Best 5 CRM systems for Charities

Nonprofits are typically time-stretched and cash-poor – which is where CRM software can help. Here are the top charity CRMs to improve efficiency and optimise campaigns.

Our experts

We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality. This article was authored by:

After half a decade of research into the market, we think the top charity CRMs are:

  • Freshsales for premium contact outreach tools that can maximise fundraising efforts
  • Salesforce for nonprofit discounts and superlative reporting tools
  • HubSpot for outstanding campaign tools that help with brand awareness
0 out of 0
Best for:
Price per month (billed annually):
Price per month (billed monthly):
Nonprofit discount?
Features:
Contact limit:
Get started:

Salesforce CRM

HubSpot

Zoho CRM

Community development charities

Charities with lots of trustees

Seasonal fundraising

Shelters or hospices

Large-scale fundrasing projects

Free plan, or £12 per user

£20 per user

£38 (flat rate)

£12 per user

Contact sales team

£42 (flat rate)

£15 per user

N/A

Contact sales

40% off higher tiers

10 free users, then 70% off

Contact sales team

  • Unlimited contact each month
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Autoresponses
  • Automatic data capture
  • Mobile access and administration
  • Salesforce Inbox
  • 10 user limit
  • 2,000 emails per month
  • 5 active contact lists
  • Up to 3 dashboards permitted
  • Chatbots
  • Excellent ecommerce integration
  • Webforms
  • Email integration
  • Unlimited contacts
  • 100,000 contact limit
  • 5 webforms allowed
  • Email integration (250 limit per day)

Unlimited

Unlimited

1 million

Unlimited

100,000

At its heart, CRM is all about fostering relationships – the ultimate driver behind helping others.

Nonprofit organisations (NPOs) therefore need a people-focused CRM system that can organise and encourage donations, while communicating to donors and trustees what your foundation is about and where their money is going.

Below, our expert team of analysts has identified the top systems for NPOs. Our results are based on specific criteria including discounts, feature-focuses, and charity structures.

Short on time? You can also use the Startups free online quote-matching tool. Simply fill in some general details about your charity, and we’ll connect you with our top recommended providers.

Freshsales for donor outreach and tracking

Best for: community development charities

Freshsales Suite
4.5
Freshsales' huge list of features means you'll never be caught short when it comes to CRM.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Brilliant customer support
  • Automated workflows make managing work easy
Summary Freshsales (formerly Freshworks CRM) organises your customer and sales processes into one easy-to-use platform – from sales and marketing to data management. It boasts a genuinely impressive list of features, including an advanced AI tool, and is unparalleled in terms of the number of capabilities.
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Pros
  • Automated emails for campaigns and fundraising events
  • Built-in phone system and pay-as-you-go call rates
  • Mobile app for fundraising out and about
Cons
  • Some feature limitations on lower tiers
  • Can’t create invoices for donations

If you’re running a community-based organisation, like a local food bank or arts collective, we think Freshsales is the best CRM for you.

As an incredibly easy-to-use system with a penchant for customisation, you can store pretty much every bit of information about your donors in Freshsales, including addresses for door-to-door visits.

Communication is a must when it comes to raising money. People want to know exactly what they're donating to and where their money has gone. Freshsales boasts a built-in phone dialer with pay-as-you-go call rates for low-cost donor outreach. 

You can use this service to make as many phone calls as you’d like from inside the system. All relevant information – such as a donor’s bank details, name, and email – can then be quickly logged into the Freshsales system.

Freshsales’ AI tool ‘Freddy’ is also clever enough to allocate an automatic lead score to your contact. This is a great way to recognise and reward valuable supporter relationships.

Freshsales pricing

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

Freshsales Free

Freshsales Growth

Freshsales Pro

Freshsales Enterprise

£0

£12 per user

£35 per user

£55 per user

£0

£15

£35

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Freshsales costs £12 per user for its lowest-priced plan, putting it in the middle of the CRM cost spectrum. One area we think Freshsales doesn’t score so well in is feature allowances.

