Posted on 6th December 2018

Choosing the right CRM for your charity

Back to blog

A CRM – or customer relationship manager – is the backbone of many organisations. For businesses and charities alike, the CRM enables fluid and frequent contact with donors and prospective supporters. But, because no two organisations are the same, the CRM software market is a crowded place. There are an overwhelming number of options, each slightly different to the last, and every one of them claiming to be the best CRM for charities.

In this article, and in no particular order, we’re going to examine the big players as well as the newcomers to help you to zero in on which charity CRM is the right choice for you.

This resource will be updated regularly, so don’t forget to bookmark it!

Table of Contents

Access thankQ CRM

Access is a business software company that, along with various applications, also provides a Customer Relationship Management solution for charities. ThankQ CRM offers an array of features such as fundraising, membership and event management, and was created “specifically for not-for-profits”. The system also allows seamless website integration so data capture forms can be embedded without distracting from your brand.

Pricing

At time of writing it is unclear what the pricing structure of thankQ is, you need to request a demo and presumably they will tailor it to you.

Who uses thankQ?

Among thankQ CRM’s charity case studies you’ll find Autism Bedfordshire, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust and York Museums Trust; all organisations of vastly different sizes and annual incomes between hundreds of thousands and several million pounds.

Is thankQ CRM right for your charity?

The software boasts a number of features for managing all aspects of your charity. The lack of any pricing indication on the website may put some people off, but the case study give clues to who is already using this. If your non-profit is looking for a fully-featured solution, it may well be worth your time checking out one of thankQ’s free webinars to see what they’re all about.


Copper CRM

Copper strikes a playful tone in their marketing, claiming that “most CRMs suck”. They also proudly boast to be Google’s #1 recommended CRM, due to their native integration into G Suite applications (Google calendar, Google Docs and Google Sheets etc). Their approach is to redefine “selling” and focus on relationship building, and as their software integrates with plenty of tools such as Slack, Google Hangouts, and Dropbox you get the feeling they understand the distributed ecosystem that is the modern app marketplace.

Copper helps drive your mission forward and foster critical relationships with donors and volunteers. It integrates with Gmail and scrapes important contact information, so you don’t have to add or update your volunteer and donor contact information manually.

Morgan Norman, CMO, Copper

Pricing

Copper CRM pricing starts at $19 per user, per month when billed annually on their basic plan, which is capped at 3 users. Businesses can expect to pay $119 per user, per month, making Copper an enterprise-level solution.

Who uses Copper CRM?

Copper is not built exclusively for charities and therefore their big-named customers are businesses such as Casio, Booking.com and Peugeot. In April 2018 the company surpassed the 10,000 customers mark, but they don’t make a great deal of effort to target non-profits directly.

Is Copper CRM right for your charity?

Given the native integration to G Suite and the big players that Copper CRM cites as customers, the software is most likely best suited to charities with  demanding and varying needs, and a large, possibly distributed team. That being said, with the low entry price, training webinars and how-to guides, smaller organisations might want to give it a try on their free 14 day trial.

As always, it is worth setting out what you want your CRM to do before selecting a supplier in this space, but it is clear that Copper is built to scale to enterprise-sized organisations if and when needed.


Beacon CRM

Beacon bills itself as “the modern database for nonprofits” and is a relative newcomer to the charity CRM software market. The company is based in London and run by a small team who aim to provide a GDPR-compliant CRM solution to charities by integrating donation and Gift Aid processing into the CRM software in a more user-friendly way than the larger, more established players in this space.

Pricing

Pricing starts at £20 per user, per month for up to five users and £100 per user, per month on the premium package designed to support established charities. Donation processing fees also apply, and scale down depending on which package you choose.

Who uses Beacon CRM?

As mentioned Beacon is a new player in the charity CRM space at time of writing, but their growing portfolio of customers include Chapel & York and Young Epilepsy.

A lot of the charities we work with have never used a CRM before. Before Beacon, they spent huge amounts of time wrangling with 15 different spreadsheets – rather than making their impact.

Chris Houghton, Beacon CRM

Is Beacon CRM right for your charity?

Beacon is an integrated CRM and payment processor that also handles Gift Aid out of the box. The solution, by design, does not attempt to do anything beyond this and therefore integrates with plenty of other tools. If your organisation has complex needs and requires one tool to rule them all, then Beacon isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a simple way to handle supporter relationships in a GDPR-friendly way, process donations and deal with Gift Aid, Beacon could be well worth a look.


Salesforce

Salesforce has to be the Coca Cola of CRM software. For many, it is the de facto standard, and a leader in the field. According to Get CRM “Whatever they [Salesforce] do, whatever technologies they invest in, other providers will follow suit to stay relevant.” Salesforce charity CRM is also often one of the most recommended platforms thanks largely to its market penetration.

