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A nonprofit CRM guide: how to get results with your software

July 09, 2021
Three women in an office look at a laptop as they implement tips from this nonprofit CRM guide.

Constituent relationship management (CRM) technology platforms are a strategic investment that can help propel your entire nonprofit organization to its peak impact. However, if your current technology isn’t meeting your needs or doing everything possible to support busy staff, it could be keeping you from achieving even more of your goals.  

Don’t leave time, money, or impact on the table: here are five CRM functionalities that you might not know about but can help you save time and maximize your work’s impact. 

Need a thorough guide to evaluating the tools and features your organization will need now and into the future? Download our complete nonprofit CRM buyer’s guide

1. Multivariate testing for more impactful emails 

Email continues to serve as an important way to consistently communicate with your supporters — the M+R Benchmarks for the year 2022 found that email accounted for 14% of all online revenue, and organizations raised an average of $90 per emails sent. Of course, your supporters also likely receive many marketing and fundraising emails each day. How do you cut through the clutter and make sure your emails stand out from the crowd? 

Many CRMs allow you to run A/B tests on your email subject lines to experiment with different options and determine what your supporters respond to. Careful testing allows you to fine-tune your language to fit your audience’s interests and increase your messages’ likelihood of being opened. However, you shouldn’t stop at subject line tests! Bonterra Fundraising and Engagement (previously EveryAction) has a multivariate testing suite that enables A-J testing of up to 10 options, covering email content as well as subject lines. To maximize your impact and return on investment, make sure to perform regular, detailed tests on your email subject lines and call-to-action statements. Once you have your test results, adapt your program and messaging based on what you’ve found to be successful.  

2. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns 

Nonprofit fundraisers need to update their methods regularly to stay at the top of the game and attract younger donors. One significant difference displayed by younger donors, according to 2021 studies from Candid, is that they are likelier to “participate in more peer-to-peer giving campaigns than their Gen X and Boomer predecessors.” You can maximize your fundraising potential by turning your supporters into ambassadors of your nonprofit to their networks with peer-to-peer fundraising.  

Peer-to-peer fundraisers have a personal, grassroots feel that attracts donors who are looking for an authentic connection to an organization. Bonterra Fundraising allows you to customize your own peer-to-peer fundraising website so you can allow people to sign up easily, track donations from individual participants, and communicate with them along the way. Plus, all visitors to the page can see how close your campaign is to reaching your fundraising goal.

3. Cross-channel supporter engagement tracking 

Achieving a holistic view of your supporters’ activity across multiple channels will enable you to understand and communicate with them in more powerful ways.

To engage your supporters, segment them into lists based on their level of participation. Your CRM should enable you to generate reports that will tell you about who your donors are, who is most engaged on your email list, and who your biggest social media fans are. 

To see the whole picture and make quick, accurate decisions, technology like Bonterra Fundraising and Engagement can assist you by using a point system to assign custom point levels to actions that your supporters take, such as donating, signing an online petition, or participating in a volunteer event. Quantifying actions like this enables a quick comparison of engagement levels across various channels so that you can easily see who your most active supporters are. From there, you can easily create static or dynamic lists of supporters and ensure all the right staff can send the right messages to the right contacts through the right channels at the right times. 

Wondering whether your current technology features are giving you all the support your nonprofit needs to advance your mission? Check for these common clues you might be ready for a change from our friend, nonprofit technology expert and digital strategist Maureen Wallbeoff! 

4. Supporter activation and organizing

Your supporters give their time, funds, and voices to your work because they care and want to make a difference. Giving your supporters the chance to take action helps them feel proud to be part of your work and increases their connection with your nonprofit, so look for ways that the right technology can help you empower and mobilize them. 

Organizing tools such as phone banking, peer-to-peer texting, and door-to-door canvassing all provide outlets for your donors to take action in ways that are easily tracked and quantifiable through your CRM. By using a platform that includes volunteer and event management features, you’ll be able to organize your supporters for any type of event — from neighborhood clean-up days to robust advocacy campaigns — and take these actions into account alongside their donation histories to see who’s highly supportive of your work. 

You can also use digital advocacy tools such as click-to-call emails or targeted social media campaigns to give your supporters convenient and meaningful ways to raise their voices for your cause. The benefit of running these campaigns through your CRM is that you’ll have easy access to that supporter activity data whenever you need to report on it — allowing you to show the impact you’re making on the community. 

5. Mobile-friendly communication channels 

Your supporters are regularly on their phones, and they expect the organizations that they support to communicate over mobile-friendly channels. The right nonprofit CRM technology should help you to easily create mobile-responsive emails and forms, so that your supporters have an enjoyable and intuitive experience regardless of the platform or channel they’re using. 

To take your supporter communication to the next level using mobile channels, use CRM features like social media matching and social share tracking to determine the online engagement of your supporters, and communicate with them on the platforms they use the most often. Running multi-channel campaigns that include a social media component is a standard nonprofit practice, so make sure your CRM can help you track and maximize participation. 

The power of an effective nonprofit CRM 

You’re dedicated to your mission, and that keeps you busy working to make the world a better place. The right technology should offer functionalities to help you do as much good as possible — not hinder you or make your hardworking staff less efficient.  

If you’re missing out on features like the five we’ve listed here, and you’re considering making some changes, download our complete nonprofit CRM buyer’s guide for expert guidance through identifying your needs, choosing a platform that fits them, and making the most of your investment. 

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