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An App Development Guide for the Non-Profit Industry: Types, Features, & Projections

Non-profit organizations face a unique set of obstacles that large corporations do not, and customized software development can help. In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of software solutions available to the non-profit sector and make some projections for the future.

6 October 2021

by Crowdbotics

Non-profit organizations have a unique set of obstacles in the modern world because they have to rely on multiple, disparate forms of technology in a way that large corporations simply do not. They also have a radically different business model, and a radically different set of values from their for-profit counterparts.

When considering technology needs for the non-profit sector, it is important to note that there is no definitive non-profit sector technology stack. The technology needs of a non-profit will vary depending on its organizational goals, its size, the extent of its collaboration with other non-profits, and its reliance on technology to achieve its goals. This presents a number of unique challenges when choosing pre-built technological solutions for non-profits.

To meet these pressing needs and bridge the gaps in their operations, organizations should look to build customized software solutions and applications.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the different types of apps and software solutions available to the non-profit sector, the features these apps should have, and some projections for the future of this ever-growing market.

Challenges Facing the Non-Profit Sector

As a result of the pandemic, the non-profit sector has been hard hit by a funding shortage. Needs of the communities they serve have grown, but funding has not grown in a proportional response. This has led to a decrease in available resources, manpower, and trust among donors and the organizations that they support. In order to compensate for their dip in resources, non-profits have turned to technology to help them do more with less.

Technology has been a saving grace for non-profits because it has made it easier for them to deliver services to their clients. Organizations can now use technology to expand their fundraising reach, increase engagement, and open up more lines for communicating both internally and externally with donors, partner organizations, and the general public about their mission, progress, and needs.

For the most part, non-profit organizations struggle the most with fundraising, volunteer recruitment, internal communications, and community engagement. In this section, we’ll dig a bit deeper into each of these pain points and explain how software and applications can be used to mitigate them.


In the non-profit sector, donors often have very specific missions or causes that they want to fund. There may be a hospital in a particular community that a donor would like to fund, or a particular cause that a donor wants to support. In order to find a donor, non-profits must identify a specific mission or cause and then find a donor who is passionate about that mission or cause. This process can be very time-consuming, as non-profits must work to identify a mission or cause that a donor cares about, and then work to identify a donor who cares about that mission or cause.

In turn, this process has created a fundraising industry that is highly fragmented. Non-profits often work to identify donors that fit their particular niche and to cultivate those donors over time. The non-profit sector has created a system where it is difficult to reach a large number of people at once, and it is difficult to find people with large, general philanthropic goals.

The Solution

Non-profit organizations are always looking for ways to increase their fundraising efforts without relying too much on volunteers or staff. Technology can help non-profits reach out to potential donors in a number of ways. For example, by creating a crowdfunding platform, non-profits can allow donors to support projects in which they are interested, while also making it easy for donors to see how their contributions are being used. Non-profit organizations can also create online portals for their volunteers, to help volunteers feel more connected to the cause.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Volunteer Recruitment

Although it’s a common problem, many non-profit organizations struggle to recruit volunteers. They have a lot of technology-based solutions for volunteer management, but their tools aren’t as diverse as those available to for-profit companies.

It’s a big issue, especially for smaller non-profits that don’t have the funding to pay for widespread ad campaigns. There are a lot of reasons that people might not want to volunteer, and you have to address each of these concerns.

The Solution

Non-profit organizations can use technology to help them in their efforts to recruit volunteers in many different ways. They can create an online platform designed to promote volunteer opportunities, simplify the volunteer application process, and manage member applications. This could also enable non-profit organizations to manage their volunteer applications more efficiently and to increase their membership by promoting their organizations to new audiences.

Organizations could also create a volunteer portal that allows potential volunteers to self-select into appropriate volunteer roles or causes based on their interests, skills, and availability. Volunteers can use this portal to sign up for recurring volunteer tasks, such as cleaning up parks or distributing food. With some additional functionality, it could even allow volunteers to talk to each other about their experiences, to provide feedback to the organization, and to share their preferred volunteer tasks.


Communication is a crucial part of non-profit organizations. A successful non-profit organization is one that maintains a direct line of communication with its supporters. Donors want to know how their donations are being used, and the organization wants to make sure that it is transparent with its donors.

Non-profit organizations often lack the resources to create comprehensive communication strategies, but they are working to develop strategies that are, at the very least, representative of their mission. A non-profit organization’s communication strategy is often determined by the specific needs of its donors, which can create a trickle-down effect that affects the organization’s overall communication strategy.

The Solution

A customized software solution can help a non-profit organization in a number of ways. The most obvious benefit is that a customized software solution enables a non-profit to streamline its internal processes. By integrating different internal systems, a customized software solution can save a non-profit a significant amount of time and money.

Non-profits can also use a customized software solution to automate their external communication. Non-profits often rely on volunteers to help them do their work. By automatically sending out weekly progress updates to supporters and donors, a non-profit can free up valuable time for its staff.

Community Engagement

Community engagement is especially important for non-profits, because they often rely on community support to help them achieve their goals, and non-profits face a number of obstacles when automating community engagement.

These obstacles include budget constraints, competing teams with different agendas, and an inability to attract the attention of the community. This could be because they are not reaching the right people or because they are not providing the right incentives to participate.

The Solution

Technology can help non-profits to engage with the community in a variety of ways. Technology can improve the organization’s ability to engage with the public on social media and in other ways than at in-person events. Virtual events have been incredibly common in light of the pandemic, and technology makes these events possible. Technology can also improve the ability of non-profits to engage with followers and donors on social media with the help of automation and analytics.

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The Market for Non-Profit Apps Today

Although it would seem that charitable giving is experiencing a drop in the U.S., statistics say that it’s giving overall has grown 4.1% over the past year and that it’s the 6th consecutive year of growth.

