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How to Choose the Best CRM for Nonprofits

If you're looking for more donors for your nonprofit, consider relying on a CRM system to streamline your business practices.

5 min read

Finding donors for your nonprofit is easy, but enticing them to stick around is where things get tricky. And that’s most likely because you don’t have an effective communication strategy or the right CRM for nonprofits. Luckily, it’s a simple fix.

Customer (Constituent) relationship management, or more commonly known as CRM, is essential for nonprofits because your organization relies on donor contributions, which requires maintaining stellar relationships.

Nonprofit organizations use CRM software that has been specifically designed to manage the relationship between nonprofits and constituents.

The CRM should centralize data from all constituent groups into a single system to make it easier to manage. The goal is to streamline the process of improving relationships with constituents. 

The Importance of CRM for Nonprofits

Your donors and their continued contributions are fundamental to the success of your nonprofit organization. So, regardless of whether you have only a few donors or an entire database overflowing with them, you need a way to interact, nurture, and retain your supporters.

But as you probably know, nurturing your new donors and turning them into loyal, perennial donors of your organization is easier said than done. 

Successfully managing a nonprofit organization requires a systematic approach to retaining donors, beneficiaries, volunteers, and board members, as well as building relationships with them so your organization can continue to function and grow.

And that’s where a CRM solution comes into play. A CRM for nonprofits should track all constituent activity and provide you with important information.

Recent studies have shown that for nonprofit organizations, donor retention rates have been below 50 percent for the past ten years. Meaning, any donor you acquire is more likely to disappear after their first donation than they are to become a long-term donor

So what does that mean for your nonprofit? For starters, it’s bad news. A high donor churn rate means that you have to use valuable time and money scouting for new donors. 

Nonprofit CRM

Raise Your Retention Rate with CRM for Nonprofits 

Whether you have 5 or 500 donors, every single contribution is important for your nonprofit. They’re the ones that allow you to continue doing the important work that you do. 

But as your organization continues to grow, you will need to invest in a CRM system to manage your growing number of donor relationships.

CRM provides a solution to organize donor communications in a way that maintains the personalization but doesn’t require an excessive amount of time. The best CRMs allow you to monitor your progress, nurture your existing donor relationships, and facilitate new relationships as you expand.

CRM has become increasingly popular in recent years so there’s a wide range of options on the market today. Your goal should be to find the one that fits your needs and allows your organization to grow. Here’s our guide to choosing the best CRM for your nonprofit.

Factors to Consider When Selecting a CRM for Nonprofits

No one wants to waste money picking the wrong CRM. So, when you are choosing a CRM solution, there are several factors your organization needs to take into account. Here are some of the major ones.

The Constituent Relationships You’re Managing

When choosing your CRM, you have to consider the people -- all the people. CRM software helps nonprofit organizations attract and retain constituents who are willing to support the organization with donations or through volunteer work. 

Your CRM software should be able to effectively manage all of your constituents including:

  • Donors 
  • Volunteers
  • Suppliers and vendors
  • Beneficiaries
  • Event attendees
  • Board members
  • Corporate sponsors
  • Celebrity supporters
  • Grant-making organizations
  • Social influencers
  • Staff members (using the CRM)

Amongst other things, a CRM should allow you to cross-reference all of these important groups to determine where there is overlap, which will save you time. 

Figure out how much constituent data is required for your organization to manage and use information when determining CRM software.

You also have to take into account who will be using the CRM software and how it’ll be leveraged. Will it be used by a single department, or shared throughout your entire organization? How many constituents are you currently managing, will that number grow, and how many staff members will be managing those constituents? All of these factors will influence your decision as well as the price of the CRM.

Constituent Relationship Management

What is the Process?

We understand that many donations happen offline -- and that’s okay. Offline donations can still be recorded within your CRM software and managed in the specific donor’s profile. 

Note that if your organization mainly receives offline donations, you’ll want to find a system that allows you to input this data relatively easily and without any potential for human error.

You’ll also want to look at the process overall for each CRM software you are considering. At the very least, every CRM should:

  • Be intuitive and easy to use;
  • Capture and qualify leads;
  • Manage donations;
  • Provide helpful feedback;
  • Email integration;
  • Have analytic software; and
  • Offer engagement tracking;

Take the time to read online reviews of the software to gauge other nonprofit's experience with it and what the process is like for them.

Why Do You Need CRM Software?

When you’re choosing a CRM, you have to constantly keep in mind why you are investing in the first place. Ask yourself questions like what you are trying to achieve, what is your business lacking, how will the CRM help you reach your goals?

You have to know exactly what you want in a CRM software and the features that your organization requires, which will vary for different nonprofits. You don’t want to waste money buying additional features you won’t use and you definitely don’t want to invest in a CRM that provides insufficient constituent information. 

Bottom line? Do you research ahead of time so that you know what you’re looking for and can choose the best CRM for your nonprofit.

Research the CRM Software

You have to make sure that the product you choose meets your organization’s needs. The CRM you choose has to report on the activities that are important to your organization as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) that coincide with those activities. 

Your CRM should offer you both the features and the reports necessary to make your organization as effective as it can be. 

How can you increase your nonprofit’s bottom line? The answer is to improve your retention rate through better communication and nurturing. And that is made possible with the right CRM solution.

An example is GoSite’s Contact Hub, which provides a complete CRM software for your nonprofit to manage all of your interactions and maintain a rich constituent profile. Use our powerful CRM features to grow your organization, get more donors, and continue doing the important work that you do.

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