Knowledge Center

Short Reviews of Donor Management Systems (DMS)

Core to a nonprofit organization's fundraising and outreach efforts is a Donor Management System (DMS). With appropriate personnel and processes in place to effectively manage the system, a DMS can make processes for communicating effectively with your constituents (with up to date contact information!) much more streamlined and accurate.

Every organization is different, so it's difficult to recommend one particular DMS for everyone. Instead, the Technology Program has reviewed a handful of DMS that may fit your organization's needs (and budget). Please read the following reviews and remember to consider your particular requirements when selecting a donor management system.


CampBrain is a leading camper management system. It is focused on camper registration functionality, but has included an add-on donor module within the past couple of years as well. Its donor and gift management functionality is still growing and does not yet match strict Donor Management System features, but it is definitely a viable option.

CampBrain is an installed application. It can be managed on one person's computer. However it is recommended that the application be hosted on a file server at the organization so that multiple users can easily access the data. The data in CampBrain is stored in a Microsoft Access database, which allows for relatively easy maintenance and creation of forms and custom reports.

CampBrain also offers Online Giving. However, gifts must be moved from the camper registration payments section to the Gifts section of CampBrain manually.


  • CampBrain offers strong camper management functionality
  • Utilizes Microsoft Access for storing data and managing reports and forms
  • New forms can be developed with Access for data input


  • Not a hosted option - organizations must maintain and back up the system themselves
  • Donor management module isn't as strong as Donor Management Systems like DPO and eTapestry…but it is quickly improving
  • Number and placement of custom fields is limited


Camper Registration Software $2800*

*Includes 3 workstation licenses. Price is not dependent on the number of records in the databas

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:

$4189 for first year = $2800 (camper registration system) + $750 + $639 (support)

Annual Maintenance Plan which its price is based on 18% of your total purchase price



CampRegister is another camp management system that is a contender in the donor management world. CampRegister's donor management offerings do have some shortcomings, however.

CampRegister doesn't meet some of the more basic needs for donor/gift management such as split gifts and poor household management. It does offer some other notable features such as "open contacts" management and directly recording online donations into the database. Camp Register also offers its own "Alumni Portal" interface that allows a user to edit their personal information, make a donation, or register for an event.


  • Robust "open contacts" dashboard
  • Simple integration with online donations
  • Unlimited custom fields


  • Sub-par donor and gift management and reporting features
  • Organizations can't easily batch upload new contacts without the help of Camp Register staff
  • Weak household management

650 registrations (all for camp)
$1,000-$2,500 setup
$5-$8 per registration

Credit Card Transaction Fee: 2.95% + .25
E-Check Transaction Fee: 1.95% +$.10

*Price as of August 2009


DonorPerfect Online

DonorPerfect Online (DPO) offers a flexible, but relatively simple product that will meet the needs of most nonprofits looking to better manage their donor and gift information. Each screen allows you to add, delete, or move fields. Some more advanced functionality is missing or lacking (such as a simple custom report writer and robust audit trail functionality), but it offers most required features.

DPO allows users to report on any field in the system. The reports are plain but functional. However the reporting module can be cumbersome to learn and doesn't offer a simple relational-database view to understand which fields can be run together on reports. DPO also offers a very easy to use Filter feature to restrict the results on any report in the system.

The design of DPO is dated and doesn't offer a quick constituent lookup. However, DPO will soon launch an updated design that should improve these areas.

Overall, DPO is a solid product and would be a wise choice for many nonprofits.


  • Offers most DMS functionality at a very reasonable price
  • Very customizable - can add and move fields almost anywhere in the system
  • Hosted solution - no need to manage versions/backups


  • Outdated design; no quick search on each page
  • Custom report writer is not intuitive
  • Some advanced features are unavailable

$20 per month per concurrent user
$10 per month per 1000 records

Setup Fee:
~$1500 (Varies depending on each organization. Initial data import is usually ~$1,000 - $1,200, depending on number of records and complexity of data; Setup is a flat $195 fee; One hour of customized phone training (recommended) is $200)

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$90 per month = $50 (base system) + $40 (concurrent users)


Donor Tools

Donor Tools is one of the newest, web-based donor management services available. DonorTools does not offer a complete set of donor management features, but does offer a very simple set of the most basic DMS functionalty at a low cost. DonorTools continues to add new functionality as they respond to user's requests.

DonorTools offers a fresh, uncluttered interface. Inputting new constituents is easy and effortless. There is an import option that allows you to easily add new constituents. DonorTools even supports use on iPhones!

DonorTools offers integrated Online Giving with PayPal. Gifts are submitted via PayPal and the data is then sent to the DonorTools back-end automatically. Organizations receive a custom DonorTools URL and can track progress of a current fund/campaign vs. its goal.

DonorTools does have its limitations. It does NOT offer pledge support. Organizations can't edit drop-down options or create custom fields. And standard fundraising reports are fairly limited at this time.

DonorTools probably doesn't offer enough basic donor and gift management functionality to consider at this time. But - as it continues to improve its feature set - it is a product that should be watched closely.


