Selecting Software: Mid-Sized Nonprofit CRM Review

 In Capacity, Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)

Mid-Sized Nonprofit CRM Review 

  • Are you frustrated with the limitations or complexity of your nonprofit constituent relationship management system?
  • Do you find that your tools for digital donor engagement don’t connect well to your nonprofit CRM?
  • Do you face challenging obstacles to your nonprofit’s effectiveness and success with CRM data?

These Nonprofit CRM trends I observed at the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference should be encouraging.

I’ve been reviewing and recommending data management tools to nonprofits since the mid-90’s in my role as an outsourced nonprofit CIO, and I’ve been attending NTC since before it was NTC.

This year I saw more fundraising and donor management applications aggressively targeting mid-sized nonprofit than ever before. For this article I am defining mid-sized as a nonprofit with $5M to $50M in annual revenue. There are many good options for the nonprofits we serve at Build Consulting.

I offer this software-focused article with a big caveat. Your constituent relationship management challenges aren’t always due to the software you use. There are almost always other contributing factors to effectively use of your CRM, from leadership and governance to clear processes, well managed data, and proper staffing, training, and support. See this webinar from Build on Nonprofit Leadership and Software Selection.

Previously – Raiser’s Edge and Salesforce Nonprofit CRM Platforms

The nonprofit CRM space has at times felt like a two-horse race for the last few years between Blackbaud and Salesforce. Raiser’s Edge has been the gold standard for fundraising for years, but has been frustratingly difficult to integrate (even with its own products), slow to modernize, and all of this comes at a premium price.

Meanwhile, Salesforce has redefined their market from “fundraising application” to “CRM platform,” but every nonprofit’s instance of Salesforce is different, the fundraising functionality is still maturing, it often takes quite a few applications to accomplish what’s needed, and the complexity results in increased staffing demands.

With the announcement of the acquisition of Salesforce.org by Salesforce much in this space may change. Expect more insights to be shared here from Build Consulting on the impact of this acquisition as it is rolled out.

There are a couple of free tools that smaller nonprofits using Salesforce may want to check out – both GiveLively and ActBlue provide free online fundraising tools. Especially in a Salesforce environment where there are no out of the box digital fundraising tools, you may find these to be useful.

Competitors in Mid-sized Nonprofit CRM Platform Offerings

The good news is that there are increasingly viable competitors in the mid-market nonprofit CRM space, and they were at NTC in force.

The infusion of venture capital funding into the sector in recent years is clearly driving some aggressive development. Community BrandsEveryActionSalsaClearViewAllegiance Fundraising, and others have received investments to support aggressive product development and growth. NeonOne bucks this trend as a privately held firm that has recently added Rallybound and Civicore to its NeonCRM offering.

Options in Nonprofit CRM Online/Digital Fundraising Software

In addition to the growth of these mid-market nonprofit CRM’s, a second theme is the increasing number of options available for online/digital fundraising. I’m referring to software that provides donation pages, peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, event registrations, giving days, integration with social tools and payment processors, and in some cases advocacy and volunteering tools.

Microsoft Nonprofit CRM Options

Although this was not promoted at NTC, I remain excited that Microsoft is entering the nonprofit software market in a way that’s distinct from their strategy of the past three decades.

Instead of simply donating software, their Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator will support the development of nonprofit specific applications on Microsoft’s CRM, now called Dynamics for Sales. While Dynamics for Sales has been an option for nonprofits that needed CRM but not fundraising, this move inspires hope that fundraising will come to Dynamics in the future.

Keith Heller’s helpful blog entry describes developments at Microsoft in more detail. However, as the experience of Salesforce over the past decade has shown, it takes more than a couple of years to build a serious fundraising application to complete in the mid-market and enterprise nonprofit space.

Two Conclusions for Mid-sized Nonprofits Going Forward

  1. Blackbaud and Salesforce will undoubtedly remain top competitors and the best choices for many nonprofits. But emerging mid-market competitors and more comprehensive online fundraising tools are challenging those two vendors.
  2. Mid-sized nonprofits should no longer feel limited to only one or two solutions when exploring suitable fundraising CRM’s, but should consider a range of options.
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