A Tour Guide to the Fundraising Technology Sector

November 11, 2016 fundcouk

The technology sector has a huge love of jargon, acronyms and abbreviations. All too often, the fondness for technobabble makes life intimidating and frustrating for those of us either using or looking to use the services and products the tech-companies offer– it’s like they’re talking another language.

So here’s our attempt to lift the veil. A crib sheet for those trying to talk to tech-company reps or attempting to decode marketing materials.   

CRM – Customer Relationship Management.

The idea of customer relationship management goes back to the early 20th century when companies realised customers were more valuable when the customer felt valued and respected so they developed strategies for treating their customers better and understanding their needs more. Note – a CRM isn’t a piece of software in itself, but a companywide approach to how they treat their customers/donors/stakeholders/partners. 

CRM Systems –

Customer relationship management systems aid an organisation to enhance their CRM policy by formalising processes, safeguarding and centralising information as well as providing insight and analysis.  CRM systems have developed from a file-a-fax and a post-it note on a sales rep’s desk to the highly sophisticated automated systems that help global companies manage relationships with millions of users over 1000’s of touchpoints we have today. (guide to CRMs)

SaaS – Software as a Service (pronounced – saas)

a way of distributing software in which vendors or service providers make their products available to customers over the internet, using cloud-computing technology. Spotify and Netflix are examples of everyday businesses who use this exact model – a monthly subscription allows you to use the software and as soon as you stop paying, you lose access.


This is simply a metaphor for the internet which stems from 80’s graphics where the internet was drawn as a cloud. Cloud computing and service have become ever more popular due to widespread access to the internet. Netflix, Spotify, DropBox, Microsoft Office 365 and even Facebook are great examples. See this article for more on why organisations are considering the cloud. (see guide to best free cloud software for non-profits)


When different software and systems are linked together to act as a whole. This can be through connecting them with wires or plugging stuff in (like a memory stick and your laptop) or with complex pieces of code to make two different software systems talk. The term ‘integration’ gets misused and misunderstood the most. Tech companies love to claim their products ‘integrate’ with another seamlessly when what they really mean is seamlessly integrate IF you hire a team of consultants to patch everything together. A ‘true’ integration is when two systems seamlessly work with one another which is the ideal, as it removes of any manual data administration – saving time and reducing the risk of human error.

API – Application Portal Interface (pronounced – ay-pee-eye)

This is basically the ‘key’ to get under the bonnet of software. By having access to an API you can integrate two or more systems together. A ‘closed’ API means the software is deliberately locked off, an ‘open’ API means it’s free to access. The main take-away here is that if you want software to integrate, it will always be more expensive to connect something with a closed API than an open API.  


A service where a company will save your data on their servers which you can remotely access. This is a service growing massively in popularity as it allows organisations to cheaply store their data without having to buy very costly servers sitting at the back of the office. E.g. The M.O.D has recently made the transition to have their data hosted. 


The process of taking data in one form and getting it into a state where another system will recognise it properly.  


Concurrent is the key word here – this is a way of pricing software based on the number of people who can login or access a piece of software at the same time. If you have five concurrent user licences, up to five people can log-in at the same time. If a sixth person tries they’ll be denied access and have to ask someone else to log out. Some companies may advertise unlimited user licences, this simply means you can create loads of log-ins so be wary as unless they’re concurrent that doesn’t mean a lot! 

P2P Fundraising – Peer-to-Peer

A method of fundraising that empowers supporters to fundraise on an organisation’s behalf


This sounds fancier than it is. Websites, a social media presence and emails are a few examples of digital marketing. As most digital marketing channels are cheap and can reach a large audience at low effort, it’s difficult to get heard over the competition. Weirdly, digital marketing often works better on the less-tech-savvy. Conversely, a few recent publications have actually indicated you can elicit a better response from Millennials with direct mail rather than an email.

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