SilkStart is a donor management solution for clubs, associations and nonprofits. The platform is great for organizations that have members—as well as those that raise money to support their cause.
Based on the customer reviews we found, it seems this product has a lot of fans. The SilkStart team is apparently very responsive and they’ve done a good job explaining the features in-depth on the site and within the help center documentation.
Among the feedback we encountered were several people that mentioned that the platform was much more comprehensive than other tools at this price point. Yet, most found it to be very user-friendly and versatile.
Based on our look at the overall product, there are some strong donor management functions in the mix, plus some unique features that make this well worth checking out.
Read on to learn more about the tool and whether it might be right for you.
What is SilkStart?
SilkStart is an integrated suite of donor management tools, as well as a membership management tool, and all-around nonprofit software. According to the makers of SilkStart, the software is made for membership associations, multi-chapter organizations, and smaller nonprofits.
Key features include event planning tools, online fundraising, payment processing, a membership database, and automated notifications. Members can easily access their accounts, both online or on their mobile devices.
Associations can use SilkStart to automate emails that reach out to new members, promote their own campaigns, and keep track of donations. Landing pages are optimized for conversions and look great on mobile and web platforms alike.
Based on our look at this tool, we see this as a solid option for organizations that want a simple solution that spans multiple functions. It’s not the most in-depth reporting tool nor is it an advanced CRM. However, there’s a lot to like here. Keep reading for a closer look at the key features and benefits you’ll find inside.
Broad Range of Features
Between the mobile-friendly websites, a member database, job board, event planning, and online donations, SilkStart covers a lot of ground. Both plans offered include all available features, no add-ons required. Plus, SilkStart says they’re always building new features. And, being a cloud-based platform, you’ll have access to anything new right away.
Easy to Use
SilkStart is easy for administrators, website visitors, and members. The platform is straightforward, with built-in tools that allow you to access data quickly and communicate with users. And, since they provide a hands-on approach to setup, you’ll start your experience with a lot of support.
SilkStart offers an in-depth onboarding process that includes either website integration or a completely new website. While not all nonprofits need a website, this company understands that web development often falls by the wayside. We like that SilkStart provides an opportunity to work with their team and take advantage of their expertise.
One of the core features found in the SilkStart platform is membership management. Users can add new members, collect monthly fees, renewals, and more. SilkStart safely stores all member data in the cloud and gives both the member and the organization an easy interface for making changes.
The tool integrates with merchant processing accounts like Stripe, PayPal, Beanstream, and Authorize.net, so you can choose how you want to accept payments, rather than depending on the platform to negotiate a deal with their company of choice.
Centralized Member Data
SilkStart comes with a powerful, centralized database for keeping tabs on members. If you’re already using another database, the makers of this platform have noted that its easy to incorporate that data into the SilkStart system. Administrators and members can access and update information, with minimal effort. And, this is where you’ll keep track of active members, and lapsed, prospective, and inactive members, as well.
Memberships may be offered at different levels, to organizations and individuals, and more.
Email notifications make your job easier. Nonprofits often wear a lot of hats and have a full plate of tasks from admin stuff to organizing events. As such, SilkStart’s smart notifications can keep you on track. The tool allows you to set up automated expiry reminders, that let members know its time to renew. You’ll also get a message when new members join, so you can reach out and welcome them accordingly.
Notifications don’t stop there. The notification templates are fully customizable, so you can create text that fits your organization’s needs. Insert dynamic merge tags that create tailored messaging personalized to each member. This makes it easy to maintain personal connections without the added work on your end.
Notifications are triggered, on-demand, and can be set to engage with members at the perfect moment.
Collect donations through your website with minimal effort. SilkStart’s platform provides an easy way to create compelling landing pages that move people to donate. Tell stories that inspire by adding custom content with high-res photos to the tool’s predesigned templates.
The straightforward landing pages promise to streamline the giving process and are built to improve conversion rates. Like other tools with a drag and drop editor, SilkStart gives non-technical users the ability to design a site with zero HTML knowledge under their belt. What’s more, donation pages are automatically mobile-friendly and when a donor gives, they automatically receive a receipt.
Finally, reporting tools allow you to set targets and receive instant insights.
The Events section of the software allows you to automate the registration process and track signups as the big day approaches. This tool allows you to sell your tickets online and send email reminders to attendees after they get their tickets.
