CRM, or by “customer relationship management” is a term borrowed from the corporate sector. And over the many years of its adoption into the Not for Profit sector, the term Not for Profit CRM has grown to include a variety of functional modules, with sector specific features and functionality:
- member management
- volunteer management
- donor relationship management
- grants management
Not for Profit CRM – does every Not For Profit need a CRM system:
Every not for profit manages relationships with external constituents, whether through a sophisticated tool or handwritten notes, Excel spread sheets, and miscellaneous databases. Managing data through informal and decentralised methods is inefficient, inherently risky and counter productive. And isolated silos of contact data mean that:
- the organisation has no control over the information transmitted i.e. constituents may only hear about fundraising and miss communication on volunteer projects or staff and client accomplishments etc..
- the organisation does not have the opportunity to execute on planned programs and strategies i.e. donor cultivation, planned giving, recurring giving etc..
Constituents (member, donors, volunteers etc.) are the lifeblood of a Not for Profit organisation. Their support often permeates through every aspect of the organisations operations i.e. donations, fund raising, advocacy, business administration and board representation.
It is, therefore, important for Not for Profit organisations to make every constituent/client contact count. And the need to have the most effective Not for Profit CRM systems in order that the organisation could grow a loyal donor base, increase the ratio of planned gifts, regularly cultivate the donor base to maintain an optimum level of giving, and promote the relevant messages to a target audience of volunteers, supporters, donors etc.
Thus a CRM systems for a Not for Profit is more than the capability for email campaigns and fundraising letters; it is a core systems that supports all activities impacting the revenue line and the organisations public profile.
Factors to consider when selecting a Not for Profit CRM solution:
- look at the bigger picture: selecting a CRM solution is a business decision, heavily influenced by the IT, and not the reverse. The organisaitons IT strategy should be aligned with overall business strategy
- architecture (hosted vs. in house ): Organisations requiring a high level of integration with in house applications may go down the path of a in house solution. The additional costs associated with this option, including the need to strengthen and maintain the in- house IT support team, needs due consideration. A hosted solution, on the other hand, offers a Cloud based model that is easily deployable, requiring less internal support and maintenance.
- total cost of ownership:cost of every solution should be viewed in the context of a 5-7 year period, and analysed by its major cost components i.e.
- first year licensing, customisations & implementation costs
- internal IT resources
- on going training
- annual maintenance
- add- on modules
- annual software subscription (SaaS model)
- hosting costs
- future proof: The vendor’s road map for the solution should be matched with the anticipated solutioning requirements for organisation. The vendor’s plans to maintain and enhance the solution within the 5-7 year time horizon needs to be understood.
- sector experience & capability of the solution provider: a good solution provider/vendor will present reference sites and case studies to demonstrate their capaiblity in deploying a Not For Profit CRM solution. Experienced players entering new market segments will offer to participate in the client’s risk mitigation strategies by offering promotions such as: capped cost implementation projects, free trials on customisaitons, add –on etc..