Act! Blog

CRM for nonprofits: How to pick the right one for you.

All nonprofits — no matter what size or area they serve — face many of the same challenges. They have to manage both paid employees and volunteers. Attract new donors and deepen relationships with existing ones. Create marketing campaigns and launch fundraisers

Although the list might seem endless, many nonprofits have tackled it head-on with tremendous innovation and creativity. For instance, smaller nonprofits often rely on homegrown methods to manage all the moving parts across their organization. Maybe they store their donor contacts in Outlook, track donations in Excel spreadsheets, and launch email campaigns through MailChimp. But if these apps can’t speak to each other, the data management headaches can pile up quickly. 

These ad hoc processes, however, can be tough to scale as the organization grows. Plus, when team members or volunteers move on, they take that knowledge with them. This can leave incoming staff with a steep learning curve as they try to figure out where all of the information resides.

This is why, no matter how new or how small a nonprofit is, it’s never too early to start using a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

How can a CRM help nonprofits?

The good news is, there’s a CRM system for every budget and skill set. You don’t have to run a Fortune 500 company to get the benefits of having all your contact information, donation amounts, marketing data, and fundraising reports together in one place. In this post, we’ll share some of the great benefits and key features to get the best CRM for your budget and business needs.

Here’s what a CRM can do for you:

Save you TONS of time.

Have you ever calculated how much time you spend onboarding new staff and volunteers? Running email marketing campaigns? Or figuring out how to segment and target your donor base so you can communicate with them more effectively?

A CRM can make all of this easier for you. Potential donors and volunteer recruits can enter their information directly into lead capture forms on your website. That data can be automatically added to your CRM database and then segmented so you send the right messages to the right audience.

Email marketing automation can help you easily manage all of your campaigns. Need to notify volunteers about an upcoming training? Done. Want to invite major donors to a special event? Easy peasy. Gone are the days of manually searching through donor information, which not only drains hours of precious time, you may still wind up omitting key contacts from essential email notifications.

Improve your donor relationships (and attract new ones).

Donor fatigue is real. When nonprofits continually hit up the same people for more money, it can impact donor retention rates and possibly drive donors away. Donor management requires more finesse while ensuring your advocacy message cuts through all the noise.

The right CRM can help you personalize communications with all your donors. It enables you to segment your donor data-target specific campaigns to your donor audience based on key characteristics such as previous donations, age, geographic area, and more.  

This helps to align your messages to specific groups instead of continually bombarding your entire database with email blasts that may or may not be relevant to them. So whether a donor has given for the first time or has been a passionate supporter for years, you get the visibility and metrics needed to put the right relationship building blocks in place.

Simplify your day-to-day operations.

As a nonprofit leader, you probably wear multiple hats every day. A CRM can lighten your load by eliminating needless manual tasks, such as creating email campaigns from scratch or constantly moving data between apps.

The right CRM platform gives you the functionality needed to streamline everyday workflows across your team. You can use pre-built, customizable templates to create email newsletters, landing pages, and more. 

What’s more, your CRM should include essential integrations with key productivity apps and suites such as Microsoft Office 365 and  Google Workspace. These integrations ensure your CRM can talk to all of these applications. For instance, you can initiate a Zoom call or request document signatures right from your CRM. 

How do you choose the best CRM solution for your nonprofit?

As with nearly all nonprofit organizations, pricing is always top-of-mind when considering any new purchase. With that in mind, how do you find the right CRM tools that offer the functionality you need without a lot of extra bells and whistles you don’t?

The fact is, there’s no single “best nonprofit CRM” out there. The key is to find the best CRM for you. Think about the list of things you handle every day: event management, volunteer management, outreach, fundraising campaigns, online donations, social media management – is there really an all-in-one CRM that can help you do it all?

The short answer is, yes! To get started, here’s a handy checklist of what to look for (which should apply to any nonprofit organization regardless of size or area of advocacy):

Personalization and customization features so your CRM works like you do

These features help you optimize your communication efforts by sending the right message to the right audience at the right time. You can also distinguish your organization with personalized campaigns and landing pages with professional, yet fully customizable, turnkey templates.  

Marketing automation to streamline and optimize your outreach

Marketing automation is essential to improving your ability to follow up with donors, volunteers, and other audiences. It’s about more than just sending automated responses on email and social media. You can automate key marketing workflows and stay engaged with all of your stakeholders. Best of all, you can more easily identify what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve processes to meet — and hopefully exceed — your major goals.

Centralized data management for a complete understanding of your donors

Simplify your day-to-day work life by capturing data from donors, volunteers, sponsors, grants, and more all in one organized and easily searchable place. Centralized data management gives you a clear view of your relationship history with every contact. This allows you to reach out with new campaigns and updates, or contact donors and volunteers you haven’t heard from in a while.

Real-time metrics for real-time insights and financial reporting

Keep track of every donor and grant opportunity and instantly view results from fundraising campaigns. Real-time metrics help you quickly assess which marketing campaigns are giving you the best payoff so you can apply the most successful strategies moving forward.  

User-friendly CRM interface for quick adoption and results

Let’s face it, any new technology or app needs to be easy to learn so you and your team can stay on top of key projects and priorities. Plus, when new employees or volunteers join, you have to get them up to speed in a matter of minutes rather than spend valuable time training new folks on software.  

Essential integrations with the apps and tools you love to save you time

As mentioned previously, your CRM should easily connect to your favorite apps and suites, including Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, and more. This includes payment processing for online donations that funnel directly from fundraising campaigns. As a result, you experience fewer errors and reduce time spent flipping back and forth between apps or tabs. In short, app integrations keep everything connected, up to date, and in sync. 

Pay-as-you-grow subscription for peace of mind

Nonprofits shouldn’t pay for software features they don’t need and won’t use. This is why it’s important to look for a subscription-based solution that starts where you are. Whether you need a basic package to kick things off, or you’re ready for more advanced marketing automation features, it’s important to look for nonprofit CRM software that can meet your needs today and grow as your organization changes.

Act! checks all the boxes for a nonprofit CRM

Act! is dedicated to providing nonprofits everywhere access to software solutions  that amplify their relationships and transform their success. Discover how our powerfully simple relationship management tools can support your mission with better marketing and data tracking tools to attract more donors and volunteers, streamline online fundraising, and assist with grant management

Act! offers flexible customizations, a mobile app and numerous app integrations to accommodate the unique ways you work. We’re committed to meeting your specific needs regardless of your budget and company size.