When your organization started — with noble intentions and a small donor pool — an Excel spreadsheet was probably the perfect place to manage your data. Now, however, those spreadsheets are overworked and busting at the seams. It’s time to invest in nonprofit CRM software and enjoy its many benefits. But blindly rushing into a purchase isn’t wise. That’s why we put together a list of the main nonprofit CRM features to look for.
The right nonprofit customer relationship management (CRM) system can revolutionize the way your organization works.
Think about the upgrade like the switch from a flip phone to a smartphone. Both work as phones, but the flip phone’s abilities basically end at making and receiving calls. They functioned for the time being, but upgrading to a smartphone lets you check your bank statements, text your spouse and tinker with your fantasy football lineup.
You’ll feel the same way about your nonprofit CRM. It will make you more efficient and give you a wider range of capabilities.
In this article, we’ll explore seven nonprofit CRM features you should be looking out for in your software. These features will help your organization streamline operations as well as improve your stewardship and fundraising.
- Donor profiles
- Donation management
- Event planning
- List segmentation
Let’s jump in!
Top 7 Nonprofit CRM Features You Should Be Looking For
1. Donor Profiles
In an ideal world, nonprofits would instantly have any relevant information they need about a given donor. While that’s not possible, technology can help.
Traditionally, nonprofits learn information about donors as they build relationships with them. Organizations can even perform wealth screenings to fill in any gaps in data. However, that information is useless if it isn’t properly stored, frequently updated and easily accessible to the people who need it.
That’s where your CRM enters the equation. It allows you to fully manage the information about each of your supporters. Here are a few examples:
- Basic Information: Store personal details for all your donors and quickly make updates when items like mailing address change.
- Custom Fields: Input extra information for a complete picture of your donors and keep tabs on the specifics that are the most important for your organization.
- Giving Records: Easily view each donor’s giving history, including the type (donations, event registrations, pledges, etc.) and whether the giving occurred online or offline.
- Groups: Track which groups donors are part of and update as necessary.
Benefits of Donor Profiles
With your donor management technology, your staff will have no problem:
- Tracking all constituent data you receive
- Using a calendar to keep tabs on fundraising
- Knowing which team members are assigned to each task
- Recording and tracking interactions with donors
- Universally accessing donor data
- And much, much more
It’s easy to build a relationship with a donor and forget to track it. The member of your fundraising team knows the key donor information, but if that individual
isn’t available, another member of your staff will have to take the reins.
If you have a CRM managing donor data, there’s no need to worry about a new fundraiser taking on the role. The valuable details are already downloaded from the previous fundraiser’s brain and waiting in the donor database.
2. Reporting Capabilities
Your CRM not only keeps track of any donor details that you directly input, but it also seamlessly records and organizes data that gets funneled in from your various campaigns, emails and donation pages, as well as any other sources you need to monitor.
Modern business intelligence tools display data in visual, easy-to-digest ways via dashboards and reports. Often, the system will have options for configuring the layout based on which metrics you care about the most.
Reports let you analyze any data you need, including:
- Transactions, such as donations and funds
- Events, such as a list of attendees or the total amount of money raised
- Messages to your donor base, showing you how each campaign has performed
Benefits of Reporting
Instead of digging through rows and rows of numbers in Excel, you can generate reports quickly and easily, based on whatever key performance indicators (KPIs) you choose.
More importantly, since you can track all of your donor data in the platform, you get the advantage of deep insights into your donors no matter the source of information.
You’ll be able to better personalize and target your outreach to increase the number of loyal donors and improve fundraising results!
3. Donation Management
The typical nonprofit CRM system will have tools or a dedicated module for handling the activities surrounding donations.
One of the main elements is web forms that allow donors to give. Often, you have the option to customize the look and feel of your forms with your organization’s logo, branding colors and other elements.
These forms offer a secure way for people to send money while acting as a receptacle for each donor’s information. When someone puts in their name, email and other personal details that you include on the form (yep, you can customize that, too), that data gets automatically stored in your CRM.
There are also tools that allow you to follow the progress of each campaign you run and track the donation information of each constituent throughout their connection with your organization.
Benefits of Donation Management
If you want the ability to receive donations online, this feature makes it possible. You have an easy, accessible way for individuals to donate.
And since the system captures their information at the same time, you don’t need to handle manual data entry. You get more time for other tasks and don’t have to worry about the human errors that plague inputting data by hand.
The CRM stores the records of each donor, letting you quickly see who’s made donations, how many they’ve made and how much they give each time. Hello, streamlined fundraising!
And with tracking features, you’ll always have a clear picture of donations at any given point. This insight enables you to plan strategically and identify opportunities that will help your organization reach its fundraising goals.
Automation might bring to mind an assembly plant, where high-tech robots churn out products like clockwork. The concept is actually similar, except in this case, CRM tools act as the robots and the products are the equivalent of your list of tasks.
You can build automated workflows so everyday tasks like data entry become less cumbersome. Email automation is one of the most beneficial aspects of your CRM.
Benefits of Automation
Doing things manually takes valuable time away from efforts you can spend elsewhere. Would you rather keep track of all your data by hand or prepare for your next fundraising event?
The beauty of a nonprofit CRM is that it removes a lot of the work for you and your team. Everything becomes more streamlined, and tasks that were once time-consuming happen in a fraction of the time.