Most of its elements have caps. For instance, while it permits an unlimited number of contacts, only 1,000 of these can be used for marketing emails per month on the Freshsales Growth plan.

Salesforce for impact reporting

Best for: charities with lots of trustees

Case ticket

Salesforce
3.8
Best-suited to larger sales teams, Salesforce Essentials is a high-performing three-in-one CRM product - that comes at a high price.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Hundreds of prebuilt charts and template options for a quick overview of your sales pipeline
  • Our highest-scoring CRM software for organisational tools and contact management
Summary Salesforce Essentials is like a box of neopolitan ice cream. It mixes three small versions of its main CRM products: Marketing, Sales, and Service into one tempting combo, offering SMEs an all-in-one customer management solution. Costing £20 per month, per user, it's not the most wallet-friendly option. But our expert researchers give it 3.8 out of 5 overall thanks to its impressive usability and long feature list.
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Pros
  • Huge range of reporting tools
  • ‘Chatter’ function for cross-departmental communication
  • Custom dashboard to monitor fundraising targets
Cons
  • Business-centric jargon eg. ‘sales’ instead of ‘donations’
  • Steeper learning curve than platforms like Freshsales

Our full review of the Salesforce platform outlines that Salesforce is an incredibly sophisticated CRM tool, which makes it ideal for NPOs with complex operations and lots of trustees.

As you’ll be aware, every charity needs to prepare a trustee annual review each year, outlining where you’ve got your money from and what you’re planning to do with it.

Startups’ specialist team of testers found that Salesforce has the biggest range of dashboards and reports among all of our CRM brands, dramatically simplifying the process.

These include:

  • Deal reports
  • Activity reports
  • Lead reports
  • Revenue reports
  • Custom reports

Displaying this data is also very easy. You can use number and speedometer widgets or select a donut, funnel, line, bar, or dot chart.

Used alongside Salesforce’s high-powered analytics – including website visitor tracking – you can build real insights for your donor base and present key information to stakeholders. Such transparency is crucial to nurturing important working relationships with large partners.

Salesforce pricing

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

Salesforce Essential

Salesforce Professional

Salesforce Enterprise

Salesforce Unlimited

£20

£60

£120

£240

n/a

n/a

n/a

n/a

Up to 10

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Salesforce Essential costs £20 per user, per month. 

However, NPOs should contact the Salesforce customer team to qualify for Salesforce’s special ‘Power for Us’ package, which provides charities with 10 free subscriptions.

HubSpot for fundraising campaigns

Best for: seasonal fundraising

HubSpot Inbox

Hubspot CRM
4.2
An innovative marketing solution that's completely free.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Intuitive user interace
  • Brilliant email marketing features that make it easy to attract new business
Summary Aimed at SMEs, HubSpot Free is an innovative CRM solution that offers lots of add-ons to supplement its core focus on email and marketing outreach. Because of this, it doesn't have as much feature depth as other products. However, advanced UX-focused tools like its live and historical data sync mean it's an intuitive and affordable CRM choice.
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Pros
  • Permanently free plan for unlimited users
  • Social media lead generation
  • Free library of nonprofit resources
Cons
  • Poor customer support tools
  • No security emails

For campaigning and awareness, HubSpot’s scores are green across the board. A favourite amongst cash-poor charities due to its generous free plan, HubSpot takes care of all those repetitive outreach tasks that can take up a lot of management time.

Users can send follow up emails directly to donors from the HubSpot system. You can also send autoresponses, and gather insights on who is reading and engaging with your messages.

We therefore most recommend HubSpot to those who carry out seasonal campaigns – for example, themed sends during Christmas.

Another strong point is that HubSpot integrates with website builders, so you can use it for lead generation via webforms or pop-ups.

As a charitable cherry on top, you can also integrate HubSpot with ecommerce builders like BigCommerce and WooCommerce. This is a great way to upsell any charity merchandise sold on your website.

HubSpot pricing

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

HubSpot Free

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

£0

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£0

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

Unlimited

Unlimited

Two free users

Two free users

NPOs with more capital to spare can apply for HubSpot CRM’s nonprofit program, which offers a 40% discount for higher tiers.

