Swimming Pool

11 Refreshing Summer Fundraising Ideas

Let’s be honest, asking people for money is difficult.  Really, really difficult.

What’s even worse?  Asking grumpy people for money.

Donors are much more receptive to asks when they are in good moods. Whodathunkit?

So take advantage of the happiest season of the year — summer!

Summer is a great time to engage with donors. The sun is shining, the weather is good, and daylight lasts forever.

It is a season that beckons people outside, so heed the call.

Skinny-top-CTAs-for-Fundly

Use these suggestions to capitalize on the summer season and get your community outside and donating!

#1 HOST A BLOCK PARTY

A block party is a one-stop shop for summer fun.  The endless summer nights provide the perfect backdrop for a community gathering that benefits your cause!

Block Parties are what you make them so the vibe and atmosphere will be up to you.

Consider organizing some extra fundraising events to incorporate into the block party and maximize your donations.

I would suggest getting some competition brewing with a watermelon eating contest and a cook-off.

Watermelon is the perfect summer fruit, refreshing and healthy.  Donors won’t feel guilty about stuffing their faces with watermelon.

Watermelons

Messy enough to provide a visual badge of honor for those who compete, your contest will be a highlight of the block party.

For those who find the competitive eating world unappealing give them the option of competitive cooking.  A cook-off is a great complement to any block party.

Pick a summer classic, like apple pies, burgers, or chili, and get people cooking!

You can have party guests vote using a secret ballot or appoint a judging panel.  Just have fun with it!

Look into getting a local chef or cooking supply shop to donate cooking lessons or a gift card to the winner.

Keep the party going late into the night and let your cause reap the financial rewards.

#2 HOST A POOL PARTY

Is a block party not cool enough for you in those hot summer months?  Make it a pool party instead.  Problem solved!

Pool parties are pretty straight forward.  Have pool?  Will party.

Just make sure you have your safety bases covered with licensed lifeguards.

Your pool party can be as extravagant as your heart desires.  Set up carnival like games near the pool.  Have a party-wide round of Marco Polo.  Sell snacks from a concessions stand.

#3 ORGANIZE A WATER BALLOON FIGHT

Kids will join in for the fun of it and adults will join in for the nostalgia-fun of it.  Establish a designated fight-zone, register competitors, and sell water balloons.

You could even make it a tournament with teams competing for a coveted prize…glory!

#4 COORDINATE A CAR WASH

Car washes are a fundraising standby for a reason.  They’re a great way to raise money with little event cost.

They are also an excellent opportunity to expand awareness of your organization.

Make sure your car wash has plenty of signage stating what the proceeds are going towards.  You might even want to print off some flyers or brochures to give those who participate additional info on your cause.

#5 HOST A FISH FRY OR BARBEQUE

BBQ Hamburgers

For this event you’ll have a crew of volunteers and staff manning the grill or fryers.  Set up a method of ordering (online, via the phone, in person) and provide made-to-order food.

Your establishment can be take-out style or you can set up some outdoor seating.

Get kitschy if you go the eat-in route, and don’t forget the quintessential summer items like picnic tablecloths and funky plates.

#6 RUN A WALK-A-THON, BIKE-A-THON, OR SWIM-A-THON

Pick whichever of the three you think your community will be most interested and you’ll be off to the races.

Charge a small registration fee and have your participants gather sponsorships for distance walked, biked, or swam.

#7 HOST A WINE TASTING

Find an outdoor venue, get wine donated from local shops, and invite your supporters who are 21+ to pay a minor fee to participate.

People will jump at the chance to sample wine while feeling charitable.

#8 CATER A DINER OR HOST A GALA OUTDOORS

Take advantage of the beautiful weather and bring your higher-end events outside.  For example, you could host a garden ball at your community’s botanical gardens.

#9 RUN A SUMMER GOLF TOURNAMENT

Golf Cart

Golf tournaments can be very lucrative.  Partner with a local golf course and solicit your corporate sponsors and donors to buy spots in the tournament.  Make a whole day of it!  Start with breakfast and finish with a dinner and silent auction.

