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5 Questions about Nonprofit CRM Tools You’re Too Embarrassed to Ask

Marcella Vitulli

A brand new year is here, and everyone is resolved to make improvements to the way they live, work, and even their nonprofit website

What's more, folks are seizing the opportunity to get organized + do business better.

For nonprofit pros, that means streamlining your processes, integrating your systems, and doing a better job communicating with your donors.

Enter the CRM. Everyone in the nonprofit world knows what a CRM is + why it's vital to an organization's success, right? Wrong.

If you've ever wondered what a nonprofit CRM tool is used for or why it seems so important (spoiler: it is!), here are five questions you might have been too embarrassed to ask.

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What does CRM stand for anyway?

A constituent relationship management, or CRM tool is designed to store + organize information about how your supporters interact with your organization.

Whether it's volunteers, donors, event attendees, or simply supporters that have opened an email from your organization, a CRM stores all of the data on these contact interactions.

Most CRM tools also have built-in features + processes that can help you create + automate future contact opportunities with individuals or groups within your network.


How is that different from a CMS or these spreadsheets we've always used?

Unlike a CMS (content management system), which mainly deals with creating, editing, and publishing content, a CRM tool helps to establish an organization's online infrastructure.

And don't get us started on spreadsheets! Rather than hastily adding information to multiple spreadsheets, trying to manage different versions when your whole staff is saving at the same time, you could be letting a CRM do all of this for you (and so much more!)


How will a CRM make my job easier?

Think about the most difficult, time consuming parts of your day-to-day work: using a myriad of software + low-tech systems to keep track of your organization's interactions + getting them to play nicely with each other, remembering who attended that event or figuring out if that last blog post was actually read, planning social media + email outreach, and, to top it all off, communicating all of this with the rest of your staff.

Sound familiar? There is a better way to tackle all of these tasks!

A good CRM tool offers:

  • a integrated, intuitive user interface,
  • detailed contact data that paints a complete picture of each person that interacts with your organzation,
  • marketing + social media solutions to reach them, and
  • excellent customer service + support.


My organization is pretty small — is a CRM tool really something we need?

Yes! Regardless of how big your staff is, how many constituents you engage with, or how much fundraising you do annually, your organization’s contact list is bigger than you think + will continue to grow. 

Maintaining that list, being able to add information about your contacts, organize them into groups based on that information, and then generate reports and more defined lists strengthens your organization.

Of course, you have to consider your organization's priorities + approach the CRM decision strategically. You'll likely find, however, that your organization's goals can be more easily achieved with the help of a well-utilized CRM tool.

Otherwise, there's always that paper filing system you've been using all these years...


I don’t have a budget for this — how can I justify the expense?

The cost for CRM tools varies quite a bit, but the cost-savings in staff time is enough to make any boss consider making the switch!

We recommend choosing a unified platform that allows access to donor records, marketing + social media tools, and reporting all in one place. This can alleviate all of the pains that come with using an outdated system + make the transition easier for your staff.

But beyond saving money, an organization that utilizes a CRM tool can expect to see a large increase in donor engagement, a more robust online presence, an uptick in fundraising, and a happier, more organized staff.


If you have more questions about what a CRM can do for your organization, check out our guide to finding the best fit for your needs.

Otherwise, we hope you make 2015 the year your organization takes the CRM plunge! 



Topics: strategy, CRM