Fundraising for nonprofit organizations is similar to sales in for-profit companies. The same best practices that apply to companies apply to nonprofits, and the sames tools used by for-profit companies can be used to great effect by nonprofits.
Most companies employ sales methodologies that are very similar, with some adjustments to fit their unique requirements, often dictated by the company size, complexity and geographic locations of their sales personnel. For the sake of simplicity, I am going to focus on small companies (less than 100 employees) and the parallels to fundraising for similar sized nonprofits.
The sales funnel is a key concept that is easily understood- marketing and advertising efforts fill the top of the funnel with leads and prospects, which are then qualified and filter down through stages that usually include inquiries, qualified leads, opportunities, proposals and ultimately (and hopefully) customers or revenue. Applied to non-profits, the concepts are the same, although they may vary somewhat depending on whether we are talking about grant writing or soliciting donations from the community at large. Customizable sales processes. depending on who you are soliciting, makes sense and makes things easier (it is unlikely, for example, that you would need to write a proposal for an individual donation, but that pretty much is what the majority of getting a grant is all bout).
Companies use CRM to manage their sales funnels and it turns out this same approach works great for nonprofits. So much so that Salesforce has recognized it and GIVES AWAY ten free licenses to any non-profit- even new ones that haven’t received their 501(c) status yet! The licenses alone are worth $18,000 a year- however we have found many nonprofits are not fully taking advantage of this benefit.
It is helpful at this point to consider “What is CRM?” and even more specifically the Salesforce flavor of CRM. According to Wikipedia:
Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to managing a company's interaction with current and potential future customers that tries to analyze data about customers' history with a company and to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.
Well that is interesting! CRM is not software, it is a methodology. Salesforce CRM, the world’s leading CRM platform, encapsulates that methodology in a very flexible and powerful platform that when properly implemented not only allows nonprofits to manage their entire fundraising funnel, but also maintain and build relationships with current and previous donors. Any good sales manager will tell you the easiest sale is to an existing customer, and the same is true for donations! It costs far less to farm your existing donors for donations than it does to hunt down new donors.
Sadly, we at Summit Technologies have found most nonprofits are either not taking advantage of the free licenses from Salesforce, or if they are, they are simply using it as an online contact manager and not leveraging its powerful sales and marketing capabilities (which is really just the beginning!). Here is the link for the free licenses for non-profits. We at Summit aim to correct this by hosting a user group for Central Ohio nonprofits who are already Salesforce users, and those who might be interested in learning more about Salesforce for nonprofits. We have a online group you can join here if you are a Salesforce user, as well as a monthly in-person meetup at our offices in the heart of the Brewery District in Columbus at 555 S. Front St. Suite 350. Register for our next event here.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about CRM, Salesforce for nonprofits or our meetup. We hope to see you there!