#10 ORGANIZE AN OUTDOOR CONCERT

Outdoor concerts are summer staples.  It doesn’t matter who the main attraction is, whether its Beyoncé or your cousin Al’s neighborhood band.

A benefit concert is all about having fun and raising money.

#11 COORDINATE A SUMMER FILM SERIES

Reserve a venue, like a park space, for 4 or 5 separate nights.  Then pick out a movie for each reserved day that an entire family can enjoy.

Title your series, something like “June Movie Mondays,” and start rolling.

Make sure to advertise and let people know what the ticket sales are accomplishing.  You could even sell theater concessions to create an authentic movie-going experience.

For more great information, check out our list of summer camp fundraising ideas! 

Once you’ve executed a great summer fundraiser, make sure your organization is fully prepared to keep those hard earned donors.

Click here to learn more about donor retention.

And click here to learn more about donor segmentation.

Donors have more time and energy to get involved in their communities during their summers.  Cement your nonprofit’s community presence by making a big fundraising push this summer. Go forth and conquer the season!

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

Looking For Donor Love

Nonprofit organizations and worthy causes are on a continual search for supporters—especially those who provide financial resources to further their missions. These individuals are some times called “donors.” I like to call them “investors.” These are the kinds of supporters you really want.

The way some nonprofits go about searching for these folks—those that will part with their money for the good of the cause—reminds me of a line from Johnny Lee’s song, Looking for Love. “I was looking for love in all the wrong places,” the song begins.

This search is the “anywhere and anyone” method. Like the situation described in the song, those seeking love continue to look for it where it isn’t likely to be found.

True, every once in a while, you’ll meet the right kind of person. But think of how much time is wasted reaching out to anyone—and everyone?

Principle 4 of The Eight Principles™ is Learn & Plan™. The task here is to first learn who would naturally support you and then plan how to reach them.

Look closely at the fundamental values your organization espouses and then seek to identify some of those in others – that is the first step.

It’s not unlike dating. Are we so desperate that we’ll go out with anyone—no matter how little we have in common or enjoy their company? Do we seek to get people to like us by attempting a guilt trip?

Not a good way to start any relationship.

Once you’ve got a good grip on the values match, then make your plans on reaching out to them.

Think of it—supporters that support you because they really want to, not just harangued to do so. Now that’s a sustainable fundraising idea!

Twitter: @Larry_C_Johnson

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/larryjohnsonmegrace

Web:  https://www.TheEightPrinciples.com

Email:  info@TheEightPrinciples.com

© 2015 M E Grace & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  Used by Permission.

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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Monthly Giving

The 5 Steps for Starting a Monthly Donor Program

Want to have your cake and eat it too?  Start a monthly giving program.

Monthly donor programs are cash cows and cash chickens and cash horses and all the animals on Old MacDonald’s farm.

Consistent funding is key when running a successful nonprofit and monthly donors offer financial stability.

Organizations are constantly pushing their donor acquisition efforts because donor retention, even with the best laid plans, isn’t a guarantee.

A donor who willingly gives a set amount each month without your staff having to re-ask each time?  Yes, please!

The biggest challenge facing those wanting to start a program is just that, starting one.

It can feel like an overwhelming undertaking, but the fundraising benefits far outweigh any monthly donor program start-up difficulties.

There are so many more pros than cons.

Let’s look at the pros:

  • set (loosely guaranteed) funding
  • after the initial program development, it’s straightforward to maintain
  • simple to track results
  • long-term — theoretically, monthly giving never has to end

Still concerned about launch challenges?

Following the 5 steps below will let you rest assured that your monthly giving program will start strong and draw in those sought-after recurring donations.

Step One: Get the Team on Board

Establishing monthly giving is going to be a large investment of time, resources, and money.

It is crucial that you get the key stakeholders within your organization on board.

