Top 7 Features of a Modern CRM for Nonprofits
Now that you have a good sense for the nonprofit CRM landscape, we wanted to provide a summary of the top 7 features to look for in any new donor management software purchasing decision. If you can check these boxes with your CRM you’re well on the way to growing giving!
1. Built Specifically to Grow Giving
People contribute to your organization in many ways. They give their time, money, talent and social capital to further your cause. So your nonprofit CRM should enable you to encourage and track the many ways people give – from volunteering, advocacy, and hosting events to planned giving, gifts in kind, corporate giving, and fundraising for you.
A system that’s built from the ground up to maximize generosity by focusing on the WHOLE giver can provide you with the information you need to maximize the full potential of your donor base. A giver-centric system can also provide a more tailored experience, with more care and attention to a giver’s unique needs.
The best nonprofit CRMs not only help you keep up with your data needs, but they also expose best practices for the latest and best ways to raise the funds and inspire action.
You don’t want a sales CRM that needs to be specially customized for fundraising. What you want is fundraising software and nonprofit marketing tools that are tailored to do what you – and your donors – need.
2. Big Data to Drive Personalized Donor Experiences
Have you ever received one of those vague “dear friend” charity letters? Let’s face it: despite their friendly tone, they’re generic and canned. But fundraising is inherently relational, and a key aspect of building relationships is knowing who people are and what they value. At the very least, you refer to them by name. More than capturing the basic level of information used for vague letters, a good nonprofit CRM should be able to provide you with key insights you can actually use in order to tailor your messaging.
Those insights should include:
- The financial and relational value of givers
- The optimal messages and timing of those messages for specific givers
- The best people to contact today to save time and focus your energy
- How supporters are related and connected to one another – beyond family lines and households – to better connect with them and them to one another
- Predictions and forecasts on donations and engagement to help you build plans and strategies on real data from real people
- The giving capacity and community influence of a giver
By using a wide variety of data points and signals – combining what you enter with what the CRM itself captures – information can be turned into insights, and these insights can then be converted into actions that effectively drive your cause forward.
3. Social Media and Social Connections
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms are ubiquitous today. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine promoting your charity without them, isn’t it? But keep in mind that social media didn’t exist when many of the current CRMs were created. At best, they have some updates, patches, and plugins. A modern CRM, on the other hand, is fully integrated with social. After all, that’s where people are and it’s how they choose to connect.
Without spending hours manually culling your social media connections for insights, it is easier than ever to gather social data, enabling you to determine a number of helpful insights about your givers including:
- Occupation and co-workers
- Interests and passions
- Friends and social connections
- Other organizations and networks relevant to your cause
- How supporters are related and connected to one another
The best tools don’t only depend on data within their respective systems – they look at the entire universe of available data to create insights and cultivate networks of givers. Dynamically leveraging social media and other online sources can help charities create personal connections at scale like never before.
4. Integration with Best-in-Breed Tools
When you sit down to eat, you know that spoons and napkins come in very handy. And afterwards, you’re grateful for a good toothbrush. But say you see an ad for a Spookinbrush, a “revolutionary” all-in-one product that blends the spoon, napkin, and toothbrush into a single, nifty device. You probably wouldn’t fall for it. But why not? Wouldn’t it make your eating life easier to have all you need in one product?
You may see where we’re going with this. The imaginary Spookinbrush is to eating what a single software solution is to your charity’s giver management. Managing giver contact information, sending marketing emails, managing website content, and accounting services are all very different things, and they require distinct tools. Fortunately, a range of helpful and affordable solutions for these needs exist.
The modern CRM software, for its part, is designed for a specific purpose – to track, manage, and connect vital pieces of giver information.
Specifically, a modern nonprofit CRM should provide open APIs and integration tools to:
- Give you financial and relational data for online givers, integrating with whatever tool you use to process donations
- Track touch points – both online and offline – integrating with whatever tools you use
- Understand how people are visiting your website and their content preferences, regardless of your content management system
- Easily issue tax receipts and track all revenues, and then integrate with any accounting software you like
And while we’re at it, we’d add that these capabilities should be accompanied by a clean, user-friendly interface whether you’re using a phone, tablet, or computer.
5. Mobile Optimized for Face-to-Face Relationships
There’s a good chance you are reading this on something other than your computer. With smartphones now passing traditional computers as the most popular devices in the world and with more people opening emails on mobile devices than on any other device, the times they are a-changin’.
Your CRM should be changing with them. The mobile revolution has created incredible opportunities for nonprofits to raise funds as well as awareness. Mobile devices follow us into the most intimate moments and conversations of our lives – including the moments when we take actions to support charities by giving or advocating.
A good Nonprofit CRM recognizes this and should:
- Put mobile apps in the hands of nonprofit staff to help them manage relationships on-the-go
- Have mobile features specifically designed to drive action and enhance conversations with your constituents
- Use push notifications and other built-in features on the phone to help users manage tasks, view reports, and access key insights wherever they are
- Leverage geo-location to identify how givers are connected geographically – then push this to your team based on where you are
Phones are essential to our lives, our jobs, and our relationships. A modern CRM should be designed with these realities in mind.
6. Focusing on Social Capital
One of the most cost-effective ways to scale your impact, build your funding base, and grow your organization is to turn existing fans and supporters into advocates, champions, and fundraisers. It starts with identifying those with social influence, gauging who has how much, and determining who is willing to use it to support your cause.
Your Nonprofit CRM should not only understand and track this “new” form of giving, but also provide tools and insights to help you. This is done by knowing your supporters’ personal passions and networks, then creating opportunities for them to tap into those passions and networks for you!
This not only provides meaningful engagement, but new sources of givers and funds as well. You can then spend more of your time building relationships instead of just closing that deal or getting that check
7. Reducing and Eliminating Administrative Headaches
Your time is a tremendous asset and a scarce resource. There’s only so much of you to go around. Which is why you need to constantly be on the lookout for new ways to streamline your administrative processes, freeing you up to do what you do best. Every minute you spend importing, managing, and scrubbing data is time you’re unable to give to more important tasks – those crucial things no one else can do but you.
A good Nonprofit CRM should be able to help you save time by:
- Quickly importing gifts and data from multiple sources without creating duplicates or incomplete lists
- Tying ROI to project impact, easily showing you results and successes in real-time
- Easily creating elegant reports designed for fundraisers, executive directors, and nonprofits
- Providing fundraising and nonprofit best practices and tips within the tool itself, keeping you on task
- Making search and data segmentation easy and intuitive for all staff – not just for IT nerds
Here’s the bottom line: a good nonprofit CRM should set you free, not bog you down.