Too often when researching fundraising software, we get caught up in the technical features and forget to step back and examine the companies behind the technology. There are real people at those companies, and ultimately that is who you are entering into a relationship with. It’s wise to evaluate the potential providers of your nonprofit’s CRM software the same way you would a romantic interest. But how do you find the perfect match?

What to look for:

1) Someone who has your back: When you’ve had a bad day, you want to cry on the shoulder of someone who understands, and you want them to offer constructive advice. A good boyfriend would never make you pay for that support – and a good nonprofit software provider won’t either. Ask about costs for training and assistance because that’s often where you’ll find the hidden fees.

2) A good conversationalist: What’s the point of being in a relationship if you don’t enjoy talking to the person? The best marriages are lifelong dialogues that enable you to grow and change with your partner, and the same goes with your tech provider. Your nonprofit’s needs will evolve over time, and your fundraising software should too. Look for companies that actively seek clients’ input on how their products can improve. Ask how client feedback is incorporated into product development in ways both large and small.

3) Shared values: Your top priority is achieving your organization’s mission, and you should expect anyone you work with to be focused on helping you succeed. What’s driving the motivations of your potential software provider? Are they a publicly traded company beholden to maximizing shareholder returns? Or do they operate according to a triple bottom line that places community and environmental impact on equal footing with financial performance?

4) Till death do us part: It’s a big deal to select fundraising software. It takes time and energy to research your options, and even more time to get everyone on your staff trained and comfortable with a new system. You want to make sure your partner is established enough that they won’t go out of business, but not so big that you’ll get lost in the crowd. Ask how many years the company’s been in business. Also ask how many products they offer and how many clients use each one. Hint: Your relationship has a better chance of longevity if the software you choose is one of the company’s main products.

We’ve all been on bad dates. And we’ve all worked with fundraising software that was frustrating or inadequate. Heck, some of us have even been dumped. By approaching your research like a pool of suitors and focusing on the hearts and souls of the companies behind the nonprofit CRMs you consider, you’re more likely to find the right partner and feel ready to say, “I do!” After all, isn’t it better to be with the geeky guy who thinks you hung the moon than the quarterback who’ll be cheating on you tomorrow?