6 Steps to Selecting CRM Software for Your Nonprofit

6 Steps to Selecting CRM Software for Your Nonprofit

A CRM is a client/ customer relationship management tool. It is a database system for tracking constituents, donors, members, volunteers and more.

How do you select the right one for your nonprofit organization?

1. Decide why you need a CRM – Are you planning to use it as a platform for all stakeholder data management or for a single segment, like donors?

Have all stakeholders (not just leadership) been involved in the process? Write down your goals for selecting a CRM. Establish the current state and the desired state of your needs. Remember to keep in mind your overall strategic plan. Don’t get stuck with what you need right now. Think about what the CRM will need to do and look like in the future. Establish the team needed for the project. Make sure everyone has the opportunity to participate in this process. Also, is your staff capable of setting up and customizing a CRM or will you need external help?

Develop a prioritized list of the things you need, would like and do not need, like the one here:CRM chartCRMs can be cloud-based or hosted on-site. Most CRMs are secure in the cloud and this is the recommended choice for any organization. Think about enabled mobile applications for all devices.

2. Know your budget! If your organization does not have any technology line item in your budget, establish one moving forward.

  • Think about the one-time costs: customization, set-up and training.
  • Include calculations for licensing costs per users, per month.
  • Remember costs for data migration.
  • Calculate what you will gain by having information about the activities that lead to results in your organization.

3. Know your data – Your CRM selection will depend on if you’re starting from scratch or migrating from another source.

What are you using today? A card file system, a spreadsheet, email trails? How long will it take to clean up and de-duplicate the current data? Decide who is going to be tasked with this and how much it may cost (in time and money).

4. Being able to report on the information you have collected is crucial. Whether this is donors and fundraising, volunteers and program impact or simply answering the question “Where are the donations coming from?” It’s important to be able to pull the correct information easily. Think about how you want your reports to look and what information you’ll likely be tracking.

5. How much customization will you need? How much of the default software can you live with? You’ll need to decide which applications and services are required to effectively use the CRM. You may want a system that integrates with other applications your team is using. Examples include:

  • Email marketing
  • Social media
  • QuickBooks
  • File storage attachments

6. Consider implementation, training and support. Plan a timeline of how long implementation (and adoption) will take. Some training should be included with any purchase and purchasing a support package of extra hours is a good idea in your first year of using any system.

Again, decide if the staff you already have will be enough to get the software up and running. Otherwise, consider an outside consultant for assistance.

John Suffern is the Vice President of Nonprofit Services for Lumity.

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