For example, instead of sending a separate email to every person who’s registered for an upcoming event, you can write a single email, customize elements like the recipient’s name and send it out to everyone with a few clicks.
Email automation is also helpful for sending “Thank You” follow-ups after supporters give gifts, pledge money or register for events.
5. Event Planning
Event management software is a popular component in most nonprofit CRMs. It includes all the tools you need to put on a successful event, whether that’s tracking who’s attending, setting up different pricing options, processing payments or anything else.
Here are a few specific things you can do with event management features:
- Enable donors to register online
- Design event tickets
- Manage reservations
- Generate reports for analysis regarding event registration and finances
Benefits of Event Planning Tools
Fundraising events are a great addition to any fundraising agenda. Every type of nonprofit, from the smallest to the largest, can take advantage of event fundraisers to help maximize fundraising and steward your donors.
Events can make just the right splash in your annual campaign calendar, but they take skill and dedication to execute. A CRM can help with the planning and implementation side of things during your next event, freeing you and your staff to ensure everything runs smoothly.
6. List Segmentation
List segmentation allows you to divide your supporters into different groups. This is a common feature in most CRMs and gives you a huge amount of flexibility.
One word of advice: your list segmentation will only be as powerful as the information stored in your CRM database. The more data you can compile for each profile, the better.
Here are a few ways you could group donors:
- Events they’ve attended
- Causes or projects they’re interested or involved in
- Their historical giving amounts
- Personal info such as age or location
Once you have the data, there’s really no limit on how you segment your list. It’s really up to you and should be based on your goals. For example, if 67 people have previously donated to a project that helps underprivileged children in Africa receive an education, it makes sense to put them into a list that sends news and giving opportunities for similar projects.
In addition, you don’t have to worry about limiting which groups you put supporters into. They can belong to multiple segmented lists based on their profile information.
Benefits of List Segmentation
As your donor pool grows, list segmentation will become a valuable part of your strategy.
You know as well as anyone that your donors aren’t all cut from the same cloth. They have different interests, motivations, favorite causes and so on. For that reason, you need to be able to tailor your campaigns and communications based on those unique factors.
Put yourself in the shoes of your supporters. If your passion was funding projects to bring sanitation to developing nations, and you always receive the latest updates, information about new funding opportunities and notifications, you’d feel more connected and invested, right? List segmentation lets you reach your donors with that same level of personalization.
The more customized and specific you can make your communications, the better chance you’ll have of retaining your donors.
Another benefit is the time you’ll save. The software does the heavy lifting for you. Once you set your criteria, it’ll pull in all the profiles that match those rules, which means you don’t have to pick through your entire list by hand when sending out communications.
Integrations are a big deal in the software world. If you’re not familiar with the concept, integration is the process of combining two separate systems that otherwise aren’t able to “talk” to each other.
In essence, integration allows data to move from one place to another, like cars traveling on the Interstate between cities. Integration is useful because it gives users a connected environment of systems rather than one where each application is isolated.
Nonprofit CRM software starts with a lot of capability, but adding integrations takes the system to the next level.
The specific integrations offered will vary by vendor, but here are a few examples:
- QuickBooks, for managing your finances and accounting
- Eventbrite, for offering tickets online and building events
- Double the Donation, for getting the most out of your fundraising
- Donor Search, for easily researching prospects
Benefits of Integrations
You might wonder why you need integrations if you already use some of the tools I mentioned above. The reason is simple: it’ll make your life easier.
Let’s take QuickBooks as an example. If you already have QuickBooks but don’t integrate it with your CRM, you’ll have to move all your CRM info, like invoices, payments, sales receipts, etc. into your accounting software by hand.
With integration, that transfer happens automatically. You’ll need to configure the setup so the systems can talk to each other without running into issues, but once you’ve done that, the systems will be linked. From there, it only takes a few clicks to sync your data.
Other Features to Consider
As a bonus, here are some other helpful nonprofit CRM features you should be on the watch for:
- Scalability: Your CRM solution should have the ability to grow alongside your organization. Look for systems that allow you to add extra profiles and expand functionality to include tools you may need down the road.
- Volunteer Management: Volunteers play a vital role in your organization. You need tools to effectively manage them. Useful elements include features for tracking their time, putting together online volunteer forms and assigning them activities.
- Usability: The best nonprofit CRM in the world won’t do you any good if it’s not user-friendly. Make sure the solution you pick is intuitive and easy-to-use for everyone.
- Mobile Access: You and your team are on the go a lot, hosting events, attending fundraisers and more. Having mobile access to your CRM will ensure you can always view and update the information you need, no matter where you are.
The trick to succeeding with nonprofit CRM software is learning what it can do and how to use it effectively. By implementing software that contains the tools we’ve discussed, you’ll be well on your way to empowering your organization to do even more good.
That said, finding software isn’t easy. As a nonprofit, you need to spend time cultivating donor relationships, fundraising and a host of other critical activities, not sweating the details of your CRM search.
Our mission is to make that process less stressful and time-consuming. Get our free CRM comparison report to see key information about vendors that will help you navigate the market and find the solution that’s best for your organization. You can also include your top requirements to speed up your search.
Investing in a nonprofit CRM will make your organization more efficient. Let your CRM take care of the busywork so you and your staff are free to do the work that needs a human touch.
What nonprofit CRM features are most important to you? Let us know in the comments!