Finding the ‘perfect’ database for a non-profit

content‘Tis the season for non-profit organisations searching for the ‘perfect’ database.

There are countless organisations in Asia-Pacific searching for a new constituent relationship management (CRM) or Supporter Relationship Management (SRM) solution. All of these non-profit organisations are attempting to find the right fit, which will accelerate their organisations productivity.

Available Product

There are about 8 CRM/SRM key products or platforms in the Australian marketplace. Those products or platforms have many things in common, but there are some key differences across the systems as well. Additionally, a single supplier may have a variety of solutions to offer non-profit organisations.

Do your research before you approach these companies.

It’s About the Relationship

Non-profit organisations thrive on relationships staff create with donors, volunteers, and others. When a non-profit selects a new CRM/SRM, the suppliers are often very focused on the relationship. Ask current customers whether the relationship continued after the point of sale. Has the supplier continued to develop the relationship 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5+ years down the road or do they only contact customers when there is a sale to be had?

Remember, a relationships with a the CRM/SRM supplier goes beyond customer support. The relationship is about customer service.

Business Requirements

Are you really confident of your non-profit organisation’s business requirements? Are you able to articulate those business requirements to the market? Being able to communicate the requirements of each department in your organisation is essential in order to allow suppliers the opportunity to determine the best fit within their own product set.

While there are many products in the Australian market and they have many attributes in common, there are some key differences in the systems as well. It troubles me when I hear an organisation is signing a contract with a supplier simply because the supplier was “very nice” and “very professional” in the sales process. It further troubles me when an organisation is signing a contract with a supplier without having done their due diligence and conducted a search beyond that one supplier.

Dump your current CRM/SRM?

Moving away from your organisation’s current CRM/SRM may very well be the right decision, but it is not always a wise decision for every organisation. First you need to identify reasons you are looking to move away from the CRM/SRM. What are the reasons you feel the current system does not meet your organisation’s needs? Often times those reasons are not about functionality, but about internal factors such as business processes, training, and change management. No matter what CRM/SRM you adopt, your organisation may face the same internal issues again unless these issues are addressed.

Does the perfect non-profit CRM or SRM really exist? The answer is not a yes. But, it is also not a no. The answer to that question depends on whether your organisation runs a thorough process to search for the CRM/SRM, which is the best fit for your organisation based on the following:

  • Size of your organisation.
  • Business requirements identified for your organisation.
  • Future growth plans and strategies.

The Process

FundraisingForce is working with three non-profit organisations presently searching for systems. FundraisingForce suggests the following process when searching for the right CRM/SRM fit:

  • Examine the current CRM/SRM to determine its strengths and weaknesses. Be sure to examine what impact your organisation has had on the determined weaknesses. Sometimes this is the most difficult task to own.
  • Conduct a requirements gathering exercise and confirm the requirements with subject matter experts (SMEs) to be sure of accuracy.
  • Write a request for proposals document asking suppliers to respond to specific areas of interest to your organisation. You will seek information about functionality of the product, information about the supplier, and responses to questions. All of these will study the supplier’s strengths, weaknesses, stability and other critical factors.
  • Conduct a meeting with suppliers to review your process documents and to be available to answer any questions.
  • Create an internal selection committee.
  • Review proposals and answers to your requirements documentation.
  • Conduct demonstrations by suppliers about proposed product lines. Include an expanded audience (beyond your selection committee) to gain buy-in from staff across the organisation.
  • Check references offered by suppliers. Also, check references not provided by suppliers. You would not hire a candidate for a position simply based on what the references they provide say about their past. Simply calling the references a supplier puts forward is limiting.
  • Negotiate price. Whatever price the supplier puts forward is not the price that will be agreed to in the end. The fact is the supplier will want to know more information about your organisation, your business requirements, and other factors before the supplier is able to quote a more exact price. Remember price is only one piece of the overall process. Be sure to think through costs you will incur internally, as well, such as staffing and other variables.

Selecting a CRM/SRM may well be the biggest decision and the largest investment your organisation makes. Investing in the process and ensuring your organisation makes the right decision is critical. Once you select the CRM/SRM, the fun part starts – the implementation! I will write more about the implementation in a future post.

Does all of the above seem a bit daunting? Hiring experts, like FundraisingForce, who have worked on the supplier side to help you to navigate the process.