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I am interested in finding out if any other Community Foundations are using Bloomerang. We are reviewing various software solutions for our 13 Million community foundation. We have approximately 1,700 individual donor records; and we are trying to find software that provides what we need and less of what we do not. Price is a concern for the Board.
We want to track donors and donations; manage grants; connect with our donors via email; and have the information in a highly searchable format that allows us to produce flexible reports for our Board.
The software we use has to be super simple to use right out of the box, and must be accessible to at least 2 users. Cloud based or server based will work.
We do not need to track sales of tickets or merchandise. We do not need to use this to track pledges. We do not host fundraising events, do not need to develop a website (already have that), do not need access on other devices (but if we had it, it would be a welcome bonus!).
After reviewing the Consumers Guide to Low-Cost Donor Management Systems, it seems like Bloomerang would be a great fit, but I am completely unfamiliar with it. If anyone has used this software could you please tell me the pros and cons before I take this to the Board level.
Hi. I've just started using it myself for a new nonprofit. We have just over 100 records to start with, and I'm still experimenting.
Pros: It's designed to track and cultivate individual donors - with dashboards and research options built in. It's easy to use, useful email and letter templates, tracks interactions and transactions (also if sending emails, it'll track that). You can send mass emails -and there are various ways you can format them, but like any mass email program -some will end up in people's spam/junk folders. It does offer a dashboard where you can view open rates and click rates (on links in your messages) -which is pretty sweet. You can generate and customize a wide range of reports -and there are filter options to customize quite a bit. The support tech/reps have been very helpful so far - by chat or email. Having so few records to start with, our annual cost is very low -but that will increase as we build our constituency. It allows you to develop forms that can integrate with your website -for volunteer sign ups, donations, etc. That was important for us.
Cons: So far, i've found the "search" options for a single record are limited to just searching by individual or organization's names, and so not as powerful as other databases i've used in the past (Salesforce for one) where you could searched by someone's street name for instance. But I may not have quite figured it all out yet. You could always design a report by street name or zip code, or whatever your search category is - but that seems like more effort to me. So i believe the individual search function is somewhat limiting. Also, for tracking actual grants - I'm not sure it can be used as stand-alone - it might be best to pair with an excel sheet or some other way of "at a glance" foundations records. You can definitely have all your foundation contacts, notes, gifts received, dates, etc. in Bloomerang - but unless you run a report, i don't know (yet) of an easy way to track the grants history or upcoming deadlines. One other thing I haven't quite figured out yet, is when i customize fields to collect specific info I want - say for example "donor's alma mater" --all those fields get added to the end of one long screen. So whenever I -or a volunteer - is doing data entry , they may need to scroll past all the fields/sections I've created for an organization record to fill out this field. That may confuse some staff/vols who think they need to fill out all sections for all records.
You can set up tasks in Bloomerang, that will then email you a notification - but i don't think it repeatedly sends a notification or reminder email. I think it only sends one as soon as you set up the task.
I've heard other "simple" interface databases like this include Little Green Light and Network for Good but I haven't tried them or researched them much. Good luck in your decision making! Oh - and since price is an issue - ask the Bloomerang reps about any penalty fees if you decide to unsubscribe or switch after a year. There is a hefty one think.
Thank you for the response! It never occurred to me that there would be a penalty for not renewing their service. I will check that out, as well as the other two databases that you mentioned.
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