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Everything You Need To Know About Nonprofit CRMs

It’s hard to fundraise without clean, easy-to-access donor data. 

Instead of reaching out to donors, offering relevant giving opportunities, and telling your nonprofit’s story, you spend your time trying to find information, entering data in multiple places, and creating endless spreadsheets.

None of those activities raise any money.

Luckily, there’s a simple answer to streamline your fundraising and track your data quickly and simply: a nonprofit CRM.

What Is A Nonprofit CRM?

Customer/Client Relationship Management software was developed in the for-profit world. Companies use a CRM to track their customers’ behavior, manage communication, and make offers that the customer is likely to be interested in. CRM is how your favorite store knows to send you an email asking how you liked your last purchase, for example. 

The nonprofit sector has adopted CRM, too. Donors aren’t exactly the same as customers, but nonprofits track their details and behavior in a very similar way. While some nonprofits adapt sales CRM for their purposes, now there is a variety of nonprofit-specific CRMs on the market. 

A CRM designed for nonprofit fundraising allows you to track and record donor information, including donor contact information, preferences, and behavior. It helps you to manage donor relationships, personalize their experiences, and target your fundraising and communications to the people who will be most interested in them. This helps you raise more.

CauseVox’s Fundraising CRM tracks donor and peer to peer fundraiser actions automatically.

Is It Any Better Than This Spreadsheet I Made?

If you’re tracking all your donor data in a spreadsheet, you’re making things a lot harder than they need to be.

A spreadsheet might seem like the cheapest option until you start counting things like the time you spend manually entering data, the time you spend trying to access that data, and the time you spend moving it around. That’s time you aren’t spending building relationships with donors or fundraising, so the real cost is much higher.

If the only thing you needed to track was donor addresses, a spreadsheet might be adequate. But once you start wanting to note interactions, preferences, and giving history, it’s just not up to the task. It’s messy and complicated, and you can’t automate anything. You’re trapped in an ongoing cycle of importing and exporting and merging. 

Contrast that with a nonprofit CRM that is designed to track the things you want to track. With a CRM you can automate your processes so that data ends up where it’s supposed to be without manually entering it. You can search and filter data with ease, quickly see trends in donor behavior, and easily track the details of their relationship with your organization. Excel just can’t do that. 

A large stack of paper. Not a replacement for a nonprofit CRM.
Oh no, no, no. This is not a relationship management system, friend.

Where things get even more efficient is when your CRM is combined with your fundraising platform. Your online fundraising campaigns and donation pages connect to your CRM, and you can automate donation processing, receipts, and recording donations. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Nonprofit CRM?

At CauseVox, we think a CRM is so useful for fundraisers that we’ve built one into our fundraising platform. The CauseVox Fundraising CRM is a centralized CRM that provides everything you need to easily organize, track, and grow relationships with your community of supporters and fundraisers.

It’s easy to see the productivity benefits of a nonprofit CRM. You’ll immediately free up time from unnecessary admin with an easier interface and more automation. But a nonprofit CRM doesn’t just keep you organized.

Your nonprofit CRM can:

Give You More Insight

It’s hard to get the big picture if you’re tracking data on a spreadsheet, or in six separate applications. CauseVox’s Insights Dashboard lets you get a bird’s-eye view of your fundraising. 

With CauseVox, you can quickly find specific transactions and contacts through a global search function. You can discover your best donors and peer to peer fundraisers, spot donor trends, and find new opportunities to take action. 

Help Strengthen Donor Relationships

The reason you’re collecting all this data is to use it, right? This is where having a nonprofit CRM gets juicy. When you’re tracking donor actions and information, it allows you to build better, more authentic relationships with them. 

Target Communications with Donor Segmentation

Your CRM will allow you to target communications much more effectively. Instead of sending the same appeal to every one of your contacts, you can segment donors by their interests, activity, or giving history, crafting messages that uniquely speak to them. 

Your donors are individuals, and your CRM helps you treat them as such. Let’s imagine I’m a supporter of a youth services organization. I’ve annually given $50 to the organization for three years, and this year I raised money for them as a peer-to-peer fundraiser. 

