Wednesday, June 17, 2015

CRM for Non-Profits

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is growing in popularity for non-profit organizations, as the price of software and cloud deployment make it easier for both small and large non-profits to adopt CRM.

My company InfoStrat has been working with non-profits for nearly thirty years, and we have witnessed growing adoption of CRM instead of more specialized software.  For most of this time, non-profits focused on software specifically built for their business requirements, such as membership management systems, fundraising systems, and event management software.  These products were custom developed by small companies, and from time to time these companies would go out of business or acquire one another, creating orphan software which was no longer supported or no longer being modernized.  These products were not necessarily compatible with one another, so you could end up with an annual meeting system which was a completely different technology and interface from the membership or fundraising system.

Today, non-profits are more willing to adopt more commercially widespread CRM products such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce because these products are affordable, widely supported and will receive future upgrades.

At our recent webinar "High Impact Web Presence for Lean Non-Profits," we highlighted features of CRM that can make your non-profit more productive.  For instance, it is vital to maintain an authoritative contact list for members, donors, vendors, and other constituents.  Most non-profits want to conduct outreach campaigns such as emails and letters -- a basic CRM function.

CRM vendors offer significant discounts to non-profits.  Techsoup (http://www.techsoup.org) is a marketplace for qualified non-profits.  You can search by product name to find the latest non-profit pricing.  Microsoft guidelines for non-profits are here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/crm-customer-center/non-profit-pricing.aspx

InfoStrat helps clients tailor Dynamics CRM to meet the specific needs of non-profits.  For instance, we have added annual dues calculation formulas, and invoice generation reports to Dynamics CRM.  We integrate CRM with member portals to allow membership signup, meeting registration, and contributions.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Responsibility of Entrepreneurship

When I talk to aspiring entrepreneurs, they often tell me that they are drawn by the freedom and power of leading a company, and the idea that they answer only to themselves. The image that I think they may have in mind is the lone captain on the bridge of a ship, setting course and braving the wind and the waves to reach their sunny destination with a treasure chest.

                                       The Rakish Brigantine - Sea Captain in Storm by N.C. Wyeth: 

As an entrepreneur for the last 28 years, all I can do is to gently share the less glamorous reality -- it's all about the responsibility that you take on, not power, not perks, not freedom.

The leader of a company carries a heavy responsibility to all the people who make it a success. Responsibility starts with customers, continues with employees, investors, vendors and more. Even if you are planning your strategy alone, you depend on others to carry it out.  It doesn't take long for the startup entrepreneur to learn that few goals can be reached without enlisting help, building partnerships, and making compromises so that your vision can co-exist with reality.

I suppose that in a way, captains of industry are like sea captains.  They ultimately determine where the ship goes, and bear responsibility for their crew and for the treasure that has been entrusted to their care. May your voyage of entrepreneurship be the adventure of a lifetime. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

High Impact Web Presence for Non-Profits

Non-profit organizations need to reach large numbers of people with their messages, and typically have a small staff and small budget to accomplish their goals. 

Several trends have converged to make it easier to communicate via your website and social media without a large staff of computer or marketing experts.

InfoStrat held a recent webinar to share some of the latest techniques and approaches.

 
  
Here are some highlights from the presentation:

  1.  High production values are not as important as they were in the past.  This means that people are no longer impressed by the slickest websites and videos.  In some cases, too much spending can erode the perception of authenticity and make people trust you less.  Even cell phone quality videos are now acceptable.
  2. Content is king.  The quality of your content (writing, speaking, video, images) is more important than ever. 
  3. Multiple channels reinforce each other.  There is no single channel in social media that is most important, although different audiences tend to favor certain channels.  I cross channel strategy is likely to boost the visibility of your content.  For instance, use Facebook to drive traffic to your website and vice versa.
  4. Do it yourself websites have reached a quality level where they are acceptable for many organizations and often look and perform better than custom sites that cost much more. 
  5. Mobile is growing quickly.  Be sure your content will work well on mobile devices -- this trend is picking up momentum.
 If you are not comfortable embracing social media yourself (which you should) then you may find others on your staff who are willing to lead the charge.