CRM loses the new car smell quickly. Is a change worth it?

CRMFundraisingForce receives a telephone call or web enquiry every four days from an organisation seeking to find the “perfect CRM”. They’re using The Raiser’s Edge, eTapestry, ThankQ, iMIS, Salesforce, or one of the other lesser known solutions. “It’s time to change”; the current system “does not work”, “it is not meeting our needs”, “it is antiquated and I know there are more up to date systems out there”, and “I used ‘ABC’ system at my old job. It worked really well” or “my friend uses DEF system at her organisation and she likes it”  are all typical comments made. But, should you change CRMs just to change? The CRM loses the new car smell quickly. Is a change worth it?

There certainly are legitimate reasons to convert from one CRM solution to another. The most legitimate of the statements above includes “it is not meeting our needs”. I would ask “what are your needs?”. Most charitable organisations, schools, and universities cannot articulate their needs or CRM requirements. That’s where organisations like FundraisingForce come into play.

FundraisingForce has a five step CRM process to guide any non-profit organisation, school, or university to find the most suitable CRM for their organisation. The fact is there is no “perfect” CRM, but finding the most appropriate fit for your organisation is what it is all about. Here are the steps we follow:

  1. Requirements gathering. Our team will spend a number of days working with your staff to identify the key requirements for any new CRM.  Workshops are held, business processes are analysed, and gaps in the current system are surfaced.
  2. Market supplier identification. Here we identify which suppliers FundraisingForce recommends should be included in the CRM search opportunity.
  3. Documentation. FundraisingForce creates a Request for Proposals (RFP) packet to distribute to the market, which includes:
    • Notification letter. A letter to be distributed to invited solution supplier participants inviting them to participate, outlining the process and the timeline, and asking them to sign your organisation’s confidentiality agreement.
    • RFP letter. A cover letter to go with the Request for Proposals.
    • RFP. A Requests for Proposals is written to outline the request you are making for the suppliers to submit a proposal.
    • Business Functional Requirements. A large Excel spreadsheet containing a tab for each department and all associated requirements.
    • FundraisingForce Observations and Recommendations. A document containing our observations and recommendations, which is then used for your organisation to address issues in parallel to teaching for a new CRM.
  4. Demonstrations and discussions. FundraisingForce will facilitate the demonstrations and discussions between suppliers and your selection committee.
    • These demonstrations often require a couple of rounds.
  5. Negotiation. FundraisingForce will assist you to negotiate and solidify the best possible agreement and scope of work for your project.

Changing to a new CRM because it is clean and shiny (has the new car smell) is no reason to change at all. Base the decision to change in fact. Base it in facts surrounding the following:

  • Your organisation has outgrown the limited functionality in the CRM.
    • The current system does not meet requirements 1.7, 1.9, 2.4, 3.3, 6.9, and 11.4. Those six requirements are where your organisation plans to grow the most strategically and without a system meeting these requirements, that growth will be stunted.
  • The customer service received from your current supplier is appalling.
    • Some suppliers believe customer service ends with the sale. Once you sign the dotted line, it is difficult, at best, to get any sort of attention from the supplier. The only time you hear from the supplier is when the invoice is sent.
  • The demonstration received from your current supplier suggests the supplier has no plans to improve their technology to meet our expanding requirements.
  • The value for money paid to convert to the new CRM outweighs the cost maintaining the status quo.

Once you decide to conduct a process, ensure it is facilitated by someone you trust to do a thorough and fair job. Then, used properly, your CRM is as key to your fundraising success as having an army of talented major gift officers. Find the right CRM, implement it correctly, and keep watchful maintenance over the CRM for years to come.