How to choose the right CRM for your non-profit organization?

Are you one of the nonprofits using spreadsheets to manage donor data? 

If so, you know by now that this approach to data management is not ideal and is a massive hurdle to your fundraising success. Spreadsheets have to be manually updated and are susceptible to human error. Decentralized data storage fails to provide holistic insights about donors and will hinder you from crafting effective communication strategies and fundraising appeals. This model is not optimal for a nonprofit to grow and thrive. For fundraising success, nonprofits should opt for a CRM to escape the vicious cycle of donor attrition and decreased funding.  

A CRM is a powerful tool and a significant investment for your nonprofit. Hence, consider your goals and requirements for the organization, staff, and CRM  to evaluate the best software that fits your needs.

  1. Organization needs
  • What specific needs of the organization will the CRM meet – data management, email marketing, event management, donation platform?
  • What processes do you hope to change by implementing a CRM?
  • What’s your budget? Based on the payment schedule of the CRM and the organization budget, are you able to afford the purchase?
  • What are your responsibilities with CRM implementation, onboarding, and continued maintenance?
  1. Staff needs
  • In a nonprofit focused on fundraising, most staff members at some level need the CRM to do their job effectively. Get feedback from the staff on the features that would help them improve their work. By making CRM selection a joint effort, you can ensure a smoother implementation and utilization by making CRM selection a collaborative effort.
  • Should internal communication about activities and tasks on prospects be captured on the CRM?
  • Ascertain the roles and responsibilities of different departments — data entry, accounting, marketing, fundraising, leadership — and determine how CRM will improve the productivity of each area.
  1. CRM needs
  • Evaluate the level of technical expertise that is needed in-house.
  • Are you opting for “enterprise” software or SaaS? The organization hosts the former, while the latter is hosted by the provider and accessed via the internet.
  • What is your current digital ecosystem—tools and services that need to be retained and integrated with the CRM?
  • Evaluate the features and packages that will help improve your business efficiencies. 
  • Do the CRM and its roadmap meet your future needs —data analytics, mobile capabilities, building portfolio, video messaging, and personalized stewardship. Is the CRM capable of growing with the nonprofit and keeping up with the fundraising trends in the industry?
  • What level of customer service is available for implementation and ongoing tech support?

Defining the needs will allow the organization to determine which functionalities are must-haves, nice-to-haves, and unnecessary. Then, the CRM that best fits your requirements will set you in the right direction to organize your approach, maximize your impact, and reach your vision.

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