Getting money from people is harder than you might think. At least it can be for civic nonprofits and associations, where collecting donations is critical to their mission. If nonprofits are not fundraising over the Internet, they are missing out on a wealth of easy money from fast-clicking, civic-minded constituents who wish to support their cause in the quickest and easiest way possible.
There are a myriad of companies and products that provide online donation collection services. Convio, Kintera, and Entango are among some of the many options for online fundraising. But some organizations are becoming frustrated with those options.
The most common problems cited are:
- High transaction fees
- Reporting capabilities are insufficient and not customizable
- Donation pages not seamlessly integrated with the website
- Not able to collect custom data on constituents
- No integration with existing accounting systems
Some of these obstacles translate to high levels of frustrations for organizations that are already strapped for time and money. Managing online donations becomes too burdensome.
So what are the options?
Deploying your own online fundraising solution isn’t so far off. CiviCRM is an open source constituent relationship management (CRM) solution with a rich set of features and strong community support. Along with CiviContribute, a module of CiviCRM, you can achieve the following benefits over third party service-based solutions:
- Lower fees – You only need to pay merchant and credit card fees, which usually hover around the 3% range depending on your provider and frequency of use.
- Custom data collection – Custom data profiles offer you the ability to collect the information you need about your constituents.
- Reporting capabilities – Out-of-the-box exports are available, but if that isn’t enough to satisfy your needs, use the CiviReport module to write your own custom BIRT (Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools) reports.
- Seamless website integration – CiviCRM seamlessly integrates with 2 of the most common and popular open source content management systems, Drupal and Joomla!. This means your constituents can proceed through the donation process without ever leaving your website.
- Integration with existing accounting systems – This is always a challenge, but CiviCRM helps your case by providing total custom reports and exports that let you grab the data you need when you want it. A more in-depth approach is to use API functions for writing your own integration mechanism.
All this sounds great, but of course there are drawbacks. Implementation of CiviCRM isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires technical expertise to mold it into the solution that is right for you. Depending on your organization’s size and budget you should consider all the options when choosing your online fundraising solution.