The Best and Worst Contact and Email Management Systems

Screen shot 2015-05-22 at 4.59.45 PMWe asked eight NBB leaders what contact and/or email management system they use, along with any comments and cautionary tales.  Here’s what they said:


1) We currently use Silverpop – it’s a marketing automation + email system. It’d be on your higher end, we spend about $3,000 a month on it.

When I first joined our company, we used Constant Contact. I use Mailchimp for most of my clients – it’d be the one I would recommend to people, the ease of use, power, and integration are phenomenal. Once you get into lists with over 100,000 email addresses, it make sense to look at larger solutions like Silverpop, Marketo, or ExactTarget.

One thing I’d caution about Mailchimp or Constant Contact: they are overly sensitive to spam or block report percentages. For example, if you hit a 0.75% spam report rate on Mailchimp, you going to get a warning and possibly have your account turned off. This may be something out of your control and it happened to our organization some time ago when they used Mailchimp.

Emma/Vertical Response

2) Emma is a great nonprofit option for local orgs.
Vertical Response is another good option. Easy to start. Pay as you go. Decent metrics and tracking.


3) We use MailChimp for our email newsletters. We picked it because it was simple, free (to a point), and allowed us to send good looking emails. It also syncs with HighRise (what we started with as a CRM) and SalesForce (what we are switching to).

SalesForce is being implemented for us but it is taking an extremely long time. The good thing is SalesForce gave us 10 free licenses through their SalesForce Foundation. I fell like I have the keys to a brand new million dollar Bugatti Veyron that’s extremely technically advanced but I don’t know how to open the doors. Learning SalesForce will be a curve but it will be amazing in the long run for our organization.

For us it’s been keep it simple. As far as capturing emails and connecting with people it has been hit and miss because it takes someone one thinking about it full time. Just because someone is in MY contact list doesn’t make them available to everyone else. That is why it has to be a culture of connection for us.

Gmail/Google Docs/Sheets/Calendar

4) We use Gmail for email because of the ability to use Google Docs, Sheets and Calendar.  It is very convenient to be able to have a common calendar, and work on documents at the same time.  It’s also very helpful when the team is not in the same physical location to use Hangout.  Up to nine people can be on the same call.  That combination that is basically no cost, is hard to beat.  I use is also for contact management since it’s really easy to switch back and forth to contacts, and set up and email groups.


5) Contractually is a simple to use CRM for me. It pulls in all social and emails around a contact. For an outbound strategy, it gives me a timeline for each contact group and then gives me a templated content library that makes communicating very efficient. It also gives me a one click ability to reach the contacts that are slated for connecting… make sense?  I will be happy to demo any time.

SalesForce/ MarketingCloud

6) The organization I spend the most time with uses SalesForce and Exact Target (just renamed Marketing Cloud).

SalesForce was chosen because of its robustness and the ability to add on.

It is effective but we feel it is too expense and doesn’t integrate with other software as promised – even software owned by SalesForce.  SaleForce is probably overkill for organizations who don’t have their own tech/development people to work on it.

Raiser’s Edge/ Donor Perfect

7) Raiser’s Edge— it is the Cadillac of donor management systems in that price range.

I’ve used Donor Perfect– not a fan.
I’ve used a customized system build on a salesforce platform– big fan.


8) I use Gmail for email.

I use Contactually for my contact management system.

I chose it b/c it’s focused on keeping in touch with people. It’s more of a prospecting tool but it lets you stay in touch with people in different time intervals.
And every day, it’ll give me 5 people I need to stay in touch with.

What contact and/or email management systems do you use?  What do you think about them?  Comment below!


Brian Lord

I'm passionate about helping kids internationally, both directly, but also by equipping and encouraging others to do so. I've got a great wife and two little girls who always find cool ways to serve and love others.

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