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.