Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 1: Understanding Your Requirements

July 10, 2020 Brian Isaac

Now more than ever, facilitating strong and engaging relationships is vital to the success of your fundraising team.

For all of us, 2020 has been a difficult year so far. Nonprofits have had their worlds turned upside down, and many fundraising plans have had to be cancelled, delayed, and changed.

But the social good sector is a resilient one. We are all doing what we can to push ahead and take care of our organisations, our missions, and those we serve, as best we know how. 

Sometimes it starts with going back to the basics: we all know that any strong and successful nonprofit is built on a foundation of good relationships. The most successful have learned how to continually engage and grow these connections. These relationships then become more sophisticated, and it’s not long until you’re managing a complex, interconnected web of data.

That’s where your Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) solution comes in – the technology that will allow you to make sense of this complexity, and to drive sustainable growth using your data.


The 4 Steps to Gathering and Understanding Your Nonprofit CRM Requirements

Choosing the right CRM solution is one of the most important decisions you'll have to make for your organisation. This is why it's crucial to firstly understand the needs and functionality requirements of your organisation.

Clearly articulate why a new solution will help you meet organisational goals

Whether you have no system in place at all, or are replacing an existing solution, you should aim to clearly articulate why the new solution will help you to meet organisational goals and mission critical objectives in order to get the rubber stamp of approval from your internal budget holders. Many CRM providers offer a checklist that can help you get started.

Show how your organisation’s objectives are currently being hampered

It’s also not a bad idea to show how your organisation’s objectives are currently being hampered by your existing set up. This will help you build your business case internally, whilst also allowing you to see what you need to correct when you look at solution options.

At the very end of the process, after you’ve gone live, these objectives will also be what you can hold yourself accountable to – a measuring stick of your success.

Consider why you do what you do

The best way to begin this process is to think in terms of why you do what you do:

  • Why do you fundraise?
  • What is your overarching mission?
  • Why are you aiming to reach and engage with more people in your community?
  • How much more needs to be raised for you to meet your short-to-medium term objectives?

Ask for advice

It’s ok to ask for advice on other things you might need – you don’t know what you don’t know. When you speak to vendors later in the process, you should encourage them to talk about what else they can bring to the table.

Ready to start?

The above post covers the foundation for gathering your key requirements, but there's more to consider when selecting the CRM solution that’s right for your organisation.

Our brand new How to Choose a Cloud-Based Fundraising CRM Solution guide will take you through the entire process. Through our many years of working closely with non-profits, we bring our most up-to-date expertise and knowledge of the process to this how-to eBook. Follow the steps and tips we cover in the book to choose the solution that's right for you.

Download the full ebook now


Continue to Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 2: Building Your Team

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