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Constituent relationship management (CRM) is a fundamental part of a nonprofit organization’s success. A constituent in the realm of nonprofits refers to a supporter—someone who’s supported the organization in the past whether as a donor, volunteer, alumni, corporate supporter, member, beneficiary, staff etc. Each constituent type is valuable to a nonprofit organization in unique ways (e.g., dollars and volunteer hours).
CRM software consolidates constituent information along with their donor or participation history into a valuable resource that nonprofit organizations can leverage to strengthen their relationships.
CRM software is more than just a sophisticated contact management system. Consolidating constituent data provides a holistic perspective of all supporters involved in an organization, affords seamless and efficient communication with members and supporters and boosts the effectiveness of marketing and fundraising campaigns. Features found in nonprofit CRM systems include:
Contact management. With many constituent types, keeping contacts organized and readily accessible can be challenging, particularly if constituent types are stored in different locations. These systems save time and ensure the right constituent is contacted for each campaign or outreach.
Activity and event management. These features enable an organization to track all tasks associated with an upcoming event and plan associated outreach methods like sending mail or making phone calls. Calendar features remind users when a task is due and record task completion history. Event management tools also track event expenses and in-kind gifts.
Campaign management. These features align constituents with appropriate campaigns and record important metrics like newsletter and outreach open/bounce rates to calculate a campaign’s overall outreach.
Metrics and reports. Key performance indicators (KPIs) can be measured by campaign success rates, supporter behavior patterns. KPI dashboards can deliver weekly metrics via email and provide up-to-date campaign and donor statistics. Reporting features help an organization identify prospective recurring members and donors, and more.
Engaging the donors, supporters and volunteers with appropriate initiatives is essential to ensure their continued participation and patronage. CRM software helps to identify and segment the different constituent groups and send targeted promotional emails, event invites and donation requests to improve organizational efficiency and member involvement.
A constituent management software integrates with third-party applications for seamless data exchange and connects with social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to identify potential donors and volunteers.
Contact records can be tagged with keywords that help identify the extent to which members align with the organization’s interests and activities. The solution can support the marketing and branding efforts of the organization and improve external communication using targeted advertising.
Storing your data in an online CRM system rather than an Excel file or notebook allows users to access it from anywhere, any time. Web-based CRM solutions help to export datasheets, communicate with volunteers and view constituent lists even when you are working in remote sites, organizing events or traveling. It fosters collaboration across teams and lets multiple teams access the information simultaneously.
CRM software helps automate various tasks that would have otherwise taken many hours to do manually. This allows volunteers to devote more time to the organization’s key objectives and initiatives as well as helps to reduce errors, improve efficiency and cut costs.
Cloud vs. on-premise: Most CRM solutions are cloud-based and have the advantage of being cost-effective, scalable and secure. Web-based solutions help users access information from any location and the organization does not require large IT teams to manage updates, maintenance and other issues.
Mobile apps: Mobile applications for CRM help the field staff access data and enter records into the system from anywhere. These apps will be helpful for volunteers who need database access, but are working on organizing fundraising activities or other events from outside their office location.
Integrations: Many nonprofit organizations use software applications, such as MailChimp, QuickBooks or Paypal, for functions such as mail list management, accounts and payment processing. The CRM software should be able to integrate with these applications as well as with social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter. This helps in seamless data transfer and importing new contacts into the system.
Suite vs. standalone solution: Some CRM software offer integrated accounting, budget management, event management and other features that support the multiple operations of the organization. These suite solutions can prove to be a better choice for nonprofits that need to track interactions with multiple constituents.
Free vs. subscriptions options: Many CRM vendors offer free editions of their products that either offer limited features or support only a limited number of users. While the free versions help customers get a feel of the product, subscription editions offer a wider range of features along with installation support, training and after-sales services.
Features on offer: Different CRM software may primarily be suited for distinct functions such as fundraising, advocacy or volunteer recruitment. Hence, it is necessary to first identify the main objectives of your organization and then choose the appropriate solution.
Small nonprofits: As a small nonprofit organization, your budget will be lower than that of larger enterprises and the scale of operations limited to a few localities. There are many CRM vendors, such as NonProfitEasy and Batchbook, who cater to small organizations and offer services at prices starting from $20 per month. Many vendors also offer free editions that support all the features for a limited number of users.
Midsized nonprofits: If you are a midsize organization with more funds to spare, you can look at purchasing software that offer enhanced capabilities in donor management, bulk emailing, event management and database management.
Large nonprofits: CRM software from vendors, such as Salesforce and Trail Blazer, can handle large volumes of donor data and offer features to track donations and volunteer recruitment. These software also provide multi-location support and access to pre-integrated applications for event management, fundraising and volunteer management.
CRM software for nonprofits typically have a subscription-based pricing model, depending on the number of users and features available. Payments are generally on a per user, per month basis and can vary from $10 per month to hundreds of dollars per month depending on business needs. Many providers also offer free trials and free versions of their products.
Some of the popular vendors are Salesforce, NeonCRM, DonorPerfect, Bloomerang, Salsa CRM, Blackbaud, MemberClicks, Kindful, Trail Blazer, Abila and Aplos.
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