Additionally, registrants can pay online. You can link your payment gateway of choice to SilkStart or record offline payments through the platform’s invoicing tools.
Users can download a file that includes event data, like who is coming to an event, who has paid, and who still owes you money.
You can also generate promo codes, early bird discounts, and member pricing. Registrants can pay on the web or their mobile device, and you can integrate your event calendar right there on your website.
Member payments can be processed quickly, online, no snail mail required. The ability to collect donations and membership fees through the platform speeds up the process of generating revenue and allows you to stay on top of accounting efforts.
While the platform doesn’t provide actual accounting tools, the real-time visibility makes it easy to connect the dots. It’s unclear if the platform connects with accounting software, which would add even more value.
The website includes a disclaimer that SilkStart isn’t the cheapest product out there. And, they’re right, it’s not. Some customers might find the product outside of their price range, while others feel that the solution pays for itself based on the time saved through automation and easy reporting.
Here’s a look at the price breakdown:
Premium, $200 per month
The premium plan is SilkStart’s entry-level option. This is for organizations that don’t have multiple chapters and only 500 active members. If you have more members, you’ll need to contact the company for special pricing.
This plan includes full use of all of the features, though additional fees apply for getting set-up.
Multi-Chapter, $550 per month
The multi-chapter plan doesn’t come with a limit on the number of records you can keep. The plan supports up to 10 chapters, though you can add more for $39 per month per chapter. If you have over 50 chapters, they’ll offer a bulk discount.
Setup includes a data import, training, and either a new website or integration with your existing site. The website integration is $2,000, while a new site is $4,500.
The setup package, according to SlikStart, provides everything users need to get started from connecting with a design and development team to content and data migration. While this seems pricey, this actually isn’t a bad deal, especially if you need a new website or a few ways to make your existing site even better.
SilkStart’s platform uses Amazon Web Service’s 256-bit encryption to keep data safe for members and users alike. The cloud-based platform is compatible with any device that connects to the web.
Meaning, you can safely access your data from anywhere, and potentially eliminate filing and data entry tasks associated with more manual processes.
The SilkStart website provides custom design at an affordable rate to ensure that your online presence matches what you do. According to the website, SilkStart will build custom features for you, charged at an hourly rate. They don’t mention how much this cost, so we recommend reaching out to learn more.
This solution is offered as an annual or monthly subscription. If you pay for a full year, you’ll get a discount, though monthly rates aren’t much higher than the prices listed above. For example, the Premium plan is $210 versus the $200 per month price listed above.
The SilkStart website was quite impressive. We liked that they really go into detail, showing off all features and explaining everything about the pricing and your various website options.
Contact information is available on the contact page, which includes a phone number and a place to submit a support ticket if needed. Unfortunately, the only phone number available is to contact sales. Meaning, they might not provide phone support.
That said the site offers live chat and a ton of self-serve resources. Meaning, you likely won’t need to call them too often.
Here are some of the resources you can find on the website:
The help center is your go-to spot for documentation. There is a section dedicated to each feature in the platform, and the articles are super helpful. Topics span everything from email marketing best practices to reporting and setting up a landing page.
SilkStart is rather expensive for a lot of users. So, it’s a good thing that they offer a free 15-day trial. We suggest both calling the sales team and taking the tool for a spin before signing up. While we do think this is a good value for everything you get, it is a significant investment, and there’s always the chance that it doesn’t do everything you need it to.
When you sign up for a trial, they’ll give you a trial account and a guided online demo to show you around. Then, if you decide to move forward, they’ll kick off the setup process.
In the end, we think this is certainly a top-tier solution. The only issue is the price. While we do believe that SilkStart is justified in charging this amount, especially given the quality of the support team and the features themselves, it might be too much for some users.
Small nonprofits are generally dealing with a shoestring budget. And though they can benefit from automation and an all-in-one platform, it’s hard to come up with the funds.
That said, if you think you can swing it, this is a nice nonprofit tool—perfect for organizations that offer a membership component.
What’s more, is, we felt that the tool provided more than a software subscription. Yes, website integration and creation are significant expenses, but they’re one-time fees that can make a big difference. Plus, these are pretty good rates for web development, plus content and data migration, and plenty of help getting started.
The bottom line is, if it’s in your budget, at least take the free trial for a spin.