Next-Level Software Selection for Nonprofits - Heller Consulting

Next-Level Software Selection for Nonprofits


Selecting software for your nonprofit isn’t what it used to be. There was a time when it was a well-established process with a repeatable formula:

  1. You had technology for a specific functional purpose.

  2. You decided you needed to replace it for some reason (it became outdated, or the vendor discontinued it, or you outgrew it, or you didn’t like the vendor).

  3. You sent out a request for proposals (RFP) and found a replacement that came closest to your list of product feature requirements and price point.

But things have changed.


The changing world of software selection for nonprofits

In our digital era, constituent and donor expectations are changing. Nonprofits’ needs and approaches are changing to meet those expectations. Meanwhile, new and more powerful solutions – from customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) solutions to marketing automation and fundraising software – continue to emerge in the market to help meet the varied and evolving needs of nonprofits.  

Selecting software is no longer just about replacing one software product with another. In fact, in some cases, one new solution can replace multiple software products. And it’s not just about choosing a CRM platform for your technology stack (although, that’s often part of the decision).

Today, it’s more about considering your organization’s goals and selecting a mix of technology that works together to help you achieve your mission most effectively – even if you aren’t implementing all of the software products right away.

Of course, the RFP process can still be a valuable tool, especially for nonprofits that must complete such a process to gain budget approval. It can help organizations to evaluate how well individual technology solutions align with their budget and list of product requirements.

However, it falls short in some areas. For example:

  • It can be complex and expensive.

  • It can be rigid, often boxing solution vendors into specific responses that don’t always paint a complete picture of the product.

  • It focuses on “scoring” software, often leaving out nuances and qualitative considerations, such as helping you to understand how one software solution fits into the bigger picture of your technology ecosystem now and for years to come.


In short, the RFP process alone can’t always help you select the right mix of technology for your nonprofit in today’s environment.

Technology assessments: A new level of software selection for nonprofits

Here at Heller Consulting, we find that nonprofits are seeing the value of working with our team through a technology assessment. This is a broader approach than an RFP process, focusing more on what an organization is trying to accomplish versus which individual software product best matches a list of functional requirements.

For example, we’re working with organizations including Greater Chicago Food Depository, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, and World Wildlife Fund Canada to help them:

  • Understand what they’re trying to accomplish with their organization and their technology

  • Identify and prioritize their current and long-term technology needs to meet their goals

  • Collaborate in-depth to:

    • Consider various technology approaches to achieve their goals

    • Understand the implications and tradeoffs of different combinations of software solutions

    • Develop a technology ecosystem strategy with the right mix of tools that work together to help the organizations meet their goals

And while we’re not here to sell organizations on any specific product, we do share our opinions based on more than 25 years of experience in helping nonprofits select, implement, and use software. That means organizations that work with us get the benefit of our experience in seeing what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to technology for nonprofits.

Here are some of the outcomes that organizations we work with see from a technology assessment:

  • Alignment of technology selections with organizational goals and guiding principles, which ultimately supports change management for the organization

  • Establishment of an underlying technology approach and platform that helps to guide and focus the selection of each technology product

  • Long-term roadmap for technology adoption and use across the organization

  • Clear technology selection based on greater amounts of information than a traditional RFP process

Take the next step in your technology journey

No matter where you are in your technology journey, the Heller Consulting team is ready to assist. We can help you review your goals, determine which technology approach and solutions are right for your organization, develop a technology business case and roadmap, and implement and support the solution. Contact us below to get started. 

About the Author

Jett Winders
As the Director of Business Development, Jett works collaboratively with nonprofits to map their business needs to CRM tools and functionality so that organizations can deliver their missions more effectively and raise money more efficiently.  With more than 15 years... Read More
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