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It is not uncommon for many NFPs to operate their Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) processes from simple spreadsheets or a loosely connected combination of tools. This will work but only up to a point. 

As the organisation grows, this basic approach becomes more difficult to manage and typically creates unnecessary complexity and can lead to mistakes. 

Transitioning to a fully-fledged CRM tool may be a disruptive experience for your organisation. But when done right, it can lead to lasting improvements that will help to drive the results you need. 

A well-designed CRM will provide your end-users with a powerful new tool that will dramatically impact the way they work by allowing them to work smarter, not harder.

However, getting to this point can be challenging without a clear and effective strategy.  

Here are eight core points that NFPs frequently overlook when choosing a CRM. 


1. Not Knowing Why They Need a CRM

One of the more common mistakes companies make in choosing a CRM is not knowing what they need from it and how it can improve their overall operations. Without first defining the ’why’, you may opt for a solution that is overly complicated or implement a CRM that is not used to its full potential. 

As a result, you may end up investing a significant amount of time and money on something that does little to improve process efficiency and could, in fact, create more problems than the solution was originally intended to solve.

For best results:

  • Make a list of all the problems you need a CRM to solve.
  • Expand that list by including priority key features that you need.
  • Weigh that list against each CRM on an individual basis.
  • Take advantage of any free trials that may be available, thus allowing you to run tests to make sure you’re getting something that aligns with your objectives and the immediate needs of your end-users.


2. Having No Organisational Plan for CRM Implementation

Before setting up to deploy a CRM, it is vital to ensure that all processes are aligned with your organisation’s long-term goals and business strategy.

Successful CRM adoption within your business must be underpinned by a carefully considered implementation. META Group reports that without an effective implementation plan, 90% of businesses will not be able to show a positive return on their CRM tool. 

Finding the right CRM is a process that entails finding a solution that works best for your organisation and understanding how you can deploy the specific CRM across your organisation to achieve the results you’re after in the fastest and most efficient way possible.

Knowing these two key points beforehand is crucial to your success. Outlining how you can successfully implement the system throughout your organisation to minimise disruption is imperative before jumping straight into it. 


3. Not Understanding End Users’ Needs & Failing to Involve Them in the Process 

It doesn’t matter what type of organisation you’re running or what goals you’re trying to accomplish; if you’re investing in something that will cause a significant disruption to end-users, you need to involve them in the process.

Before looking at serious candidates for potential systems, ensure that you understand your end-users’ needs and pain points. Conduct surveys and have discussions with them and make them a critical part of the process. Consider not only what any particular CRM will do for your organisation, but the impact on your end users. If they have questions and concerns, make it your priority to address them. 

By putting your end-users at the centre of this initiative, you will be able to choose a solution that meets their needs in as much as yours. In turn this will greatly improve user adoption. 


4. Rushing to Get “Out of the Box“ Too Quickly

Many non-profits choosing a CRM make the mistake of being “oversold“ on the out-of-the-box functionality of the solution, without understanding if there is a specific need to make adjustments or customise. 

They often commit to an ‘off the shelf’ solution that doesn’t necessarily meet their business needs or growth. A CRM’s functionality needs to act as a solid foundation upon which something larger and more impressive will be built.

Every NFP is unique and solutions that work for others may not necessarily be what you need. Therefore, it is crucial to choose a CRM solution that aligns with your business requirements.


5. Choosing a CRM That Cannot Scale

Another common mistake involves choosing a solution that may work perfectly today without considering your future needs and requirements. 

The right CRM solution should be able to grow with your organisation. Choose one that fits your needs and, at the same time, gives you the flexibility to evolve and re-align solutions when necessary.  

Your infrastructure should always be considered a “work in progress“, and your CRM solution needs to be capable of expanding to meet any new requirements that arise — regardless of what or when they happen to be.

If your CRM can’t scale, it will quickly stop propelling your NFP forward and potentially hold you back.


6. Only Thinking of Social Media Integration as an Afterthought

According to a recent survey on consumer behaviour, 67% of consumers have interacted with a business through social media.

In an effort to be more donor-centric, you need to be actively listening to and engaging with your target audience, and the right CRM solution will help you do just that. 

If one of your goals as an NFP is gaining valuable insights and creating lasting relationships with your donors, using a social media CRM tool and integrating it into your overall strategy is crucial to drive success.  

7. Failing to Embrace a Cloud-Based CRM Platform

Established non-profits in particular, often assume that any solution they invest in should be local rather than  cloud-based. Many of them are hesitant to fully adopt a cloud-based CRM because of security concerns. 

This is a common misconception because the level of security in cloud service providers today is much higher when compared to local IT. They also provide automatic back-up and data recovery plans to ensure you have the reliability, mobility and security you need to truly scale your organisation. 


8. Not Worrying about Breaking Down Silos until It’s Too Late

Don’t invest in something that is going to live in a vacuum. A CRM is about to become a powerful cornerstone of your non-profit organisation, but to unlock it’s full potential, it needs to be properly integrated with your current systems. 

This includes:

  • Your other standard organisation apps
  • Any productivity apps that your end-users rely on
  • Other critical functions of your organisation such as email
  • It should also have an open API so that you can continue to deeply customise and integrate your CRM into other areas of your organisation moving forward.

If you fail to properly integrate your CRM with the rest of your infrastructure, you’ll likely end up with more roadblocks that can create further problems along the way. Any critical insight will continue to be locked off from various areas of your organisation, and people will be unable to act on it — thus putting you farther away from your goals, not closer to them.


Getting the Right CRM

Your growing NFP organisation and your constituents deserve the right kind of CRM to manage data. Spreadsheets will eventually become burdensome and ineffective. . 

Whether you are a big or small organisation, the right CRM can help you nurture donor relationships better, build new relationships effectively, and achieve data integrity, amongst others.

These are the types of benefits that the right CRM platform allows you to enjoy, provided that you pay attention to the common mistakes that we’ve discussed above.

If you’d like to find out more information about avoiding risk and learning from the mistakes that nonprofits choosing a CRM often make, or if you have any additional questions you’d like to discuss in detail, don’t hesitate to contact Lanrex today.

We’re creating a business that provides unlimited potential for our team. We believe that each and every team member has an equal opportunity to play a strategic and impactful role.