The 7 Best CRMs for Nonprofits: How to Choose the Right One

Tasi Gottschlag • Jun 15, 2020
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An overview of the CRMs in our industry

**Disclaimer: This article was written by Keela! While we LOVE our software, we know it’s not the best tool for every nonprofit out there. It would be poorly designed if it was! We know exactly who we are best suited to serve, and we developed our software just for them.

What’s the best CRM for your nonprofit?

  1. Keela 
  2. Kindful 
  3. Bloomerang
  4. DonorPerfect
  5. Neon CRM
  6. eTapestry (Blackbaud)
  7. Salsa

These are the feature elements we will consider for each nonprofit CRM discussing strengths and weaknesses as they stand out:

  • CRM: Contact organization, Donors, Volunteers & Members
  • Fundraising: Online donations and tax receipts
  • Email Marketing & Communications
  • Reporting & Analytics
  • Forms: Surveys, revenue, donations
  • Projects & Planning
  • Integrations with your favorite tools
  • Intelligence, insights or decision making features

We will also consider:

  • Design & ease of use
  • Support
  • Training, Available videos or articles
  • Professional Onboarding
  • Company Size & location
  • B Corp, Company Reputation and Community Involvement
  • What we have heard: a look at real comments from users in forums
  • Hidden costs

Our research is based on reviews of people who have used these platforms as we have not used each one ourselves. You can read these reviews on CapterraSoftware Advice, or the Nonprofit Happy Hour Facebook group.

Download the Nonprofit CRM Buyer’s Guide

This complete guide will help you evaluate your needs and shortlist CRM vendors so you can invest in the right tool for your organization. 

CRM Buyer’s Guide for Nonprofits

The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Best CRM 
for Your Nonprofit. 

Get the guide + A bonus Evaluation Checklist! 

1. Keela 

Keela’s Feature Highlights

We offer all of the following major features:

  1. CRM: Contact organization, Donors, Volunteers & Members
  2. Fundraising: Online donations and tax receipts
  3. Email Marketing & Communications
  4. Reporting & Analytics
  5. Forms: Surveys, revenue, donations
  6. Projects & Planning
  7. Integrations with your favorite tools
  8. Intelligence, insights or decision making features

Some other important highlights:

  1. A powerful deduplication tool: You are paying for your number of contacts so we have made sure you never pay for the same contact twice.
  2. 97-100% Support Satisfaction Rates: We continuously receive customer surveys that show our support is, next-level, amazing.
  3. ZERO Keela transaction fees: Your payment processor may take a small percentage but Keela won’t take a penny of your hard-earned donations unlike other CRM solutions on the market.
  4. Helpful intelligence tools: Using Artificial intelligence, we offer predictive suggestions based on your data to make you the most effective fundraiser you can be.
  5. We launched a completely new software in Jan 2020. Our customers gave us feedback and we listened! We redesigned our entire product using best practices, modern tools, and important integrations like QuickBooks and Xero to make the best product possible.

Who IS Keela for

Keela is the best nonprofit CRM for a growing small or medium-sized organization (1000 – 100,000 Contacts) with a strong digital presence – or at least a desire to develop one. By this we mean you have a website, take online donations, engage with donors frequently, and use email combined with other methods of communication. 

You may have lots of volunteers but you also have one or more full-time staff that are dedicated to running your organization. You are willing to learn how to get the most out of Keela by using the tools and trying out new features as they are released. 

And while you don’t have to love technology, you should recognize its value and appreciate the benefits it can bring to your organization as it grows. You are at the stage where you would rather pay for something that does what you need than piece together free tools. We are proudly Canadian and serve customers globally with a strong presence and servers in Canada, the USA, and Australia.

Who is Keela NOT for

Organizations that are entirely volunteer-run with no single person owning administrative tasks won’t be able to leverage Keela’s full potential. Additionally, while we have many great integrations, we are designed to be an all-in-one tool that allows you to stop using many different products to manage your donors. 

