The Special Challenges of Nonprofits and How CRM Can Help

Nonprofit organizations work hard to make our world better. They often appeal to us to help them meet needs and support causes that touch our hearts. But they have a need of their own that people rarely think about unless they have worked in a nonprofit, a need that directly affects their ability to achieve their mission.

They need up-to-date technology to manage processes and programs.

Specifically, they need CRM.

 

People who work in nonprofit organizations are pretty passionate about what they do.

They see great needs in the world around them and feel an equal need to do something about it.

Maybe it is children going hungry.

Or the need for sanitation to prevent the spread of disease.

Or climate change and its effect on crops.

Or developing youth entrepreneurs instead of gang leaders.

These dedicated professionals often work handcuffed, technologically speaking. Their organizations are expected to operate on the slimmest of budgets, and technology can be considered nice-if-you-can-get-it, last on the list of priorities.

One of our business partners, Carol Willis, speaks from her previous experience as a development director in a nonprofit. When she started that role, she saw right away that some type of donor management software or a CRM was urgently needed.

She shared her thoughts with us about the investment decision and also about implementation.

“Making the decision sounds like a Catch-22 situation, and that’s what it feels like,” she says.

“Resources are slim, so leaders can be pretty hard to convince that money should be spent on software. They default to ‘We can’t afford it.’ But at some point, you can’t grow your organizational resources without the software. You can’t afford not to get it. Someone needs to say yes to that expenditure if they want the mission to advance. It will more than pay for itself in the long run.”

An important mission deserves good technology, specifically a CRM system. Here’s why.

How will you manage your donor information?

  • Can you see at a glance which donors are drawn to which programs?
  • Who gives monthly and who gave two years ago?
  • Who is related to whom, and how?
  • Where they work?
  • Which of your events they’ve been to and who invited them?
  • When you last communicated with them?
  • Who prefers a phone call to an email?
  • Who wants to remain anonymous?
  • When they made their first gift?

Donors expect you to know these things.

Try to use a spreadsheet, or a series of them, to track this kind of information, and you’re going to lose control.

Salesforce has a product called Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) that is favored by many nonprofits, including some of our clients. A CRM like NPSP collects all this information in one place and then lets you do the proverbial slice and dice to analyze various aspects of your donor base as a whole and characterize them in segments.

How do you manage your constituent communications?

It’s a fact that the longer you wait to get thank you letters out, the less likely donors are to make a second gift. Plus there’s the newsletter, and invitations to a gala for a certain segment of donors, and that survey to former program participants. And how much time do you have to do all this? Right, Hardly any.

Some CRM’s have their own function for invitations and email marketing. Others integrate brilliantly with email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and Eventbrite. They’ll also sync with either your Outlook or Google email to share your contacts and details of your correspondence. You can write up a customizable template, specify the group you want it to go to, and hit send or print.

How do you know if a program is working if you can’t measure its outcomes?

Nonprofits need data on outputs and outcomes to know if the resources they steward are having the desired impact. Also, funders demand to know results and how they are measured. Without technology this can a highly labor-intensive task that results in inaccurate reporting even with the best of intentions.

One of the benefits of Salesforce’s NPSP is that it not only tracks contacts and automates communication; it also supports program development and funding capacity by collecting program data and reporting on outcomes.

If you decide to get a CRM, who will help you figure out which one, customize it to meet your needs, train your people to use it, tweak it as your needs change, and troubleshoot?

Because heaven knows, everyone on your staff is already working to the max.

Carol weighed in again with her experience with this challenge: “Once I got the okay to look into CRM’s, a consultant in my network helped me to decide on one. His firm got us set up and trained me and one other person to use it. Beyond that, nothing was budgeted for support as we implemented it. I conducted a few sessions to orient the rest of staff to it, but some of them kept using their own systems, which basically consisted of separate spreadsheets. We never really got past “This has worked for us in the past —  I’ve got a lot of work to do and I don’t see a reason for this whole new learning curve.”

“We sure could have used the CRM consultant as a partner on an implementation strategy that would gain buy-in to the reasons this new procedure would help everyone as well as the technicalities of using it,” says Carol. “The CRM did make life easier for a couple of us, but the whole benefit we could have received got lost.”