Bring your executive directors, executive board, your database manager, and your fundraisers into the discussion.  These are the people this program will affect, so they need to be part of its launch.

Gather these team members and use their input to design a launch plan (more on that in step two).

Like with any similar undertaking, you are going to want to appoint a point-person to lead the development and act as a liaison for the various team members helping with the project.

Although, it is important to have one person lead, the program’s launch will not happen unless key players within your nonprofit champion it.

Step Two: Design a Launch Plan

Prior to implementing the program, you’ll need a plan of attack.

You want to know what the campaign process is going to be like, so get a full picture, top to bottom.

First, brainstorm and decide what your campaign is going towards.  Set a clear mission so you know what kind of messaging you’ll need

Make sure the program is funding something a donor would feel compelled to contribute to.

From there, choose what the monthly giving levels will be.  This is an opportunity to be very strategic.

Most monthly donors are going to pledge anywhere from $5-$50 a month.  The aim of these programs is to gain larger sums through a piecemeal approach.

The goal of any nonprofit when soliciting donations should be accessibility for all types of donors.

Maybe a college student will join the program if she can pledge $10 a month.  Then she gets her mom involved and the mother becomes a $40 a month participant.

Curate your giving levels so that you reach the whole spectrum of supporters.  Space the levels out by tens, by fives, by whichever seems most relevant to your donor base.

Don’t forget to include a “choose your own adventure” giving option where a donor can write-in his own amount and hopefully you’ll receive some larger, $100 or $200 a month, donations.

Next, brand your program.  Donors will be inclined to join a “members-only” type club.

With an established club, you can then offer rewards to your members, maybe monthly or bi-monthly.  Just something to show gratitude while driving further sign-ups.

Finally, you’ll need to plan your communication methods.

Know:

  • The kinds of mailings you’ll be sending
  • The frequency with which you’ll be sending them
  • When to ask for donors to upgrade
  • How often you’ll ask for upgrades

Once you determine how and when you’ll be communicating, you’ll then need to produce those materials.

Step Three: Produce Corresponding Communication Materials

You know the campaign’s mission, you have giving levels set, you’ve branded the program, now you need to pull that all together in your various communications templates.

Draft your initial ask letter for direct mail and do the same for email.

Are you going to do follow-up phone calls?  It might be a good idea to write a phone script.

Don’t have the resources to do follow-up phone calls for everyone?  Pull the higher-level potential participants and have staff call only those candidates.

At this stage you’ll also want to design a monthly giving page for your website. 

Make sure that your branding matches across all platforms that you’re communicating with.  Donors will react well to message cohesion.

Step Four: Check That Your System Can Handle the Challenge

Work with your database manager and/or donation processing tool to set up a monthly giving option.

Many CRMs will help automate the monthly giving process.

Having the technology ready to support your efforts will save you significant time in the long run.

There is nothing worse than spending all this time creating a campaign to then let old or outdated systems hold you back.

Proper use of your database will also help you streamline your record keeping, save you money on administration, and even potentially offer an automated upgrade process.

Don’t let such a valuable tool work against you.  Get your database on board!

Want to use your CRM to improve more than your monthly giving?  Download our free CRM ultimate tip sheet. 

Step Five: Launch and Optimize

You’ve done the legwork, now launch your campaign and watch the donations come in.

Don’t rest on your laurels for too long.

It’s in the program follow through and maintenance that you’ll be able to establish your monthly giving club as one of the best there is.

Remember, the campaign is a living and evolving entity that will need to be adjusted as time goes by, so consider:

  • various ways to acknowledge participants — sending thank you/update letters, calling out MVP participants on social media, listing donors on the website page
  • monthly checks of who is still donating and who has left the program
  • finding new prospects to solicit
  • mentioning monthly giving across other communications platforms like in direct mail campaigns and newsletters

There is always room for improvement so don’t let a valuable program function at less than 100% of its capacity.

After Step Five, your monthly giving program should be a well-oiled machine.  Relax and eat that cake.

