The Top 10 Donor Research Software for Better Fundraising

Updated for January 2020

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Generous donors are your organization’s most valuable asset. They’re the sole reason nonprofits like yours can continue their good work. No matter your organization’s size, your donors (each and every one of them!) make it possible to get one step closer to achieving your mission. It’s no wonder then, that identifying, cultivating, and stewarding relationships with these loyal supporters is prioritized in your fundraising plan.

While developing authentic relationships with supporters takes a considerable amount of time, luck, and skill, it’s the only surefire way to sustainably fulfill your mission. Your constituents—your donors especially—are imperative to your success, and it’s of paramount importance that you give them the respect they deserve by taking the time to get to know them.

Regardless of how long you’ve been in fundraising, this can be a tall task. Building meaningful relationships with donors isn’t easy (especially amidst all the other “to-dos” on your to-do list). If it was, you probably wouldn’t be reading this!

That’s where technology can come to the rescue (or at least support you). To advance your efforts while still forming meaningful connections, you’ll need to take a look at donor research software. Before diving into the top providers, let’s take a look at what donor research software is and what it can help you accomplish. Then, let’s walk through 11 different donor research providers in our sector, and how each one can help you more effectively build meaningful relationships with your donors.

What is donor research software?

Regardless of how sophisticated your fundraising operation is, donor research is most certainly already part of your fundraising strategy. Looking up wealthy people in your zip code? Donor research. Seeing who recently gave to another charity? Donor research. Surveying your donors? Donor research.

The question isn’t “do nonprofits conduct donor research?” Rather, it’s “has your organization considered automating part of the process with specialized software?” 

Technology and software are meant to make nonprofit operations more efficient and effective. Choosing the right donor research software can help your organization identify, qualify, and cultivate relationships with the right people at the right time more effectively than ever before. 

Every software provider focuses on a different element of fundraising. From major gifts to grant fundraising, the possibilities are endless. You’ll first need to determine where your organization needs the most help. Then, you’ll need to invest in the most appropriate solution relevant to your needs. 

To help you get started, our team has put together some of the best donor research software available to nonprofits just like yours:

  1. MarketSmart – Best Donor Research Software for Major and Legacy Gifts (lead generation, donor discovery, qualification, automated cultivation and appointment-setting)
  2. DonorSearch – Best Donor Research Software for Wealth Screening
  3. WealthEngine – Best Donor Research Software for Software Integrations
  4. iWave – Best Donor Research Software for Segmentation
  5. Fundraising Report Card – Best Free Donor Research Donation Analytics Software
  6. Reeher Platform – Best Donor Research Software for Higher Education
  7. 360MatchPro – Best Donor Research Software for Matching Gifts
  8. Foundation Directory Online – Best Donor Research Software for Grants
  9. Prospect Visual – Best Donor Research Software for Data Visualization
  10. NPO Authority – Best Donor Research Software for Small Nonprofits

This list is far from comprehensive. Seemingly everyday there are new donor research software platforms on the market. However, these 10 solutions represent some of the longest standing and industry leading solutions on the market. Let’s dive into how they work, what problems they solve, and more!

Give your prospects the respect they deserve with MarketSmart’s donor research software

MarketSmart offers the best donor research software for major and legacy gifts

MarketSmart: Best Donor Research Software for Major and Legacy Gifts (lead generation, donor discovery, qualification, automated cultivation and appointment-setting)

What is MarketSmart?

Major and legacy gifts are responsible for most donation revenue. With that in mind, they aren’t something your nonprofit can afford to overlook. However, generating leads among this subset, qualifying them for caseloads, and cultivating relationships with these important supporters is no easy feat. Fortunately, MarketSmart is here to help you pinpoint the individuals that are qualified, have opted-in for cultivation, and are interested in meeting with you. The MarketSmart team goes beyond traditional wealth insights and focuses on what really matters: donors’ passions, interests, and connections to your cause along with their readiness and permission for your outreach and interest in more intense relationship-building or even solicitation.

MarketSmart supplies a comprehensive system for generating leads, qualifying (donor discovery), cultivating, and prioritizing major and legacy donor prospects for outreach and solicitation based on readiness and interest. Thanks to our tech-enabled software and services, you’ll more easily form relationships with wealthy, passionate, and philanthropic-minded donor prospects with a focus on their affinity and propensity to give. And, you’ll be able to do it at scale so you can be more efficient and effective at lower cost.

With the powerful engagement opportunities this donor research solution generates, you’ll be one giant step closer to securing transformational long term support.

