02/21/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 02/21/2020 15:37
Today's CRM systems are much more than the original 'Customer Relationship Management,' systems that tracked customer names and addresses, and little else. Today's CRM systems are complex platforms that track every aspect of a company's client relationships and activity. Nonprofit CRM systems, also known as 'Constituent Relationship Management' systems, similarly can track almost any piece of information about all of your supporters.
A good nonprofit CRM system will allow you to segment supporters effectively and optimize your communication strategies, engagement, and fundraising. Therefore, selecting the best nonprofit CRM system for your nonprofit is an important project that should be given serious consideration and effort.
This post covers:
The Basics: Why You Need a Nonprofit CRM
Build relationships with your Supporters
A good nonprofit CRM system allows you to track LOTS of information - including data that may be unique to your cause or your organization. For example, an animal shelter may collect the breed, name, and birthday of their supporters' pets. Sending birthday cards to donor's pets creates a personal connection and generates significantly more good will than generic appeal requests! Your CRM system is an incredibly powerful tool for collecting the type of detailed information you need to engage on a personal level with each supporter.
Access Data in a Single System
A strong nonprofit CRM system will provide a centralized view of donor activity, campaign success, and overall fundraising numbers from both online and offline sources.
Storing all of your data in one system allows your staff to view reports and dashboards that give a complete picture of overall fundraising success, campaign-specific results, and supporter-specific activity.
When using additional software, such as event or marketing automation tools, the CRM system is most often the central 'system of record' - storing all supporter data that your organization needs to report on, including information that may originate in another system.
Identify and Manage Major Donors
Tracking donor information and giving history will allow you to identify and cultivate potential major donors, especially if paired with a wealth screening tool. Your nonprofit CRM system will allow you to track not only donors who have made large donations in the past or who have given consistently over time; but also donors with certain categories of job titles and other specific 'wealth-indicators' that you choose to track separately. Build a Major Donor Fundraising strategy to identify the information you want to track.
Optimize Donations by Personalizing Ask Amounts
Personalizing the requested donation amount that you are including in each appeal will allow you to truly optimize your fundraising efforts. Determining the best ask amount and using it in Dynamic Ask Strings is part art and part science. The general idea is that you ask leave money on the table if you ask a donor for less than they are willing to give, and can scare away donors if you ask for more than they are comfortable with. Smaller asks increase the number of donations and larger asks increase the amount of the donations - you cannot optimize for both, but you can find the right balance for each category of donors within your organization.
The best nonprofit CRM systems will allow you to track the data you need to determine the optimal 'next suggested gift amount,' such as last and largest donations, and will allow you to calculate and store that number within the system so that it can be used seamlessly in communications with your donors.
Create Target Groups
Basic Marketing and Fundraising best practices tell us to target our messaging as much as possible. In order to do this, you need be tracking the information necessary to group your supporters into appropriate categories. What information is important to your organization? Some typical items that nonprofits segment their 'list' by:
Use the information stored in your CRM system to create as many groups as you need to segment and target your communications.
One important tip: be aware of situations where a supporter may appear in multiple groups. You may want to exclude certain lists from an email send to ensure supporters don't receive duplicate or similar emails.
Setting Priorities: Finding Nonprofit CRM Features You Need
One of the first steps to think about when managing a software selection projec t is the development of a requirements document. I've been through many software selection projects - both from the user side and the vendor side. In my experience, a spreadsheet full of hundreds of specific feature requirements is not the way to go. You do, however, need a requirements list that will allow you to compare systems.
First, focus on major functional areas as a way to quickly eliminate packages that are missing major features, such as fundraising forms or major gift cultivation.
Second, put together a list of specific features that are critical and/or unique to your organization.
Try to stay away from:Standard features that should be in every system.
For example, every CRM system has the ability to track contact data. However, if you think you will need to track non-standard data, one of your required features may be 'ability to create custom supporter fields.'Extremely specific features that are not 'must-haves.'
