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For your nonprofit organization, your purpose is your top priority. The right constituent relationship management (CRM) software can help you work more efficiently, and there are many different options available. Because you have so many choices right at your fingertips, finding the right CRM for your organization might feel overwhelming.
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 works well. 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.
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.
- What does your organization need from a CRM to help it grow and raise support for your purpose?
- Who are your target audiences? What do you want them to do?
- 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:
- 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.
- 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, consider 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:
- How much can you invest in a new software solution?
- When is your current CRM contract up for renewal?
- Will you pay for your new system and the migration costs this fiscal year or next year?
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:
- Would pre-recorded training sessions work best for your team, or do you need a synchronous, virtual classroom experience instead?
- 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?
- 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.