Skip to content
We are now Bonterra

4 nonprofit CRM requirements to find the best system

December 02, 2020
Two women working on a laptop discuss nonprofit CRM requirements.

For your nonprofit organization, your purpose is your top priority. The right constituent relationship management (CRM) software can help propel you to your peak impact by making your work more efficient, and there are many different options available. 

If you’re experiencing pain points with your current CRM, it’s easy to envision how much smoother your operations would be with one that meets your needs. But before you make any purchases, it’s important to outline what you need from your CRM. If you’re like most nonprofit organizations, you have needs that go beyond product functionality, such as how a platform can support you strategically and whether it fits into your budget. Make sure to consider the ways technology can support your nonprofit’s work in a holistic way. 

Here are four types of CRM requirements along with some helpful questions to ask yourself to find the best solution for your organization. 

Looking for a step-by-step walk through selecting and adopting a new nonprofit technology platform? Download our complete nonprofit CRM buyer’s guide

1. Strategic CRM requirements 

Think about how some of your broad, organizational goals connect back to pain points you’ve been having. To understand these pain points in conjunction with your strategic needs, ask yourself the following questions. 

  1. What does your organization need from a CRM to help it grow and raise support for your work? 
  2. Who are your target audiences? What do you want them to do? 
  3. What are some specific ways a CRM could help you scale without needing to add more staff? 

Let’s say you want to convert more mid-level donors into major donors, and your team would benefit from a system that can support this goal in many different ways (like with automation, multi-channel messaging, and predictive analytics). Or, maybe you’re committing to greater diversity, equity, and inclusion across your work, and you’ve realized you need the ability to capture and reflect your supporters’ identities in your conversations with them. Understanding these internal values and long-term goals will help you figure out what your strategic requirements are from a CRM. 

2. Functionality and integration CRM requirements

To outline your organization’s functionality and integration needs, start by answering these questions with your team:

  1. What are some specific things a new CRM must do to be a good fit for your needs? For example, you may need to facilitate online donations  or event promotion.
  2. Are there other tools and platforms of yours that might need to connect with your CRM to extend its capabilities?

When you’re mapping out these needs, map out your data ecosystem and reporting processes and how you can make those processes more efficient and accurate with a new system. Be honest about which items on your wish list are a ‘must have’ and which are aspirational. 

3. Budgetary CRM requirements 

Money is always a factor in the buying cycle. To gain a better understanding of your nonprofit’s budgetary needs, consider these questions: 

  1. How much can you invest in a new software solution? 
  2. When is your current CRM contract up for renewal? 
  3. Will you pay for your new system and the migration costs this fiscal year or next year? 

Wondering about your nonprofit’s readiness to make the switch to a new system? Hear our expert partner Maureen Wallbeoff explain three classic signs to watch for!  

When choosing a new CRM, it’s important to think about the total cost of ownership. This cost includes the sticker price of the system plus any add-ons or fees you might need to pay that aren’t included in that initial price. These costs can add up over time if you need ongoing support to manage your system. Remember to budget for items like additional consulting, custom work, support, customer success, and add-on functionalities. 

4. Training and support CRM requirements 

To make sure your CRM fits into your team’s training and support needs, walk through these questions before choosing a new system: 

  1. Would pre-recorded training sessions work best for your team, or do you need a synchronous, virtual classroom experience instead? 
  2. Which internal resources, like your IT department or CRM administrator, can you tap? What do you need from other sources like your CRM company or independent consultants? 
  3. How do you want to connect with the support team once you’ve moved to the new system? 

Every platform handles new user training and customer success differently. Choosing a platform that is designed with nonprofit needs in mind ensures the training and support you receive fits your requirements.

Investing in the right CRM 

Taking the time and effort to choose a new platform means that in the end, your investment helps you scale up your work and meet your nonprofit organization’s long-term goals to do the most good that you can.  

Want to learn even more about how to choose and use the right technology to propel your organization to its peak impact? Download our complete Nonprofit CRM buyer’s guide, produced with expert partners Maureen Wallbeoff and Raise HECK! 

Ready to Get Started?

    Donor Engagement
  • Nonprofits
  • Fundraising ideas