However, these start from around £300 per month. As we noted in our HubSpot review, the HubSpot Marketing Hub Starter pack is a better way to spend your money (£38 per month, billed annually).

monday.com for volunteer management

Best for: shelters or hospices

monday.com
4.3
monday sales CRM is an all-in-one platform that enables business owners and sales teams to manage all their CRM functions in one central location.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Ecommerce integrations offered - rare for a CRM tool
  • Excellent customisation means you won't have to redesign your existing CRM process
Summary Monday.com offers well-designed creative tools that make it an endlessly customisable CRM system, perfect for tailoring to clients’ needs. The app also uses a visually appealing traffic light system to help you track customers throughout the pipeline, and has over 200 dashboard templates, making it a particularly stylish tool to use.
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Pros
  • Simple ‘traffic-light’ colour coded system
  • First-class resource for managing staff
  • Intuitive customisation tools
Cons
  • Confusing pricing structure
  • Can be slow to use

A large number of volunteers is exactly what a lot of charities want – but this can create issues when it comes to shift scheduling and communication.

monday.com is our top nonprofit CRM for volunteer management. This is due to a set of fantastic customisable tools, for which we gave monday full marks in our latest round of user testing. It’s also one of the many reasons monday.com took the crown as our best CRM for small business overall.

A particular highlight is the app’s preset templates. Drag-and-drop functionality means users can effortlessly move these around to:

  • Assign volunteer tasks/shifts
  • Instantly visualise volunteer availability and capacity
  • Automate post-event feedback forms
  • Create volunteer profiles with detailed notes

Being able to organise and coordinate each staff member is a smart way to improve the volunteer experience and increase retention, saving you time that would otherwise be spent attracting new talent. Still, if you need to recruit new volunteers, monday.com can take care of that as well.

Using its web form feature, you can embed integrated recruitment forms into your website, so people can easily sign up to support your cause.

monday.com pricing

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Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

HubSpot Free

HubSpot Marketing Hub

HubSpot Sales Hub

HubSpot Service Hub

£0

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£38 (flat rate)

£0

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

£42 (flat rate)

Unlimited

Unlimited

Two free users

Two free users

We recommend monday.com Basic. It permits unlimited users for just £7 per seat.

Complaints about monday.com’s confusing pricing structure are common amongst users. If you want to know more about how much the platform will cost you, read our monday.com pricing guide. 

Zoho CRM for grant applications

Best for: large-scale projects

Zoho CRM screenshot

Zoho CRM
4.5
Zoho CRM holds a huge range of data that means it's best for small businesses wanting strong analytics and reporting tools.
  • Free trial? Yes
  • Excellent onboarding and support functions
  • Huge range of report types
  • Clever social media workflow function
Summary Intelligent design is the best descriptor for Zoho CRM - every one of its features focuses on user experience first, which also means you have excellent customisation options to tailor the software to your business' unique processes. It also permits customer service queries at its free tier, which is a generous oddity compared to its rivals.
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Pros
  • Lots of integrations available for advanced CRM functions
  • Particularly good for customer service tools
Cons
  • Mobile app has been described as clunky
  • Less intuitive than other platforms when creating a workflow

Grant proposals take up a lot of time. If you’re wanting to get a project up and running quickly – for example, if you need the money to build a new play area in a local park – then you want to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

We think Zoho CRM is the best system for this duty due to its superb document management system. 

Users have access to a central library with relevant preset document templates. Need to find a particular donation invoice or a volunteer’s sponsorship form? Zoho stores all of this information in one easily accessible location. 

You’ll even have user hierarchies, so you can control who has access to which documents at any time.

Surprisingly, one of the most common reasons for proposal rejection is simple: the deadline for submission was not met.

Zoho CRM’s time management features include a calendar, appointment scheduling, and automated reminders. These will ensure that every grant or award application you submit is done on time, so you won't have to sacrifice funding due to silly time-based errors.

