Essential Nonprofit CRM Features

CRM Graphic (1)

CRM or customer relationship management software is one of the best tools nonprofit organizations can leverage. With CRM software, you’ll better understand your target audience and manage your long-term relationships with your donors.

That said, every nonprofit has its own needs. Whether you’re looking for CRM software for the first time or are considering switching from your current software to a new platform, you need to know what features to look for. Today, let’s break down the essential features of nonprofit CRMs – by the end, you’ll know how those features can benefit your objectives.



For starters, good CRM software for nonprofit organizations should have automation tools across the board. Why?

Simply put, automation frees up project hours that your nonprofit employees can use on other, more critical tasks. For example, you can use automation tools to create donation pages, assisting your non-technical employees and preventing you from having to hire a dedicated web developer.

Other common automation tasks your nonprofit may benefit from include:

  • Sending notifications to your development team, enabling them to jump on leads and acquire donations more quickly
  • Logging messages and calls to better understand your donors
  • Creating automated email follow-ups to inquiries – a perfect way to improve engagement and let donors know that you always receive their messages. Automation tools may also allow your nonprofit to send automatic emails to possible donors with a few clicks
  • Creating workflows to help your employees/volunteers get complex tasks done on time
  • Scoring leads so your donation-seeking employees know who to prioritize and what organizations/individuals need more persuasion
  • Managing donation lifecycles to offer better value to donors 

Above all else, automated CRM software removes much of the busy work for nonprofit teams and organizations. Automation tools and features free up valuable time, streamline your working process, and allow your nonprofit to do its vital work efficiently. Learn more about how to use business automation at your nonprofit organization here


Third-Party Integrations


Good nonprofit CRM software also handles third-party integrations smoothly. Third-party integrations involve merging the data from third-party programs with your CRM platform – this is crucial so you can accomplish all your goals, handle your donors, and more.

There are three ways your nonprofit CRM platform can handle third-party integrations:

  • API – An API or application programming interface is a dedicated messenger that processes requests to streamline communications between different systems. With an API, you enable your CRM to communicate with different programs for data transferring and more.
  • Middleware – This is a kind of software that acts as a bridge between one program and another, like your CRM platform and your chosen third-party software.
  • iPaaS or integration platform as a service – An iPaaS is a cloud-based platform that deploys (and builds) integrations between your nonprofit enterprise and a cloud server. It's versatile, flexible, and hands-off for your staff.

No matter what method your third-party integrations use, your organization will benefit massively from them. Why?

Your nonprofit CRM software will have additional capabilities and functions with third-party integrations. For instance, if you use QuickBooks but haven't integrated it with your CRM platform, you'll need to move all the info from your CRM into your accounting software.

By integrating the two programs, you’ll not only save valuable time, you’ll also be able to perform business functions more easily. Such integrations allow data transfers to happen easily and automatically.

Similarly, you can integrate your CRM with an email management platform. This centralizes your communication efforts with donors and allows you to build marketing lists and launch email marketing campaigns without issues.

Bottom line: any quality CRM form should include good third-party integration capabilities. 

Donor and Donation Management

Naturally, quality nonprofit CRM software must have many different donation and donor management features. After all, much of your work will revolve around acquiring, maintaining, and soliciting donations from key individuals.

Donation management features are tools or widgets that let you acquire and, more importantly, maintain or keep donors over time. For example, your CRM software may let you easily send donors tax receipts and thank you notes so you can tell them how much you appreciate their contributions.

Some of the most important nonprofit CRM features to look for include:

  • Donor profile tools, which let you store individual donors' personal details and contact information. That, in turn, lets you contact donors more quickly and easily, plus helps your development team accurately identify donors from large groups.
  • Donor tagging and segmentation tools. These allow you to make “donor personas” so you can better understand your target donors, as well as tag them with specific attributes (for easier lead-chasing by your development team).
  • List segmentation tools, which let you group donors into different categories based on relationships, roles, donation levels, etc. This is beneficial since you can better understand your target donors, bring up how much they’ve donated in the past, and maintain your relationships with them more consistently.
  • Form customization tools, which let you outfit your donation forms with your brand’s logo, include specific fields, and more.

CRM Customization

Every nonprofit organization is different. Therefore, your CRM software should be customizable – that way, you can tailor it to your organization's needs and project specifications. For example, maybe you work with a small but tight-knit group of donors instead of a larger group. Alternatively, maybe your nonprofit constantly solicits donations from an ever-expanding group of well-wishers. 

But different CRM software platforms may come with different customization capabilities, such as:

  • Entity customization. All entities are individuals or categories for which you collect information, like contacts, leads, and donor accounts.
  • Fields, which include any information associated with at least one entity. This includes company names, phone numbers, and addresses.
  • Forms, which are data-entry fields. You use these to enter information about entities into your CRM system. If you can customize your forms, you can enter whatever kind of information you like.
  • Dashboards or program views. These impact how you can view and analyze data. Being able to customize these allows your nonprofit team to understand your target donors and overall operations better.
  • Workflows, which are actions or action series governed by certain rules. Being able to customize workflows enables your team to automate or standardize business processes, improve the efficiency of your organization, and more.

Customization is crucial due to the challenges nonprofits face every day – learn more here

CRM Data, Analytics, and Reporting

Lastly, make sure your nonprofit CRM includes tools for data gathering, analytics, and data reporting.

CRM analytics are key data points you should constantly collect and study, like donor amounts, donor behavior, and overall organizational performance. Robust CRM analytics is important so you can look at key metrics such as:

  • How well your team is doing soliciting donations
  • Whether you’re on track to meet certain goals

Your CRM software should help you track many different analytics, including:

  • New leads, or the number of new donors your development team has acquired
  • Prospects, which can turn into leads with the right push
  • Personal interactions
  • Website engagement statistics, like heatmaps or clicks on donation buttons
  • Other engagement statistics

As you collect and analyze CRM data, you’ll be able to improve your organization for much better performance in any market. The more data you have, the wiser and more informed your decisions will be.


Find the Right CRM for Your Nonprofit


Ultimately, the best nonprofit CRM for your organization will have strong automation, third-party integration, donation management, customization, and data analytics tools. Without these features, your CRM won’t be as effective as it could be otherwise. Take the time needed to find the right CRM software, and your organization will benefit from it in the long run!

Are you getting the most out of your nonprofit CRM?

Explore StratusLIVE 365, a complete donor engagement and constituent management solution. 

Learn More

Posted by StratusLIVE