Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are designed to typically manage an organization’s interactions with its customers or clients in support of sales and service-related processes. While nonprofits do not typically sell products or services, they do nurture relationships with individuals – donors, funders, or sponsors – in order to solicit contributions and commitments – donations, funding or gifts – for their cause. The typical fund development process consists of the following steps:
If you replace the notion of customer or client with supporter or donor and instead of selling a product or service you are soliciting a contribution or commitment, the similarities between a sales process and a fund development or fundraising process becomes more apparent. In both processes there are prospects, potential ‘revenue’ and each emphasizes the steps and activities to nurture the desired outcome – a sale or in the case of a nonprofit, a donation, funding or gift. Considering most commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) CRM solutions provide out-of-the box tools and reports to support sales processes, it isn’t much of a stretch to adapt them to support the fund development process.
This may seem counterintuitive to acquiring an application that is designed specifically for managing a fund development process; however there are several advantages to implementing a COTS CRM solution:
Implementing a COTS CRM solution may not be suitable for all organizations. Individuals must do their due diligence to determine exactly what their needs are and what type of solution makes the most sense to them. However, given the similarities between the sales process and fundraising initiatives, the benefits of a COTS CRM solution are clear for a nonprofit organization looking to manage and automate its fund development process.
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