Online giving and charitable donations have also grown by 12.1% over the past year, so it might be worthwhile for non-profit organizations to redirect their focus from in-person events to online platforms and channels instead.

Types of Non-Profit Apps Being Built Today

As we can see from the data in the previous section, there’s a substantial market for non-profit apps and for non-profit organizations to shift their in-person tactics towards something more digital. Products in this space can vary greatly, but we’ve included some of the most popular app types that you’ll find being built today, below.

Cloud-based CRM Software

A cloud-based CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is an online system that helps non-profit organizations manage their resources and their relationships with donors and other stakeholders, and it can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

This software is often called “donation management software,” because it helps organizations track and manage donations and other resources that they receive from donors. Cloud-based CRMs often have a few features in common—they have a simple user interface that allows any staff member to log in and view important information about donors, keep track of donation goals and other metrics for tracking effectiveness, and track donor sources so that they can recognize which donations have been successful

Examples of cloud-based CRMs for non-profit organizations include Salesforce, DonorPerfect, and Blackbaud.

Board Management Software

Board Management Software is a cloud-based platform that helps non-profit organizations manage their boards. It allows non-profit organizations to streamline the communication between board members, between board members and the executive team, and between the board and the community at large. Board Management Software records each board member’s communication history, centralizes information about the organization’s board members, and helps the executive team organize and run board meetings.

A few examples of Board Management Software include Boardable, OnBoard, and Govenda.

Fundraising Apps

A fundraising app is an application that non-profits use to raise money. It often involves the development of a mobile-friendly website as well as a mobile app, and it may include a donation platform as well. The app is usually used to collect donor information, but it may also include features that help non-profits to track donations or to develop and launch donation campaigns.

Non-profit organizations use fundraising apps to raise cash to fund their operations. They can use the app to collect donor information and to track donors, but they can also use the app to launch donation campaigns. The app may connect to a platform that allows them to create a variety of donation campaigns.

A few examples of Fundraising Apps include Give Lively, Pledge, and Network for Good.

Photo by OCG Saving The Ocean on Unsplash

Campaign Tracking and Planning Apps

A campaign tracking app is a software application that a non-profit organization uses to manage the flow of donations. These apps can be used to collect donations from supporters, to keep track of the status of those donations, and to generate personalized donation receipts for donors. They can also be used to manage a variety of donation collection points, including online, offline, and in-person. Campaign tracking apps for non-profit organizations can be hosted by the non-profit organization itself or by a third-party.

A few examples of Campaign Tracking and Planning Apps include Bloomerang, DonorPerfect, and MobileCause.

Database System Software

Database systems are programs that manage the information that makes up your organization. They hold sales records, membership information, donations, volunteer data, and more. The most common type of database is the relational database. Relational databases are organized into tables containing columns of data and rows of records, and they’re the backbone of most large organizations.

A few examples of Database System Software include Microsoft Access (for smaller organizations), Microsoft SQL (for larger companies), and MySQL (for open source organizations).

Survey Apps

A survey application allows non-profits to send surveys to their donors and other stakeholders and then to analyze and report on the survey data. Non-profits use survey applications to understand their donors’ needs, to encourage donors to give more, and to have a better sense of what their communities need.

Survey applications offer a way to collect data online, analyze that data, and make valuable decisions based on that data. They are useful for both internal teams and external clients, and they can be used in a variety of contexts, such as, internal communication, customer surveys, employee satisfaction, market research, cause surveys, and fundraising.

A few examples of Survey Apps include SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and Google Forms.

Fundraising Growth Platform

A fundraising growth platform helps non-profit organizations streamline their fundraising efforts by connecting them to new donors, encouraging repeat donations, and facilitating transactions. These software tools make it easier for non-profit organizations to raise funds through small, repeat donations, and common features include data collection forms on the website, automated email notifications to donors, tools for sending out personalized thank you messages, features for engaging donors in social media, mobile-friendly interfaces, integration with payment processing and payroll platforms – Integration with payroll platforms, and integration with accounting and marketing automation software.

A few examples of Fundraising Growth Platforms include OneCause, Fundly, and Bonfire.

Event Planning Software

Event planning software for non-profit organizations is software that helps non-profit organizations plan, manage, and market events. The non-profits that use event planning software are likely to use it to manage events such as fundraisers, picnics, parties, plays, concerts, seminars, conferences, competitions, conferences, workshops, retreats, and conferences. They’re also likely to use event planning software to market events via social media, email, print materials, promotional videos, and posters.

A few examples of Event Planning Software include Regpack, Eventbrite, and Soapbox Engage.

Photo by Su Nyoto on Unsplash

Features That Non-Profit Apps Should Have

When it comes to building non-profit apps, there are some things you should keep in mind.

Secure Donations – Non-profits should be able to track their donations in real-time and protect them from misuse.

Easy Donations – Non-profits should be able to create donation campaigns and fundraisers in minutes.

Mobile – Non-profits should be able to create and manage donation campaigns and fundraisers from their phones.

Social – Non-profits should be able to build and manage online communities and inspire and engage users to take action.

Local – Non-profits should be able to build and manage local events and campaigns.

Inspiring – Non-profits should be able to create and share inspirational stories about their work.

Easy to use – Non-profits should be able to easily create online fundraising campaigns and accept donations.

Affordable – Non-profits should be able to easily create online fundraising campaigns and accept donations.

Build Non-Profit Software Solutions with Crowdbotics

Crowdbotics is a full-service app development company with an abundance of experience working with enterprise clients to build the solutions that they need. Whether you’re looking for applications to help you streamline your operations or more efficiently handle donations, volunteers, and communication, we can build the high-quality tools you need 3x faster than manual development. To learn more, get in touch with us today for a detailed estimate!