What is CRM for Nonprofits?

If you have been in the nonprofit world for a while, you have probably heard the term ‘Customer Relationship Management’ before, or its abbreviation: CRM.

This term describes a tool that organizations can use to aid in managing professional relationships, developing fundraising strategies, and organizing information. In simple terms, customer relationship management functions as a sort of database in order to help organizations have better communication, improve strategies, increase fundraising, and more. It can be beneficial for nearly every organization to have some form of CRM but is especially beneficial to nonprofit organizations. Customer relationship management may seem simple, but can involve a number of different methods.

Some of the main benefits to using Nonprofit CRM are learning, organization, and optimization. The learning benefit of CRM comes into play through analysis. Customer relationship management sorts information into one place, making it much easier to look at and analyze that information. This, in turn, allows nonprofits to learn more about their customers and how to optimize their strategies and approaches to best suit their customer’s needs. This aspect of CRM is also useful for business-related decisions and advancement in customer-related goals. Organization comes into play with the sorting of different kinds of information, making it more accessible, easier to read, and faster to deal with. Optimization occurs because of the benefits of organization and learning. Simplifying the process of customer relations can help things to run more smoothly and overall be more effective, optimizing the entire process.

Different Types of Nonprofit CRM

Customer relationship management is a large field, and it takes many different forms. The main categories of CRM include analytical, operational, and collaborative. Analytical customer relationship management is centered around the analysis of the data collected. Usually, this means that the goal in analytical-focused CRM is improving customer service and satisfaction. Meanwhile, operational-centered CRM normally focuses more on areas such as sales and marketing. It’s often more efficient, making it a better form of CRM for companies that have high repeat sales and shorter sales cycles. Finally, customer relationship management that is more collaborative-based utilizes other organizations and companies by sharing customer information with them and creating a larger resource with more data.

Nonprofit CRM Features and How To Use Them

Within the world of nonprofit customer relationship management, there are many features that are essential, regardless of the type of CRM your organization is planning to implement. These features include: comprehensive constituent profiles, data reporting, donation processing, email automation, and list segmentation. Keep reading to discover more about what these features are and how to use them.

Comprehensive Constituent Profiles

Comprehensive constituent profiles serve the purpose of combining and integrating your constituents from differing sources of data into one software. This can be extremely helpful for any organization that uses multiple spreadsheets or has to flip back and forth between programs to get all needed information. Potential information that could be included in a comprehensive constituent profile includes a list of your organization’s staff members, board members, volunteers, recipients of aid, sponsors, donors, event attendees, etc.

More detailed constituent profiles may also include information about constituents such as donation history, contact information, hobbies or other activities, online presence, prior volunteer or event attendance, related relationships, and so on. All of this information can be used to personalize your approach and customize your strategies to your target audience. You may be able to think of new strategies by having relevant information about potential donors at hand, which will increase the participation and donation results of fundraising efforts.

Data reporting

Data reporting is the part of customer relationship management that takes the information and data that was collected and turns it into valuable insights, reports, and suggestions. In simple terms, data reporting processes all of the data and digests it into easy-to-understand information. For example, some of the insights that can be generated may be about popular times for donations, demographics of donors, statistics on email open rates, information related to financial transactions, etc.

Donation processing

One feature of customer relationship management that may be especially helpful is donation processing. Donation processing essentially makes the process of collecting and processing donations substantially easier. Many CRM programs include customizable forms and templates to meet the needs of your specific organization. Gifts, pledges, and donations can all be made much easier through donation processing. One cool aspect of donation processing is that it not only stores donation-related information in the profiles of donors within the CRM software, but also automatically enters and compiles the information that previously would have had to be entered manually. This frees up time and avoids potential human errors.

Email Automation

Email automation is all about the process of dealing with emails, and usually involves some form of automated emails or scheduled emails. It can be especially helpful to any organization that provides updates to donors or volunteers through email, has a mailing list, or wants to increase their email communication. Similar to donation processing, email automation can save a lot of time, since employees and staff members won’t have to carefully craft and send out emails themselves. An example of email automation would be automatically sending out receipts or letters of appreciation to donors. Aside from automation, this feature of CRM is also able to track statistics, such as when emails are sent, clicked-through, opened, etc.

List Segmentation

List segmentation is the process of sorting and separating constituents into similar categories. With list segmentation, you are able to enter certain data or attributes and have the constituents sorted into each group, which can help create a more personalized and effective approach to communication. Some commonly used attributes when it comes to list segmentation include age, location, job, interests, donation frequency, past involvement habits, and so on. These groups can then be extremely useful in tailoring and personalizing certain strategies, communication, and outreach.

Mistakes to Avoid When Using Customer Relationship Management

Although customer relationship management can be an incredibly effective tool for nonprofits to use, there are many mistakes that a number of organizations make. Check out the list below for common mistakes your organization should avoid:

Choosing the Wrong System

When it comes to selecting a customer relationship management system, many organizations let their IT teams do the picking. While this approach makes sense in theory, it may not make the most sense in the long run, as the IT department will not be the ones using it. A good practice to take is to make sure the CRM system you choose is something that your customer service team, marketing team, or data team will be comfortable with and excited about.

Another thing to look out for is systems that are not mobile-friendly. With technology being such an integral part of society these days, it is more important than ever that your system is mobile-friendly and can be used across a variety of devices.

Spending Too Much Money on a System

When dealing with CRM, it is important to remember that there may be an initial cost to purchase the software as well as the cost to actually implement it. Always be mindful of your nonprofit’s budget and try not to go over budget when spending money on a system.

To find great deals on CRM software, and countless other programs and services, head on over to our Giant Deal List and see what kinds of amazing savings your nonprofit status can help you to obtain.

Not Properly Integrating Your System

After purchasing a CRM program, you may notice that a good amount of pre-installed data will come loaded onto it. Redundant information and data that is irrelevant to the needs of your organization should be removed in order to personalize the software to fit your specific needs. The system can be customized to best fit what your organization is looking for.

Customer Relationship Management Tools and Resources

Now that you know about the basics of customer relationship management and how to best implement it, it is time to begin looking at specific software. The list below includes some options that you can use when implementing CRM.

Salesforce.org Nonprofit Cloud is made specifically for nonprofits, and is such a well-esteemed software that it is the number-one CRM resource in the world. With a community of more than 45,000 nonprofits, this software is best equipped for NPOs, with features including a campaign builder, social listening and marketing, fundraising CRM, and service delivery. Some of their Nonprofit Success Packs (NPSP) are even free to use for nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status, with additional packs being heavily discounted.

Salsa is a platform with a community of around 10,000 nonprofit-related professionals centered around supporter engagement and multi-channel advocacy, digital marketing, and online fundraising. They offer many features that provide mailing-related services, donation marketing, analytics, peer-to-peer fundraising, etc. Pricing is not standard and is based around the needs of your organization, but can be estimated by requesting information on their website.

Donor Perfect is a software that focuses on organization, event management, and donor engagement. A major benefit of Donor Perfect is that an unlimited number of users can use it at the same time. It is useful for crowdfunding, advocacy integration, personalized marketing communication and targeting, and more. Pricing varies based on the number of contacts and comes in the form of 5 different plans.

By Amanda Conover