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

airplane wing

Are You Ready to Lead? The 11 Best Nonprofit Leadership Conferences of the Summer and Fall

Love ’em or hate ’em, conferences are part of the game.

Sometimes you may feel that a conference is pulling you or your team away from more pertinent work, but attendance can have major value.

  • Conferences are a great opportunity to expand your team’s industry knowledge.
  • The mass gathering is the perfect place to network with peers and industry thought-leaders. Never underestimate the value of a face-to-face meeting. Conferences make in-person introductions that much easier.
  • By attending and/or contributing to the conference, you’ll be able to position yourself as an industry authority.

And hey, getting out of town for a few days ain’t so bad either.

As you map out your conference schedule heading into the summer and fall seasons, plan strategically about which members of your team to send.  Typically, those you send will fall into this list:

  • Executive Directors
  • Presidents
  • Board Members
  • Major Gift Officers
  • Various C_Os (Chief Development Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, etc.)

Before you set your calendar, take a look at our list of summer and fall nonprofit leadership conferences.

Let’s take this month by month.

JULY

10th Annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing & Fundraising Conference

National Harbor, MD from July 7-9

The 2015 Bridge Conference will focus on educating attendees on the newest fundraising trends, solutions to nonprofit marketing challenges, and methods to improve ROI.

2015 AMA Nonprofit Marketing Conference

Washington, D.C. from July 13-15

This conference’s aim is to help nonprofits’ marketing approach through four main topics.

  • Motivating the generations
  • Getting personal with storytelling
  • Making cause marketing work
  • Amping up integrated communications

AUGUST

Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) 2015 National Conference

Little Rock, AR from August 6-8

This annual event brings YNPN leaders from around the country together for chapter collaboration, knowledge sharing and expansion, and networking.

Social Media for Nonprofits Conference — Austin

Austin, TX on August 18

Designed to share practical advice and techniques for advocacy, marketing, and fundraising via social media, this conference is a part of a national series.

Social media is going to continue to grow as a method of online communication and fundraising, so it is a great idea to stay current on all of the strategies in the growing field.

Visit the website for conference dates for the other series’ cities including: San Francisco, New York City, Washington, DC, Silicon Valley, Boston, and Dallas.

SEPTEMBER

10th Annual Nonprofit Management Institute

Stanford, CA from September 9-10

Celebrating 10 years, 2015’s conference will focus on the theme of building resiliency.  The theme is broken into three components: yourself, your organization, and your society.

Social Good Summit

New York, NY from September 27-28

Taking place concurrently with UN Week, the Social Good Summit will investigate the effect technology and new media have on social good movements globally.

With a forward focus, this year’s conference centers on the theme #2030 and the question,

“What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?”

The Communications Network Annual Conference

San Diego, CA from September 30 – October 2

The conference is an annual meeting place for communications leaders from across the social sector.

OCTOBER

Alliance for Nonprofit Management National Conference

Portland, OR from October 6-8

This conference is run by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management which employs a research-oriented approach to help increase the success of nonprofits and similar cause-based organizations in achieving their mission goals.

It is engineered by and for nonprofit leaders, grant-makers, academics, and nonprofit capacity builders.

Embark 2015: Independent Sector’s 2015 National Conference

Miami, FL from October 27-29

Embark 2015 will be a gathering of over 1,000 thought-leaders from the nonprofit sector who want to network and learn from other forward-thinking peers.

TechNow Conference

Cranberry Township, PA on October 29

If you’re near the Pittsburgh area attend this long-running conference to gain the knowledge and connections to fully utilize the technology resources available to nonprofits.

A well-run CRM can be a lifesaver, so just imagine what other tech is out there waiting to be optimized.

BoardSource Leadership Forum (BLF) ’15

New Orleans, LA from November 9-10

The largest annual meeting of nonprofit board leaders, this gathering focuses on newest trends and best practices for nonprofit management.

Pick and choose your conference schedule based on where your organization has knowledge gaps, as well as authority.

