Skip to navigation Skip to content

Tech Insights 6 min read

10 things to consider when choosing the best CRM for non-profits

You’ve done your research and you know that your non-profit organization could benefit tremendously from bringing on a CRM for non-profits. While it’s called a CRM (Customer Relationship Management), you know that in your case, it’s really going to be a donor relationship management system, that also allows you to manage your relationships with your volunteers, your partners and potential donors. You’ve learned – either online or through the counsel of others in your shoes – that a CRM for non-profits can help you with your marketing, communications, data organization and analysis, report generation, transparency within your organization, efficiency and so much more.

You know all this… But the one question left is, “Which CRM?”

There are a lot of CRMs out there, from the general CRMs that are flexible enough to be adapted to your particular industry to the very specific CRMs that are designed for one purpose and one purpose only. There are complex CRMs and simple CRMs, reasonably priced CRMs and exorbitantly priced CRMs (we’ll steer you away from those ones, don’t worry!), CRMs that integrate well with other systems and those that are self-contained, and more. There’s a maze of information out there on CRMs and fortunately, we’ve already navigated it.

Let us walk you through the 10 things you should consider when choosing the best CRM for non-profits. Not all of them will necessarily be of the same level of priority for your organization and that’s okay. After considering all these points and identifying the ones that are the most critical for you, we’d be happy to discuss with you the CRM that best suits your needs.

1/ Best CRM for non-profit makes the most of your data

Your CRM will be your single source of truth for donor data. Make sure you invest in a CRM that gives you one centralized data repository and helps you to structure your data as you input it so that no important information gets lost or neglected. You might want a CRM that automates data entry to save you time and reduce errors.

Your CRM should come with built-in artificial intelligence (AI) to help you analyze and extract insights from your data. You should be able to visualize the relationship between different types of data from donor profiles and correlate it with campaign success, money raised in any given campaign, donor engagement, expenses and more.

Your CRM should allow you to generate reports based on your data. You can use these reports to present your results to donors, partners or board members and show that you have done the necessary research and testing and are making data-driven decisions.

2/ Best CRM for non-profit boosts your communication and improves transparency

Your CRM for non-profits should include communications and marketing features that make it easier and faster for you to stay in touch with your donors, volunteers, partners and potential donors.

Choose a CRM that provides you with templates that you can customize to promote your organization’s brand. And a CRM that supports communication not only via email but also allows you to reach out to donors in the manner of their choosing, from email to text to phone to other messaging systems. Also important is the ability to schedule communication delivery in advance, as well as scheduling follow-ups, reminders and automated thank you notes.

The CRM should keep track of every interaction you have had with a donor so that every member of your personnel working in the CRM will have access to a donor’s entire engagement history. That way, if or when your team changes for whatever reason, you will not have to worry about losing any aspects of the relationship with the donor. Every team member will know exactly what communications have happened with any given donor and can pick up right where one of their colleagues left off.

3/ A CRM for non-profit that enhances your productivity

Best CRM for non-profit allows you to automate repetitive, manual tasks. These kinds of tasks take up a lot of time that could be better spent doing something that a software solution can’t do. Gain hours each week as the CRM takes care of tasks such as sending emails, triggering SMS alerts, scheduling activities, updating fields, etc.

Further examples of automated processes include:

  • Automatically creating a new case when a donor email arrives
  • Sending email notification when a support case is created or when cases are resolved
  • Sending automatic SMS messages in the context of a campaign
  • Automatically identifying which potential donors have the most potential to become donors
  • Creating a donor profile from an Excel spreadsheet
  • Sending a weekly email report summarizing the latest actions tracked in the CRM

4/ A CRM that supports your non-profit activities

Your CRM can help you plan and manage events that are crucial to your fundraising campaigns right from initial planning and budgeting through promotion and publication, attendee registration, webinar broadcasting, final analytics, lead generation and ROI evaluation. This applies to in-person and online events.

Look for a CRM for non-profits that includes:

  • Seamless contact, registration and attendance management features
  • Session tracking and speaker management
  • Attendee passes to particular sessions
  • Guest logistics for hotel reservations
  • Venue management and room layouts
  • Customer survey integration
  • Attendance history of each contact, including events and sessions attended
  • An event website you can publish

5/ Know who will be using your CRM for non-proft

When considering which CRM for non-profits to invest in, think about how many people in your organization will be using the CRM in the course of their duties, and which parts of the CRM.

Most CRM solutions have pricing based on the number of users per month. And the price changes based on whether you have the whole suite of CRM solutions, just one, or several CRM applications. It’s a good idea to go into this decision with a clear notion of who actually needs the CRM to work as a united, transparent, supportive team and what each person needs to get out of it.

It might be a core group of people in your organization, or it might even be everybody. Knowing this will affect which CRM you ultimately end up going with.

6/ Best CRM for non-profit has its head in the Cloud

There are two different ways to deploy CRMs. You could run one on your own internal network, which would mean you control every aspect of the implementation and are responsible for maintenance, which can limit your flexibility and ability to change or adapt to new conditions.

The other possibility is deploying a Cloud-based CRM – which is ultimately our recommendation. This allows you to decouple the software from your local hardware, makes it possible to access data from different locations and devices, and means that as the software continues to evolve, you’ll always have access to the latest advancements.

7/ A CRM for non-profit with integrations and extensions

The best CRM for non-profits does not stand alone. In fact, its very purpose it to bring people and data together and optimize the running of your non-profit. Therefore it’s crucial that it be able to integrate with your ERP software and with communication tools that you use in the office (ex: Microsoft Teams or other).

The more your CRM connects with other applications, the more seamless its introduction will be and the more easily it will be adopted by your organization.

8/ Best CRM for non-profit has an accessible mobile interface

The future is on our phones! In today’s reality, it’s important to be able to access your work from wherever you happen to be – at the office, at home, on the go… Make sure that your CRM has a mobile interface so that work can carry on no matter where your people are.

9/ A CRM for non-profit with top-notch security

It goes without saying that privacy and security are top concerns nowadays. It’s vital for the reputation and integrity of your organization that you protect your donor data. So dig deeper to make sure that your CRM for non-profit software not only has the best security in place, but that it regularly evolves to makes sure that it is keeping up to date with the latest threats.

10/ Best CRM for non-profit is easy to use and maintain

Our lives are complicated enough that there is no reason to bring on a CRM for non-profits that is hard to use or maintain. The CRM for non-profit software exists to make your life easier! There is no reason to struggle. Look for a CRM that was designed for the smoothest, easiest user experience. A CRM that respects its users is a CRM that deserves your attention.

For more information on what a CRM for non-profits can do for your organization and to get the big picture on which software is right for you, speak to one of our CRM consultants.

Liked what you just read? Sharing is caring.

August 18, 2020 by Frédéric Charest VP of Marketing

Data-driven Growth Marketer with a Passion for SEO - Driving Results through Analytics and Optimization