Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 3: Selecting a Vendor

July 16, 2020 Brian Isaac

If you're just starting to read here, don't forget to catch up with Parts 1-2!

Part 1: Understanding Your Requirements
Part 2: Building Your Team

In Part 1 and Part 2 of Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, you’ve laid the groundwork by doing the hard part – the preparation. You understand your organisations requirements, and you’ve prepped your project team or individual so they are ready to go.

Now you need a CRM vendor to partner with in order to make the right software investment.

Let's just jump right into it: here's how to select the best one for your organisation.

Ask potential vendors these 7 questions

  1. Is your solution cloud-based?
    If the answer is no, then it’s time to look elsewhere.
  2. What is your track record of success?
    Ask to see case studies or references of other organisations and find out how experienced the vendor is at implementing successful CRM projects on time and on budget.
  3. What’s the ROI?
    When it comes to the investment, the real value is going to be in the return. Your vendor should help shape this with you to better understand specific aspects where the solution will make a measurable impact on your organisation.
  4. What about data security?
    Your supplier should have SLAs in place around performance monitoring, back-up schedules, and availability.
  5. Will I have customer support?
    Your package should include access to a reliable, proven support mechanism to assist you with anything from troubleshooting to answering questions about software releases.
  6. How do you work within thesocial good sector?
    Your chosen partner should be able to share best practices related to fundraising and CRM management. They should let you know their position for updating the technology and their research and development dedicated to nonprofit specific tools.
  7. What documentation exists around APIs?
    Your chosen partner should be able to share their developer portals, or API specific documentation (like this:

It’s often suggested at this stage you should make a list of your requirements to share with potential vendors. This is a great way tomake sure you’ve documented everything you need, but it should by no means be a final list of everything you expect to gain.

You may find that some suppliers will simply say they can accommodate your requirements instead of helping you to find unknown capabilities to meet your true goals.

Here's what your timeline should look like when choosing a CRM vendor:

A requirements list is hard to bring to life, so as part of this process, it is really important to interact with the vendor as much as possible before seeing any demos. This way you can be sure to not only have their true understanding of your needs but that you are also aware of anything else the vendor can provide you with that may add value.

💡 Top Tip

Don't forget to speak up! If you don’t see a capability that was shown in another presentation by a different vendor, don’t assume it is or is not available. If you’ve seen something you like, ask other vendors if they can also show you it within their solution.

Making the final decision

Now that you’ve seen demos and reviewed potential partners, you are ready to make a decision to proceed.

Once you have a preferred vendor in mind, it is important to make sure you understand both your own internal process for signing this off as well as the vendor process for embarking on a project. As we learned in Part 2, you'll have engaged the key decision-makers & budget holders from your organisation right from the beginning of this process, so they will be heavily involved in the evaluation of a solution.

At this stage, it is likely that you will have received some form of proposal from your chosen vendor, including a breakdown of costs, along with the following documentation:

  • Scope of Work – once you have discussed the detail with your vendor around what will be delivered with this project, including any data conversion, and training requirements, this document will be created to outline the key implementation deliverables of your project. It is important that this is read, and any questions are raised before entering into a contract.
  • Terms and Conditions – these will be the SLAs (service level agreements) and other agreements you are entering into, such as cloud hosting, GDPR provisions, and support arrangements that need to be reviewed by your internal legal, procurement or data protection teams. It is important that these are reviewed in good time before you intend to sign.
  • Contract – this will typically outline all the costs, items being purchased, along with any contract terms. Typically, this will be delivered with the Scope of Work and should be thoroughly reviews before signing.


Ready to start?

The above post covers the foundation for choosing your nonprofit CRM vendor, 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 4: Navigating Go-Live and Beyond

Don't forget to share this post!

Previous Article
Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 2: Building Your Team
Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 2: Building Your Team

Part 2 of 5: Learn who needs to be involved when choosing a CRM solution, what skills are needed, and what ...

Next Article
Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 4: Navigating Go-Live and Beyond
Choosing a CRM for Nonprofits, Part 4: Navigating Go-Live and Beyond

Part 4 of 5: Learn how to navigate your go-live: the big day your nonprofit CRM system gets up and running ...


Stay in the know and join our mailing list!

First Name
Last Name
Thank you!
Error - something went wrong!