Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement: An Introductory Guide

The Open Road

If you're in the fundraising department of a nonprofit organization leveraging products in the Microsoft ecosystem, the Microsoft Tech for Social Impact team is paving a new road ahead that might be appealing for your organization.

Microsoft recently announced the arrival of Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, an open source fundraising application built for the non-profit community. This new solution leverages Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Azure to bring fundraising tools into the hands of organization in the Microsoft ecosystem. Out-of-the-box, organizations can manage gifts, membership, events, grants, and custom data. Coupled with its broad extensibility features, it gives organizations access to fundraising information nearly anywhere in their use of Microsoft tools, including Outlook, Excel, Word, and Teams.

To top it off, it's free, open source, and built on the open source nonprofit common data model.

As organizations dive into the details of what's included within the new solution (it looks like more will be shared from Microsoft during the next few weeks), we've provided this introductory guide to help you better understand where the Fundraising and Engagement app fits into the broader ecosystem of solutions for our non-profit community.

What is Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement?

The Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement solution leverages the existing open source non-profit common data model (CDM) which has been created as a fundamental building block for a non-profit's database. While the CDM provides the structure of entities (think "objects" or "tables"), fields within those entities, it does not itself include any automation or user experience.

Many organizations that work within the Microsoft ecosystem use Microsoft Dynamics as their constituent relationship management (CRM) service, and can utilize the CDM as the core structure for data. That leaves a lot of distance between the data and the humans that need to login somewhere and manage fundraising data.

That's where the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement comes into play. The new solution contains a large swath of fundraising functionality that can be useful for organizations looking to use a database to track, manage, analyze, and share their fundraising data with internal and external users.

Technically speaking, Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement will be a solution that a non-profit organization can grab either from Microsoft AppSource (the app store in the Microsoft world) or directly from GitHub (a popular open source data repository), and installed within an organization's Microsoft Dynamics service.

Put more simply: Fundraising and Engagement lives within a Dynamics instance, which lives within the broader Microsoft tenant for an organization.

Features of the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement

Since the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement solution is built on top of the common data model, the core concepts of Accounts (organizations or families), Contacts (people), and a slew of fundraising-specific entities are heavily used. In addition to that, however, the solution expands into areas such as event management, membership management, and much more.

Out of the box, organizations will be able to use Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement to cover a wide variety of needs, including the following areas.

  • Gift management
  • Moves management
  • Campaign management
  • Event management
  • Relationship management
  • Grant management
  • Membership management

There's actually a substantial amount more you can do within the context of Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement's integration with the broader Microsoft ecosystem, most of which is also free and fully connected to the solution. This includes the following Microsoft services.

  • Microsoft Word (drafting letters to donors)
  • Microsoft Excel (editing data directly from the database)
  • Microsoft Outlook (calendar reminders and emails to donors)
  • Microsoft PowerApps (citizen developer apps you can build for your particular needs)
  • Microsoft Azure (cloud computing)
  • Microsoft Teams (team collaboration, phone calls to donors, and meetings)
  • Microsoft Planner (planning fundraising campaigns)
  • Microsoft PowerAutomate (an automation system)
  • Microsoft PowerBI (a reporting engine to make sense of all your data)
  • Microsoft OneNote (note taking for campaigns)
  • Microsoft Yammer (constituent communities)

Since Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement has its data stored in the Common Data Service (CDS), data created in the solution is accessible in a huge variety of ways across different services, both inside the Microsoft ecosystem and outside.

Pricing and Total Cost of Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement

The Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement solution is free for any organization, and is distributed under an open source license. There's a ton of functionality out of the box, so many organizations will likely find much of the existing software to be especially useful; however, as is with most open source software, there will be costs associated with hiring consultants or using internal time to plan, implement, test, and deploy the software.

Additionally, since the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement solution lives within an organization's Microsoft tenant, there are important elements such as users, permissions, integrations, and third-party services that will take effort to implement successfully together.

Finally, Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement requires the use of Microsoft Dynamics, which means your organization will need to buy licenses to use Microsoft Dynamics in order to use this new fundraising solution.

In short, while Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is free and open source, the full implementation of the tool will require monetary and time investments to work most successfully for an organization.

