Since 2010, CharityEngine has focused on making sure nonprofits have easy-to-use, comprehensive software to manage donors and process payments. Why? You’re busy doing good. It’s our job to power you to be great.
So why, you might be wondering, is CharityEngine any different than other nonprofit CRM vendors?
What Makes CharityEngine Different?
We can think of a lot of things that make us different, but all stories start with a bike ride to the beach.
Really! As a teenager, our CEO, Phil Schmitz, organized a bike ride from his home in Washington, DC to the beach a few hours away. He and his brothers got pledges and raised money for Autism Speaks.
From the start, Phil cared about supporting nonprofits. While working with different charities in college, he was shocked at how antiquated the technology was. Siloed data, ten systems needed to run the nonprofit, unreliable integrations...the list went on and on. He couldn’t believe technology was holding these organizations back.
So, at the risk of sounding “I built Facebook in my dorm room”-cliché, Phil built a computer system (not really in his dorm room, but close) that would help these nonprofits thrive.
That technology morphed into CharityEngine. We are the only all-in-one nonprofit CRM and fundraising platform out there. Others may say they’re all in one but do not have the native functionality we offer. Everything you need to run your nonprofit is in one system.
This includes payment processing. CharityEngine is at the top of the payment processing pile. We are PCI-certified, SOC 2-certified, and process ACH transactions in-house. Our payment processing is secure and cuts down on the fees you pay middlemen when you use other platforms. We can process payments for enterprise-level clients quickly, safely, and consistently.
We also offer enterprise-level email and marketing automation capabilities. “I’m not enterprise level!” you’re thinking. That’s okay. We scale down and up. We can handle whatever you’ve got.
Our onboarding is comprehensive and hands-on. We don’t throw videos at you and let you muddle your way through the system. From the moment you sign the contract, you have someone holding your hand for the rest of your CharityEngine life. We ask questions, we listen, we answer questions, we train, and we support. Our onboarding is unmatched.
P.S.: Bike to the Beach still raises money for Autism Speaks, about 30 years after that first bike ride.
Now, you’ve probably already made your way through the top 10 CRM questions we’re asked, and now you know how we’re different.
Top CharityEngine Features
Let’s cut to the chase. We’ve pulled together the features we’ve seen that are the most valuable to nonprofits. We have a solid out-of-the-box offering, denoted with an asterisk. We can confidently say you can effectively and efficiently run a nonprofit of any size with our native features.
But...when you want to get a little snazzy and try something new...we’ve got those modules, too. For example, you don’t have to pay for events and auctions unless you’re planning an auction or event. And if you decide to add that, it’s going to cost a little extra, but we can flip a switch and give you access.
While we can customize the system to meet almost any need your nonprofit might have, our capabilities include the following. Remember that out-of-the-box features are noted with an asterisk:
- Nonprofit CRM software*
- Donor journey management*
- Email marketing and marketing automation*
- Data and workflow automation*
- Direct mail campaign tracking with options for mirrored SQL database*
- Advanced reporting/analytics and query tools*
- Payment processing*
- Recurring gifts and membership/sustainer/pledge management*
- Volunteer tracking*
- Major gifts, grants, and corporate sponsorship moves management*
- Events management
- Donation and event forms*
- Peer-to-peer fundraising
- Virtual/silent auctions
- E-Commerce/online shopping cart
- Grassroots advocacy campaigns
- Text-to-give campaigns
Top CharityEngine Fundraising Tools
In our years of experience, we’ve found nine key features that are the most important software features for nonprofits. Our platform, as you would guess, offers all nine (and then a few more in case you need them). With these features, CharityEngine can power any nonprofit.
Some of the tools our clients like the most include:
- Online fundraising tools for any initiative, including text-to-give, events and auctions, peer-to-peer, major gifts, sustainer management, and in-house payment processing
- Advocacy software with action alert pages, zip-to-district matching of constituents to elected officials and policy decision-makers, contact pathways to amplify constituent voices, options to custom target recipients, and real-time logging of actions taken
- Online forms that you can manage yourself, form-level data enhancement, auto-responder alerts and acknowledgment, online survey manager, advanced fraud protection, and reporting and analytics
A scalable solution like ours meets your nonprofit where it is and provides the tools and services to help you grow. Here’s a look at the top nine features we offer:
Donor Management Tools
It goes without saying that the number-one task is to keep your donor records straight, but our technology goes beyond that basic need. CharityEngine offers:
- 360°-view donor profiles. A CRM should pull together key data from many sources to give you a complete donor profile. It will map all aspects of engagement and donations and will offer giving insights based on the collected data. For example, you can learn about the time of year (or even the time of day) a donor is likely to give, and you can time your outreach efforts for maximum effect.
