We’re challenging the assumption that CRM software is only for larger charity organisations – here’s why
A CRM system can be a truly useful and versatile toolkit that can help charities be more efficient and do far more with the data they collect.
But our survey of the charity sector conducted last year seemed to indicate that many charities are not aware of how much they can achieve with one, with 58% of charities in our survey thinking that a CRM is exclusively for managing donors and beneficiaries.
Only 26% of charities they used CRM software at all. The mainstay of those charity CRM customers are larger organisations, with only around a third of smaller charities (of between £10-£100k income) telling us they have a CRM system.
It’s no surprise that the smallest ’micro’ charities operating on shoestring budgets are not the ideal customers for CRM vendors. For many, a simpler donor management system would suffice for their needs – for example, a solution like DonorPerfect, which is available at a discount on Charity Digital’s software exchange programme.
However, as charities grow their needs change, and this is where those small-medium sized charities could start to see real benefits in upgrading their systems to something with a bit more functionality (we’ve highlighted a few of those functions below).
Many CRM systems are tailor-made to help charities retain existing donors, nurture new ones and evaluate their resources and services, and can help charities achieve far more than just better database management for those organisations willing to stretch their capabilities.
As charity business management consultant Adapta put it in its guide to CRM for non-profits: “Organisations have become much better aware and more appreciative of how complex their data processing systems and processes actually are.”
“In almost all cases, unlocking and maximising data value can only happen when organisations decide to strategically plan and invest in data processes, CRM systems, data marketing, analysis and research.”
Cost vs. benefit
There are lots of factors involved in choosing the right software. But when it comes to a major purchase like a CRM system, cost is going to be paramount.
CRM systems can be part of a charity’s strategy to achieve greater value from data, and for that reason they are a long term investment that should pay off over time, and arguably the most important digital tool a charity can invest in.
Some CRM vendors come with free licenses for charities with smaller numbers of users. For example, CRM market leader Salesforce offers its first ten licenses for free for eligible non-profit organisations. Charity CRM system Zoho is free for up to three users and discounted licenses are available for Microsoft Dynamics 365 on Charity Digital’s software exchange programme.
Where the investment can pay off is when CRM systems can work as a ‘one-stop-shop’ to manage all an organisations’ in one place, interconnecting different data sources to intelligently improve the way they operate and drive better decisions. And as CRM functions continue to evolve, they will give smaller charities the opportunity to capitalise on many of the benefits of innovations such as machine learning and AI.
Here are five things you might not know a charity CRM system can do:
Report on programme activities
Charities use CRM software to manage and track almost everything that can be tracked or reported on, giving them a 360-degree view on their organisation’s operations and the interactions taking place. This is a standard feature of today’s CRM systems and means that charities can quickly and accurately report to trustees and other stakeholders, and identify where to improve.
Manage marketing communications
A CRM can improve the quality and relevance of their digital interactions, with integrated marketing automation that allows charities to automatically respond to their supporters by creating and tracking automated workflows. This makes communications targeted, personal and more likely to drive positive engagement.
Manage online fundraising and other income streams
Many CRM systems enable charities to simplify the process of income management by categorising and storing data from revenue sources, including fundraising, grants, ecommerce and the ability to process Gift Aid, helping them improve their financial visibility and control.
Alongside donors, supporters and beneficiaries, charities can coordinate their volunteer workforce in a CRM system. Data on your volunteer resource calendar such as hours volunteered and hours available can be combined with data on their skills, training and personal preferences, and automated marketing outreach can help keep volunteers engaged, motivated and informed.