By StratusLIVE (Sponsored Post)

Nonprofits are doing important work every day that impacts lives and makes our world even better. But due to many common challenges to constantly reach new donors, retain existing donors, and increase operational efficiency the amount of effort to impact lives doesn’t always result in the high return it should.

In the 2018 Charitable Giving Stats from NP Source, 77% believe everyone can make a difference by supporting causes.  So what is at the core of reaching new donors, retain existing donors, increase efficiency to support a cause?

Nonprofits use CRMs to manage their donor relationships, to segment supporters by interest areas, streamline donor communication, automate fundraising, and report on outcomes to the board, donors, and community.  A flexible and scalable nonprofit CRM is at the center of an organization to enable the highest return on their cause initiatives.

There is no shortage of CRM’s in the market that sell to nonprofit organizations.  When evaluating CRM software for your nonprofit, you need to look for these five key differentiators:

1) Importance of Platform

It is important to look at the platform the CRM system is built on. Platforms typically have numerous integrated features, the ability add features by purchasing add-ons, and the ability to design new features by using a developer toolkit.

  • Does the platform integrate with your existing infrastructure? Does integrate with existing applications your staff uses everyday like Microsoft Office365?
  • Is the platform scalable to support your nonprofit growth in upcoming years?
  • Does the platform provide powerful tools for data analysis, insight and built-in reporting for nonprofit metrics?
  • Is the technology popular in the market? Does the platform allow for staff adoption and collaboration between teams (i.e. Development Office and Marketing Office)?

2) Built and Designed for Nonprofits

Many CRMs are feature-rich but you want to choose once that is built and designed for the nonprofit industry – it needs to be donor-centric and meet the needs of each persona working at your organization.

  • Does it streamline processes and meet the donor needs?
  • Does it allow donor wealth screening to assist Major Gift Officers?
  • Can the development office customize workflows and notifications when a donor is lapsing to help you determine the root cause and how to turn the trend around?
  • Does it have pre-built dashboards with nonprofit metrics that are important for each persona at your organization and important for board members.

3) Tracking the Donor Journey or Donor Funnel

A nonprofit CRM should make it easy to have your donor journey or donor funnel in place. A donor journey makes your fundraising knowledgeable by streamlining your donor with prospecting, cultivation, asking and stewardship.

  • Can all aspects of donor communication be personalized?
  • Are communications automated on actual donor behavior in real time?
  • Does the CRM enable you to send emails directly from the platform or does it require the implementation of an outside tool to address this communication channel?
  • Can donor behavior such as opens, clicks, donations, volunteer hours, social media post alter subsequent communications?
  • Can fundraising campaigns be tailor to various donor profiles? Donors can have a bigger impact depending on their profiles – they might be a giver (making a financial contribution), some donors are better targeted to be an advocate on social media. An example would be a millennial who might not have a lot of extra money to give to the cause they are passionate about, but have a large social media following. There are also volunteers – people that can best contribute to the cause by donating their time.

4) Success is the Right CRM AND the Right Partner

It is extremely important to choose the best partner to help you implement the solution. The success of your nonprofit CRM implementation – depends on who you choose to partner with. The right partner will do more than just sell you some software and plug it in; they will oversee your project from start to finish to ensure a successful implementation.

  • Clearly, understand prior to the implementation their track record – are they on time, on budget, stayed within the project scope?
  • Who will be doing training, support after you go-live? You want to understand who you will be working with during the implementation and after you go-live. Don’t assume you know the partner because you have met with their sales team.  Insist on meeting the people that will be in communication daily with your staff.
  • Is their expertise – nonprofit industry specific? Do they understand not only their software, but how nonprofit organizations run?
  • What is the size of the implementation partner? A big partner implies resources and stability, but it also comes with bureaucracy and more channels to work through. You want a partner that treats you like you are their biggest and most important client – even if you aren’t.

5) Outcomes and Analytics

Outcomes matter. They matter to your board, donors and community. Your nonprofit CRM should enable you to communicate the connection between financials, fundraising and mission impact.

  • Are you able to measure outcomes that directly relate to your cause? How many meals were served or puppies saved?
  • Are you able to measure activities that are in progress that help drive towards improvement in the cause? How many projects were launched?  How much awareness campaigns were created?
  • Do you have a pre-built fundraising outcomes dashboard that reports on key metrics such as donor acquisition cost, average size gift increase, # of major gifts secured, donor retention rate increase?

Choosing the right CRM system for your nonprofit is more than just a technology decision. With the right CRM your nonprofit will be more connected to donors, improve operational efficiencies, increase staff productivity and amplify your mission impact.

Nonprofit organizations struggle with unstable funding, retaining donors, and have high standards for transparency. StratusLIVE built a solution on the Microsoft platform, so nonprofits can drive change in their community, increase impact and have higher employee engagement. The company was selected by Microsoft to participate in the Tech for Social Impact and Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator. High impact nonprofit organizations use the StratusLIVE nonprofit cloud to manage over 16 million donor profiles and raise more than $1.5 billion dollars each year.

5 Key Differentiators to Look for in Your Nonprofit CRM