- Tools to build and manage a sustainer program. Sustainers are the backbone of your fundraising efforts. Recurring giving demonstrates a committed donor who might be willing to participate in fundraising events such as peer-to-peer campaigns and also offers predictable and steady funds for your nonprofit. Nurturing a sustainer program can mean big success for your nonprofit’s mission.
- Advanced reporting capabilities, including dashboards! If it’s true that all nonprofits are raising money for a cause, it is also true that most nonprofits must answer to a board of directors. Even if you don’t, the ability to pull reports that hone in on the metrics you need to measure is critical to evaluating where you are and mapping out strategic goals.
Donor information is the engine that powers CharityEngine and all your fundraising efforts. Ensuring your donor management tools can collect, store, and analyze many data points about your donors gives you a solid foundation for any donor engagement campaigns.
Keeping in contact with your donors is easy when you have the right tools, but it’s also complex when considering the network of communications channels. Navigating with a discerning eye can seem a bit overwhelming.
If you have a CRM with native communication tools, like CharityEngine, your technology makes it easy for you to communicate (and track communications) with donors. CharityEngine’s CRM will help you keep your communication strategy organized and focused on the intended results.
Key communication features include:
- Email marketing software. You can design elegant, branded emails and use data from CharityEngine to develop an email list, and you can customize the content to appeal to the most receptive audience. Our robust system allows for list management, targeting, A/B testing capability, surveys, and reports measuring the open and clickthrough rates of the emails you send. If you need email marketing ideas, we offer those, too!
- Direct mail marketing. Direct mail can be a powerful outreach technique, and it’s even more powerful when you can segment your list and employ data-driven, real-time response management. CharityEngine is equipped to accept batch-entry gifts once the responses start coming in.
- Personalization tools. Gone are the days of impersonal mass communication. Your audience is savvy and wants a personal connection, and nonprofits are magnificent candidates for a warm relationship. We offer the tools to personalize all outreach, and this goes well beyond knowing the proper nickname for the emails. Know why and when they donate and look for opportunities for outreach with a human touch. These efforts pay significant, long-term benefits.
With Charity Engine, your donor management and communications tools have a smooth flow of information between them to leverage all the donor insights the CRM offers. This is another benefit of our all-in-one CRM; not relying on integrations means the correct recipients will receive your messages at the right time and with the most relevant message.
Major Gift Management
Did you know that major gifts ($1,000 or more) make up about 85% of the average nonprofit’s total revenue? That means that while every donation matters, it’s essential that CharityEngine has the tools to cultivate and manage major gifts.
Our major gifts software includes the following:
- Prospecting tools that help you research your donors’ public wealth information and philanthropic records and monitor accumulated data.
- The ability to track long-term donor journeys means knowing and understanding your donors as you evaluate their long-term behavior and engagement. This knowledge lets you create the fundraising materials you need to move them through the donation cycle.
- The option to create alerts about major donors gives you personalized outreach opportunities. You can map their journeys and understand where your nonprofit fits into their overall pattern of philanthropy. With alerts, you will know when and what to ask at a given time.
CharityEngine gives you the edge your nonprofit needs to take your fundraising to a new level.
Event Management Tools
If you’ve ever thrown a party, you know that everything from the guest list to the seating arrangements can be a headache. Now imagine the stress when you’re planning an event critical to the success of your nonprofit! You’ll want a toolbox full of ways to reduce the chances of anything going wrong. Our event management software equips nonprofits with the essentials to manage every aspect of your event.
Event hosting features give you the power to create a form, manage registration and ticketing, create a mobile app, manage speakers and attendees, think through the space layout, and even accept ticket payment on your website. Are you planning an auction? You’ll want the software to receive and document donated items and even enable online bidding.
CharityEngine offers robust volunteer management capabilities. Having a lot of help is great, but managing the signup process, the tasks, the tracking, and even the logistics of where people need to be will help your event be a smashing success.
One of the more popular outreach methods is peer-to-peer fundraising, and our software features can make this a low-cost, highly effective means of raising money and sharing your mission. Your nonprofit can create an event microsite that your fundraisers can share within their networks. Team and personal pages have proven influential in introducing a little competition to peer-to-peer fundraisers. Events such as community walks, anything-a-thons, and grassroots campaigns will energize your donors and let them participate in your mission hands-on.
With CharityEngine, your event management tools are integrated with your CRM. You can track and record data, such as which donors attended or participated, how many completed a post-event conversion like donating, and how your event attendance compares to previous years or events. With these native event management tools, you will have all data in one place, making it easy to identify trends and make strategic, targeted improvements.
Membership Management Tools
CharityEngine is an excellent tool for managing internal processes and backend data. Still, our membership management features allow donors to interface with aspects of their portfolio from a branded page on your website.
How is this helpful to you as a nonprofit? Your donors can answer their questions about past donations and giving history and update or change their payment information, address, communication preferences, or other personal information.
