A guide to help nonprofits better understand their off-the-shelf CRM options for better donor management.

One of the most popular questions in nonprofit technology is “what CRM will work for my organization?” The most popular answer to that question is “it depends.”

While that response can sound vague and even a little rude, it’s typically the truth. There are tons of variables that go into choosing a CRM, so the process requires a very deep understanding of a company’s needs. But even though it’s difficult to provide a quick, individualized answer on what CRM to invest in, it’s still possible to provide some basic guidelines and features on what you should definitely be looking for as you scope out your potential CRM systems. Here are some general tips on how to find the best CRM to fit your nonprofit’s needs.

CRM for Large Nonprofits

The largest nonprofit organizations have to deal with a staggering amount of data and donations, and they’re likely hoping to streamline their massive constituent relations databases with new technology. The three platforms we’re recommending below are some of the current market leaders at the enterprise level, and they all fulfill very different roles.

At this level, the top CRM priorities will typically be customization, reliable hosting and vendor viability. For customization, you’ll want a CRM which offers a large base of modules and boasts a sizable online marketplace for growing out your system. For hosting, you’ll have to choose whether you want to store your data in the cloud, with a partner, or on-premise, and then select your CRM according to that. Finally, you’ll want conduct research into each potential vendor so that you can ensure that your CRM will be backed by a reliable user and support base for years to come.

The following grid shows a selection of three top CRM solutions for large nonprofits, as well as the unique methods they use to fulfill the most pressing needs.

 CRM for Large Nonprofit 2

CRM for Small/Medium Nonprofits

When looking to fill the CRM needs of a small or medium-sized nonprofit, you’ll have to ask a few different questions than the ones posed above. In this scenario, integration will probably be a top priority for your organization. Since these smaller CRMs will be overall more lightweight than the ones we’ve covered above, you may want to make sure they work with programs you already use in the workplace, like Google Apps or Microsoft Outlook.

Since the most important features to be gained from these smaller CRMs are ease of use and deployment, make sure you’re not sacrificing too much in terms of functionality. While these systems may take less to implement than larger CRM systems, they’re typically not as flexible.

CRM for Small Nonprofit