Mix and match.  Just get out there.

Before you hit the road, make sure you’re doing everything you can do improve your fundraising and download our free checklist of nonprofit CRM best practices.

Click here to download our free fundraising software checklist.

Discover some game-changing tips that will help your organization find nonprofit CRM software that's the perfect fit.

8 Game-Changing Tips for Choosing a Nonprofit CRM

Request a free trial of Fundly CRM today!

Is your nonprofit still using an Excel document to manage donor data? If so, you’ve probably already caught on to the fact that this data management method can really hamper your fundraising success.

On the one hand, since all data has to be entered manually and there are no pre-set fields for your data sources, these documents are difficult to keep up-to-date and accurate. On the other, your data sources can’t work in conjunction with each other to give you the well-rounded insights into your donors that you need to craft the most effective stewardship strategies and fundraising appeals.

The bottom line: an Excel document cannot fit the needs of a growing and thriving nonprofit.

If your organization is tired of difficult data management, it’s time to start thinking about which nonprofit constituent relationship management software (CRM) will replace all of those pesky spreadsheets. (If you’d like to learn a little more about just what exactly CRM software is before diving in, check out this resource!)

We’ll cover 8 important factors to consider when choosing a CRM, including:

  1. Start with a strategy.
  2. Get input from different organizational departments.
  3. Determine how many staffers will need to use the system.
  4. Count constituents.
  5. Consider setup needs.
  6. Research integrations vs. built-in features.
  7. Evaluate communications requirements.
  8. Interview your vendor.

Let’s get down to shopping!

The first tip to choosing a nonprofit CRM is to start with an organization-unique strategy.

1. Start with a strategy.

CRM software is a complex and powerful tool. As such, it will be a significant investment for your nonprofit.

Think of it like you would shopping for a car. You wouldn’t just walk into a car dealership and hope to come out with the perfect fit when you haven’t even considered your needs. Instead, you would look into make, model, whether or not you need four-wheel drive, additional features like leather seats and Bluetooth audio, and so on.

Just like purchasing a car is a big decision, picking a CRM is one of the most important decisions your nonprofit will make. Seeing as your CRM will address all efforts from data management to online donations (and much more), the software you choose will really make or break your fundraising success.

Approach your decision with a well thought out strategy, and your organization will be able to rest easy knowing that your new CRM can fully address your needs.

Your strategy, of course, will depend on your organization’s unique goals and requirements. Here are a few key questions to ask so that you can prioritize what’s most important to you when shopping for software:

  • What about our operations do we hope to change by purchasing a CRM?
  • What’s our budget?
  • Aside from data management, what efforts will we be using our CRM for?
  • How much support will we need with CRM implementation and maintenance?

It can be helpful to survey staff members to create a well-rounded software wishlist. Which brings us to our next point…

Tip 2 to choosing a nonprofit CRM is to get input from all of the organizational departments who will be using the software.

2. Get input from different organizational departments.

Since CRM software addresses so many different aspects of fundraising, chances are that most staff members at your organization will be using it to inform their jobs!

That’s why it’s important to get feedback from different departments of your organization. Your CRM must be able to address universal organizational needs if you want to see the best results.

Survey your development team, your marketing staff, your event planning committee, your grant writers, etc. If you anticipate that an employee will be using the CRM, ask them what features and improvements they would like to see from the new software!

By making CRM selection a collective effort, you can ensure that your operations run smoothly and that everyone has the tools they need to do their jobs as effectively as possible.

Tip 3 to picking the perfect nonprofit CRM software is to determine the number of staff members who will be using it.

3. Determine how many staffers will need to use the system.

Surveying your staff will give you insight into another important consideration that must be made when shopping for CRM software: the number of people who will need to use the system.

If you aren’t that familiar with CRM software, this consideration might not be the most intuitive. However, it is of the utmost importance.