Learning more about the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement

Microsoft announced the new service on October 1, 2020, and we'll keep this blog post updated with new information as it's provided by Microsoft. Soon to be released will be access to the source code in GitHub, support options, and more details about the features included in the service, directly from Microsoft.

Getting the most out of the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement

Although the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement feature set is broad and powerful, considering the size and diversity of our nonprofit sector, the software can't possibly provide everything that every non-profit would need for their fundraising efforts.

Microsoft has a long-standing track record of having their partner community lead on distributing and implementing their solutions, as well as building new applications that integrate into their solutions. So it's no surprise that Microsoft Tech for Social Impact will be looking to the Microsoft partner ecosystem for both consulting and software extensions.

For instance, even if you're using Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, you may still want services that integrate with it to do the following.

  • Online fundraising (donation pages)
  • Peer-to-peer and team fundraising
  • Online event registration and ticket sales
  • Virtual fundraising events and virtual galas
  • Self-service member management
  • Online advocacy and petitions

When you're looking to integrate tools with Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, it's important that they have some key qualities to ensure you're not left with an organization full of data silos that don't talk to each other.

To avoid long-term trouble, seek integrations with Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement that include the following.

  • Experts with in-depth knowledge of how nonprofits can use the Microsoft platform for fundraising, far beyond just Microsoft Dynamics
  • Tools that have a proven integration with the nonprofit common data model, since you'll know that means they'll work well with the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement service
  • Services that integrate with other Microsoft tools, such as Microsoft Teams, enabling you to leverage a multi-cloud solution set within your Microsoft tenant for increased impact
  • Apps that send data real-time (not just synchronized by time schedule) so you can get critical data into Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement right away
  • Software that is point-and-click easy to integrate for the average nonprofit administrator, but knowing that the impact of many integrations will go far beyond just your use of Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement
  • Systems that reduce duplication through powerful algorithms to match to existing contacts within your database, keeping your Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement system clean

In the end, Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is one critical cornerstone to your organization's overall fundraising success. Ensuring that you have a circulatory system of data that moves between different apps as needed is important for your long-term success.

That's why we've built Soapbox Engage to integrate with Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, giving your team ample online fundraising power to raise more money without spending more time manually exchanging data between different services.

More Resources

If you're looking to do some more research on the Microsoft ecosystem and solutions for the nonprofit community, take a look at some of our other resources to help you in your Microsoft community discovery efforts!

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Nonprofits: What You Need to Know - If you're looking to use Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, you're really also looking to use Microsoft Dynamics. This high-level overview helps put perspective on what this is, and how organizations are using it even without Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement.

Microsoft Tech for Social Impact Has Big Plans for the Nonprofit Sector - An overview of the impact of Microsoft Tech for Social Impact team is useful for better understanding Microsoft's long-term approach to serving the non-profit community, and their approach to engaging partners and organizations to drive impact and help the world meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

A Guide to the Nonprofit Common Data Model - Under the hood of Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is the nonprofit common data model. This primer helps you understand what that even means, and why it's important to the broader data collection of your organization.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to be technically savvy to install Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement?

Installing Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement, and the underlying nonprofit common data model (CDM) is a point-and-click process; however, installing is one of many steps to get started using the solution successfully. We strongly recommend that you work with a trusted partner with non-profit fundraising expertise to help you implement the solution.

What's the difference between the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement and the Microsoft Dynamics?

Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is a solution that you install into Microsoft Dynamics (a CRM), and includes features specifically useful to nonprofit organizations doing fundraising. You need to have Microsoft Dynamics in order to use the Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement solution.

Is Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement open source?

Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is distributed under an open source license by Microsoft. Code for the solution will be available to anyone using GitHub.

How much does Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement cost?

Microsoft Fundraising and Engagement is free and open source, but you'll need to have at least one Microsoft Dynamics license to use it, which is not free. Additionally, there will be costs to plan, implement, deploy, integrate, and support the service.

How much does Microsoft Dynamics cost for nonprofits?

Microsoft provides a discounted offering of Microsoft Dynamics for nonprofit organizations, and one place you can learn more is on TechSoup's product listing for Microsoft Dynamics.