If you want to consolidate tools, Keela is for you. If you want to connect and manage a host of different tools, one for email marketing, another for reports, and yet another for your donation page, Keela may not be your best choice.

Now let’s dive into our comparison of the best nonprofit CRMs on the market. While we may always vote Keela, we have a lot of respect for our competitors and are quick to admit if they have features or qualities that are beautifully designed. Our research is based on reviews of people who have used these platforms as we have not used each one ourselves.

2. Kindful

Kindful is a US-based company that describes its product as a fundraising and donor management software that will help you understand your donors like never before. You can read the reviews here. 

People Like: Kindful is praised as a user-friendly and intuitive nonprofit CRM software. The software looks good and its design makes it easy to navigate.

People Dislike: Kindful has been reported to have “Barebones” reporting functionality. Some of their features do require additional payment and frustrations with duplicate contacts come up a lot (no deduplication tool for contacts means you may pay for the same contact many times if you have not merged them individually). 

Kindful is GREAT with integrations BUT be sure you understand exactly what each integration does as they may do one thing but not the thing you need or want. They don’t have a built-in email marketing tool, rather they integrate with another provider (at an additional cost) to send your emails. Make sure you ask the right questions if you are evaluating Kindful, the tool is pretty good but the integrations, their biggest selling point, can fall short if you need specific things.

Who IS Kindful for

A nonprofit that wants a CRM system to integrate with other tools. If you’re happy to continue working with many providers rather than consolidating everything into one, Kindful would be a good choice as it integrates with many vertical leading products. There are many positive reviews but most seem to review the basic CRM functionality. If your needs are quite simple (donor data organization) this could be a good choice.

Who is Kindful NOT for

A nonprofit with significant reporting requirements. If your board members want to see reports every quarter and you want to customize what you show them, Kindful may not be your best option. With their base product starting at $100 USD a month, a smaller organization would need to be sure this is the right fit before jumping in – especially when you consider the expensive add-ons. Most comparable products can get you started for under $50/month. 

Finally, unless your data is really clean, keep in mind the deduplication tool has been reported as ineffective. You may need to manually clean your data if you want to ensure you don’t pay for more than you should.

3. Bloomerang

Bloomerang is a US-based company that offers a solid platform for small to medium-sized nonprofits. They describe themselves as Donor Management software nonprofit organizations actually love to use. You can read the reviews here

People Like: Fundraising Tools and Integrations. Bloomerang gets a lot of positive reviews. People say it’s easy to use and highly customizable, and they also report excellent customer support. 

People Dislike: Bloomerang can feel too complex for some but oddly lacks features for larger, more technically-savvy, organizations. Reviewers found it frustrating they weren’t able to see a snapshot of their current goals or totals. Tagging can feel difficult to navigate and emails work well if simple but mass emails or high levels of customization in emails can be challenging.

Finally, duplication of contacts can be a problem as there doesn’t appear to be a deduplication tool. Again, you may pay for some contacts more than once. Bloomerang does not have grandfathered pricing, so if your nonprofit grows quickly, you may find yourself priced out of this software solution.

Who IS Bloomerang for

Overall Bloomerang seems to be a popular choice for smaller nonprofits and would most likely fulfill all your needs if this was your first CRM.  

Who is Bloomerang NOT for

If you have more sophisticated emailing marketing needs, reviews indicate there may be limitations. If you are highly technical or prefer software solutions with quick navigation (fewer clicks) this may feel cumbersome for you.

4. DonorPerfect

DonorPerfect is a US-based company (with an office and server in Montreal) that describes itself as an Online Fundraising Software for today’s digital world. You can read the reviews here. 

People Like: DonorPerfect is another CRM solution with many raving fans. What people love about DonorPerfect is the tool is very robust and focused around fundraising. Some comment it has been “designed by fundraisers for fundraisers”. 

I have noticed that those commenting on DonorPerfect are often comparing it to other larger products geared towards enterprise nonprofits. (Razors Edge, Sage) This is worth noting as these opinions may be from larger organizations with different needs. Customer support is consistently rated 5/5.