Many CRMs place a cap on the number of users who can access them. Most vendors offer multiple CRM packages to accommodate varying numbers of users, so you should certainly be able to find a solution that fits your needs. However, another important thing to consider is that the more users your CRM supports, the pricier the software is going to be.

Make sure you have a solid idea of how many staffers will be working with your software in advance so that you can buy software that fits both your staff and your budget.

Tip 4 for choosing nonprofit CRM software is to count the number of constituents who will be housed in the platform.

4. Count constituents.

Your staff members aren’t the only people you should be considering when purchasing CRM software. The software is called constituent relationship management software for a reason—because it houses your donors and other constituents!

Just like the price of CRM software can be influenced by number of users, it can also be influenced by the number of constituents it’s able to store. Some platforms have a pre-set number of users built into the cost, while others will charge you a small fee (for example, 1¢) per constituent profile.

Before you buy, get an accurate count of your current constituents. A few things to note here:

  1. Constituents aren’t just donors. They can also be volunteers, members, corporate sponsors, service recipients, and anyone else who has a hand in furthering your mission.
  2. Clean your current records before counting, and get rid of any constituent profiles that are no longer pertinent to your mission (a good rule of thumb is to delete records that have been inactive for 3 years). That way, you’re not wasting any money on profiles for constituents who are no longer contributing to your cause.
  3. Think ahead. You want your CRM to be able to grow with you. If you only purchase enough profiles to accommodate the constituents you have currently, you’ll have to purchase new software sooner rather than later. Leave yourself some room for growth!

By completing this step before you buy, you’re sure to end up with a scalable solution that can house all of your constituents comfortably for years to come.

Tip 5 for choosing nonprofit CRM software is to consider your organization's setup needs.

5. Consider setup needs.

Considering that you’ll be transferring a hefty amount of data between systems, the hard truth is that the CRM setup process will invariably be involved.

Luckily, some platforms make this process easier than others. While some vendors will take a hands-off approach to CRM setup, other vendors will guide you through data transfer with attentive consulting services (some might even complete the process in full!).

When it comes to setup needs, you should be considering two different factors:

  1. Compatibility of platforms. Depending on how they store data, some CRMs will be more compatible with your current data management system than others. Ask your vendor to walk you through the involvement of the process.
  2. Support. If you have an in-house IT department (or if you just happen to be particularly tech-savvy!), your organization might not need to invest in vendor setup services. Determine what you can manage, and go from there.

Ultimately, data migration is a difficult process. But if you think about it in advance, the process will be as hassle-free as possible!

Tip 6 for selecting the perfect nonprofit CRM is to research integrations vs. built-in features.

6. Research integrations vs. built-in features.

As we’ve pointed out throughout this post, CRMs are robust pieces of software. A powerful CRM can do most anything…but that doesn’t necessarily mean it can do it all.

Feature sets can vary drastically from CRM to CRM. For example, while one CRM might include intensive event management features, another might have only the most basic event planning capabilities.

While this variation may at first seem like a bad thing, it’s actually a positive. CRMs are highly flexible and customizable, enabling nonprofits of all shapes and sizes to find a solution that addresses their needs while still fitting into their budgets.

Your organization will likely be able to find CRM software that includes most of the capabilities you need (built-in features). However, in order to gain all of the features your organization wants, you might need to integrate.

Integrations occur when you incorporate outside platforms into your base CRM software. Here are just a few of many common nonprofit CRM integrations:

  • Your website.
  • Payment processing services.
  • Crowdfunding platforms.
  • Volunteer management software.
  • Event planning software.
  • Wealth screening services.

Integrating may sound great in theory, but the fact of the matter is that linking up two platforms can be a costly and time-consuming endeavor. If integrations are necessary, make sure that your CRM supports fluid integrations with the third-party platforms you need to achieve the perfect solution.

Tip 7 for choosing a nonprofit CRM is to evaluate your communications requirements.

7. Evaluate communications requirements.

CRMs are an essential tool during every stage of donor-nonprofit relationship building. Excellent communication forms the foundation of these relationships and helps them thrive, so your organization must be able to communicate with donors efficiently and effectively.

