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7 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With Your Nonprofit CRM (Updated!)

They say breaking up is hard to do, and it's never truer than when you're talking about technology. If you can relate to the issues on this list, it might be time to make a change.

7 Signs It’s Time To Break Up With Your Nonprofit CRM (Updated!)

Breakups aren’t fun.

Whether it’s a seventh-grade romance or the end of a love affair with technology, breakups can leave you feeling unsure and even a little wistful. (I confess I keep my very first smartphone - a Blackberry - in a drawer, and now and then I look at it and remember the old days).

When you’re running a nonprofit, breaking up with your main technology squeeze cannot be taken lightly. You’re talking donor information, payment details, and engagement can’t lose this or have it compromised. 

Over the years, we’ve talked to hundreds of clients unsure about whether or not they need to switch their fundraising technology. Even though we sell a nonprofit CRM, we don’t always recommend a change. When we do, sometimes we suggest our platform, and sometimes we recommend others on the market. 

If you’re on the fence about whether or not it’s time to move on, here are the warning signs we often see. If more than half of these sound like we’re talking about you, it might be time for a tough conversation with your CRM.

1. You’re using multiple systems to execute basic tasks.

If you can’t send an automated email, have a donor make a pledge on a form, and process the donation without using different platforms, you’re making your life a lot harder than it has to be. In addition to jumping from one platform that sends the email to another that collects the data and a third that processes the payment, you're risking data that isn't synced and streamlined.

A new client shared this story before coming to CharityEngine: a nonprofit received a large donation, and the Major Gifts team was thrilled and celebrating. On the other side of the office, they were tracking responses to an email plea for a $25 donation and saw that this donor hadn’t responded, so they kept reaching out to him.

Because the automated email system wasn't syncing opens, click-throughs, and web page visits in real-time with the donor management software, there was a knowledge gap that led to a very irritated donor. This is close to a worst-nightmare scenario for any nonprofit.

As a nonprofit, you probably have two goals: engage meaningfully with your donors and raise money for your cause. A robust nonprofit CRM will simplify these tasks and allow you to leverage consolidated data. When you have that 360-degree view of your donors, you can be much more strategic in your outreach.

2. You can’t extract the data you need.

All CRMs will let you run reports, but if you can’t run the exact report you want, you’re stuck manually putting data in spreadsheets—and if there’s one data entry error, spreadsheets can implode. 

Having access to the right tools and data is essential. First, it hones your outreach so you’re targeting the right donors at the right time and asking the right questions. Second, you can run the reports your board needs to see to assess the health of your organization accurately.

Without being able to slice and dice your data in a way that helps you make strategic decisions, it’s not as valuable as it could be.

3. Your costs are creeping up.

Having multiple systems or systems that are being acquired by new companies can lead to inconsistencies and price fluctuations. It's hard to shop competitively when you rely on a cobbled-together system and have little to no control over what happens if your CRM provider merges or is acquired. 

Take stock of your contracts and when they expire, and be conscious of industry news that could portend a required change in the technology you use.

For a closer look at how CRMs are priced and to see the variables you can control, read this article on the cost of CRM systems.

4. Your staff is wasting time.

Does your staff download different reports and then enter data into your CRM? Are they cleaning up data to ensure accuracy or manually migrating information from one system to another?

If so, they’re wasting their time and your resources, and those wages and benefits are a hidden cost to your nonprofit. Access to new data is also slowed down.

When fundraising software offers real-time unified data, all the data is housed in one place, synced, and available for anyone to use. 

5. Your vendor’s growth strategy is expansion.

Wait, you might say, expansion is great! It means growth, and as my nonprofit CRM provider grows, there will be more functionality for me.

Not so fast. Some CRM providers (we won’t point fingers) grow by acquiring companies that specialize in fundraising solutions. For example, they might purchase a company that does automated email or payment processing or text outreach. While it seems great that you have new functionality, there could be some issues.

For example, your technology might not integrate seamlessly with a new system. Your data might not be synced or might not be updating regularly. The acquired technology might not have the same look and feel as your existing platform. And a vendor that morphs because of acquisitions can easily lose sight of whatever specialized focus drew you to them in the first place.

6. You’re having a tough time getting support.

Every CRM vendor should offer a customer support team that takes clients through implementation and makes sure they know how to use the system, then provides multiple layers of support post-launch.

What can you expect? A robust and searchable help center with articles and videos, a ticketing system for questions or product suggestions, and a live human being who knows your account and will answer your call or email.

You should also expect regular check-in calls from your account manager, which will allow you to discuss questions or issues.

Your CRM vendor is your partner, and if you don’t feel that way, you can contact the vendor or start shopping around.

7. Your CRM wasn’t built for nonprofits. 

This is the sleeper of the group because few nonprofits consider why their CRM was built. But it’s important that you don’t have to explain what you do or what tools you need to your vendor. When a CRM is built for nonprofits, it will have native technology that aligns with your donor management and fundraising strategies.

A quick check of the available modules will tell you a lot. For your CRM to grow with you, it must offer basic tools like email automation, donor management, forms, and payment processing. It should also provide tools for more specific requirements around text giving, or peer-to-peer campaigns.

Choosing the right CRM involves assessing your nonprofit's current state and future plans. Make sure your system can scale with you.

If your CRM isn’t measuring up, break up.

Consider each of these checklist items a red flag. If one applies to you, maybe it’s not time to dump anyone. But if you can relate to several things - three or four or more - then it’s vital that you know there are better options that might help your nonprofit be more successful. 

Because nonprofits exist to make the world a better place, you must have software that makes that as easy as possible. It can seem overwhelming to search for true love, and you might be worried about a new relationship. But, as you know, true love - whatever it looks like - is always worth the effort.

If you're ready to swipe right on a new nonprofit CRM and find the best match, take a look at the Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Nonprofit CRM for some tips on best practices.

A No-Stress Guide to Switching Nonprofit CRMs   Overwhelmed by the thought of migrating to a new CRM? Let us guide you through a seamless approach to switching CRMs.