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5 essential features of an effective fundraising CRM

CRM systems can do some amazing things, but it’s easy to be dazzled in a demo while forgetting the fundamentals that it needs to deliver. Here’s a checklist for you to consider:

Constituent management

You’ll need to be able to track constituents - people and organisations - in your CRM. So make sure you ask how it handles them, and their relationship. Beware of B2B sales CRMs which start from the premise of an account (a company) with contacts (with people). This doesn’t fit well when your organisation is primarily B2C, as most charities are.

Make sure your constituents can be categorised so that you can segment your database. This is usually called Tagging. Tags represent the various attributes that your constituents can have, such as Major Donor Prospect, Volunteer, Trustee and so on.

Also, make sure the CRM provides a constituent timeline - meaning a history of their interactions over time. Including phone calls, emails and events attended.

Income / gift processing

You need to be able to record your income. This is where your CRM starts to look a bit like an accounting system because unlike a sales CRM which leaves this subject to the accounting software, you’ll need a transactional history of monies received. Why? Analysis, segmentation, customer service.

It’s a big topic, but at least make sure your fundraising CRM has ways to record the amount, date, origin (eg a specific campaign), type, payment method, and designation (eg which fund) of each donation.

Once income has been entered you will need to identify the income that is eligible for Gift Ad and submit that to the HMRC.

Your CRM needs to handle income as it comes in from numerous sources: your bank (standing orders), the office (cash, cheque), your website (online donations) and other online platforms.

Campaign management

Campaigns can be thought of as the initiatives from which donations (and other actions) are sourced. These can be email campaigns, mailing, events, gala dinners, social media campaigns, community fundraising efforts - anything to which you want to attribute the income so that campaigns can be measured and compared.

So your CRM needs to enable you to create a campaign so that it can used as the origin for income items and other activities. And you’ll need to be able to produce campaign reports (sometimes called Campaign Analytics) which show you important metrics such as Return On Investment and Net Income.


No CRM can be an island. And in a connected world you need your CRM to be able to collect information from, and in some cases make information available to other cloud-based platforms. For example, email campaigns. No CRM contains built-in email functionality that is a match for the leading platforms like Mailchimp. So your CRM needs to be able to integrate with Mailchimp so that you can see email history in the CRM against each constituent, and so that your email campaigns can be linked to the corresponding email campaign.

The same thing goes for events. No CRM contains built-in events functionality that is match for, say, Eventbrite. So you can use the best tool for the job, and have it seamlessly integrated into your CRM.

In other words, your CRM doesn’t need to do everything, but it needs to know everything so you can get that all-important 360-degree view.

Integration with fundraising platforms like JustGiving will also help provide the full picture.

Every modern, integratable CRM needs an API - it’s the tool that enables developers to build custom integrations between the digital tools you use.


Email alerts. Automated tagging. Integration with automation platforms such as Microsoft Flow. Automated Gift Aid claims. Automation saves you time and money, and should be something you look for in your CRM.

Donorfy - smart, powerful, affordable fundraising CRM

Donorfy meets all of the above requirements, and more. Contact us for a free one-to-one demonstration and discussion of your needs.