Take a look at MarketSmart’s donor research software that helps cultivate major donor relationships.

Top Features of This Prospect Research Solution

MarketSmart’s System enables nonprofits of all sizes to engage with major donors and major donor prospects in more efficient and effective ways. Here an overview of what we provide:

  • Donor surveys. We have a turnkey technology-based System that does all the legwork to create comprehensive surveys that inspire donors to tell you why they care about your mission, what programs they’re most interested in, how they prefer to give, and much more. Think of it as tech-enabled donor discovery. Best of all, the responses we capture from donors are scored and prioritized for your review in an interactive dashboard!
  • Detailed donor profiles. Chances are, you already have individual profiles for your supporters. How much insight is your current profiling system really giving you, though? MarketSmart generates engagement scores for each prospect based on their online interactions with your organization so you know who to reach out to and when.
  • Digital body language tracking. By looking at prospects’ interactions on your website, you’ll have a much better idea of how to engage with them. Create targeted communications based on which pages each lead visits, which resources they download, and more!
  • Mapping for meeting major donor prospects. Nothing creates trust and connection quite like face-to-face interaction. While you communicate with a prospective major donor, MarketSmart’s tech will map out potential meet-up opportunities. Plus, it does this while keeping other leads warm with automated communications that are personalized and relevant based off of what we learn about a donor.

These services provide a 360-degree view of your prospective major donors so that you can effortlessly cultivate relationships and build trust with prospects.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

MarketSmart’s mission involves helping nonprofits treat donors with respect and authenticity while allowing them the opportunity to opt-in to develop strong and long-lasting relationships. With our technology and tailored professional help, your major gifts team will identify qualified leads and encourage prospects to set their own appointments to meet with you or your fundraising staff.

Our services and software go beyond traditional wealth screening and help you qualify, prioritize and land meetings with philanthropic-minded major donor (or legacy donor) prospects with ease. 

Cultivate strong major and legacy donor relationships with MarketSmart’s donor research software

DonorSearch offers the best donor research software for wealth screening

DonorSearch: Best Donor Research Software for Wealth Screening

What is DonorSearch?

While some donors have a strong passion for giving, they don’t necessarily have the funds to do so in large quantities. This is where DonorSearch can help. DonorSearch offers robust prospect research software that identifies qualified donors and prospects based on comprehensive wealth and philanthropic screening.

This software gathers actionable wealth analytical data, including ability to give, philanthropic activity (including political giving), and nonprofit affiliations. Like we’ve discussed, prospect research is an essential component of any effective fundraising plan, and DonorSearch’s vast database is more powerful and effective than traditional manual prospect research methods.

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

To help you gain a good sense of who your most qualified leads are, DonorSearch offers these services:

  • Prospect identification. This tech pinpoints leads based on capacity & potential willingness to give for both current and prospective donors.
  • Top prospect verification. DonorSearch’s team will manually verify top prospects to maximize accuracy.
  • Relationship mapping. Using a visual depiction of donors’ personal and professional relationships, you can learn what connections you have to prospective donors.
  • Analytics and reporting. With their dedicated online software, you’ll be able to search and prioritize any data the system gathers, such as business affiliations, wealth data, philanthropic history, and a myriad of other data points.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

DonorSearch leverages the nation’s largest philanthropic database of 150+ million records and consistently adds 500,000 records per week. Because of this, you’ll gain insight you can’t find anywhere else.

They’re also forward thinking when it comes to product innovation, releasing new features frequently, and constantly looking for ways to better serve their customers.

Explore DonorSearch’s comprehensive donor prospect research software

WealthEngine offers the best donor research software for software integrations

WealthEngine: Best Donor Research Software for Software Integrations

What is WealthEngine?

Effectively engaging prospective donors means waiting until the right moment to reach out. To locate prospects who are ready for your outreach, you’ll need to accurately predict the likelihood of conversion and create targeted outreach. If you’re not interested in using MarketSmart’s “affinity first” approach to solving this problem, then WealthEngine can help with their predictive data solution.

WealthEngine’s technology consumes trillions of data points to create powerful insight into prospect propensity, capacity, and intent. Its cloud-based architecture can create more than 250 million pre-scored profiles based on all that data. This allows you to prioritize your time to analyze and engage their prescribed  “top prospects.”

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

Gather useful analytics and learn who your donors are with WealthEngine.