  • iPhone Support
  • Online donations built-in based on PayPal
  • There is a search function in the top left corner which allows you to search for a donor on any page


  • Missing some basic donor management functionality - no pledge support
  • Limited standard fundraising reports
  • Cannot add custom fields to system

$30 per month*

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$30 per month (base system and unlimited concurrent users)

*Donor Tools also offers a $5/month option. It limits the number of SmartTags and Sources, and doesn't offer Quickbooks integration.



eTapestry offers a full-featured, but somewhat complex donor management system that will meet the needs of most nonprofits looking to better manage their donor and gift information. Now owned by Blackbaud, eTapestry offers a suite of add-ons (for additional cost) that include much more integrated functionality. eTapestry has a modern interface and robust reporting and audit trail functionality.

eTapestry's menus are relatively well laid out. It offers a search bar on every page of the system so that user's can navigate to a new constituent quickly. eTapestry allows users to drill down in individual reports to the most granular data. eTapestry offers a large suite of standard fundraising reports. Reports can be scheduled and even emailed to people automatically.

The system is a bit more feature-rich and complex than others (like DPO). This comes at a price, however - complexity. eTapestry may take a bit more time and training to master the system.

eTapestry offers a very strong donor management system that can be greatly expanded with add-ons (for additional cost).


  • Reports can be auto-generated and emailed to users on a regular basis
  • Feature-rich; can be expanded with additional integrated modules such as online giving and event registration, prospect research, and personal fundraising pages
  • Easily search for constituents on any page of system


  • Complexity of functionality and interface may take time to learn
  • Add-ons will quickly increase price

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$167 a month = $117 (base system for 1,001 to 5,000 records) + $50 (fee per concurrent user)

Support Costs:
Telephone Support - $27.50/month first user



GiftWorks is a well-designed, installed donor management system. It can be one of the most inexpensive DMS options out there. GiftWorks offers a clean user interface and an easy to use search bar that is prominent on each screen.

GiftWorks tracks each letter or email sent from the system. GiftWorks offers easy-to-create charts and reports. However, there is limited support for custom fields in ad-hoc reports.

GiftWorks does have some limitations. The Standard version (priced and reviewed here) doesn't offer support for recurring gifts. And GiftWorks Standard allows only limited customization: a max of 24 custom fields can be added to the system and existing fields cannot be renamed or moved.


  • One of the cheapest solutions available
  • Offers most required donor and gift management functionality
  • Clean interface; reports include charts and graphs


  • Not a hosted option - organizations must maintain and back up the system themselves
  • Limited custom input fields (Standard version)

$499 (Standard version) per workstation
$40 a month for email support, training, and all future GiftWorks Standard or Premium upgrades

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$499 (Standard version) + $480 ($40 x 12 months of support/upgrades) = $979*

*First year costs



Neon by Z2 Systems offers a strong donor management system with some additional functionality as well.

Neon offers strong reporting features. Ad-hoc reports can include nearly any field displayed to users. Reports can include custom data columns, data sets, sorting, grouping, logos, and headers. There is also a list of favorite reports to give users quick access to the information they need most often.

Neon also allows users to send emails through Neon's own email server (rather than exporting and sending through a service like Constant Contact).

However, Neon does have limitations. Existing fields can't be moved or deleted. It is impossible to control user permissions to specific fields or sections in the system. And split gifts are not supported in Neon.

Neon will meet the needs of most organizations looking for a better way to handle their constituent data.


  • Excellent reporting features
  • Strong email services


  • Price is higher than other similar solutions for small number of users and records
  • Cannot move/delete existing fields
  • Lackluster permissions handling

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$125 a month (base system & up to 2 concurrent users free) + $399 one-time setup fee (basic setup)


Sage Fundraising 50

Sage Fundraising 50 offers a strong donor management system that is fairly easy to use. Sage Fundraising 50 is able to handle all types of donors and gifts (such as split gifts, pledges, and memorials). Sage's navigation is easy to use, although the look and feel is a bit dated.

Sage offers strong "open contacts" management. Tasks and Calendar "open contacts" can be synchronized with Outlook. Sage also offers a number of standard reports that can be displayed on the screen, exported as a PDF, emailed, or included in a mail merge. However, Sage's feature set for custom reports is sub par. It is possible to pick the data you would like to query on, but the data must be exported to be manipulated.

Sage Fundraising 50 is usually an installed solution. It is possible to have Sage host the system for an organization. However, the costs for Sage Fundraising 50 is already higher than other options, and the hosted solution is even more expensive.


  • Capable of handling all types of gifts/pledge options
  • "Open contacts" can be synchronized with Outlook


  • More expensive than other similar options
  • Dated look and feel
  • Query functionality but no dedicated custom report writer

5000 Records/2 concurrent Users:
$5,813 a year = $4,650 (2 users/unlimited records) + $1,163 (maintenance & support) (desktop version)

$6,750 (hosted version) + 25% of the license cost for yearly maintenance and support fee

25% of the license cost for yearly maintenance and support

*Price as of August 2009