Nonprofits are often staffed by a combination of employees and volunteers. Turnover can be high because of stress and low pay. When money is tight for on-boarding and volunteer training, holes occur in the transmission of the purpose behind procedures. Before you know it, the CRM is a mess and falling out of use. An ongoing relationship with a qualified CRM partner like Small Business CRM Coach can fill in those gaps and keep everyone up-to-date and your database clean.

We are passionate about making your world better.

We want you to thrive and your mission to accomplish great things.

We are also techno-geeks who understand databases and get really excited about helping you use them productively to achieve the goals you are pouring your hard work into. What are your particular challenges?

Let us know how we can help.

 

 

Leverage your business with CRM Software

If you own a business you understand the value of your customers and prospects. That’s why it is so important to connect with your customers in a meaningful way. Converting sales leads into customers and making regular customers enthusiastic promoters of your business are both critical for business growth. And just as important, curtailing customer complaints before they cause damage is something else that is critical to your business. Without a clear plan for damage control or to manage the leads that come in, your business could suffer.

Before digital and advanced software technology was available, businesses had very few marketing options and customers called when they had a problem. Now thanks to technology, hundreds of people may be viewing your website or dissatisfied customers have a variety of ways to contact you with a complaint. Without a clear system to handle the leads, happy customers and dissatisfied customers it can be overwhelming. However there is an answer to the overwhelm. CRM software helps you keep in contact with your customers before a small issue becomes a problem and leads can start feeling a connection with your company immediately.

Organize customer leads

When leads come into your company, CRM software organizes them so you can follow up as soon as they show interest. Without proper follow-up, you could lose a lead or worse yet, it could go to a competitor! CRM not only creates an organizational system for you, but it automates much of the process as well.

Be more effective with email marketing

Sending out mass emails periodically to all your contacts isn’t the most effective way to handle your marketing campaign.

For example, what if your company was having a huge promotion on a product geared specifically for women? Or to further narrow it down, what if the product would likely appeal to women over 50. Maybe it’s a special vitamin supplement or herbal remedy, especially for mature women. A mass email means you are sending this promotion to all your younger female customers as well as to all your men. Not very helpful. This will look like a mass email and can give the impression that you don’t care about or really even know your customers very well. What if at the “push of a button” your email would go only to that customer segment. Your customers would see that you understand their needs. And it not just for B to C businesses. If you’re a manufacturing business of several products and want to reach a certain segment of your distributors with perhaps a certain product or product category, you want that email campaign to go only to the defined target; saving the rest of your distributors for products geared to them. CRM software develops segmented lists for you. This groups your customers into categories. You can even define the categories and change them whenever you want.

Understand your customers better

CRM software helps you understand what your customers like or dislike based on the data it stores about them. Of course, this is dependent on what information they provide you and their purchasing habits. However, even with minimal data, you can understand more about your customers with CRM than if you don’t have it. As you track your sales, you will begin to see trends that clue you in on some important data. For example, the data will indicate how quickly it takes to close a sale with certain customers. If you’re a distributor, you may notice that you close more quickly in some parts of the country than others. You may see a trend that reveals your sales model is effective with business owners who started their business less than 5 years ago. However, in order for these trends to show up and make sense, you need to collect the data.

Obtain metrics about your business

Metrics are an important tool that businesses can use to leverage their marketing efforts. CRM software keeps track of what your customers buy, when they buy things, how much they spend, their personal data (that you ask them for when they visit your website), and more. This gives your business a leveraging tool to understand what is making their business successful – or not. What products do customers like best? For example, you may discover from the data that you will experience seasonal buying highs or lows. This can guide you in your stock inventory amount. You also can use metrics from the type of emails to which your customers respond. Are they clicking on the link in the email? If so, what made that email effective? You want to know what makes your business successful.

If you want to better understand your business, customers, prospects and leads….then The Small Business CRM Coach is here to help! We figure out what type of CRM is best for your company and we even set it all up for you. Click here to schedule a discovery call.

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