How Technology Can Make Your Nonprofit Stronger

January 30, 2019 Monika Burchfield
A group of people wearing blue t-shirts with the word volunteer
Connecting with donors is a key part of running a successful nonprofit. 
But as technology evolves, so does your competition - making it harder and harder to get your message to the right people as the noise gets louder. 
Luckily for you, successfully managing your donor relationships can become easier with the right CRM. 
CRM: What does it stand for?
CRM stands for Customer (or Constituent) Relationship Management. It’s a technology that helps you strategically manage your interactions with individual donors in a personalized way with greater efficiency. It enables you to keep a personal touch as you customize donor messaging, raise funds, collaborate with employees and volunteers, and use data and analytics insights to maximize value through ongoing learning. 
You’re probably wondering… 

What can CRM software do for my nonprofit organization? 

With the right CRM, you can...
  • Store and access donor and prospect contact information
  • Manage volunteer contact information, availability, and schedule projects
  • Store program participant and client information 
  • Identify opportunities to connect 
  • Manage nonprofit marketing campaigns in one centralized place
  • Gain a single view of donor interactions 
  • Make insights instantly available to anyone in your organization 
  • Improve collaboration and productivity 
  • Drive business growth 
  • Do more with less - especially for small nonprofit teams

What can CRM do for an organization?

A CRM is a powerful tool that can help streamline the way you connect and engage with your donor base and prospects. This game-changing technology makes it easier to build an authentic movement of passionate people who aren’t just going to connect with your brand once and fall of the face of the earth. 
With the right nonprofit strategy in place, a CRM can deepen your donors’ connection to your with your brand over time. The right CRM can also help donors better understand their impact because you can use CRM data to show donors where their money is going and how it’s helping people. 
The right CRM and right CRM strategy can set you apart from your competition.
To give you a deeper understanding of what a CRM can do for your nonprofit, I’ve illustrated a couple of situations I’ve often encountered as a nonprofit consultant:

Most Nonprofits Before Implementing CRM…

Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets. Spreadsheets. (Or, an access database). While spreadsheets certainly have a function even in today’s world, having an individual spreadsheet for each event, major gift asks, and volunteer signups and scheduling is a nightmare to manage - even for the most organized among us. 
Multiple disconnected systems. No single system of record. Constituent information, event attendance, and volunteer contact lists all live in the cloud, on a local desktop, or on a server, but the data doesn’t come together to give you the full picture of your donor base and campaign efforts. 
Confused donors. A CRM can help your nonprofit avoid the following (potentially awkward) situations... 
  • Why am I receiving so much mail? 
  • Why do I have to repeatedly ask so many people to get off the mailing list? 
  • I only want to volunteer, why do I keep getting donor messaging? 
  • I already told you I didn’t want to talk about my estate planning.
  • Please don’t show up at my house unannounced.
  • I just want a tax statement, please stop wasting so much paper!

What Nonprofits Can Look Like After Implementing CRM… 

A Single System of Record - donor, volunteer, and event info in one place - kind of like a master spreadsheet - but a lot easier to understand and navigate. 
360-degree view of donor interests and activities, including: 
  • Event Attendance and RSVPs
  • Lifetime Giving
  • Recent Gifts
  • Large Gifts
  • Sponsorships
  • Meaningful Conversations or Customer Service Inquiries
  • Volunteering
  • Program Interest Areas
  • Purchases 

Happier, better-informed donors. A CRM makes it easy to manage donor communication preferences, tax receipting, and more in one place.

The results? Increased engagement, higher event attendance, and more giving and volunteering.

A woman holding up a framed sign with words that say Give Thanks
Having the right CRM in place will encourage donors and employees to spread the word about your organization and the impact you make. With the right technology and culture in place, you can focus on building deeper relationships and use data to tell more meaningful brand stories that showcase how you, your donors, and your volunteers are changing the world - at the very least -  your small corner of it.

Catch Appirio on your favorite social media platforms and tell us about YOUR nonprofit. 

About the Author

Monika Burchfield

Monika Burchfield joined Appirio after nearly 20 years of professional practice as a nonprofit executive. Over her career, she's raised millions for education, youth programs, and health and social services. In 2018, she earned her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation and holds a Masters and Bachelors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over her career, she’s volunteered to develop reporting, database training, and user adoption efforts at every opportunity.

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