Here are some of the most effective features this donor research software offers:

  • Donor segmentation. Divide your donors based on common characteristics, such as wealth and lifestyle signals. By segmenting your audience, you’ll easily see what motivates prospects to engage. Then, easily adjust your communications to appeal to each segment.
  • Search, tag, filter, and favoriting features. Keep track of and prioritize donors using search and favoriting features. Set search filters based on what a donor’s income is, where they live and work, what their donation history is, and a myriad of other data points. Then, digitally favorite your top prospects.
  • Prioritization of promising prospects. Identify top prospects and predict who’s most likely to engage next. From here, conduct targeted outreach. By having a sense for what moves them, you can create personalized appeals that should support lasting engagement.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

With an abundance of nonprofit software integrations, you won’t have to worry about transferring all your donor data by hand between systems. Your platforms should work together, not against one another. 

Their high-value integrations enable you to find, understand, and engage with wealthy prospects without spending too much time copying and pasting data into and out of Excel spreadsheets. With over 35 integration partners, WealthEngine’s donor research tools will improve your workflow, not interrupt it.

Check out WealthEngine’s donor prospect research software

iWave offers the best donor research software for segmentation

iWave: Best Donor Research Software for Segmentation

What is iWave?

Effective fundraising is about more than just getting new donors; it’s about cultivating those supporters into long-lasting members of your organization who feel valued. To do this, you’ll want to leverage software that helps you to create segments for targeting your communications.

iWave is a donor research solution that gives nonprofits access to powerful fundraising intel on both current and prospective donors in their existing donor management system. Similar to DonorSearch and WealthEngine, iWave focuses on trying to find data on your donors to help you build a better view into who they are and why they might care about your organization. 

Top Features of This Donor Research Tool

Regardless of your nonprofit’s size, iWave can enable you to reach your aspirational fundraising goals. This donor research software offers a handful of key features to help you identify fundraising opportunities, including:

  • Segmentation. Locate donors with common interests, affiliations, and a handful of other screening analytics. Then, divide them into segments based on the parameters you set.
  • Prospect profiles. Manually compile profiles for each prospect or have the system automatically generate profiles based on propensity, affinity, and biographic information.
  • Alerts for significant profile changes. Set your system to notify you whenever there’s a significant change on a prospect’s profile. That way, you’ll know the right time to make an ask based on accurate information.
  • New prospect identification. Use wealth screening and list building features to generate new leads. Then, analyze each prospect’s likelihood of giving.

Learn how MarketSmart can help you take your donor research to the next level.

Learn More

What sets this donor prospect research software apart? 

Similarly to the other donor research companies we’ve highlighted, iWave offers access to wealth, philanthropic, and biographic information for each of your constituents. What sets iWave apart from its competitors is their powerful segmentation based on these data points. 

Explore iWave’s prospect research tools for better segmentation

Fundraising Report Card offers the best free donor research software

Fundraising Report Card: Best Free Donor Research Software 

What is Fundraising Report Card?

Chances are, your fundraising isn’t completely fulfilling its potential. Figuring out where you need to pick up the pace and focus your efforts can be nearly impossible. Thankfully, software like Fundraising Report Card can help your organization fill in the gaps. This intuitive technology can help your organization gain a better, more advanced understanding of your past fundraising to inform future decisions.

Fundraising Report Card offers a free fundraising analytics tool for nonprofits. Powered by MarketSmart, it was developed to help nonprofits analyze past donor behavior to inform future fundraising efforts. Best of all, the software is 100% free and enables nonprofits of all sizes to enhance their fundraising efforts with ease.

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

Fundraising Report Card allows organizations to fully optimize their fundraising efforts with insightful analytics. With the help of Fundraising Report Card, your team will be able to do the following: 

  • Track fundraising key performance indicators (KPIs). Track KPIs for individual donors such as average donation amount, donation frequency, donor lifetime value, and so on to locate any untapped potential.
  • Analyze performance metrics. Using an intuitive dashboard, gain a better picture of your fundraising. View any significant metrics, such as donor acquisition, retention, churn, reactivation, and so on.
  • Create prospect portfolios. Portfolios can be based off of donors who have lapsed, reactivated, upgraded, downgraded, and more. This can help you recover lost donors and identify major gift prospects.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

Of all the softwares listed on this page, Fundraising Report Card is the only one that is truly and genuinely 100% free. Using Fundraising Report Card’s analytics, you’ll be able to compare the effectiveness of different fundraising activities and donor segments. Figure out how to increase retention and enhance your fundraising efforts. Export donor segments from reports and create actionable lists of donors to engage with today. 

Best of all, analyze your fundraising efforts using an intuitive visual dashboard. View a myriad of key analytics like donation growth, donor retention, and donor acquisition all for free. This way, you’ll know what your team is doing right and where it can improve.

