Charity database software - top UK CRMs for charities

by Andy Pearson in December 9th, 2020

This post is aimed at UK-based charities looking to operate more efficiently by adopting contact database software, which is typically referred to as a CRM (customer relationship management) system. 

There is a broad range of charity CRM software available so an important first step is to ensure you have a clear understanding of your needs. This post provides a list of the top charity CRMs that serve the UK market and it also provides guidance to help you understand the ways in which they differ. CRM software that is great for one organisation may not be appropriate for another, so understanding your own needs is critical. 


Types of charity CRM

Charity CRMs can be roughly grouped based on four key areas of focus. While there are some competent 'all rounders' available, most CRM software will have its core strength in one of these areas. The list of CRM options below is broken down to reflect these categories. 

Membership

  • Automate online joining and renewal processes
  • Provide membership perks like restricted content, networking events and discounts

Fundraising

  • Collate fundraising data from multiple sources
  • Facilitate fundraising strategies across email, direct mail and social media

Impact

  • Case management and beneficiary communication
  • Capturing data on outcomes and impact

Advocacy

  • Outreach campaigns to drive actions like petitions and letter writing
  • Political influencing

Universal considerations for charity CRM selection

Whether your focus is membership, fundraising, impact or a bit of all three, there are some common considerations that UK charities should keep in mind when evaluating different options. 

  • Support for Direct Debit as the gold standard for regular payments
  • Compliance with UK data protection legislation (GDPR and the Data Protection Act)
  • Location of customer support services and hosting
  • Ease of use
  • Setup and ongoing costs

Charity database software - the best of the bunch

Membership

Many charities and non-profit organisations rely heavily on their membership. Well known examples include the National Trust and the RSPB but there are thousands of small organisations that rely on a dedicated group of volunteers to deliver their work. Membership charities have different needs to other types of charities and this section features options with particularly strong membership functionality. 

White Fuse (UK)

White Fuse is all-in-one CRM software for charities, particularly those with a membership component to their work. It includes comprehensive tools for managing membership, fundraising and email marketing. It also includes website tools that can be used to build a full website or a member portal alongside your current website. 

  • Pricing: starts at £30 per month.  

Beacon CRM (UK)

Beacon is one of the newest entrants to the charity database/CRM market and it's adding new functionality at a rapid pace. Beacon is clearly targeted at UK fundraising charities with attractive functionality covering fundraising and gift aid management. It follows Google's design principles so the administrative interface is modern and presents information clearly.

  • Pricing: per user and is based on tiers with increasing functionality available. The basic set of functionality is £20 per user per month

Personify Wild Apricot (USA)

Comprehensive membership management tool based in the US with website builder, event management and member portal capabilities. 

  • Pricing: free for up to 50 members, then pricing from $40 per month.

Fundraising

Key considerations for fundraising CRMs include management of direct donations online and via phone and SMS, major donor strategies, and drawing in data from sponsorship platforms. Grant tracking functionality is also really valuable if your organisation spends a large amount of time applying for small grants.  

Harlequin Software (UK)

Harlequin has been around for a long time. It is particularly big in the hospital and hospice sector and target medium-sized charities. The products covers CRM, finance, fundraising, membership and service delivery (so pretty much the whole works).

  • Pricing: not publicly available. 

Donorfy (UK)

Donorfy has been providing fundraising database software for around three years and it is a modern cloud-based platform based in the UK aimed at small to medium charities. The system has been well received and grown quickly. As the name suggests, it is a contact database that focuses on fundraising and has lots of functionality for organisations where fundraising is central to their funding model.

  • Pricing: start at £59 per month. It also offers a free version with limited functionality for up to 500 contacts. 

Access ThankQ CRM (UK)

ThankQ is another UK company. It has been around for a long time and is a more old-fashioned system that was originally an independent company but acquired by Access and now part of their wider suite of tools. It is aimed at large organisations as it can accommodate per-customer customisation (at a cost of course).

  • Pricing: not publicly available. 

Donorflex (UK)

In addition to tracking donations and events like most databases, Donorflex offers a range of more distinctive supporting features like lottery and raffle modules. 

  • Pricing: not publicly available. 

eTapestry (USA)

eTapestry is the entry-level offering from Blackbaud, the US-based global giant of charity CRM and fundraising software. Blackbaud also owns Raiser's Edge NXT and announced their intention to buy JustGiving in July 2017. As you can imagine from the biggest company out there, the offering is solid but not particularly innovative. It includes good website integration tools and competitive pricing so is definitely worth a look.

  • Pricing: from $119 USD per month for a basic plan allowing up to 1,000 contacts. 

Donor Perfect (USA)

Donor Perfect is a US outfit with a broad and mature offering that allows you to track all kinds of constituent data including corporate donors, grants, etc. While it’s clearly a US focused system it allows the system to be tailored to some extent for a UK audience. 

  • Pricing: from $89 USD per month for a basic plan allowing up to 1,000 contacts. 

Impact

Lamplight (UK)

Lamplight is another product aimed squarely at small charities. Unlike most of the other options in this post, it's not directly focused on managing supporters, though it does have some functionality in that area. Rather it's meant as an all-in-one database system for managing charity operations including service delivery and impact evaluation. 

  • Pricing: transparent but quite complex. It is modular, i.e. you pay for the elements you need and then multiplied by the number of projects you have So monthly cost can vary from £15 to hundreds. There are also a range of setup fees, which suggests you'll need their professional help to get the system configured for your needs. 

CiviCRM (USA)

CiviCRM is quite different from the other database solutions on this list because it is open-source. There are a bunch of things to consider when weighing up open-source vs modern cloud-based 'software as a service' tools. In summary, CiviCRM is a very powerful tool in the right hands but you need to have serious developer expertise on-hand because you are essentially crafting and maintaining your own database system, albeit from a set of pre-existing tools. It's a very different proposition. For membership charities, White Fuse is a powerful CiviCRM alternative

  • Pricing: varies depending on your chosen hosting company, developer and your approach to initial customisation and ongoing maintenance. 

Advocacy

Engaging Networks (UK)

Engaging Networks is an all-in-one advocacy focused solution that can drive email outreach, fundraising and various types of advocacy activties. 

  • Pricing: not publicly available. 

The Action Network (USA)

Action Network is all about engaging people in a cause. You can use it to organise people to take action online and offline, send mass email to recruit and mobilise new activists, engage activists with mobile messages, raise funds.

  • Pricing: based on usage, defined by monthly email volume as set out on its billing page.  

Others CRM databases available

Competition to be the top CRM for charities is fierce and there are also various other US-based charity databases to check out:

NeonCRM | Kindful | Kepla | Donor Tools

Your cart
    Checkout