People Dislike: Reporting functionality seems to get some negative reviews. Overall, DonorPerfect seems to be complicated and quite a few reviews mentioned it’s not very intuitive and has a steep learning curve. There are frustrations with feature limitations especially when it comes to reporting and tax receipting. 

This is yet another software that does not seem to have a functional deduplication tool. It seems search functionality is an issue that actually leads to duplication of contacts. You must enter the contact in exactly the original format (spelling, middle name, etc) to return ANY results, which leads to multiple contacts for the same person, increasing your number of contacts which can increase your cost.

Who IS DonorPerfect for

DonorPerfect is likely a great product for a larger organization with a dedicated and technically-savvy administrator. It takes time to learn so if you have the desire to understand all the ins and outs, you may end up with a powerful tool that could serve you well. Features are focused around fundraising so this should be a central component of your organization.

Who is DonorPerfect NOT for

If you run a smaller organization, are less technically inclined, or are simply looking for something with less of a learning curve, DonorPerfect may not be your best choice. While fundraising functionality is a strength, some weaker areas include email marketing and reporting. 

While they do have strong fundraising tools, DonorPerfect has not yet made the same technological advances as other fundraising software. They currently do not have insights or AI features that suggest donation ask amounts or make campaign suggestions. Finally, it’s comparatively expensive, if you don’t need ALL the features DonorPerfect offers, you may be overpaying. While it’s a steal compared to Razors Edge, it’s significantly more expensive than others in this category.

5. NeonCRM

Neon is a US-based company that describes itself as “Robust CRM software and inspiring websites designed to help your nonprofit grow, inspire, and scale.” They offer a cloud-based CRM as well as website and engagement tools. You can read the reviews here

People Like: Reported to be well designed, meaning, once you understand one feature you can figure out others because its navigation is consistent. Membership management seems to perform well, offering a good depth of features and additional website services are a bonus.

People Dislike: Customer support has had strongly negative reviews, and while there may always be the odd difference of opinion, Neon seems to get more than their share of negative support reviews. Reports indicate Neon does not work well with a Mac and, unless you’re using a PC, you’ll run into problems using their features. 

As training webinars are hours long, many customers comment on how long it takes to learn Neon and how much time it takes to go complete training. Reports seem to be a frustration for many users. Some complain of bugs while others suggest it can take a lot of trial and error to show the data you need.

Who IS Neon for

I would say Neon offers decent basic functionality and could be a fit for a small nonprofit with complex membership or event management needs as long as they have ample time to dedicate to training. It would be decent for a newer organization that wanted website design as an add on service. If you have a tight budget, their smaller packages are on the lower end price-wise.

Who is Neon NOT for

After reading the reviews I would not recommend Neon for anyone using a Mac. This product is probably not a fit for an organization that requires reporting at any level of sophistication. If you are looking for something you can have up and running quickly this may not be a fit. If investment in training is a deterrent there are other products in this space that are far easier to learn.

6. eTapestry (Blackbaud)

eTapestry is was purchased by Blackbaud in 2007. It describes itself as simple cloud fundraising and supporter management for growing organizations. There seems to be some brand and name confusion in the reviews with some referring to NXT, others to Blackbaud (the parent company), and others to eTapestry. I’m still not certain of the distinction. You can read the reviews here

People Like: The database and CRM functionality seems clean and well designed. Reporting! This is the only software (other than Keela) I have reviewed that did not receive repeated negative reviews about reporting, I even found one positive review about reports. That must mean something. 

Users refer to it as a database management system which implies they are from larger organizations with more technical requirements. People comment on the price and how affordable this is, however, this must be in comparison to other Blackbaud products as it is one of the more expensive in our list. Some people like that this is a Blackbaud product as they have a suite of other products and are managed by one large parent company. Support seems to be well-delivered and reviewed.

