Great for Event Management Right Now, Promising for Other Fundraising Endeavors as it Evolves
May 26, 2021

Great for Event Management Right Now, Promising for Other Fundraising Endeavors as it Evolves

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 7 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with GiveSmart

At first, we just leveraged GiveSmart for our Annual Gala, but starting in 2020 we expanded our use to also accommodate our Annual Fund campaign giving when we began focusing on streamlining and professionalizing our online giving efforts. This year, we used it for both of those functions and also for a one-off fundraising campaign we're hosting. GiveSmart is only being used by our Development Department, which manages all of our fundraising efforts.

GiveSmart is a great option for us right now, because we are saddled with a terrible database solution to house our donor information. It does not have any event management functionality and its options for online giving are unsophisticated and clunky. Until we acquire a more sophisticated donor database, GiveSmart is the best option we have found for effectively conducting our fundraising business as it pertains to events and managing our online giving beyond our Gala.
  • Customer Service - GiveSmart Support staff is responsive to requests for assistance, and Account Managers are dedicated to ensuring your events and campaigns are a success.
  • Help Sections - there is a video or a step-by-step walkthrough for just about anything you are trying to do in GiveSmart. And if you can't find something, their Support staff is pretty helpful via chat/email.
  • Event Management - GiveSmart really excels at helping fundraisers effectively manage all the moving parts of an event related to raising money, especially Silent Auction and ticketing functions.
  • Communications - the resources built into GiveSmart to effectively communicate with guests and donors before, during and after an event are really helpful - particularly the text message functionality.
  • High ROI - GiveSmart is an affordable product that can meet a variety of fundraising needs.
  • Design Options - there is a lot of room for improvement here. GiveSmart does not give you any flexibility in choosing fonts or font sizes, and very limited options for how you can arrange content when you are building Custom Sections or adding text to a section. There are also buggy features. For example, there are sections where you can add text, but then when someone is navigating to that page it jumps automatically to the purchase or donate section of the page, and it's the donor's responsibility to know to scroll up to read the text you provided. And, the options for how you can add photos or manipulate the overall design of the page you're building are just really pre-formatted and inflexible. The result is an event page that does not maximize space and can make for a lot of scrolling for your visitors to get to the information they need. And if your visitor has vision impairment issues, the readability of your page decreases significantly for them.
  • Batch Reporting Functions - there are some very good Report functions that can help you get very detailed information, but with Batch Reporting you will again run up against the inflexibility factor again that plagues GiveSmart at times. Batch Reporting on specific campaigns where you have donors making monthly gifts will not pull in that monthly donor information. It lives somewhere else in your organization hub, and it does not break down the disbursement of net/gross on the donations to account for any fees. This can be very annoying if you're trying to run reports out of GiveSmart for reconciliation with Finance and you have to pull reports from various places.
  • Non-Event Campaign Functionality - GiveSmart is great at what it does well (Ticketing/Silent Auction/overall Event management), but as it continues to try and grow its footprint as a more flexible solution for fundraisers in situations like our organization, which is burdened by a subpar donor database and needs something more comprehensive to manage our online giving operations, it has a lot of room to improve the options offered for building non-event oriented campaigns for things such as an Annual Fund campaign. Right now, GiveSmart really expects you to figure out ways to fit your round pegs into their square holes.
  • User Information Functionality - there is no way on your end in a new campaign to import users from a previous campaign, and the onus is on your user to either figure out how to log into their current account or create a new account. This results in a lot of duplicate accounts and some frustration on the part of users because they can't remember passwords or are using a different phone number. This really could benefit from streamlining. Additionally, the functionality within a campaign to pull information out of user accounts can be really clunky and frustrating - for example if you are trying to clean up and merge accounts you have to keep scrolling every time to get back to where you were in your list. Fine if you're in the A's or B's, but once you get to the M's and N's it's annoying. And within merging itself, it's very limiting in what it will allow you to merge accounts. All in all, it can be very consuming of staff time.
  • GiveSmart has significantly improved our ability to host a sophisticated event for donors that allows us to accurately track fundraising activity such as silent auction bidding and guest ticket purchases.
  • GiveSmart has made online donating more profitable than it was for us before we were using it - an overwhelming percentage of our donors who make a gift through GiveSmart opt to cover the transaction fees, which has resulted in more revenue for our organization.
  • With a Development department consisting of one full-time staff member and a handful of volunteers, GiveSmart has allowed our organization to optimize the time our staff spends on administrative tasks. They have also been able to quickly and effectively train volunteers to use specific functions within the site, such as managing the Silent Auction component of the organization's main annual event.
GiveSmart is a slightly different platform, in that it was initially built as an event management tool. Back in the day, you might have purchased it alongside a more traditional fundraising solution to manage event specifics. But, as other products have evolved to offer more functionality and flexibility to their customers, this has probably become less common. It will be interesting to watch how GiveSmart keeps itself in the game, either via product expansion or more effective integration with traditional fundraising platforms.

That said, if you're a small shop that can't afford the pricier solutions out there, GiveSmart is a great option if you are willing to get creative about using it for events and online giving efforts. It's easy enough to export information from GiveSmart and then - depending on what you're using to track donor information - import it into your solution.
GiveSmart has a lot of work to do to improve its design features - right now it is very inflexible when it comes to building Custom pages or editing pre-set templates to align with your organization's branding or to meet donor needs. GiveSmart also needs to make it less complicated to pull accurate financial information out of its system, particularly as that relates to monthly giving. Lastly, overall, if GiveSmart wants to be an option for online giving beyond event management (which they do very well) they need to be thinking like fundraisers and identifying the tools and functionality that are important for executing successful online fundraising efforts.

