A Guide to Picking a Nonprofit CRM (+ 5 Leading Solutions)

December 23, 2021 | Grace Duginski
A Guide to Picking a Nonprofit CRM (+ 5 Leading Solutions)

There’s truly nothing more important than your nonprofit’s mission. That’s why it’s so important to find strategies and tools to help your organization work efficiently. Your team may grow or shrink, but, with support from the right technology, you can ensure your staff always makes the most of their skills.

This is where a nonprofit CRM can help—with a reliable, flexible, and secure place to store the information you need to do your work, you can run more programs, create more change, and do more good. There are several CRM options out there, so the right choice will depend on your own wants and needs.

Let’s dive in to what nonprofit CRM software is, how organizations use it, and why it matters.

What is nonprofit CRM software?

Nonprofit CRM software helps organizations effectively and efficiently administer their relationships with supporters, donors, volunteers, advocates, members, and other fellow do-gooders. CRM stands for “constituent relationship manager,” (you might hear others describe it as a “donor database,” “donor management system,” or a “nonprofit database”) and this tool functions like a database to help your nonprofit organize and easily access the information you have about your followers.

You can store all kinds of information about your supporters in a nonprofit database or donor management system: email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses, and other contact details. You can also track demographic data, including someone’s age, location, gender, and other identifiers. Another very important type of supporter data you can easily track in the right donor database is behavioral data—the choices your contacts make and the actions they take. Tracking behavioral data in your CRM means you can see which donation appeals a donor has received (and in which channels, like direct mail, email, or SMS); whether or not they’ve opened, clicked, or otherwise engaged with the appeals you sent them; which of your donation appeals have successfully led to a gift or other action; and which overall donor segment they fall into.

Get a demo of EveryAction's fundraising software.

How do nonprofits use a CRM?

For nonprofits, the real importance of a CRM is its ability to help them do the work they need to do in an efficient way in order to advance their missions. Nonprofit work is too important to be left to clunky or unreliable systems—the right dedicated CRM can help staff reduce manual work, maintain records that are accurate in real time, acquire and steward donors for retention, segment audiences for targeted outreach, engage and build deep relationships with supporters, and ultimately raise more money for the mission.

How do I choose a nonprofit CRM?

When nonprofits are beginning to choose a new CRM, there are plenty of factors that affect their choice. Some factors require your organization to ask questions about your long-term strategy, and others will be more feature-based:

  • Goals for the future. Where is your organization right now, and where do you want to be in five or ten years? Do you see your organization maintaining existing programs, creating new ones, or expanding into new channels? These kinds of long-term strategic factors are very important when choosing a new CRM because they can help you choose a platform that can grow with you as your work evolves.
  • Features. Are there any features you know you will need in a new CRM? Different organizations have different must-haves.
  • Price. What does your budget look like, including implementation and services you may need when you move into the new system? Will you need to budget for ongoing maintenance? Do you need add-on features, and what will those cost?
  • Number of users and contact records. Knowing what these numbers are now and what you expect them to look like in the future will help you choose among your different CRM options.

Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to choosing a CRM, but knowing which questions to ask your staff can help guide you toward the right decision.

Download EveryAction's Nonprofit CRM Buyer's Guide to learn how to choose the right donor management software for your organization.

Nonprofit CRM features to look for

The right nonprofit CRM will vary from organization to organization, and you’ll make your decision based on your goals, priorities, budget, future plans, capabilities, and so on. Some of the features you may be considering to help you raise more funds and advance your mission include:

1. Customized constituent profiles

Nonprofits need the ability to store a range of information about each supporter. Data points you may need to record include:

  • Names, including nicknames and preferred names
  • Pronouns and other important identifiers
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Mailing addresses
  • Preferred communication methods
  • Engagement history, including which messages of yours have prompted them to make a gift or show support
  • Advocacy history, including issues they care about and their preferred methods for taking action to promote your mission
  • Social media information
  • Gift history, including when they made upgrades or downgrades to their gifts
  • Notes sections for jotting down information about a supporter
  • Other data points—some CRMs even allow you to store fun tidbits like supporters’ zodiac information!