Zoho CRM pricing

0 out of 0
Price per month (billed annually)
Price per month (billed monthly)
Users

Zoho CRM Free

Zoho CRM Standard

Zoho CRM Professional

Zoho CRM Enterprise

Free

£12 per user

£18 per user

£35 per user

Free

£16 per user

£28 per user

£40 per user

3 Max

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Priced at £12 per user, per month, Zoho CRM has excellent value for money thanks to its premium offering and affordable cost.

How do I find the best CRM for charities?

Does it integrate with accountancy software?

An area of charity management that you really don’t want to get wrong is financial planning. Most nonprofits will use accounting software to manage their money.

We’d recommend you look for a CRM for charities which integrates with your existing tools so you don’t need to waste time downloading new platforms.

What are the contact limits?

Outreach is a really important part of attracting donations. Some CRM systems have contact limits on how many potential leads you can store, so it’s a good idea to check this beforehand.

Does it have a Document Management System (DMS)?

Another key requirement for nonprofit CRMs is that they have a DMS, for storing and sharing sponsorship forms, grant proposals, contracts, and any other document that you frequently use.

Does it have a DMS?
  • Freshsales
  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot
  • monday.com
  • Zoho CRM

Do you need a bespoke solution?

These recommendations come from our team of CRM experts. They are based on over five years of exhaustive research into the market.

But running an NPO can bring a unique set of challenges that you might also need to consider. To help you out, Startups has built a free-to-use online CRM comparison tool, designed to match you to the most suitable provider in just one minute.

Verdict

Freshsales is our top charity CRM software. You should choose Freshsales if you’re running a community-based organisation that needs to engage in local outreach and donation drives.

  • Salesforce has lots of nonprofit-specialist discounts and package deals. Advanced reporting tools also make it a good option for those with lots of trustees.
  • HubSpot is the best charity CRM for those running regular annual or seasonal campaigns. Its email marketing features are second to none.
  • monday.com is our top choice for nonprofit organisations that need to manage large numbers of volunteer staff, such as those running homeless shelters or hospices
  • Zoho CRM is best suited for charities that engage in large-scale projects. Its outstanding DMS is ideal for fundraising packs or grant applications.

What are the benefits of using a charity CRM?

Spreads awareness

CRMs are excellent for email marketing campaigns. These are a great way to engage in lead generation and spread awareness of the work your charity is doing.

Some CRMs, like HubSpot, boast in-built email design editors to personalise your emails. You can also use charity software to apply automated outreach tools to send regular appeals or personalised updates to your donor list.

Manages admin tasks

Because charities don’t have a lot of resources, many complex duties like managing finance, HR, and communications are often handled by one charity administrator.

CRM software helps to automate or simplify a lot of these tasks. For example, by storing meeting minutes inside the database to be automatically distributed to colleagues.

Makes reporting easier

Charity CRM software manages, analyses, and stores data for use by every employee or volunteer. This information can be used for many purposes, including creating visual donation pipelines and attracting corporate business partners.

Charity CRM FAQs
  • Do charities use CRM?
    Yes. According to Salesforce’s website, over 40,000 nonprofits and educational institutions are currently using the platform alone.
  • What is a CRM for charities?
    In general, charity CRM systems are organisational apps that help nonprofits to attract and monitor donations, run fundraising campaigns, and organise their relationships with volunteers. There are many more benefits depending on your choice of platform, however.
  • What database do charities use?
    Salesforce charity packages including the Power of Us are a popular choice. We also recommend Freshsales for donation management, and HubSpot for fundraising campaigns.
  • Is Salesforce free for charities?
    Salesforce offers a special nonprofit program called Power of Us. It’s not 100% free, but pricing is heavily discounted. Eligible charities also get 10 free subscriptions of the Salesforce & Service Cloud Enterprise Edition.

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Helena Young
Helena Young Senior Writer

Helena "Len" Young is from Yorkshire and joined Startups in 2021 from a background in B2B communications. She has also previously written for a popular fintech startup.

Included in her topics of interest and expertise are tax legislation, the levelling up agenda, and organisational software including CRM and project management systems. As well as this, she is a big fan of the films of Peter Jackson.

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