Need a Database?

Database Toolkit

Tools and techniques for managing your data

Nonprofits are awash in data — about volunteers, donors, programs, finances, and so on. Storing, managing, and acting on that data efficiently can have a big impact on your organization's overall results.


See how databases have helped other nonprofits and learn how to build a plan that addresses your own organization's needs.

Explore the differences between information and relational databases, donation databases, and client databases.

This downloadable guide includes worksheets, templates, and questionnaires to help you assess and plan for your organization's data management needs. (In PDF format.)

: a Case Study
How an arts service organization realized that an investment in a database can quickly become a liability without good planning.


Know you need a database? It's time to start comparing products to see which one meets your needs and budget.

A Few Good Databases for Membership Organizations
Eight technology consultants weigh in on their favorite databases for managing member information — like contacts, events, dues, and more.

Donor-Management Software Comparison
A side-by-side comparison of the features in eleven different database packages for managing donor information.

Ten Common Mistakes in Selecting Donor Databases
Fundraising technology strategist Robert Weiner addresses ten common mistakes that can prevent you from selecting the right database and managing it effectively.


Though there are many places to acquire technologies, our TechSoup Stock product distribution service offers many popular products and services at a low administrative fee for qualifying nonprofits. Here are some highlights from our databases category:

Microsoft Access 2003 (Includes Software Assurance)
Whatever your required level of data manipulation and retrieval, Microsoft Access 2003 offers a solid set of tools. Work with a variety of data formats and sources, including spreadsheets, Web links, and SQL servers. Admin fee: $14 USD.

Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition (Includes Software Assurance and 1 Processor License)
Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition is a complete data storage, management, analysis, and reporting platform for medium-size organizations and larger departments. It can be used as a back-end database server for internal applications or for powering a dynamic Web site. Admin fee: $240 USD.

Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0
Microsoft Visual FoxPro 9.0 is a database development system for building desktop, client/server, and Web database applications and components. Employ its data engine to manage large volumes of data, its object-oriented programming to reuse components across applications and for rapid application development, and its built-in XML support to manipulate data. Admin fee: $26 USD.


Once you've acquired your product, find tips, workarounds, and best practices for implementing your solution efficiently and effectively.

It's not enough to install a system and hope for the best. To get the most out of your database, you need to consider documentation, training, standards, and conventions.

TechSoup's Software Discussion Forum
Stuck on a problem? Ask a question in our forums and get help from nonprofit technology consultants and other organizations like yours.

Support and Sustain

Tweaks, add-ons, and even new ways of thinking can help you extend the benefits of your implementation.

Nonprofits need to update content easily and users need simple access to massive quantities of information. The solution often lies in building database-driven Web sites.

Should you rely on remote control, remote SQL queries, replication, or a Web front end to let your staff access its data from a distance? Here are the pros and cons.

TechSoup's Software Discussion Forum
Do you have tips to offer to others? Help other nonprofits like yours by sharing your expertise in our forums.

Tell Your Story: Write for Us
Help others learn about databases by telling TechSoup the story of your database adoption and process. We're always on the lookout for new case studies, reviews, how-tos, and training materials.