CRM for fundraisers: BigContacts

Matt Stauffer

The question I hear from campus staff often than any other is “How do I manage my contacts?” There’s a term for this in the business world: Constituent Relationship Management tools.  A few months ago I asked around about the options available to campus ministers, and after some great feedback decided to develop Karani. However, despite the fact that I built Karani to meet the needs of people who fundraise like me, there are certainly people who would benefit from one of the other systems available. This week I’ll be giving a short introduction to each of these.

BigContacts is a traditional CRM like SalesForce or Highrise. The actual interface of BigContacts has plenty of modern features, but the visual stylings of the design definitely feel a little out-of-date compared to Highrise.

Why even include BigContacts on the list? Two primary reasons. First, they offer a non-profit discount (contact them for pricing, but their single-user plan pre-discount is $19/mo). Compared to Highrise’s (limited) free plan, it’s still expensive; but it’s unlimited, and compared to the unlimited paid plans at Highrise and SalesForce, this is a great deal.

Second, they have Jason Rieckewaldt-Schmidt advocating for them. Jason is an InterVarsity staffworker who’s helping InterVarsity staff manage their fundraising using BigContacts. He’s developed a Google Doc to attempt to replicate much of the gift/pledge/financial information that BigContacts lacks, and is working with staff (primarily IV staff at this point) to help them integrate BigContacts, Vertical Response (a service similar to MailChimp), and his custom spreadsheet.  Learn more here: FDToolkit


  • Traditional CRM features: Like SalesForce and Highrise, they allow you to track interaction history and a wide array of information about each contact.
  • Jason: Even though BigContacts lacks any fundraising context (like the other pre-made CRMs), Jason is working to make a system that makes BigContacts as workable as possible for staff.


  • Awkward Design: I know I’m a design snob, but I would love if BigContacts took some design hints from Highrise.
  • No built-in financial information: Despite Jason’s efforts to integrate giving information, the spreadsheet he creates is still external, and cannot integrate with BigContacts. Therefore, this solution has both contact management and financial management–but not together in one place.
  • Currently, IV-staff only: Currently, Jason’s fundraising spreadsheet is focused on InterVarsity staff–although if he saw a slew of non-IV interest, I’m sure he’d be willing to help people think through a solution
By Matt Stauffer | Posted: Nov 17, 2011
Category: Fundraising | Tags: | Permalink | Post a comment | Trackback URL.

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