Allowing your donors access to self-service tools means your staff will spend less time answering phone calls and emails containing routine requests, and they will be freed up for other activities and donor outreach efforts. Consumers today are accustomed to managing their information in portals, and this feature can save your nonprofit a lot of time.
Grant Management Tools
Grants can contribute significantly to your overall fundraising strategy. But identifying, applying for, becoming compliant with, and tracking grants can get pretty confusing, particularly if you have more than one staff member responsible for grants.
What’s the best way to manage this process, given that even identifying and applying for one grant can be a months-long, complex journey? A vital software feature is grant management capabilities to keep all your information organized, synced, and available.
CharityEngine offers the option to create calendars for each grant, store important documents, and keep all relevant grant information in one secure location. It also tracks the number and amount of different grants and when they will be awarded. This will impact your bottom line because you will maximize every opportunity, and nothing will fall through the cracks.
Most nonprofit professionals have their hands full, and automating as many tasks as possible will ensure they spend their time doing what matters to advance their cause. Manually entering and updating data is inefficient and unnecessary when you have a CRM with the right features.
It’s important to look at the daily tasks that take a lot of time and match the automation and workflow processes that most clearly fit your needs. Here are some features of CharityEngine’s platform:
- Automated processes like email automation, billing automation, automatic credit card updating, message scheduling, and even donor targeting can be automated to save time and personalize the donor experience. These days, the most effective and expeditious online services are those that are automated yet personalized—it’s time your nonprofit followed suit.
- If a donor contributes from a social media ad, but you can’t attribute it, you’ve lost the ability to pursue fruitful paths of donor engagement. Robust data attribution tools will gather your data, sort it, and offer analysis on the best areas to focus your outreach.
Your donors all come from different backgrounds and have different stories. Then, it stands to reason that they will respond to different messages. The most effective way to reach them is to use the segmentation features of CharityEngine. What are some easy ways to dive into your audience? Geographic location, age, education level, and occupation are common starting places. You can drill down into a micro view by looking at one state and segmenting by county or personalizing communication to include local events or areas. More advanced segmentation includes psychographics, such as why donors care about your organization or reaching out based on their giving history and status (a lapsed donor would need a very different message than a regular sustainer, for example).
Reporting and Analytics
Measuring your progress, identifying areas that need work, and ensuring your resources are allocated appropriately are critical aspects of keeping your nonprofit healthy. You can only make data-driven decisions when you can create reports and identify trends. CharityEngine offers a variety of out-of-the-box report templates, giving you a great place to start running reports and showing you the topline metrics that should be most visible. Commonly used templates include annual reports for donors, financial reports for your Board of Directors, and internal staff reports.
It’s also crucial that you can customize your reports. Perhaps you want to know how many of your donors live in the Northeast or if there is a cluster of donors who received an education at the same institution. While pre-made report templates are helpful, the ability to drill down into the data in any way you want is a hallmark of CharityEngine.
All the report templates in the world aren’t helpful unless they are housed in a user-friendly interface. Consumers have gotten incredibly computer-savvy, and there is a focus on improving the user experience of everything from cell phones to databases. CharityEngine is intuitive and powerful. Reports and forms are easy to create, customize, and read.
Our software also offers data comparison features to empower your team to make the right decisions on your fundraising strategy, focusing your efforts on what historical data proves to be successful. It’s easy for you to pull these reports and leverage all the data you have.
Billing and Payment Processor
Asking the payment processing question can feel like you’re opening a can of worms! There are so many fees and things to think about and lots of options. Having the right tools or, even better, in-house payment processing capabilities can make this headache go away. It’s tricky, though, to understand payment processing for nonprofits, and it’s well worth your time to get educated before you start evaluating systems.
Let’s look at some features that are crucial to nonprofits:
- Recurring billing helps nonprofits in so many ways. Donors who can “set it and forget it” won’t forget to make a promised payment or skip one because they are on vacation. And your nonprofit can count on that donation as you forecast growth.
- Let’s say you have an event or a particularly successful donor outreach effort, and you have a lot of donations that your staff needs to process. This is called batch entry and settlement and is a process that can be made infinitely more manageable and more accurate with our technology. It enables you to aggregate approved donations into a batch and quickly send them to the bank or credit card company for settlement.
- Similar to using a bank website to balance your checkbook, nonprofits must have reconciliation tools that help manage the financial health of their organization. Keeping accurate records is one of the most important things you can do and allows you to prepare accurate reports and forecasts.
CharityEngine also gets a gold star as a PCI-certified payment processor. This is a stamp of approval from the Payment Card Industry, which has developed standards consumers can trust. PCI-compliant payment processors must adhere to guidelines and continually assess their internal processes to avoid violations. But if a payment processor is PCI-certified, it’s an entirely different story. This certification requires a rigorous process and a comprehensive audit by a qualified security assessor. It takes months to achieve instead of the weeks it takes to become PCI compliant. Payment processing is a huge topic, so let’s take a moment to dig a little deeper.