Tools for nonprofit efficiency and impact
I just received the March/April 2008 issue of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, which is dedicated to the topic of fundraising databases. This is a particularly good topic for small community-based nonprofits because databases are more commonly used by organizations with larger budgets and staff capacity. Some nonprofits resist databases because staff are not accustomed to using them. Others do not have the time or resources required to find the right solution and implement new tools through training. Yet once these hurdles are cleared, then an organization could be on course to increasing support and tracking impacts. Databases are tools that facilitate communications and connections with supporters and potential donors.
In the for-profit world businesses use CRM databases – Customer Relationship Management – to track marketing campaigns, leads, and sales. Nonprofits raising money and working with volunteers need the same tool to effectively manage and build relationships with constituents – individual donors, foundations, volunteers, sponsors, and other supporters. Now online resources are out there to make it possible for small nonprofits to take advantage of these tools. To make an informed decision about hard costs (equipment or software) and people costs (time to assess and implement), here are a few resources:
- Idealware: The article “A Few Good Tools: Low Cost Constituent Databases” provides product comparisons and considerations.
- TechSoup.org: Several good articles here on planning and selecting a database.
- The San Francisco Bay Area Non Profits Salesforce.com user group: Salesforce Foundation donates 10 product licenses to eligible 501(c)(3) organizations, and a nonprofit-specific CRM is available.
- Network for Good: Articles and research on donor databases.
- Community Technology Network of the Bay Area: Articles on on technology planning useful for assessing costs and how to project manage a solution.
- N-Power: Resources and articles such as how to select a technology vendor and manage a technology project.