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How to Decide Which CRM an NFP Will Need?

8 May 2014 at 10:38 am
Staff Reporter
Whether it is a progression from spreadsheets and Outlook, or a move away from a system an organisation has outgrown, a CRM is one option that can deliver significant productivity and communication benefits for a Not for Profit, writes Craig Ford from ChilliDB Software.

Staff Reporter | 8 May 2014 at 10:38 am


How to Decide Which CRM an NFP Will Need?
8 May 2014 at 10:38 am

Whether it is a progression from spreadsheets and Outlook, or a move away from a system  an organisation has outgrown, a CRM is one option that can deliver significant productivity and communication benefits for a Not for Profit, writes Craig Ford from ChilliDB Software.

A CRM is a Customer/Client/Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system, and this is where CRMs start to differ.

Corporate CRMs might be adapted for different industries and serve customers as a core function, however NFPs are more concerned with clients and stakeholders, so the system needs become quite unique to the needs of a Not for Profit.

The reality is most CRMs have so many different functions that they can effectively replace the “islands of  information” that occur when there are staff using different systems, for different areas of the business, and they may not talk to each other.

But which one suits specific organisational needs? Budgets are lean, spare time is scarce and the list of needs can fill a library, and of course an NFP just cannot afford to waste time and budget in endless training and adaptation.

Organisational Needs for a CRM Upgrade

First take a look at which of these common CRM system features are needed and list which ones are needed and then rank them for importance.

  • Asset Management Dashboard Custom Mail Merge
  • Billing and Invoicing Distribution Lists Segmentation Mailing List Management
  • Case Management Document Management Membership Management
  • Contact History Donations Management Microsoft Outlook Integration
  • Contact Management Email Marketing Multi Location Support
  • Client Database Event Registration and Marketing Referral Tracking
  • Client Service Integration Event Planning and Delivery Reporting Customisation
  • Client Project Tracking Fundraising and Payment Reporting MDS Compliance
  • Data Mining – Advanced Search Knowledge Base Integration Website Integration

What Are the Critical Challenges in Adopting a New CRM System?

Whichever method or system of record keeping and communications currently in use, inevitably an NFP will be aiming for a seamless transition to an improved system.

Here are some of the make or break issues that impact adoption and utilisation. Think about which ones are critical to any new system success.

  • Budget Size Bulk Data Import Payment Integration
  • Custom Data Donations Handling Flexible Support
  • Unique Program Modules Legacy System Integration System Integration – Other systems
  • Custom Reporting Needs Mobile Device Access Short Learning Curve for Base Users
  • Custom Interface per User Varied Permissions per User Ongoing Training for Administrators

One real advantage of a CRM is its ability to collaborate and communicate internally and externally. It can help to bring teams together that work across different shifts, locations, time zones and work functions so they can interact and collaborate for improved service delivery.

What some of the issues an NFP is trying to address with a CRM, which ones strike a chord?

  • Improved Team Collaboration Single Source of Information Capture Donation Leads
  • Consistent Service Delivery Reporting Accuracy Improve External Communications
  • Standardised Record Keeping Minimise Data Entry Better Organisational Management

With so many NFPs employing staff that are part time, casual, volunteers and working from home and mobile locations, there becomes an increasing reliance on systems to support continuity of service delivery.

What is the Difference Between a Web Hosted and an Installed CRM?

SAAS (Software As A Service), cloud based, internet hosted are the buzzwords in software worldwide. So what? Well there are some real differences in purchase, set-up, costs and delivery so it is worth being completely up to date on the differences.

The software is hosted, managed, maintained for you from a remote server, ready for you to log into. The big advantage for NFPs is that hosted software is often available as a subscription, so drastically reduces the up-front cost, plus there is no need for specialist IT staff to constantly update, patch and manage the software. NFPs can focus on their core services instead.

Delivering NFP Services

Once upon a time, an organisation might have needed servers on site, dedicated IT staff, own the software and require endless customisation. But this approach is racked with extra costs and the impracticalities of becoming so engaged with a system, which is essentially not related to core service delivery.

The initial up front software cost and customisation makes installed unaffordable for many small to medium-size NFPs, but still a viable alternative for larger organisations.

Look for proven, successful roll outs of CRMs in well known organisations. Consider the variety of team members that are needed to use the system and how best to achieve maximum system utilisation. Lastly consider carefully the three most important resources an NFP has to deploy – people, time and money.

About the Author: Craig Ford the marketing executive from ChilliDB an Australian membership database system designed for Not for Profits, Primary Health, Community Service and Government organisations.

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