Editor's note: This post comes from Jenna Puckett at TechnologyAdvice. TechnologyAdvice helps buyers make well-informed purchase decisions through comprehensive product listings, industry analysis, and user-generated reviews.
Securing repeat donations is a huge challenge. Most organizations only retain 27.3 percent of first-time donors. A constituent relationship management (CRM) system can help you keep more of those donors, but only if you invest the time and thought necessary to get the full value of your CRM.
To help you choose and implement a system successfully, let’s look at the biggest CRM mistakes to avoid as a nonprofit.
1. Putting technology before people
Investing in a system that your staff can’t or won’t use isn’t an investment at all. It may be tempting to choose the most powerful CRM you can find, but if there’s a steep learning curve involved, you won’t get the buy-in necessary for successful adoption. On the other hand, skimping on features or overlooking usability to save a few bucks will also result in a neglected system.
To make sure you’re choosing the right system for your organization, first, identify who will be using the system the most. Will volunteers use it? What about people who aren’t tech savvy? Once you’ve identified your primary users, invite them to be a part of the demo or free trial process. This way, you ensure buy-in with the people who matter most to the success of your CRM system.
2. Committing to the first vendor you find
It’s difficult to select the best CRM software for your nonprofit when there are hundreds of options on the market. You may be tempted to choose the first system in a Google search, the one your last organization used, or maybe the one your Executive Director’s nephew recommends.
But skipping the software vetting process usually leaves you with a system that is a poor fit for your organization. Don’t settle for the first vendor you come across. Take your time and review the features and benefits of at least a handful of systems. Then choose three or more to demo before signing a contract. The due diligence you perform now can save you hours of frustration and is more likely to uncover a system that will be a valuable tool for many years.
3. Getting the requirements wrong
Before you start your vendor search, identify the donor management features you need. What problem is your nonprofit facing? What does your current system lack? Pinpointing the goals behind your switch to new software ensures you only look at vendors that solve your problems.
One of the biggest mistakes nonprofits make is putting price or vendor popularity first. Consider creating a checklist that includes the integrations, mobility, social media tools, and customizations you need to make a CRM investment worthwhile. Your systems functionality requirements checklist will be the GPS that steers you through the CRM market and can help lead you to the right solution for you.
4. Treating all data equally
Once you’ve selected a CRM, you’ll be yearning to fill it with all the data you have. But not all data is equally valuable. Before importing any information into a new system, you’ll need to clean out redundant, inaccurate, or irrelevant constituent information.
Depending on the size of your data, this may require additional tools or a consultant. If you know beforehand that your nonprofit struggles with dirty data, then plan for outside help or add the ability to detect duplicate data to your systems functionality checklist.
5. Choosing a solution that doesn’t scale
It’s easy to get caught in the moment and select a vendor that only meets your current requirements. But what happens as your organization grows? Be sure to consider your three- to five-year growth projections and choose a system that can scale with you over time.
Finding the right technology for your nonprofit is difficult. Tackling it alone may be the biggest mistake of all. If you get overwhelmed while comparing vendors, don’t be afraid to ask an unbiased third party for help.
Jenna Puckett is a junior technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. She covers topics related to gamification, employee performance, and other emerging tech trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn.