I’ll admit it. Nonprofits are my passion. Maybe it’s my tendency to vote for the underdog, or a naive dream to make the world a better place, or maybe I simply love the chaotic environment and the excitement that embodies many nonprofits. Whatever the reason, I want them to succeed. If you’re reading this and are a nonprofit organization…I’m talking about you.
Now, I’ve been down in the trenches working as both an employee and volunteer at nonprofits for as long as I can remember, but one thing remains constant throughout my experiences: they continuously fail to implement volunteer/donor tracking systems to support their business processes.
If your organization is not operating at peak efficiency, maybe it is time you spearhead a movement to get a CRM system in place. I know it sounds outrageous, but running a nonprofit does not have to be like herding cats. By taking control and implementing a CRM system, you can improve your business processes, cut costs, and improve overall efficiency.
Let’s identify some common needs that many non-profits share. This will vary from organization to organization, but you get the point:
- The ability to track and generate funding opportunities from private donors, corporate, or government agencies.
- A system to track resources and supplies.
- A system for screening, training, and scheduling volunteers.
A “real” CRM should address these needs and not cause additional work. Here are 3 ways a CRM system can tackle these concerns while bringing additional value to nonprofit organizations:
- Improve your external communication. Regular communication keeps your organization “top of mind” and can generate substantial long-term support. With CRM, you have the ability to create a diverse set of marketing lists and develop targeted email campaigns directed at just those members.
- Provide a central location to store data:
- Identify and track government grant deadlines, the status of applications, and award history.
- Track your resources. This can include equipment and companies that donate tangible materials such as construction or medical supplies.
- Pull relevant reports. Use this data to identify top donors to build stronger relationships or track which programs are generating the highest contributions.
- A system for screening, training, and scheduling volunteers. Many times nonprofits have a lot of potential volunteers to sort through, but ensuring they are screened, trained, and coordinated can be a challenge. A well design CRM system can simplify your processes to track the status of your volunteers and their availability.
Great, I’m sold! How much is it?
The cost will vary depending on your needs, and the CRM you choose. Yes, it’s going to cost you effort and money upfront, but that compared with the daily loss of time, resources, and funding opportunities is a drop in the bucket.
What I will warn against is skimping on your CRM system. Remember, I’ve worked in nonprofits and know that there is the inherent tendency to look for resources that are “good enough,” but if you do this, you will be shooting yourself in the foot. Free or out of the box CRM’s will rarely fit the needs of a non-profit’s business processes, and will likely create more work.
Steps to getting started with CRM
First, it’s important to do some research and evaluate the different CRM’s which are available. You can do this through online reading and requesting product demos from partners you’re considering working with. Now, I won’t tell you which CRM to choose, but I will say I believe Microsoft CRM is scalable, highly customizable, and offers numerous advantages over other CRMs on the market. Plus, they offer discounted pricing to qualifying non-profits (501c3) that is dramatically reduced – we can provide specifics. Also, Forrester, an independent analyst firm, has stated that companies using Microsoft CRM show a 243% average ROI in just over 4 months. I recommend reading this excellent blog post to learn more: Microsoft CRM 2011 Tops With Analysts: Nucleus, Gartner, Forrester.
Second, invest in a CRM needs analysis (otherwise known as a requirements gathering meeting). This will entail one or more CRM experts listening to your organization’s business process, asking questions, and helping you to formulate a game plan which will detail exactly what pain points your CRM system will addresses.
Lastly, don’t skip training. If you have a CRM system, people need to know how to use it correctly.
If you need help getting started, or would like to learn more about CRM contact us for a demo. We have years of experience working with nonprofits and actively support organizations just like yours through company sponsored events like
By Armanino Consulting - the West Coast’s largest Gold Certified,