be able to register for events online. Luckily, there are lots of tools to help with that, ranging from simple to sophisticated and all the way to multi-functional. In this update of an article first published in 2007, we asked a number of nonprofit technology professionals what online registration tools have worked for them.

Matt Jung's picture
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This inaugural post highlights the big nonprofit technology stories of 2012, including making websites viewable on mobile phones, using mobile phones more in the workplace, cloud computing, social media fundraising, foundations and Microsoft donations, greater self-sufficiency among NGOs in developing countries, and some cutting edge things like hackathons. This was an original December blog post by TechSoup's Jim Lynch:

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Learn how your nonprofit can be more data-driven in your operations.

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A three-person organization is looking for a better way to track people. They currently store data on about 600 volunteers, donors, partners, and other constituents in a series of spreadsheets. They want to consolidate this information into a central place so they can find people, understand what contact they've had with them, run mailing and email lists, and keep on top of who is doing what. They have very little money for this, and are hoping to find something inexpensive and easy to use.

Does this sound familiar? Many small organizations are looking for an inexpensive way to manage constituent data. We asked a number of nonprofit technology professionals about the software that has worked well for them in similar circumstances. We then combined their thoughts to come up with a set of solid tools that might work for you.

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Donors are the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations. You need them to survive. But how do you manage your donors' contribution information -plus all the personal details key to maintaining successful relationships -for a price that won't break the bank?

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