As we touched on in the previous point, all CRMs possess various feature sets. Communications capabilities are no different.

For example, while one CRM might enable you to send emails directly from the platform, others might require the implementation of an outside tool to address this communication channel. While some CRMs might have advanced direct mail features (for example, the ability to auto-address envelopes and built-in word processing), others might lack direct mail features altogether.

Think through your communications needs before purchasing a new CRM. Here are a few questions to start you off on the right path:

  • How do you contact your donors? Email? Direct Mail? Social media?
  • During a campaign, what role will your CRM be playing upfront?
  • Should your CRM also be able to capture data on the back-end of a campaign?

The first question is fairly straightforward, but let’s unpack the second two a little bit more before moving on.

On the front-end: CRMs can speed up your outreach considerably. Your software can help you segment out different constituent groups, quickly personalize communications, and even automate campaigns so you never have to worry about striking the perfect timing. But it all depends on what features your CRM possesses!

On the back-end: CRMs can automate data collection from your campaigns and run analytics to help you hone your outreach down the line. But again, you’ll only be able to reap these benefits if you have the right feature set at your fingertips.

If communications are a large part of your efforts (and they are for most nonprofits), think long and hard about what capabilities you’ll need and how to implement them.

Tip 8 for finding the perfect nonprofit CRM is to interview your vendor of choice.

8. Interview your vendor.

CRM selection isn’t just about choosing the right software; it’s also about choosing the right vendor.

Your CRM vendor will be working closely with your organization throughout the entirety of your CRM’s lifetime. Aside from implementation, your vendor will play a large role in CRM training and upkeep, so it’s important that you and your vendor can work well together.

In other words, your vendor is essentially competing for an important role at your organization. Treat the selection process as carefully as you would a job interview.

Let’s look into two important vendor services—training and support—to help you zero in on the perfect partnership!

a.) CRM training

When it comes to learning your CRM, there are no better teachers than the people who actually built the software!

Most nonprofit CRM vendors offer training services to help nonprofits get to know their software. But, as with most aspects of CRM selection, your organization will have multiple options to consider.

Training usually takes one of two forms:

  • Generalized training. Generalized CRM training usually consists of watching a series of pre-recorded videos made by your vendor. This option usually costs little (if anything), but it also presents a major downside: since training isn’t specific to your organization, it won’t be tailored to your needs. You won’t have the opportunity to ask questions or focus in on certain modules.
  • Customized training. Customized training can take place on-site or over the computer, with your vendor giving you live lessons in your CRM. Customized training is excellent in that your organization will have a better grasp on how the software will work for you personally. However, the major downside here is that this type of training can be costly.

Whether or not customized training is worth the investment is entirely up to your organization. If your staff has never used CRM software before, then it might be worthwhile to allocate a little extra money toward training.

b.) IT support

You’ll be using your CRM software on a daily basis, which will naturally result in some wear and tear.

If your software ever encounters any technical difficulties, it’s crucial that they’re thoroughly addressed in a timely manner. The longer your software is down, the more likely it is that your fundraising will suffer.

If you have an IT department in-house, you may be able to get away with choosing a vendor who provides less comprehensive support. However, it can never hurt to have a back-up—especially if that back-up happens to be an expert in your software!

When deciding which vendor to work with, make sure to ask all of the necessary questions about maintenance, including:

  • How does our organization get in touch if we ever run into any problems?
  • When is support on call?
  • What’s the average turnaround time for software maintenance?
  • Does support cost extra, or are these services built into the base price?

If you’re still unsure about support after talking to your vendor, you can consult online reviews and talk to current users to gain a better idea of how well the vendor you’re considering actually responds in times of need. Ask your vendor to send you over some references!


We hope this article has helped you start off your search for the perfect nonprofit CRM. If you’re ready to start test-driving, make sure to sign up for a free trial of Fundly CRM today!

Request a free trial of Fundly CRM today!