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Choosing Fundraising Software For Your Nonprofit, Part 3: Integrations

This is part of a 3 part series on how to choose fundraising software for your nonprofit. If you missed either of the previous posts, check out Part 1 and Part 2 here:


Part 1: Pricing

Part 2: Integrations

The final topic in our series on choosing fundraising software is integrations. As the digital world grows, there are more options than ever for niche solutions, such as email and database marketing. You are seeing less and less “one-stop-shop” software solutions, as connecting different softwares is easier, and often times, offers a better solution.

Let’s talk about the 3 main avenues for integrations:

Native

Native integrations are often the simplest, as the integration is served within the fundraising software. Many times, these are “point, click, and connect” integrations. Two of the more popular native integrations in the fundraising world are MailChimp and Salesforce.

Two things to note with native integrations:

  1. They are often the hardest to customize beyond the stock-built integration. This may not be a problem for some organizations, as you only need the basic connection in order to update your Salesforce database or send your emails with MailChimp. However, organizations that have the capacity and desire to create a custom solution may be left wanting more options.

2.They often carry an additional monthly cost to both connect and subscribe to the service. As we’ll see with all options, you do need to factor in the cost to connect to the service along with the actual monthly cost of the service you're connecting to. The second piece, the subscription cost, can’t be avoided. However, you’ll need to determine the value of convenience to your org to pay an extra cost monthly to set up a single connection.


**API**
We’ll move from the most simple integration option to the most complex. APIs are incredible tools that help two separate software services talk to each other and exchange information, known as “calls”. The beauty of APIs is their flexibility, as they allow you as you build out your desired integration.

With this option though, you’ll need someone (or an entire team) with knowledge of APIs in order to set up the connection properly. This is an advanced technique in which the reward for navigating the complexity is a custom solution created to fit your organization’s needs exactly. Most organizations will either employ a dedicated web developer, or will hire an agency/consultant to build their API connections.

Access to APIs can occasionally incur an additional cost, but many times there is a free tier up to a certain number of calls. As mentioned above, if you’ll need to hire someone in order to create the API calls, that cost will obviously need to be factored in.


**Through a Third Party Service**
The last type of integration you’ll see offered by fundraising software solutions is linking with a third-party automation system. These services give you the best of both worlds of the two options above, allowing you flexibility without needing to know APIs.

In recent years, services like Zapier have built a solid following by simplifying the API process down to a simple point-and-click connection. Through these services, you are quickly able to export new donor information to Salesforce or add new contacts to your MailChimp lists in real time, completely customizing which information is ported into your database.

Similar to the APIs, these services typically have a free tier which limits the number of times this connection can run. Using Zapier as an example, their free tier allows you to do up to 100 “zaps” each month. Additionally, some apps like Salesforce require a premium tier, meaning you’ll need to factor in the extra cost of Zapier. Though, unlike the native integrations, paying for a service like Zapier gives you access to integration with many apps as opposed to just one.


This concludes our three-part series on choosing new fundraising software. We hope you found this helpful!