Pricing

Because Salesforce is such a behemoth the company packages up its various features and programs, many of which require you to contact them to work out which product set is right for you. For example, they offer a “nonprofit success pack” which, at time of writing begins at $36 per user, per month. Their standard UK version of the CRM starts at £20 per user, per month. It is strongly advised that charities request a quote and conversation before taking any decisions on Salesforce to ensure you get the best deal.

Who uses Salesforce?

According to their “Power of Us” program, Salesforce works with over 37,000 non-profit organisations. This is a staggering number of customers in one sector. It’s beyond the scope of this article to dig into some of these customers, but hopefully you get the picture. Salesforce is huge.

Is Salesforce CRM right for your charity?

Frankly, probably. Because it is a world leader with such a rich, customisable feature set, it is highly unlikely that there isn’t some composition of Salesforce products that won’t work for you. However, due to the size of the company and how comprehensive the offering is, you may feel that you need something simpler that you can pick up and run with quickly. Global, world-beating corporations aren’t known for their nimbleness so it is by no means a given that Salesforce will be right for your charity. 


DonorPerfect

DonorPerfect is another fully-featured CRM for charities. It manages your fundraising pipeline from handling legacies, volunteers and event tickets, to mailing lists, segmentation and recurring donations. They only work with non-profits so you know their CRM is built with charities in mind. Given the size of their offering, their marketing materials suffer a similar fate to that of Salesforce – they appear to be talking to everyone at the same time and so it is not immediately clear whether DonorPerfect will fit your needs.

Pricing

DonorPerfect is priced based on the number of records you need to store, rather than per user. Its most basic package is $89/month, which may be slightly more costly than the others mentioned here, depending on your organisational needs.

Who uses DonorPerfect CRM?

According to their client community the company works with non-profits of all sizes and across many areas of the third sector such as faith-based organisations, environmental charities and educational services. It’s not clear what their UK presence is like, but all the company’s contact details are US-based.

Is DonorPerfect right for your charity?

DonorPerfect, unlike many others, is made for charities. It is feature rich and most likely will do everything you want from a charity CRM. However, its support is US-based and depending on what you need, it may cost slightly more than the alternatives. DonorPerfect might be a solution you wish to “grow into”, as there are plenty of more cost-effective options to start with.


HubSpot CRM

HubSpot is a marketing platform and its flagship product is its free CRM. Yes, unlike all the others, HubSpot’s is free. HubSpot’s CRM provides all the basics you would expect from such a platform, in their own words “Organise your contacts, get deeper insights on every lead, and monitor deals with ease — all for free”. Clearly, the company is using its free CRM as a springboard to sell its other related products, but what they are offering in terms of purely CRM for free is really quite good.

Pricing

£0. Zero. Free.

Who uses HubSpot CRM?

Unlike some others mentioned here, HubSpot doesn’t tend to get mentioned in non-profit circles all the often. Whilst they do appeal to charities, there is little to compel a charity to choose HubSpot over a specialist solution. That’s certainly not to say it isn’t worth a look – especially as a free option!

Is HubSpot CRM right for your charity?

Right out of the box you can add and send email to individual contacts, assign states to them and capture new supporters by putting a HubSpot form on your website. This is the core of the product and essentially, it provides a significant upgrade from using spreadsheets. To get access to other tools, such as the ability to create email campaigns, requires an upgrade which of course costs money. Depending on your needs, the costs are competitive against other solutions listed here. In short if your organisation is looking for a very simple solution, or has yet to really dig into CRMs, HubSpot provides you with a great starting point.


Virtuous CRM

Virtuous is a CRM for charities that comprises three core features: CRM, marketing and donation handling. Virtuous asks the question “What if you could multiply fundraising by building better donor relationships?” and boasts that their platform is the tool for the job. With cloud integrations and various nonprofit customers under their belt, it’s hard to disagree.

Pricing

As with DonorPerfect, Virtuous prices on volume. Prices start at $199/month for up to 1000 contacts, making Virtuous one of the more expensive options on the market. This includes access for five users, hinting at the size of organisation Virtuous is targeting.

Who uses Virtuous CRM?

Virtuous only works with charities and has a number of (mostly American) non-profits on their portfolio. Because their platform is multipurpose it appeals not just to comms and marketing teams, but finance teams and even C-level individuals to provide top-level reports.

Is Virtuous CRM right for your charity?

The big indicator in this instance is price point. Virtuous doesn’t have an option for individuals, starting at $199/month for teams of up to five people. As was the case with DonorPerfect, Virtuous may be considered a CRM that your organisation grows into or, if you have pretty hefty CRM demands right now, something worth looking at


Charity CRM comparison

Our comparison table of popular CRM software for charities.

Price
Low to high
Built just
for charities?
Access thankQN/aYes
HubSpotFree
With paid add-ons 
No
CopperFrom $19
Per user per month
No
BeaconFrom £20
Per user per month
Yes
SalesforceFrom $36
Per user per month
No
DonorPerfectFrom $89 per month
Up to 1000 records
Yes
VirtuousFrom $199 per month
Up to 1000 records
Yes