Does your Non-profit really need a CRM? From someone who is NOT selling.

Reposted from an older blog-site.

Working with numerous small non-profits at varying stages and degrees of data collection and management, I have realized that many executives do not realize the advantage of having all of your information in one spot.

Think for a minute: How many different software programs are being used to manage contact information for mailings and for e-communications, for sales of products like t-shirts or coffee mugs, and registration for events? Not to mention how you track phone conversations and meetings.

One organization I worked with recently had six different systems in place and was attempting to keep them all current, not realizing the information overlap and discrepancies between the systems. How do you reconcile the information in your accounting system with the donation information you maintain? Has anyone fallen through the cracks in receiving a thank you? Has a once strong supporter not received pertinent materials because information was updated in one system but not another?

Any business person will tell you that a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is critical for developing effective sales strategy. But non-profit fundraising is not sales, right? For me, fundraising is more about education than about sales. If people know about the important work you do, and why you do it, they will want to support you.

But is everyone’s knowledge and experience of your organization the same?

To properly educate potential stakeholders about your organization, it is important to understand their current relationship to the organization – and to educate them accordingly.

Think of it this way: would you expect someone who has been supporting your organization for five years to need the same information to give again as someone who has never given before? Would someone who follows you on social media, volunteers services on a weekly basis, and has an automatic monthly recurring payment need or want to receive the direct mail piece that you send out between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year?

If you find your desk cluttered with scattered spreadsheets, yellow legal pads, silent auction bid sheets, sticky notes, calendars of meeting and phone conversation dates, and reports from email marketing software and online giving portals – you need to seriously consider purchasing a CRM.

A good CRM allows you to track all phone and email communications, send mass emails and e-newsletters, view and analyze giving history, receive online payments thru your website – including event registration, and so much more. The ability to segment donor groups, to create strategic plans for moving donors to further engagement, and to ultimately save time and money through effective communications and donor tracking, is critical to your organization’s ability to reach the next level of excellence in fulfilling your mission.

Ultimately, the question is not whether-or-not to purchase a CRM, but which one? More on that in a future post, but for now, the website Software Advice, offers a review of about 87 different CRM’s for Non-Profits. http://www.softwareadvice.com/nonprofit/crm-software-comparison/