My response to an Executive Director who asked me about Convio

This is an excerpt from an email I sent to an executive of a State Chapter of a national nonprofit organization.  I was responding to her question of whether or not to use Convio.  I guess this can apply to the other ridiculously overpriced ASPs.

“Bottom line is I believe that any Chapter that buys into this should have their heads examined. 


  • You’ll sell your soul to Convio.  The proposal from National (Office) underscores that they wanted to keep the (State) Chapter’s upfront costs low.  What they didn’t tell you is that in exchange you would be paying Convio forever.  I have 2 issues here.  First, if you can’t pay up front for donor management software, then you don’t need it because you don’t have enough donors/donations that require such a big investment.  Second, if you can afford an upfront investment, then why would you give Convio 5% of your donations till the end of time?  There is no question that you will see an increase in online donations every year.  Convio is trying to capitalize on your online activity now and into the future under the guise of “low up-front costs.
  • You have to still pay Credit Card processing fees.  The 5% to Convio does NOT include Credit Card transaction fees. 
  • You have several more affordable options.  You pay $30 a month for Constant Contact.  Do they ask you for a percentage of donations?  Do you think they should they get them?    You can also get a license to really good donor management software for less than a $1000.  You already have online donation capabilities…With Convio as more people donate online, it will cost you more every year.
  • Support.  Do you like being on hold with some customer service rep?
  • Implementation costs.  National (office) estimates that you will need to commit 520 hours to implement and train.  That is bad software.
  • Centralized database:  Do you want your donor information housed somewhere that national and every other Chapter can get their hands on?  Or would you prefer it safe and sound with you?


There’s more but you get the point.  You should not participate in this.  My guess is that National already fronted between 100K and 200K to Convio to set this up.  Now they’re looking to siphon money out of your Chapter.”

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