2. Communication tools

Nonprofits don’t just need the ability to collect and store constituent information—they need to be able to leverage it with communication tools across channels. The right CRM for you might empower you to enhance the way you contact supporters via:

  • Direct mail
  • Digital ads
  • Telemarketing
  • Optimized segmentation
  • Financial householding
  • Reporting and insights

3. Integrated fundraising tools

Donors don’t just engage or give in a single channel anymore. That’s why digital fundraising tools that integrate with your other fundraising channels are important to ensure you get the most value out of your fundraising efforts and CRM at the same time, with features like:

  • Fully customizable and embeddable forms
  • Pre-filled forms
  • Optimized mobile payment options
  • Personalization features
  • Sustainer optimization
  • Cost-covering functionalities

When all your fundraising tools, channels, and campaigns are visible in one system, you can be sure you are sending the most optimized messages, to the most accurate list of donors, at the best times—and that you aren’t leaving money on the table.

4. Workflow automation

With support from the right CRM, nonprofits can save time and focus on other aspects of the organization. Your organization can automate everyday tasks with functionalities and tools like:

  • Built-in templates
  • Custom automation workflow builder
  • Branched workflows
  • Automation for email and mobile messaging
  • CRM automation
  • Real-time analysis

5. Mobile messaging

More and more nonprofit supporters are approaching their favorite causes and organizations from their mobile devices—which means you’ll need the ability to engage audiences with broadcast text messages. You can maximize your efforts and run a successful texting program with support from these capabilities:

  • Fully integrated mobile tools
  • Mobile fundraising
  • Unified segmentation
  • Unlimited custom keywords
  • SMS & MMS
  • Multi-channel automation

6. Grants management

Nonprofits know how important it is to cultivate strong relationships with funders—and timely, efficient communication and reporting with the right CRM can help you get there. Your organization can efficiently administer your grants processes by:

  • Sorting information by grant plans and types
  • Tracking projected and received income
  • Automating grant relationship management

7. Predictive analytics

Predictive fundraising models can help take the guesswork out of your revenue goals by evaluating donors’ past behavior and highlighting your best-ask opportunities. Your development team can uncover the hidden revenue in your list and reduce manual calculations by using technology to:

  • Identify clear, data-driven action steps and tangible results
  • Optimize the ask amounts you are sending to donors
  • Automate workflows based on predictive scoring

8. Social media capabilities

Fundraisers know how powerful social media can be when used to strengthen your donors’ bonds with your organization. Engage more supporters without more effort using functionalities like:

  • Ads manager integrations
  • Advanced social matching
  • Social share tracking
  • Social media advocacy

9. Payment processing

Your donors’ gifts are valuable. Whether it’s a regular afternoon or a high-visibility limited-time fundraising event, you need the ability to securely process and acknowledge their contributions with support from:

  • Optimized donation forms for increased conversions
  • Mobile giving and payment options
  • Pre-filled forms
  • Smooth recurring gift processes
  • Guaranteed security

10. Membership management

If your nonprofit runs a membership program, you know how important it is to connect with and serve these constituents. Acquire, renew, retain, and engage with them across channels from direct mail, email, social, events, telemarketing, and more, thanks to:

  • Custom membership rules
  • Multi-channel communication
  • Workflow automation
  • Member self-service pages
  • Reporting and analytics

11. Digital advocacy

Donor management doesn’t begin and end with processing a single gift. Fundraisers can do even more to engage donors from anywhere and strengthen their connection to your mission with digital advocacy opportunities, fueled by:

  • Email advocacy
  • Social advocacy
  • Click-to-call advocacy
  • Elected official contact tools
  • Government agency submission forms
  • Custom non-governmental decision-maker targeting

12. Volunteer management

Like digital advocacy, volunteer management functionalities in the right nonprofit CRM can help you connect with the right supporters and offer the right engagement opportunities at the right time. Grow and retain your mission’s web of support with:

  • Online sign-up forms
  • Distributed events and organizing
  • Engagement points
  • Seamless volunteer communication
  • Integrated fundraising

13. Event management

Whether you’re connecting with supporters on Zoom or in real life, events are a great way to build relationships with your supporters and donors. Nonprofits can throw successful community events and fundraisers—and analyze that data for useful insights—with support from functionalities like:

  • Online forms
  • Supporter-generated and -hosted events
  • Event calendar tools
  • Integrated fundraising
  • Mobile event check-in options
  • Seamless attendee communication