People Dislike: Email templates are cumbersome and often require paid customer support to make even minor edits. This can take days or weeks. Email Marketing is subpar as customization is limited. You also can’t see how your email communication will look when it’s received. It seems eCommerce, donor logins and advanced email are all additional fees and there is no integration with QuickBooks.

Overall users seem to be comparing this product to Razors Edge and complain of its comparative simplicity and feature limitations. It seems to take a long time to run queries or reports, as they are complex, and if report templates are possible, many reviewers can’t seem to figure out how to set them up.

Who IS eTapestry for

If your organization is already using other Blackbaud products, this may be a fit for you as you’d be dealing with the same parent company for all your tools. I would suggest this is best for a medium to large organization. If reporting is important and customized reporting is a must-have, you may want to consider this tool. While there may be a learning curve it sounds like the reports generated are well-displayed and professional.

Who is eTapestry NOT for

Any small to medium-sized nonprofit organizations that want a product designed for their needs may find this product laborious. If templates or premade reports appeal to you, this probably isn’t a fit. If adopting a database management system sounds like Greek to you, this is probably more product than you need or want.  That said, the functions offered don’t appear to be any more robust than others on this list. I’ll quote one reviewer exactly as I have come to the same conclusion, “It’s too complicated for small organizations and not robust enough for large organizations.”

7. Salsa

Salsa is a US-based company that describes its product as a fundraising CRM and constituent relationship management database. You can read the reviews here

People Like: This robust software has so much functionality some feel it can do anything, you just have to figure out how. Some report it’s user friendly while others find it very difficult to learn. This isn’t abnormal as everyone has a different preference, but Salsa seems to really divide people on this one. 

Overall customer support is reviewed very positively. Salsa creates queries and segments for donors quite easily and has decent analytics and reporting capabilities.

People Dislike: The migration of data seems to be a challenge and some reported losing data entirely during this labor-intensive process. It can be cumbersome to navigate and you must continuously hit save to avoid accidental data loss. There is a significant learning curve as this is a big software with a lot of functionality. While this is great for the right person it can be overwhelming for the wrong person.

Who IS Salsa for

Salsa seems to be designed for larger and enterprise organizations. While this sounds like a good thing, it actually misses some key functionality smaller to medium-sized nonprofits may need. If you want a good product for a larger nonprofit Salsa could be a great fit.  You should definitely be willing to invest some time in learning the system and training others. While this is true for any software, it’s especially important with Salsa. It’s also one of the most expensive platforms we have assessed.

Who is Salsa NOT for

Small to medium-sized organizations will be paying far too much for their needs with Salsa. Additionally, it won’t have some of the key features that growing nonprofits may benefit from, like customizable forms. If you can’t invest in additional paid onboarding to ensure data is transferred flawlessly I would not recommend this CRM. Finally, Salsa doesn’t appear to have made much headway in intelligence and predictive analytics (AI); this is something many more innovative nonprofits are looking for in their software.

So who has the best nonprofit CRM? 

That really comes down to what your unique organization needs. We hope this article helped steer you in the right direction. 

If that’s Keela, let us know we would love to hear from you.

** This comparison table is reporting grades for small to medium nonprofits (500-50,000 contacts)

Download the Nonprofit CRM Buyer’s Guide

This complete guide will help you evaluate your needs and shortlist CRM vendors so you can invest in the right tool for your organization. 

CRM Buyer’s Guide for Nonprofits

The Ultimate Guide for Choosing the Best CRM 
for Your Nonprofit. 

Get the guide + A bonus Evaluation Checklist! 

Tasi Head Shot

About the author:  

A lover of learning… Tasi takes MIT courses, in her spare time…for fun. Want to get her attention, tell her she gets to compete by playing a game, it’s that simple. Tasi has an MBA from SFU. She built and sold her first SAAS tech start up in 2018. A true geek she is a passionate builder of businesses, loving all the moving pieces, intricate dynamics and systems that produce the results we see. In her free time she loves to race sailboats, read inspiring business books and has two amazing daughters who ensure free time is kept to a minimum. She adores Keela, and the bold vision that drives the team. 

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