6 Ways to Reduce Your Nonprofit’s Software Costs

Your nonprofit’s technology can be a big expense item – especially when it comes to major software, such as your customer relationship management (CRM) or fundraising software. Costs include everything from the software purchase itself to implementation, customization, maintenance, and training. But there are some clever ways you can save money on your nonprofit software.

6 ways to save money on your nonprofit’s software costs

Here are six ways to save money and get more out of your nonprofit’s software:

1. Find the right software fit.
A poor software match will cost your nonprofit in dollars and efficiencies. So, when you’re considering a move to new software, take time to understand if it’s truly a good fit for your organization’s needs today and for the next several years. Talk with vendors, watch demos, and employ the help of a nonprofit technology consultant like Cathexis Partners to be certain that the software you choose is the right match.

Learn tips on how to find the right software match for your nonprofit. Read The Ultimate Checklist for Selecting Software for Your Nonprofit.

2. Plan for software expenses.
Before you purchase new software for your nonprofit, be sure to understand the true costs of the software. There can be costs and fees around software licensing, transactions, payment processing, implementation, integration with other software, software customization, training, maintenance, and more.

Dig into each of these costs. Ask the software vendor to provide estimates for each cost and fee that are applicable with their product.  

Understanding all related expenses can factor into your software purchase decisions, helping your organization to avoid spending more than planned. It can also help you to budget accurately for both one-time and ongoing expenses.   

3. Negotiate your software contract.
Whether you’re purchasing new software or renewing your software contract, don’t assume that the initial contract from the software vendor is set in stone. To gain or keep your business, your software vendor might be willing to work with you on terms – such as contract length, annual fees, and transaction fees.

Talk with your software vendor about your organization’s needs and concerns, and ask what they can do to modify the contract. It could save you some valuable money.

4. Avoid scope creep with your software implementation.
You might be moving to a new software system for your nonprofit. Maybe you’re integrating a new system, like a peer-to-peer software platform, with your CRM system. You could be customizing an existing system. No matter what your software project might involve, beware of scope creep.

Scope creep is when you start out with a list of requirements for your project. Then partway through the implementation, people across the organization begin throwing in new requests. It can be tempting to say, “Well as long as we’re already working on this project, let’s address these other requests, too.”

There can be valid reasons for adding to a project. However, starting with a detailed list of requirements and sticking to it as closely as possible is one of the most effective ways to keep costs within budget.

5. Shrink your data storage costs.
Some software vendors charge fees for data storage. If this is the case with your nonprofit’s software, then reducing the amount of data housed in your software system can lower costs for your organization. Two tips to keep your data storage costs in check:

Keep your data clean. De-duplicate your records regularly so that you aren’t paying for redundant records. Make sure they stay clean by reviewing your data policies with new staff members. If you begin to see data issues, consider re-training the entire organization on your organization’s data entry standards.

Discover tips to help you tidy your data as part of your organization’s ongoing routine. Read the guide, 5 Tips for Keeping Your Nonprofit’s Data Clean and Ready to Use.

Delete or archive old records. Review your data and consider what you really need for today and the future. Reducing the number of records in your system can decrease your data storage costs. It also has the benefits of helping your system to run more efficiently and for your reporting to be faster and more accurate. And if you’re moving to a new software system, reducing the amount of data you migrate can help to reduce the labor costs of the software implementation.

6. Optimize the software you have.
This cost-saver is about efficiency and effectiveness. There are various ways to optimize the software systems you have so that your staff can get more done for your mission:

  • Automate. Software platforms often include process automation capabilities. By automating manual processes, like sending routine email messages, your staff can save valuable time that can be spent on connecting more personally and directly with donors, volunteers, and other constituents.
  • Use more features. You might be surprised to learn what a small fraction of your software’s features and capabilities that you use. Maybe that’s intentional. But in many cases, you simply might not know all that your software can do. In fact, you might even have software platforms with overlapping capabilities because you needed a solution at some point and didn’t realize those capabilities existed in software you already have.
    If you’re thinking about implementing new software, or if you’ve used the same software systems for several years, consider working with a nonprofit technology consultant like Cathexis Partners to review your current software. You might find that you don’t need new software after all or that you no longer need some of the software you’re paying for.
  • Invest in training. This might sound like an added expense versus a cost savings. But training doesn’t always cost more, and it offers benefits that can help your organization save time and money in the long run.
    Many software vendors offer on-demand trainings that allow your staff to learn more about your software at little or no cost. Making sure staff is well-trained leads to more effective use of your software systems. The result is higher staff productivity, lower software support costs, and even greater employee satisfaction with reduced staff turnover.
    If you’re not sure what training options your software providers offer, ask them. You can also check with your nonprofit technology consultant to see if they provide additional trainings that your software vendors do not.


Your nonprofit’s software doesn’t have to break the bank. Use the tips in this article to reduce your software costs and get more out of your technology investments.

If you’d like help selecting the right software for your nonprofit or getting more out of the software your organization already has, contact Cathexis Partners. We’re ready to help.

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