14. Voter contact and mobilization

Like volunteer management and digital advocacy, engaging supporters around your mission can include organizing and voter contact. In the right nonprofit CRM, nonprofits can get out the vote for your cause and build stronger supporter relationships at the same time with:

  • Voter registration
  • Get out the vote
  • Unified online and offline organizing
  • C3, C4, and PAC organizing
  • Year-round organizing and advocacy
  • Phonebanking
  • Canvassing
  • Volunteer recruitment and management
  • Event management

15. Reporting capabilities

When your nonprofit has the information you need from intuitive and robust reporting, you can make good decisions and optimize your programs. Functionalities that can help you achieve your reporting goals include:

  • Powerful multi-channel reporting
  • Data visualization
  • Built-in report templates
  • Fully customizable reports
  • Advanced source tracking
  • Reporting automation

5 Top tools that integrate with nonprofit CRMs

Many organizations choose to incorporate all of their data in one place using a unified system—but yours might decide that the right path is a highly-integrated system that links to tools you already enjoy using, instead of consolidating every function in one CRM. There’s a long list of tools, features, and platforms that integrate with a great nonprofit CRM like EveryAction in order to extend its functionality—here are some of our favorites.

Get a demo of EveryAction's fundraising software.

1. Mobilize

Mobilize, a December 2020 addition to the EveryAction family, helps nonprofits, campaigns, and other mission-driven organizations manage events and recruit volunteers to unlock the full potential of their supporters. Mobilize connects some of the most powerful functionalities for organizing, advocacy actions, volunteer management, and fundraising to mobilize, empower, and connect your supporters. Some of these tools are:

  • Single-shift event hosting
    Start adding events right away, no technical experience required. This saves organizers time and integrates supporter data where it’s needed.
  • Recurring and multiple-shift events
    Retain supporters by making sure that volunteers show up, bring friends, and come back with automated reminders in supporters’ preferred channels, post-event feedback surveys, and optimized event search and discovery with a streamlined sign-up process.
  • Virtual, in-person, and hybrid events
    Create greater accessibility for donors, options for COVID-safe activism, increased flexibility for organizations, higher levels of engagement, and larger audience sizes.
  • Integrations with existing tools
    Maximize value from your existing tools by seamlessly syncing across other existing systems.
  • Network effect
    Mobilize is more than just a platform; it’s a network. As a partner, you join 3,000+ mission-driven organizations and over 4.3 million supporters—this means cross-promotion between your partners and inclusion in the mobilize.us feed, which allows you to grow your supporter audience for long-term impact.
  • Distributed events
    Turn volunteers into event hosts with simple host recruitment across channels and straightforward approval processes and permission levels.

2. GiveGab

GiveGab, now part of the EveryAction family, offers the number one digital solution for giving days and year-round giving. GiveGab empowers fundraising professionals from foundations, educational institutions, nonprofits, public media, and so much more to host fundraising events that are easy, enjoyable, and effective. GiveGab’s donor management software stands out for its functionalities, some of which include:

  • Giving days
    Run a 24-hour (or longer) digital fundraising event with features like live Giving Day statistics, a flexible landing page builder, integrated search engine optimization, social media integrations, and custom logo design and downloadable marketing materials.
  • Community giving
    Be the philanthropic leader for your community with features like dedicated project management, donor matches and challenges, site-wide matching, database for donor-advised fund distribution, donor insight and analysis tools, and a customizable interface for campaigns.
  • Philanthropy Hub
    Connect your community in one central hub with tools to amplify donor-advised funds for the community, allow fund holders to select their distributions online, analyze data with business intelligence tools, and unite your local community with continuous opportunities for philanthropic involvement.
  • Crowdfunding
    Unite your school or nonprofit’s community with tools to promote key initiatives and events year-round, connect with stakeholders and amplify their engagement, and analyze data and gather insights.
  • Donation forms
    Create your ideal donor experience with embeddable white-label donation forms with customizable form fields that create a seamless donation flow that’s completely branded to your organization.
  • P2P fundraising suite
    Take your digital fundraising and engagement efforts to the next level with templated and customizable campaigns and events—all with built-in peer-to-peer (p2p) and team fundraising, analytics, and automated thank-you messaging.

