6 Must-Have Features for Nonprofit CRMs

Do your current work processes feel like death by a million spreadsheets?

Then you’re probably thinking of introducing a CRM to help you streamline your admin, improve donor retention, and free up valuable hours so your people can spend more time focusing on your mission.

Problem is, with so many options on the market, how do you know where to start?

There’s no blanket answer here (that would be too easy, right?) because your needs will vary depending on the size of your nonprofit and your preferred fundraising and campaigning strategies.

But from our experience of working with countless nonprofits, we think these are the 6 key features you’ll want to look for in a CRM product.

1. Donor profile management

Your donors are the lifeblood of your organization, and if resources allowed, you’d have a dedicated team working exclusively with your donors so you could get to know them on a more personal level and prioritizing face-to-face communication and networking.

Of course, very few nonprofits have that luxury, particularly if you’re in a strong growth period. So you’ll want your CRM to have robust donor profile management capabilities.

Not only will your ideal CRM allow you at-a-glance access to basic donor information — like contact details and communication preferences — it will also manage key data such as their previous engagement with your organization and the donations they’ve made.

You’ll be able to view how they interact with your organization, which campaigns they’ve responded to, events they’ve attended, and whether there’s a specific time of year they typically make a donation.

According to this excellent SelectHub article on CRMs for nonprofits, keeping track of this data is invaluable because it allows you to maintain stronger relationships with your donors, even through transitional periods like taking on new members of staff. When new fundraisers take on their role, “the valuable details are already downloaded from the previous fundraiser’s brain and waiting in the donor database.” Talk about saving some time.

2. Reporting and Analytics Tools

Are you allocating funds appropriately? Do you have the data you need to make strategic decisions? Are you keeping track of funding applications and other financial admin? How are you measuring your progress?

A CRM with robust reporting and analytics tools will help you with every one of those questions.

In particular, look for a CRM with customizable report templates to parse out high-level data that clues you into things like donor patterns. These become valuable as you are looking to attract long-term gifters vs. one-time donors. People with the trend of giving to and caring for causes like yours will end up being a far better prospect to focus on than someone who is selected at random. When looking for a CRM with these reporting capabilities, you’ll want a user-friendly interface so your staff can dive deep into its valuable deliverables with minimal training.

3. Event management

If your nonprofit is one of the many organizations dipping a toe back into live, in-person events after the pandemic pause, look for a CRM with event management capabilities.

Event hosting tools will help your team manage everything event-related, including:

Bookings and ticketing.

Payment and donation processing.

Tracking service provider contracts and speaker agreements.

Sending email reminders before the big day.

And automating communications thanking attendees and speakers after the event.  

With so many moving parts involved in even the smallest events, this can save your events team valuable hours — and mitigate any stress-related migraines!

4. Membership management

Your employees aren’t the only ones who could benefit from the ease created by an efficient CRM…

Using a CRM with membership management capabilities will allow your members/donors to update their own information on your site. This would allow them to up their donation, notify you of a change in their contact or payment details, or to change their communication preferences without going through the hassle of having to reach out to make changes through a series of emails or phone calls. 

The added bonus here? 

Giving your donors the DIY option means less time spent on the phone doing admin work and more time focused on retention and outreach tasks.

5. Automation

Automation is another CRM must-have, according to the SelectHub article we quoted earlier. As they point out, “would you rather keep track of all your data by hand or prepare for your next fundraising event?”

We all know the answer to that one is a resounding: “prepare for our next fundraising event, please!” And automation will allow you to do exactly that.

By automating everything from your post-donation thank you emails and your marketing newsletter updates, to your billing processes, you’ll save your employees literal hours every week.

The key here is to ensure your CRM has segmentation capabilities — that way you’ll be able to send the right messages to the right people at the right time and keep the personal touch that donors expect and appreciate.

6. System integration capabilities

Chances are, you’re already using at least one additional software platform right now, whether it’s for email marketing or keeping tabs on your finances. And the thought of having to scrap that and start from scratch isn’t appealing.

Make sure that any CRM you consider will integrate seamlessly with your existing platforms, so you don’t have to juggle multiple systems or throw a hand grenade at your current processes and start again from the ground up.

Oh, and did we mention, boodleAI plays very nicely with all of the nonprofit CRMs on the market to provide anything your CRM might be missing. We’ve even created an entire product just to ensure things like donor insights, new prospects, and even digital advertising campaigns are easily accessible from your specific CRM. 

So whether you want to take advantage of our dynamic AI donor prospecting tools, need to boost new and lifetime fundraising with digital advertising campaigns, or want to expand your existing donor insights, boodleAI will integrate seamlessly with whichever CRM you choose.

Want to know more about the most powerful button known to fundraising? Click here to find out how your nonprofit can boodle it!

Your Guide to Affinity Fundraising

Download our All Things Affinity eBook to learn about affinity, why it matters, and how to use it in your organization's fundraising strategy.

book with heart (1)

Related Reading

Want Better Prospect Engagement? Try This Fundraising Strategy.

Prospect engagement tends to feel like you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall. You can make some good guesses about what…

Read More

Affinity-Based Digital Advertising vs. Traditional Fundraising Strategies: Which One’s Right for My Organization?

We’re coming to a tipping point in the nonprofit fundraising world — traditional fundraising strategies are still widespread, but there’s…

Read More

Why You Want Affinity-Based Prospecting vs. Buying Lists

In one way, nothing could be easier than buying a list for your prospecting. You buy the list. Send out…

Read More

Sign Up for Exclusive Tips & Insights

About boodleAI

boodleAI is changing the game for donor acquisition and retention by delivering groundbreaking lifts in donations, engagement, and lifetime retention rates. We have revolutionized donor prospecting by dynamically providing high-quality, mission-aligned donor prospects directly to nonprofits. Using our seamless advertising solutions, converting these AI-curated donor prospects into lifetime donors has never been easier.