Tips for Determining the Right CRM For Your Organization

Any time you’re adding technology to your business it can be stressful. There are so many options out there for everything and it can quickly get overwhelming and expensive! Avoid going down a rabbit hole that still leaves you with the wrong solution but utilizing some (or all) of these tips.

But first, what is a CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It is a tool you can use to organize your contacts, interactions, and data so you know who to reach out to and your whole team can have all the information at their fingertips.

For nonprofits, your CRM can manage data related to your donors, volunteers, event attendees, sponsors, foundations, etc. It helps keep you organized because everything is all in one space. If you talk to five different nonprofits they’ll probably give you five different solutions and quickly it can get confusing.

Start with what your organization needs.

Before you even begin researching CRM platforms make a list of things that your organization needs. Start with the things that you need right now. You could also make a list of things you anticipate needing 1-3 years in the future.

For example, you may have most of your funding come from foundations and grants but are looking to expand into more individual giving. Or maybe you aren’t holding any major events right now, but know you have on in the works for next year. Maybe you have online giving but are looking to add text-to-give as well.

Each platform is going to have its pros and cons in all areas so knowing what you truly need from a platform will help you weed through them all.

Make a list of all the tech platforms you’re currently using.

Integration is key to save you time, money and headaches. Having the least amount of different software programs is ideal. You’ll want to think about how your CRM talks to your website and your email marketing. Does it automatically sync with your event software? Platforms will have their integrations listed easily on their websites so having that list of the other programs you’re using will make it easy to prioritize platforms quickly.

Here is a list of some of the tools you may be using:

  • Online giving platform on your website.
  • Email marketing (MailChimp, ConvertKit, etc).
  • On site event software.
  • Online auction tool.
  • SMS texting
  • Peer-to-Peer fundraising platform.
  • eCommerce.
  • Learning management system.
  • Accounting software
  • Payroll
  • Zapier (to connect multiple platforms together).

Determine your rough budget.

You should go into your research with a rough budget. Once you start researching you’re going to see so many fun exciting perks at higher levels. Remember that it’s their job and goal to get you to buy bigger and bigger packages! Having your budget (and required features) handy can help you avoid shiny object syndrome.

The second thing you’ll want to put together is the cost of the other platforms you are using. Your CRM might be able to absorb some of those features. Knowing what you spend on those other tools will help you determine what you can spend on your CRM.

Build your tracking sheet

Once you start researching things will start to blend together. You’ll start to forget what features you liked about what platform, what was missing, etc. A simple spreadsheet can help you track the tools you find so you can remember why you liked (and didn’t like) certain options.

Make sure you include all your criteria on there so you can clearly see the pros and cons of each platform as well as the tools you need it to integrate. 

Start your research.

You finally have all the information you need to start your research! There are so many different options out there it can get overwhelming. Once you start marking off those check boxes on your spreadsheet a clear winner will emerge.

There are a few places you can go that will give you reviews. We like G2 and Capterra as examples. They give great comparisons and make it easy to find the information you need quickly.

When it comes to choosing a solution we recommend finding a platform geared towards nonprofits. Yes you can use other platforms, but if you want something you can start and ramp up quickly then one focused on nonprofits’ needs is usually best.

Ask for referrals.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to 2-3 different platforms then its time to get some referrals. There are a couple of ways you can do that. The first is to ask the software company if they have folks you can chat with. The second is to ask your colleagues that use that software what they think. Both will provide you with great insights on how they actually use the platform and what you might want to consider.

Chat with your team to determine impact for all departments.

Once you have it dialed down to your top two it’s time to chat with the larger team. A CRM will impact the entire team’s job and way they get things done. There may be parts of their job that this could affect that you hadn’t considered. 

Getting feedback from the team with the information you have learned is a critical step to ensuring you get buy in and it truly hits the needs you are hoping for!

Negotiate pricing!

 Hopefully by now you have a solid choice! Don’t forget that you can always negotiate pricing. Talk with a sales rep and figure out what they can do to help you hit your goals and fit your budget.


When it comes to a CRM you want to take your time and make sure it hits all the things. That includes cost, time to implement, and easy of use, amongst other things. With these tips you’ll have a less stressful time figuring out what’s best for your organization and will help you grow and scale.

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