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Topical Resource Lists

Computer Software for Nonprofit Organizations:
A Resource List

Nonprofit organizations use computer software to improve the way they conduct their day-to-day operations. Whether it is fundraising software or fund accounting programs, the vast array of options can be confusing. The resources provided here will assist nonprofits in assessing their needs and selecting appropriate products.

This resource list contains citations to selected works from the Foundation Center's bibliographic database Catalog of Nonprofit Literature on the topic of computer software. Materials cited are journal articles and books. For a complete bibliography on this topic, use Catalog of Nonprofit Literature, entering the subject heading "Computer technology" or "Fundraising-computer aided" in the subject search field or "software" in the Keyword search field.

General Resources

Stein, Michael. "More Options for Integrated Online Software." Contributions, vol. 20 (May-June 2006): p. 17-9.

Discusses nonprofit software trends and identifies three tiers of vendors.

Sullivan, Shaun. "Donor Management Software: Here's What Open Technology Really Means to You." NonProfit Times, vol. 22 (1 June 2008): p. 17-8.

This article explains the details of the open Application Programming Interface (open API). Discusses the way that open APIs result in increased flexibility in nonprofits' software systems and put more power into the hands of the software user, and notes several important factors to consider when evaluating the quality of a product's API.

Wallace, Nicole. "Software Industry Shake-up." Chronicle of Philanthropy, vol. 20 (20 March 2008): p. 24, 26-7.

Examines the challenges faced by nonprofits as a result of frequent mergers and buy-outs among software companies. After investing considerable amounts of time and money into selecting, purchasing, and learning to use particular brands of fundraising software, some organizations find that they must choose new programs when their product has been acquired by another software company. Some worry that the numerous buy-outs could limit competition and innovation in the nonprofit software development industry.

Weinbeck, Gene; Weinbeck, Marcy. "When You've Outgrown Homegrown Software." Grassroots Fundraising Journal, vol. 25 (January-February 2006): p. 10-3.

In addition to advice about upgrading, the authors provide a sidebar that explains when Excel or Access applications might be appropriate for donor management purposes.

Accounting Software

Mills-Groninger, Tim. "Accounting APIs: Sharing the Wealth of Who, Why, and How Much?" NonProfit Times, vol. 22 (1 January 2008): p. 15-9.

A special report concerning Application Program Interfaces (APIs), software protocols that allow applications to share data. With nonprofits growing larger and more complex, there is a greater desire for accounting systems to be integrated with organizationsí front-line applications that collect or disperse money. APIs are currently both expensive and complicated to put into operation, but ultimately save time and prevent the errors that result from duplicate data entry between accounting software and other nonprofit applications. The article offers tips on implementing APIs, and lists various types of accounting software for a nonprofit to consider.

Fundraising Software

Leland, Eric. "Mind Your Own Business: When the Software Business Is Your Business Too." Grassroots Fundraising Journal, vol. 27 (March-April 2008): p. 13-5.

An explanation of what nonprofits need to know about the software business when selecting fundraising software. The article discusses the differences between online Software as a Service (SAAS) and traditional boxed software; the consequences of software company mergers and acquisitions upon nonprofit clients; and the ways in which open Application Program Interfaces (APIs) can make a fundraising database more effective.

Patterson, Mike. "New Bells and Whistles Driving Planned Giving Software." Exempt, vol. 5 (March-April 2007): p. 12, 14-5.

Planned giving software serves fundraisers in three ways: marketing, completing gift arrangements with donors, and tracking administrative details. The article highlights several software packages as well as product developments on the horizon.

Petulla, Maria. "Making Order Out of Chaos." Grassroots Fundraising Journal, vol. 27 (March-April 2008): p. 4-7.

A general overview of fundraising databases. The author notes how a good database can organize donor information effectively, run reports that help a group develop realistic fundraising plans, and help an organization's fundraising efforts to grow. Three kinds of databases are detailed (generic, dedicated fundraising software, and open source software), with suggestions as to which types may be the right fit for different kinds of nonprofits.

Links to Internet Resources

The Foundation Center's FAQ

Recommends Web sites that provide information on computer software for nonprofits.

The Alliance for Nonprofit Management has relevant FAQs

Contains advice for questions such as "What accounting software package should we buy?" and "How do we select fundraising software?"


Contains reviews of software that help nonprofits make more effective purchasing decisions.
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