There are plenty of challenges in selecting CRM for charities, including finding a system with specialist functionality, that’s appropriately customisable, and deciding whether it should be hosted on-site or in the Cloud. Some CRM databases have functionality better suited to not-for-profits than others, especially if they automate billing functions, integrates easily, and provide payment options through e-billing.
Charities and non-profit organisations are an important part of the business landscape. One of the main challenges of running a non-profit is managing the huge amount of data on its supporters a charity can accumulate. This is what makes CRM software an essential solution for non-profits.
One of the challenges posed by using CRM for charities is the question of who ‘the customer’ is in the CRM model. A case could be made for the donors, the volunteers who donate their time and effort, the people who benefit from the charity, or the people and companies from whom services are bought. The truth is that all of these relationships need to be managed by a not-for-profit.
Another challenge is that charity organisations often don’t just sell items. Because of the variety of contacts a charity requires, and the diversity of projects and events a charity has to organise, a lot more functionality is required for CRM for charities than a standard commercial CRM system. This includes: fundraising; management of funds, projects, membership, committees, events and volunteers; publications; surveys; acquiring grants and sponsorship and so on.
Choosing the right system
There are hundreds of systems to choose from, and with the breadth of different not-for-profit organisations, each with different needs, it’s important for a not-for-profit to find the right one. It seems obvious, but the best system will be the one that meets the most of your organisation’s requirements at a cost your company can afford. There is a huge choice of software for a charity with any budget at any size which is designed for functions specific to charities and not-for-profits. These include events, fundraising, membership and marketing.
One of the most frequent causes of failure is a lack of groundwork before beginning a project. It’s vital that a company sets out its requirements and goals through research and evaluation before selecting a system that suits them. This will help a business set out a clear statement of necessities which will make problems further on less likely.
Some CRM systems are more easily customisable than others, so if you have specific needs, you need to find software that you can tailor to you specifically. You will also need to make sure your staff can be trained to use the software. Make sure you have super users like key staff who can work closely with the implementation teem to guarantee the new system works how you need it to.
Cloud CRM vs On-Site CRM
One thing to consider is whether your CRM software should utilise cloud computing. Your system can be hosted internally, such as SageCRM, or by the CRM vendor, depending on the software. To make this decision, you need to carefully consider whether your company has the skills to internally manage the infrastructure. If your staff are not based in the same office, then a hosted system allows you to devolve the responsibility for the server to somewhere else. The downside is that you can only access the CRM software in places with internet access.
A CRM system hosted in the cloud, such as SugarCRM or Salesforce, means that you can work anywhere. One of the most compelling arguments in favour of a cloud system is the huge cost differential on hardware between on-site and cloud CRM systems. Whilst in-house data centres have to fund servers, storage devices, routers, cabling, coolers and the maintenance, staff, operational costs, training, not to mention the physical use of space of all this hardware, whilst a cloud system provides the alternative of a low monthly fee for the use of cloud infrastructure.
Many people are anxious about hosted data as they feel it’s somehow less secure. However, data centres have stringent security measures in place, so your data is well looked after.
Membership Database Management
A Membership Database Management system can be invaluable help in keeping track of membership and using the data to the best of your advantage. You will more easily be able to keep in contact with your members, as well as collect revenue. Like all software solutions, you will want to try to avoid being drawn into flashy packaging and demos, and think objectively about the functionality you need to streamline your operations.
A database that automates billing functions such as receipts and invoicing will reduce the number of processing hours, saving your company time and money.
A simple to use database is crucial if all of the data you need is being stored on it. An instinctive interface will help you get more out of your data, and will reduce the amount of training necessary. An ability to export reports in a common format like Excel will also help you be more resourceful with your data.
A database that can integrate with your other software will improve time and cost efficiency. One particularly advantageous form of integration is if the membership software can integrate with social media. This will expand your company’s reach, and facilitates better marketing and self-promotion. The ability to synchronise membership profiles with social media accounts provide you with the most up to date information.
A database that can help with event planning and promotion, which will improve awareness and encourage attendance to your events. This function can be easily automated, which will simplify processes and save time and energy. If you find the correct software, you can set up and announce events to your members, and allow them to respond quickly.
Another function of a Membership Database Management system is the addition of payment options through e-billing. As well as credit and debit card, you can provide other e-billing services such as Paypal, which will give your customers extra convenience whilst inspiring even more sign-ups.
This is all a lot to think about, which is why the Software Advisory Service can save you time and resources by providing the right CRM solution for your charity.