3. DonorTrends

A member of the EveryAction family since 2019, DonorTrends’ predictive analytics capabilities help nonprofits uncover the hidden revenue in your list and make data-driven fundraising faster and easier by using time-tested donor modeling to surface the donors most likely to give and the best asks to make of them. Applying predictive analytics to nonprofit fundraising and donor management can sound complex, but it doesn’t have to be with these DonorTrends functionalities:

  • Predictive donor models
    Target the right donors, at the right time, with the right ask using 10 unique fundraising prediction models, updated daily based on supporter behavior.
  • Fundraising Optimization Guides
    Transform your data and analytics into clear action steps and tangible results with fundraising recommendations based on your donor data and built to help you start optimizing fundraising right away.
  • Optimized Ask amounts
    Increase fundraising with optimized and personalized ask amounts for each donor, without any extra effort for you.
  • Fully integrated analytics
    Predictive donor scoring tools are fully integrated with all your other contact data for easy reporting, segmentation, and tracking. No messy uploads or integrations.
  • Workflow automation
    Set predictive donor scores as triggers for automated workflows to renew and upgrade more donors without spending extra staff time.

4. SmartVAN

Nonprofits who want to organize supporters around issues you care about can activate the power of NGP VAN through EveryAction with SmartVAN. The gold standard in voter contact technology, SmartVAN has powered thousands of campaigns from local offices to the presidency. Mobilize your supporters with SmartVAN features like:

  • Consistent voter file updates
  • Detailed voting history
  • Early and absentee voting data
  • Powerful organizing workflows
  • Mobile canvassing with the free MiniVAN app

5. WealthEngine

WealthEngine helps streamline nonprofits’ major giving programs by delivering wealth insights to find your next best prospect. WealthEngine integrates with EveryAction and empowers giving officers to know their prospects, donors, and customers better than they ever thought possible. The WealthEngine Platform leads the market in delivering the best wealth intelligence and prospect research, with features like:

  • Search
    Data becomes actionable through WealthEngine’s intuitive, nationwide search with in-depth, pre-compiled WE Profiles and advanced research capabilities. Accurately and quickly segment potential donors to optimize your time when it comes to engaging your next best prospects.
  • Screen
    A nonprofit’s own data combined with WealthEngine’s provides a more robust picture of existing donors. Find the hidden potential within your donor management database when you combine WealthEngine’s wealth and lifestyle data with what you already know to illuminate underperformers quickly and accurately.
  • Prospect
    Build ultra-segmented audiences of potential donors who are most likely to connect with your nonprofit based on specific propensity, capacity, and intent attributes. From there, you can build rich, wealth-aware campaigns to cultivate awareness with those most likely to engage.
  • Analyze
    Evaluate the patterns within your audience and uncover actionable insights through WealthEngine’s predictive lead scoring. Compare trends of those who already donate with others who have the propensity, capacity, and intent in order to find your next best lifelong donor.
  • Model
    Apply advanced data science to create a picture of your ideal donor, and then use that model to find prospects who “look” like your best. Quickly score a new list to see how similar they are to your best supporter based on attributes you determine.
  • Integrate
    Through WealthEngine APIs, your nonprofit can quickly access customer information in the context of an online transaction and consistently enrich your data to improve campaign efforts. With effective integrations to nonprofit systems of record, like EveryAction’s unified nonprofit CRM, WealthEngine seamlessly integrates wealth intelligence into your environment.

Wrapping Up

It’s clear: nonprofits can raise more money for their mission, more effectively and efficiently, with support from the right nonprofit CRM.

To help you evaluate your organization’s strategic needs and choose the right platform not just for now but for the future, download our complete Nonprofit CRM Buyer’s Guide, which was produced with two of our expert partners in CRM selection and implementation—Raise HECK and Maureen Wallbeoff.

Want to learn more about how the right person-to-person support can help you successfully choose, implement, and get the most value out of your nonprofit CRM? Check out EveryAction’s CRM implementation services and our support and training resources.

Lastly, if you’re interested in learning more about how EveryAction’s nonprofit CRM can help your organization engage more supporters with more programs across more channels to raise more dollars and advance your mission—all without needing to add more staff—get a demo today.

Get a demo of EveryAction's fundraising software.