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How Do I Choose a Fundraising CRM?

A Guide for Nonprofits

As a nonprofit, you’re constantly working to drive your mission forward and make a positive difference in the world. To achieve this, you need to raise funds effectively and efficiently. This is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system comes in handy. But with so many CRM platforms available, how do you choose the right fundraising CRM? Let’s walk through the process, and explore how a CRM consultant can help with the process 😉.

Understanding Fundraising CRM

Before diving into selecting a fundraising CRM, let’s pause to understand the what and the why.

A fundraising CRM is a software solution that helps nonprofits manage their relationships with donors, volunteers, and other stakeholders. It streamlines donor management processes by tracking interactions, managing donations, organising campaigns, and providing analytics for smarter decision-making.  Ideally, your CRM will integrate with your website and other digital tools (e.g. an app, supporter portal, etc.) to capture inbound data.

Why Nonprofits Need a Fundraising CRM

Let’s just say that without an effective fundraising CRM in place, managing donor relationships can become a complete nightmare 🤯. At Heartburst, we’ve come across fast-growing, well-meaning nonprofits that are still managing a web of spreadsheets! It never takes much to explain that good CRM comes with several benefits:

  1. Improved Donor Management: Track every interaction with your donors – from emails and phone calls to donations.

  2. Personalised Communication: With all your donor info in one place, you can personalise your communication efforts based on their interests and donation history.

  3. Efficient Fundraising: By analysing donor data, you can create targeted campaigns that resonate with your donors, leading to an uptick in donations.

  4. Time-Saving: Many modern CRMs can help you streamline admin tasks like sending personalised thank-you emails or tax receipts. This frees up time for more strategic tasks.

Choosing the Right Fundraising CRM

Okay, now we’re done with the recap on why nonprofits need a fundraising CRM,  let’s dive into the selection phase!

  1. Identify Your Needs: Start by thinking “big picture” about what success looks like for your fundraising CRM. Do you need it primarily for donor management or also for volunteer coordination? Do you require robust reporting features or integration capabilities with other software? It’s also helpful to consider the metrics you would use to measure success post-implementation.  We always find it refreshing to step away from the daily grind for some strategic thinking.

  2. Review your current processes:  Whether you know it or not, you have existing processes.  What needs to be done to keep the engine running at your nonprofit? How do you action these tasks?  At Heartburst, we call these your “as-is” processes, and documenting them is an important baseline for your CRM selection efforts.

  3. Map out your ideal processes: During the review of your current processes (or, perhaps even beforehand), you will no doubt find areas in your current processes that need improvement.  You may also have new processes that need to be introduced.  These planned processes can include good old work of human hands or automated tasks that will need to be completed by the fundraising CRM.  We call these your “to-be” processes, and they effectively define which features you will need in your CRM.

  4. Evaluate Features: Once you have a firm grasp of your goals and your “to-be” processes, you can evaluate different CRM systems based on their features. While many systems offer donor management, campaign tracking, and communication tools, there may be specific functions you require for your organisation. Sometimes it can be hard to find a system that ticks all the boxes, so you may also want to consider some custom integration work to bridge those gaps. 

  5. Consider User Experience (UX): The CRM should be easy to use for everyone in your organisation, and any external facing functionality (e.g. Donor portal) should be especially user-friendly for supporters and volunteers. Let’s face it, bad user experience can lead to user resistance and reduced efficiency.

  6. Check Customer Support: Ensure the CRM provider offers reliable customer support to help you resolve any issues quickly.

The Role of CRM Consultants for Nonprofits

Choosing a fundraising CRM is no walk in the park; it requires time, effort, and technical knowledge. This is where CRM consultants for nonprofits bring significant value. A good CRM consultant will have the expertise to help you choose the right CRM that fits your organisation’s needs and budget.

CRM consultants can help you workshop and analyse your current processes, identify gaps, and recommend a suitable CRM solution. They can also assist with data migration, system implementation, training staff members, and providing ongoing support. And yes, we do admit that at Heartburst, CRM consulting is a big part of what we do 😏.

So, what next?

Selecting a fundraising CRM is a decision that’s crucial to get right. It’s the system that will help your nonprofit grow, while giving your staff the tools they need to succeed. Plus, it’s also not a change you want to make often! Your CRM can literally enable you to make a broader impact on your community. By identifying your needs,  evaluating features, and setting a realistic budget, you can find and implement a system that’s just right for your organisation.

Remember that the process doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming – with the help of experienced CRM consultants with nonprofit expertise; you can workshop with your team to facilitate a seamless transition to the new system. A consultant can bring valuable insights to the table that ensure you get maximum value from your investment in a fundraising CRM system.

At Heartburst, we offer fundraising CRM consulting and implementation services.  We have a “platform agnostic” approach, and we’re dedicated to finding the right software fit for your organisation. We also have an in-house software development team available to assist with system integration and website development. If you’re thinking about a CRM project, we’d love to hear from you. 

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Virtuous CRM platform for Australian nonprofits

Heartburst partners with Virtuous CRM

As CRM consultants, we love helping local charities achieve organisational goals with an effective CRM solution. The Virtuous CRM fundraising platform is a game changer!