Donor-Research-Software_Fundraising-Report-Card-Screenshot [alt text: Fundraising Report Card’s donor research software offers useful performance analytics and reporting.]

Reeher Platform offers the best donor research software for higher education institutions

reeher donor research software

Reeher Platform: Best Donor Research Software for Higher Education

What is Reeher?

Higher education institutions typically require highly customizable and adaptable solutions as a result of how large and complex they are. Complexity shouldn’t inhibit fundraising though, and there are dedicated tools on the market to help schools reach their revenue goals. 

Although every other solution we’ve addressed above could work at a higher education institution, Reeher stands out from the rest as being solely focused on working with higher education. They offer data-driven software that enables higher education institutions to cultivate donors, drive alumni participation, and increase fundraising results. 

Top Features of This Donor Research Tool

When revamping your school’s fundraising approach, consider incorporating Reeher Platform’s tools, which provide these features:

  • Custom predictive models. When you locate top prospects, prioritize them based on inclination and capacity to give.
  • Web-based tools. Whether you’re at your desk or on the go, you can access your data anytime, anywhere using SaaS-based tools and mobile applications.
  • Strategic guidance. When you invest in Reeher Platform, their professional customer service team will give you comprehensive advice, knowledge, and training.

What sets this donor prospect research software apart? 

Reeher was developed specifically for higher education, so you’ll know your school’s advancement team is receiving the best, most tailored software for your sector. Identify your best prospects, raise more money, and boost your team’s efficiency all within one system.

Check out Reeher Platform’s donor research software developed for higher education institutions

360MatchPro offers the best donor research software for matching gifts

360MatchPro: Best Donor Research Software for Matching Gifts

What is 360MatchPro?

Encourage donors to support your cause with matching gifts. Donors will be able to double (sometimes even triple!) their contributions without spending another dime. With the help of software like 360MatchPro, you’ll instantly identify these opportunities.

360MatchPro is the leading matching gift automation platform. It enables larger nonprofits to identify more matching gift opportunities, which enhances their fundraising efforts and increases revenues. Supporters will feel like they’re making a bigger impact thanks to matching gift opportunities.

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

360MatchPro offers a number of features to maximize your matching gift potential. Backed by the world’s largest matching gift database, you can take advantage of the following features:

  • Gather employer guidelines. View employer guidelines for each supporter including maximum and minimum match amount, employee eligibility requirements, nonprofit eligibility requirements, and more.
  • Automate and target outreach to match-eligible donors. Set up automated reminder emails to drive donors’ matches to completion. Adjust the frequency and timing of each email, and brand them to your organization, too.
  • Forecast matching gift revenue. Accurately predict fundraising dollars based on the percentage of match-eligible donations, where donors are in the match process, and where the largest revenue opportunities are.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

360MatchPro can automatically guide donors through the gift matching process. It draws from a comprehensive database, including companies that employ more than 98% of match-eligible donors. 

Over 18 million individuals work for companies that offer matching gifts, so it’s highly likely some of your donors aren’t aware of their employers’ matching gift programs and how much further their donation to your organization could go. Letting donors know about their eligibility will help your nonprofit raise more money while engaging supporters in a new way. Donors will appreciate stretching their dollar even further and supporting their favorite nonprofit (that’s you!).

Explore 360MatchPro’s prospect research tools that locate more matching gifts

Foundation Directory Online offers the best donor research software for grants

Foundation Directory Online: Best Donor Research Software for Grants

What is Foundation Directory Online?

Not all fundraising dollars come from individual donors. A smart fundraising strategy includes an actionable plan for acquiring grants too. This meaningful source of income is regularly overlooked by many organizations, and with good reason: securing grants is no easy task. Oftentimes, nonprofit professionals recognize that grants are beneficial, but they don’t quite know where to look for them. That’s where dedicated software like Foundation Directory Online comes into play.

Foundation Directory Online is a dedicated grant research software that gives nonprofits the most up-to-date, comprehensive information about grantmakers. With around 165,000 foundations in the U.S. alone, there’s likely a few grant opportunities your nonprofit can uncover.

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

To kick off your grant seeking efforts, consider these key features that Foundation Directory Online offers:

  • A global search bar that yields comprehensive results to find relevant grantmakers. Enter a phrase describing your work. Then, refine your results using the Advanced Search & Filters fields.
  • Grantmaker profiles that provide useful summaries of funders’ work. Their team constantly monitors countless reliable sources to ensure these entries are up-to-date.
  • Detailed grant information including recipients, descriptions, types of support along with guidance such as who’s most likely to fund your work, how much to request, and so on.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

90% of U.S. foundations don’t have websites, meaning they’re nearly impossible to find without some extra help. With the help of Foundation Directory Online, you’ll receive the most exhaustive and up-to-date knowledge and insights from their comprehensive database on all 165,000 U.S. foundations.