Suppose the organization sent me this appeal: 

Hi Megan,

Thanks for being a supporter of XYZ Organization! 

Your generosity makes such a difference for the kids of Chicago. Every year, 600 children in the neighborhood participate in our after school and weekend programs. They study together, play sports, and develop healthy relationships with each other and their mentors. We couldn’t do it without you!

As we head into the winter, its time to restock our supply closets. We provide students with everything they need to participate in our programs, at no cost to them. Will you help?

A gift of $100 supplies 10 children with the school supplies they need to complete their homework. A gift of $200 supplies two weeks of snacks to fuel the growing bodies and minds of all our kids. 

Won’t you give today?

This message isn’t terrible, but it clearly isn’t aimed at me. It’s asking me to radically increase my giving, doesn’t acknowledge my involvement as a fundraiser, and feels somewhat anonymous. It doesn’t build our relationship. 

When you don’t have an easy way to access and use your donor data, it limits your fundraising.

Consider this message instead:

Hi Megan,

I know you care about XYZ Organization.

In the three years you’ve been a donor, you’ve shown how much you care over and over again. Your annual contributions and your work on this fall’s Lift Them Up campaign are so appreciated. Congratulations on raising $700 for our programs, and thank you again.

Your generosity makes such a difference for the kids of Chicago. Every year, 600 children in the neighborhood participate in our after school and weekend programs. They study together, play sports, and develop healthy relationships with each other and their mentors. We couldn’t do it without you!

As we head into the winter, its time to restock our supply closets. We provide students with everything they need to participate in our programs, at no cost to them. Will you help?

A gift of $75 supplies seven children with the school supplies they need to complete their homework. A gift of $100 supplies a week of snacks to fuel the growing bodies and minds of all our kids. 

Won’t you give today?

This appeal uses my donor data to speak to me. It seems personal and I feel seen. This inspires more connection and loyalty to the organization. With a CRM you can make this personalization automatic, simply by integrating it with your email system. The personal details that make me feel so great are really just a matter of importing a few data fields. 

Record Details And Preferences

Have you ever asked to be removed from a mailing list, and then continued to get mail? It’s frustrating, right? 

How about continually getting emails saluting, “Mrs. Smith,” five years after your divorce? Or volunteering at an event every month, and having to introduce yourself every single time? 

None of these things is a tragedy, but all of them are annoying. More than that, they communicate that the organization doesn’t know you and that you are a number on their list, not a person they’re actually interested in. 

It doesn’t inspire trust or connection. 

With CRM, you can avoid a lot of this alienating behavior. When donors change their preferences and contact information, it will automatically update throughout the system. Before an event, you can take a look at the profiles of the people who will be there, reminding yourself of their names and details. After events, you can note the interactions you had with donors so you can jog your memory next time. 

Help You Raise More

CRM can have a real impact on how much money your organization raises. This is because when you use CRM software:

You’re Not Guessing

When you start using data to drive your fundraising, you’ll do less guessing about what your donors care about, and which fundraising techniques will work. Consequently, you’ll start hitting the target more. 

You’re Not Wasting Time

Time you used to spend entering, tracking, and reporting data can now be spent focusing on your donors and telling your story. The CRM takes on the tedious admin work, so you’re free to do the all-important human connecting.

You’re Not Losing Data

User error is a real danger if you’re manually entering and moving data around. Even the best of us make typos, forget to input something, or otherwise lose track of data. When your software automatically populates data fields and transfers data between apps, it removes a lot of the opportunity for mistakes that can impact your fundraising.

See It In Action

Your nonprofit CRM will save you time, give you greater insight, and help you connect authentically with your donors so you can raise more, without time-wasting and tedious tasks. Streamline your fundraising and cut out unnecessary admin with CauseVox’s Digital Fundraising CRM.

Get started today! 

Additional Resources 

To learn more about CRMs and how they could be useful for your organization, take a look at these resources! 

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