Is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Right for Your Nonprofit?

 In Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

Build’s clients use a variety of customer relationship management (CRM) systems to meet a wide range of needs. Within the last three years, a CRM system that has been mentioned by clients with increasing frequency is Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

Why are more nonprofits thinking about Dynamics CRM Online?

Primarily, it is because nonprofits have become aware of Microsoft’s discounted nonprofit pricing for a range of cloud products, including Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online. Also, recent positive experiences with Office 365 for many nonprofits means that more organizations are more favorably disposed toward Microsoft than ever before.

Does that mean I should be considering Dynamics CRM for my organization?

Dynamics CRM is not a fundraising or donor management platform. It can be made to perform these functions, but it is not “purpose-built” to provide them (such as might be available through one or more Blackbaud products).

Nor has Microsoft created a product on the Dynamics CRM platform for the nonprofit community—as has Salesforce.org with the Nonprofit Success Pack (formerly called the “Nonprofit Starter Pack”). Our past conversations with the Microsoft team for Dynamics CRM Online indicate they have no plans to move in this direction.

Therefore, it will be much more of a “lift” for fundraising nonprofits to make effective use of Dynamics CRM than is the case with other more appropriate CRM options.

So, Dynamics CRM shouldn’t be on my shortlist?

It depends on what type of organization you are.

Dynamics CRM should definitely be on the shortlist for nonprofits with a business model comparable to their peers in the for-profit sector. We have worked with a number of organizations that fit into this category. They do no (or very little) fundraising and donor management, but rather get their funding through contracts or grants. For this type of organization, Dynamics CRM is well worth consideration for managing relationships and opportunities, as well as a variety of other business processes.

What about Dynamics CRM’s integration with other Microsoft platforms?

Nonprofits want to know if they would see a great benefit from Dynamics CRM’s integration with other Microsoft platforms such as Exchange, SharePoint, and Dynamics GP.

The answer is that these considerations barely register for fundraising nonprofits for whom Dynamics CRM would be far from an ideal solution. For organizations that don’t fit into the fundraising category (such as those described above), the level of integration between these products might rank higher in a list of potential software selection considerations.

The bottom line.

Nonprofits that rely heavily on fundraising and donor management would be better served to consider other CRM options more suitable to their needs than Dynamics CRM. However, that does not mean Dynamics CRM is irrelevant to the nonprofit space—far from it. In particular, nonprofits that function similarly to peers within the for-profit space would do well to consider it as an option.

If you have questions about this subject, please feel free to contact us!

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