Check out Foundation Directory Online’s prospect research software for improved grant seeking

Prospect Visual offers the best donor research software for data visualization

Prospect Visual: Best Donor Research Software for Data Visualization

What is Prospect Visual?

Understanding raw data points is not nearly as effective as when analytics are displayed in a visual format. Human beings are visual creatures. Generally speaking, without some way to visualize the data, you can’t fully comprehend it. Using donor research software like Prospect Visual, you’ll make the most out of your data by actually seeing it at work.

With information on 90 million professionals, Prospect Visual is one of the most comprehensive sources of personal donor relationships. Nonprofits can create focused strategies to reach prospective donors and generate more major donor leads.

Top Features of This Donor Research Tool

Backed by data on over 90 million individuals, Prospect Visual offers a number of useful features for organizations just like yours, such as:

  • Relationship mapping. This research tool tracks 64 billion relationships for 90 million professionals. Using a visual depiction of your constituents’ relationships, identify the strongest connections to targets from within your organization’s existing network.
  • Transparent, comprehensive data. For every piece of data gathered, Prospect Visual offers specific sources to back it up. You’ll know exactly what their team read, where they read it, and when they read it.
  • Responsive, client-centric service. The Prospect Visual team focuses on clients’ needs and preferences. The features seen and the data gathered with their prospect research tools are based substantially on clients’ needs and requests.

What sets this donor prospect research software apart? 

By putting your constituents’ relationships in a visual format, you won’t be stuck looking at a bunch of incoherent data points. Instead, you’ll be able to understand connections within your existing donor database that you may not have tapped into before.

Explore Prospect Visual’s donor research software for data visualization

NPO Authority offers the best donor research software for small nonprofits

NPO Authority: Best Donor Research Software for Small Nonprofits

What is NPO Authority?

No two nonprofits are exactly alike. There’s a major difference in the needs of small nonprofits and large nonprofits especially. Many donor research software providers aim to serve mid- and large-sized nonprofits, leaving small nonprofits without an affordable solution that suits their needs. 

Fortunately, services like NPO Authority create software specifically for smaller nonprofits. NPO Authority’s tech solution provides affordable wealth and philanthropy screening services, analytics, and fundraising solutions for smaller nonprofits. 

Top Features of This Prospect Research Tool

To enhance your small nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, check out some of the features NPO Authority’s offers:

  • Batch screening that delivers results based on multiple data sets, such as ratings, giving capacity, and more.
  • Editable and detailed profiles for each constituent with the option for user customization.
  • In-depth philanthropy and wealth analytics to identify propensity and capacity to give.
  • Analytics and rankings including relationship scores, annual gift scores, planned gift scores, and major gift scores.

What sets this donor research software apart? 

Most tech solutions are aimed to serve larger nonprofits even though smaller nonprofits need just as much (if not more) assistance. Luckily, NPO Authority offers comprehensive solutions for small nonprofits at an affordable rate. Plus, NPO Authority partners with DonorSearch, providing you the best bulk screening services in the industry. You’ll have access to all the data you need and then some without breaking the bank.

Explore NPO Authority’s donor research software that was developed specifically for small nonprofits

If you’re not leveraging donor research software, odds are you’re not tapping into growth opportunities that are right in front of you. For optimal results, invest in the right technology so you’ll engage with the right donors at the right time. 

Remember, fundraising—major donor fundraising especially—means establishing and continuously developing relationships with your supporters. When rethinking your fundraising plan, enlist the help of professional prospect research tools that help you do exactly that. 

And remember, technology isn’t a “silver bullet.” If it was, we’d all be out of jobs! Fundraising is human, it’s an art and a science. Let technology support you in your efforts to further your organization’s mission, and consider this list as a good starting point when researching your options.

Get started with MarketSmart to cultivate better relationships with major donors
Check out these helpful resources to enhance your search for donor research software

Additional Resources for Donor Research Software

To expand your fundraising possibilities and cultivate strong donor relationships, explore these helpful resources:

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About the author

Zach Shefska is Chief Operating Officer at MarketSmart. Outside of the office, you'll find Zach behind either a pottery wheel or flight controls of a Piper PA-28 airplane.