nonprofit technology, technology management

What's a CRM and How Do You Pick the Right One?

 Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs) are software tools which allow organizations to track potential sales and manage customer information. Although your nonprofit probably doesn’t sell anything or have traditional customers, a CRM can still help you manage donations and member information. By using a CRM you can keep all your data in one place, run financial reports, create segmented lists based on donor information, and run effective marketing campaigns. You can also integrate other software tools with your CRM, like your fundraising software, but the functionality and cost vary depending on the systems you use. 

CRMs are powerful tools and can help your nonprofit manage a lot of confidential information, but it can be difficult to decide which CRM is right for your organization. As always, two of the main questions you will need to consider before making a purchase are: 

  1. How much can we afford to spend?
  2. What do others say about this product?

Once you determine your budget and find out more about the options you’re considering, you can ask the rest of the questions necessary to make a CRM purchasing decision: 

  1. How much data do you currently maintain?
    You except your organization to grow, and that means that the amount of data you maintain will grow along with it. This makes it essential that your software is scalable, so you don’t have to make more changes down the line as your needs expand.
  2. What types of information do you need to keep track of?
    You’re probably responsible for a lot of confidential information, and some of that data may have other restrictions (like HIPAA) enforcing data safety and individual privacy. It’s important that your CRM has security features that can help you maintain data safety with confidence.
  3. Do you have any other software that needs to be integrated?
    Your CRM shouldn’t just add to the total number of software your business currently uses, but should help integrate all of your systems so you can work more efficiently.
  4. Are all of your staff needs being met?
    It’s likely that multiple teams and team members will need to use your CRM for a variety of reasons. While someone in charge of fundraising will be more concerned with financial capabilities, your marketing staff may need social integrations, email automation, or more detailed list segmentation. Your CRM should work for your organization, not just one team.

These factors will all impact your options for CRM software within your budget and will help you narrow down which is the right one for your nonprofit. It’s essential that you don’t focus on one feature or the price of a product to make the decision, but instead look at your needs and current systems holistically. These questions can be overwhelming, and it might make sense for you to contact an IT consultant before making a decision. 


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