Cultivating and maintaining donor relationships is a big part of any nonprofit mission. And that, dear reader, is where the right Customer Relationship Management tool (or CRM) can be a game-changer.

Gone are the days when managing donor-related data meant using Excel sheets or Rolodexes. Nonprofit CRMs make it easy to collect, store and analyze vast amounts of donor information, so you can put it to work growing your organization.

CRMs make it easy to manage online fundraising and donor relationships.

For example, CRMs give you the power to:

  • Easily collect and store granular data about your donors (like age, past activity, giving preferences, etc.)—with less or no manual entry required when connected to a platform like your website.
  • Instantly track online giving.
  • Generate detailed reports and visualizations to tell you and your board where you’re sitting for the year.
  • Perform complex accounting-related tasks in an organized, intuitive way.
  • Track and compare the performance of individual giving campaigns.
  • Monitor event attendance.
  • Automate email campaigns.

And a lot more.

With so many CRMs to choose from—Bloomerang and Little Green Light are popular examples—you may be wondering which way to go. While that boils down to your organization’s particular needs, there are a few capabilities you should look for in any CRM worth its silicon.

Without further ado, let’s look at three things to consider.

#1 Seamless integration with your website and online giving pages.

Want to make your life easier? Look for a CRM that seamlessly connects with your website. (Bloomerang, for example, integrates with Firespring’s nonprofit websites.)

Say someone makes a gift on your website’s donor page. After they fill out an online form populated with queries of your choice, imagine the data—such as name, address, giving amount and billing info—flowing effortlessly into your CRM. From there, your organization can access it from an easy-to-use, customizable dashboard, where it will inform your decision-making and help you launch targeted appeals. For example, want to send a hello email to people who haven’t given in a few years? No problem—your CRM makes it easy. Need a line graph that compares last year’s giving to this year’s? You got it.

We could go on and on; you just need to experience it for yourself. With the right system and a manageable learning curve, the right CRM combines the powers of the internet, a spreadsheet and your hardest-working employee into a fast, convenient, easy-to-use system. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

#2 A User-Friendly Interface

With nonprofit resources already stretched to the max, employees often need to wear a lot of hats. What your organization doesn’t need is a CRM that only one “expert” on your team will be capable of using. The best CRMs are designed with intuitive interfaces that demand minimal training and are easy for staff members to quickly use and master. This eliminates the need for extensive training or technical know-how—saving time, reducing frustration and maximizing productivity for the whole organization.

When shopping for a CRM, look for a provider that offers demonstrations and training sessions for you and your team. This will let you gauge ease-of-use and compatibility with your organization’s unique workflow. The goal is to choose a system that makes your team feel comfortable and confident and doesn’t require a PhD in computer engineering. The more user-friendly the interface, the easier it will be to get the most bang for your buck.

#3 Affordability

When shopping for technology, as with shopping for cars, there is invariably a trade-off between “gets the job done” and “parks itself.” The same applies to the wide world of CRM pricing plans.
When weighing your options, keep this trade-off between affordability and overall value in mind. Look for pricing plans that align with your budget and fundraising goals (since not every nonprofit needs the most expensive option). Meanwhile be sure to keep an eye out for additional costs, like setup or training fees. In the end, choose a system that delivers the best value for your budget—helping you achieve your organization’s goals without straining your finances.

The Gist

The right CRM can be a game-changer, empowering your nonprofit with previously unheard of capabilities for collecting, storing and working with donor data. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to revolutionize your approach to donor relationship management, look no further. But with so many systems to choose from, there are a few things to remember. For example, look for a CRM that plays nicely with your website, making it easy to capture powerful insights from your visitors. Choose a system with an intuitive user interface that anyone on your team could learn to navigate in a day or two. And shop around for a price that offers the right balance between features and affordability. By taking your time and determining the right fit, you’ll get the most out of this truly amazing tech.