All that said, their customer service is outstanding and responsive, and they seem willing to keep evolving. If they can figure out how to successfully expand beyond what they offer for event management, they will continue to be a contender in a crowded market.
GiveSmart Customer Support is responsive, helpful and easy to access. The chat functionality in GiveSmart is particularly helpful if you are in the middle of doing something and need immediate assistance. The Help section is pretty comprehensive - you just have to know what you're looking for to pull the right thing out of it sometimes. But, once you find it, you're probably getting a how-to video and/or an article to walk you through how to solve your issue.

On the Account management side of things, GiveSmart does a great job of pairing customers with Account Managers who are helpful and willing to work with you to ensure you are successful in your endeavors. And, as your event nears, GiveSmart really excels at making sure all of your i's are dotted and t's are crossed before things go live. If you opt to have GiveSmart support during an event, they are terrific at managing GiveSmart--reliant operations independently, such as Silent Auction or Check-In, freeing up your staff to engage with donors and take care of other event tasks. This is particularly helpful if you are a small staff.
Unfortunately, this is the area where GiveSmart falls flat and really needs to improve if they want to remain a viable option for nonprofits that are getting savvier about their branding and online presence. There is almost nothing you can do within GiveSmart to align their tools with your own branding beyond selecting your brand colors on the page. Beyond that, everything else is fairly inflexible, which leads to an exceptionally frustrating user experience sometimes. It's still usable, but you need to accept that your options are very limited for customization.
GiveSmart is great for/at:

  • Setting up, managing and executing a complex fundraising event with a variety of moving parts.
  • Setting up and managing a fantastic Silent Auction experience for your guests.
  • Running very detailed reports for events that can slice and dice information in a variety of ways.
  • Communicating with your guests before, during, and after an event using their text message function.
  • Providing top-notch service to clients via Account Managers and Support staff who are invested in ensuring you are successful.
GiveSmart is Challenging if/when:

  • You need more flexibility in your design options across the platform, from Custom pages to pre-set templates for operations like sending emails out of their system. GiveSmart has a lot of improvement to make in this area.
  • You are trying to run comprehensive Batch Reports out of your campaign hub that include monthly donor information.
  • You are building a campaign that is not an event-oriented fundraising appeal, and you could benefit from functions that are editable and relevant to non-event fundraising. Right now, you have to get creative to make it work.

Using GiveSmart

1 - Our Director of Development manages our organization's entire fundraising operation, and is the sole internal staff user of the GiveSmart platform. For our organization, Development is using GiveSmart to conduct all of its online fundraising in 2020-2021. Our Director of Development manages volunteers who have also accessed the system in a Campaign Assistant role to manage event components such as the Silent Auction.
1 - Because of the limitations in GiveSmart with regards to customization, it is important that at least one person in your organization is savvy about graphic design and perhaps has rudimentary coding experience. With regards specifically to fundraising operations, it's important that someone is capable of working with data and running reports to obtain the information needed for processing gifts that come in via a GiveSmart campaign page so the frontline fundraisers in your organization can access and use that information to effectively steward the organization's donors.
  • Annual Gala.
  • Annual Fund Campaign.
  • Additional, smaller fundraising events we host throughout the year.
  • For the Virtual Gala we hosted during the pandemic, we created a "virtual gala pass" available for free for our guests to pick up, and advertised for our guests the importance of obtaining that prior to our event. This effort allowed us to get a very accurate count at the end of our event, comparing who picked up the pass and who actually joined us - it was within 10 guests. The pass seemed to be what we needed to motivate our guests to actively indicate their intention to participate with us - and then show up. It also allowed our guests who were not attending one of our micro events or sponsoring us to easily register for the Silent Auction and be ready for bidding at the event.
  • During the pandemic we were able to leverage GiveSmart to host a series of virtual micro events as part of our larger Virtual Gala effort.
  • We have a variety of smaller community events where we are registering guests, and we could envision leveraging GiveSmart for those efforts in the future.
  • When we finally make the decision as an organization to upgrade our current donor database solution, which is in no way capable of interfacing with anything and is quickly becoming obsolete for our purposes, we will definitely consider options that allow us to integrate a donor platform with GiveSmart, to streamline our fundraising operations.
For us, we have a very dissatisfying donor database solution right now, but we have built the hacks we need in order to manually integrate data we pull out of GiveSmart with the system. None of us are trying to reinvent that particular wheel, so for now, until the organization decides to upgrade the useless database we've been saddled with, we are satisfied to maintain our GiveSmart subscription. Might this change if we acquire a more sophisticated donor solution? Maybe. But we will also be looking for options that will integrate smoothly with GiveSmart. What we like about GiveSmart, we really like.

GiveSmart is great at what it does really well, namely event management. Yes, they need to address the inflexibility issues that make customization and some report features particularly frustrating, but for our organization the benefits are outweighing the drawbacks at this time. Their customer service is top-notch, and they have done an admirable job of creating an extensive Help section and responsive Support department that can assist with how-to's for various tasks within the system.

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