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Long-Term Sustainability with a Nonprofit Donor CRM System

Donor CRM Systems for sustainability at nonprofits

Ask any nonprofit executive to identify the most critical factor in the sustainability of their organization. And, you logically would think the answer would center around how well the mission is carried out. But the reality for every nonprofit is that without significant donor support, it would become nearly impossible to carry out the mission. In this article, I opine about how significant a solid nonprofit donor CRM system is in growing their donor base and ultimately sustainability.

Sustainability via a Donor CRM System 

While working with Nonprofit Executives, I have found that nonprofit sustainability depends largely on the agency’s ability to attract and retain donors. How is this done? Agencies must evolve in ways that maximize their use of Donor CRM database systems. Let’s look at expanding nonprofit customer (aka donor) relationship management for long-term sustainability.

Walking in the donors’ shoes 

Notice how I referred to donors as “customers” above. Why? Most major donors view themselves in that light:

  1. They want to be recognized, as does any good customer, as a welcome part of the organization—almost like a family member.

  2. They want to be acknowledged as a holistic person, not a checkbook.

  3. They want to feel that the agency staff members care about them, not just their gift.

Why not just depend on the donor’s attraction to the agency’s mission? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. There is increasing competition for every donor dollar. Regionally, nationally, and internationally, more and more organizations—some with similar missions—appeal to your agency’s donors and potential donors for gifts.

  2. The prevalence of social media messaging creates both opportunities for increased communication and, at the same time, a social distancing between the agency staff and the donor. After all, social media are forms of mass communication unlike a personal note or telephone call.

  3. Cultural norms, especially with respect to technology and communication, divide generations more than ever before. From baby boomers, to Millennials, Gen Xers, and Gen Ys, each generation comes equipped with expectations about types and levels of technology they prefer when it comes to interfacing with a nonprofit.

  4. Bottom line? It is the nature of the relationship between the agency and the donor that makes the difference as to whom the donor will support.

Many Nonprofits have become increasingly adept at helping donors feel acknowledged, recognized, and welcomed. Investing in a crm system that performs functions related to Moves Management, Activity Management, Demographic Management, and/or Reporting of Donors helps agency staff track aspects of the nonprofit’s interfacing with donors and donor preferences.

Room for Growth—and Sustainability via a Donor CRM System

For quite a while now, commercial businesses have invested in crm software systems that go beyond tracking current customer behaviors and preferences. Businesses also track marketing and sales opportunities and activities—a pipeline management system.

Known as “customer relationship management” or donor relationship management, this approach underscores the notion that the right planning and contact tracking system maximizes efficiency across the commercial enterprise to help employees identify and take advantage of new opportunities to attract potential customers and increase sales.

Perhaps this is novel concept for some “old school” nonprofit executives today, but in order to survive and thrive will depend on how technology is used or not used in your organization now and into the future. Nonprofits that want to get serious about long-term sustainability—especially those whose donor base consists largely of a graying population—would benefit from adding a donor CRM system to their strategic plans for growth.

Evolving to a Donor CRM Software System

A donor CRM system for nonprofits goes a step beyond the tracking systems that nonprofits used in years past. Today, donor CRM systems are much more focused on how to leverage the data needed so that development officers can compete. It links a strategic pipeline management to current donor management and creates a plan for staff to invest in activities that will result in long-term sustainability.

With a CRM system, a nonprofit’s marketing plan can be tailored to attract donors from each of the culturally different generations. Plans can be segmented by gender, type of employment, familiarity with the agency’s mission, and other categories.

  1. Planning includes multifaceted two-way communication avenues for marketing, for example, targeted by age group.

  2. CRM systems tailor donor cultivation activities by age, gender, or individual preferences.

The only requirement? The decision to move forward with a CRM system. The right software that fits your organization’s mission and budget already exists. It’s time to embrace the market trends and face the facts. Nonprofits need to be armed with the best fit tools which will help them compete.

SmartThoughts has the expertise to help you invest wisely in the right software to add CRM to your donor management system to begin to implement a plan for long-term sustainability. Contact us for more information on our approach to software selection projects.

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