Focus on what you need to accomplish, not how. For example, instead of 'major donor quality field,' try 'ability to track different categories of major donors.' The best nonprofit CRM systems will have different ways
Here are some common requirements typical of a nonprofit CRM selection project:Custom fields
You will most likely need to track some information that is not standard in the system you select. Make sure you have the ability to add custom fields, and to use those fields on forms and in reports.Campaign tracking
Make sure that you have the ability to track as many campaigns as you want, and that donors can be members of multiple campaigns.Ability to support 'offline' communication
If you send physical mail pieces be sure your CRM system can handle that. Can you write and store the letter electronically in the system, and then merge and print for a list of supporters? Do you need the capability to handle bulk mail barcodes?Gift tracking & processing
This will be a relatively standard feature in nonprofit CRM systems, but not 'regular' CRM systems. Be sure you have the features you need to track and report on all donations, including soft credits, stock donations, and in-kind gifts.Cultivation
Evaluate the features you need to track the information and categorize your donors in order to optimize cultivation of major donors.Deduplication features
Managing duplicate records can be one of the most frustrating parts of using a CRM system. It is common for people to register for an event, sign-up for a newsletter, or submit a donation using a different spelling of their name or even a different email address. Be sure that your CRM system has the ability to identify potential duplicate records.Customized reporting and dashboards
Most organizations want the ability to create their own reports, but systems vary widely in their capabilities here. Evaluate the ease with which a user can create a new report, whether all fields are available to the report writer, and whether graphs and dashboards can be designed.
Also, don't forget to consider a vendor's ability to deliver quality training and support, as well as on-boarding services during your implementation of the system.
The Future: Considering the Long-Term Impact of Your Nonprofit CRM
It is important that you consider your selection of a Nonprofit CRM system to be a long-term decision. Selecting and implementing a new system is not a small project, and not one that most organizations will want to repeat frequently. What does this mean?
Decisions: Making a Final Choice in Nonprofit CRM
Research: Identifying your initial 'potential' list
Consider the following sources of information when starting your initial search:
Determining your Short List
Cutting your initial list down to a short list of 2-4 systems usually takes a couple steps:
Make a Final Choice
The final selection of your nonprofit CRM system should be made carefully.
Take the time to:
The success of your new nonprofit CRM system will depend on how complete and thorough your implementation process is.
Make sure that you understand what services your software vendor provides, and if there are additional costs associated with services that customers like you typically use.
Top Solutions: Start Your Research with the Best Nonprofit CRM Software
Salsa CRM is a donor management platform that will help your nonprofit compile profiles for your donors while tracking key engagement metrics. With Salsa CRM, you can learn more about your donors and track campaign success. Use Salsa's built-in dashboards and reports to generate actionable insights to guide your fundraising strategies, target your messaging, and take your donor management to the next level!
Salesforce is an extremely customizable CRM system that can be the right choice for nonprofits who are larger and have dedicated staff to manage their system, or for nonprofits with unique needs requiring a higher level of customization. Salesforce has a version specifically tailored for the nonprofit industry, the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP).
Both Salsa CRM and Salesforce are paired tightly with Salsa Engage, to provide nonprofits with full marketing automation, fundraising, and advocacy functionality.
360MatchPro by Double the Donation is an easy-to-use tool giving nonprofit donors the ability to identify, and take advantage of, employer matching gift programs. Many employers offer 1:1, 2:1 and even 3:1 matching programs. But only 7% of nonprofit donors take advantage of matching gift programs available to them!
WealthEngine is a powerful wealth intelligence platform that provides nonprofits with key wealth data on existing and potential donors. Integrating WealthEngine to your CRM system allows nonprofits to view wealth intelligence data inside their CRM system - and to use this data to effectively target the right message to the right people.
Finding the best CRM system for your nonprofit organization is a project that deserves a defined project plan and involvement from key members of your team. Be sure to thoroughly evaluate your needs, separate the 'wants' from the 'must haves,' and get input from your users. For more information on running a selection project - see Selecting the Right Software Solution for your Nonprofit.