Running a nonprofit is difficult enough without keeping track of donors, streamlining fundraising, and managing your donations. Doing all those critical tasks by hand or using generalized software is possible, but it’s not ideal.
Instead, choose a nonprofit CRM for your organization. The right nonprofit CRM platform, or customer relationship management software, can offer many advantages, help you run your organization, and maximize your relationships with donors. Today, let’s explore how to choose the right nonprofit CRM for your organization.
List Your CRM Needs and Wants
First, write down all the essential or “must-have” features your CRM software needs. Then write down all the things that would be nice to have but aren’t absolutely essential.
Why bother with this step? It will help you filter through the many different CRM options on the market. For example, you’ll want the following features in your nonprofit CRM software no matter what:
- Automation tools
- Integrations with third-party software
- Donor management tools so you can keep track of who donates and when
- Analytics and reporting tools to better understand your organization and its donors
- Customization tools so your software works for your unique needs and so it can grow with them as your scale your organization
- Event planning tools to make planning charity events and fundraisers much easier
Once you have this list down, you can cross out any CRM software that misses one or more of these features.
Any other features? Think of them as bonuses! If you’re stuck between two different CRM platforms with all the necessities but different extras, you can choose between them based on your preferences, organizational needs, or other factors.
Get Input From Your Staff
Odds are you won’t be the only one who uses your organization’s nonprofit CRM software. If one or more of your staff members will use this digital tool, be sure to get their input and feedback, so you pick a platform that works for everyone.
You may need to gauge how many users will likely leverage the CRM software so you can figure out your budget. Most CRM platforms cap how many users can access their tools at a certain price.
For example, if only you and a handful of others will use the CRM platform, you can likely choose the cheapest subscription “tier” from a CRM company. But if dozens of your employees will access the platform, you may need to opt for a more cost-effective CRM solution with affordable pricing or subscription tiers for many users.
Ask your employees or other users what they want in their dream CRM. Your employees or fellow nonprofit workers might want:
- A CRM nonprofit solution that allows them to accomplish specific goals
- An easy-to-use CRM platform
- Something else (be open to discussion)
Not sure whether one nonprofit CRM solution or another is worth your time and money? See if the platform’s developer/owner offers a custom demo. A demo is more valuable than a free trial, as it allows you to:
- Have an expert walk you through the platform step by step (instead of trying to figure it all out on your own)
- Have all your questions answered immediately
- Customize the demo based on your needs
- Receive recommendations for specific tools and integrations that best align with your needs and goals
- Get a holistic view of the software
Ultimately, you should never buy or subscribe to new CRM software without getting to try it or see it in action, at least to some extent.
Quality Customer Service and Training
Of course, the best nonprofit CRM for your organization should have top-tier customer service channels and training tools to educate you and your staff.
For example, good CRM software should have:
- Training videos to show you how to operate the software and its tools
- Courses within the CRM platform to show you how best to take advantage of its functions
- A knowledge base, either on the CRM platform itself or on the developer’s website, that has answers to FAQs and written tutorials
You might also look for nonprofit CRM software that provides customized training, either virtually or through on-call assistance via customer service channels. While customized training is pricier than generalized training, your team can ask the software developers questions directly.
Pick software with excellent customer service options! You may need to resolve problems quickly, especially when using your chosen CRM platform for the first time. It is imperative to resolve any technical issues ASAP – therefore, your CRM platform should have at least two customer service channels, like phone lines or online chat assistance.
Lastly, try to choose nonprofit CRM software that’s scalable. As your donors, volunteers, and contacts grow with your organization, you’ll need a software solution that can grow with you. Ideally, your nonprofit CRM should allow for customization and increased capacity for:
- Donor lists and relationship management tools
- Users and contacts
- Data analytics, as you continue to feed the software more and more data
You’ll need to ensure your CRM software is ready for scaling, too. To that end, you should routinely clean out your donor or contact lists, so your CRM software isn’t filled with “duds” (and so you don’t have to upgrade your CRM too quickly).
Not sure when or how soon you’ll need to scale your business or CRM? Think long-term and ask yourself questions like:
- Are you likely to have more constituents or user accounts in the future?
- If so, will you need different levels of access for different ranks or volunteers at your organization?
- Will you need advanced data reporting and predictive analytics tools so you can grow your revenue or donations with time?
- Will you need software that can integrate with email or other online marketing tools, if necessary?
If the answer is “yes,” to any or all of these questions, you should prioritize scalability when choosing a nonprofit CRM for your organization.
Partner With a Nonprofit CRM
All in all, you can choose the best nonprofit CRM for your charitable organization by:
- Listing your CRM wants and needs
- Getting input from your staff members about what they want or prioritize
- Choosing a CRM platform that offers a demo and excellent training + customer service
- Considering scalability and long-term functionality before settling on a CRM solution
The ideal nonprofit CRM can grow even a small charitable organization into a major force in its niche. In fact, the right CRM platform can help you achieve all your current goals and far beyond! Once you choose a nonprofit CRM, make sure you’re ready for the CRM implementation process to guarantee smooth, issue-free integration and software adoption across your organization.
StratusLIVE 365 is a complete donor engagement and constituent relationship management solution built from the ground up with one end-user in mind: organizations like yours.