Table of Contents
1. Assess Your Need for Free Nonprofit CRM Software.
If your nonprofit is on a budget, you might think that your donor management options are limited to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
When you’re only storing your constituent data in a spreadsheet, you’re missing out on a significant number of features that could be improving your fundraising and stewardship strategies.
Unlike Excel, nonprofit CRMs are built to fit all the needs of organizations just like yours! From streamlining tasks to managing supporter data, CRM software can help increase efficiency and fundraising within your nonprofit.
And thanks to the wide variety of free or low-cost CRM solutions on the market, you no longer have to sacrifice function for affordability!
Here’s just a sampling of what your CRM can do for you (that Excel just can’t!):
2. Know What Low-Cost CRM Features You Need.
As your nonprofit expands your fundraising strategy, you’ll be collecting donor information from a number of sources. When all of that data is automatically filed into your database, you’ll be able to use it to understand your supporters on a deeper level.
Not only will all the donor data you need be available in your CRM, but you’ll be able to view and interact with each supporter profile in a user-friendly, customizable way.
Some CRMs even allow you to create different types of supporter profiles or group donors into households or other groups.
Your CRM should enable you to build your own custom webforms to place on your nonprofit website.
Because you can customize these forms to your own needs, you can use them for virtually any purpose! Create online donation forms, event registration forms, or volunteer-sign up forms (among many other options!).
When you use your CRM’s built-in or integrated form-building tools, all the donor data you collect will be instantly available in your database.
Your CRM makes staying on top of email communications much easier!
You can send targeted, mass, or individual emails to anyone in your database in just a few clicks. Then, view and track donor responses, including open and click-through rates.
Don’t forget to incorporate your email donation buttons, too! When you combine Snowball’s tools with your CRM’s automation features, asking for (and collecting!) email donations will be more effective than ever.
3. Integrate Your Free CRM With Your Fundraising Efforts.
Online Giving Software
Your CRM will likely come with some form-building capabilities, but you can also integrate dedicated giving software that’s fully customizable to fit your needs.
By integrating your online donation platforms with your CRM, all the information you collect will automatically be filed into your database and donor profiles.
When you don’t have to worry about manual data entry, you’ll save hours of work and reduce the risk of human error.
Your mobile giving tools can be CRM-compatible, too!
Since text-to-give is one of the easiest ways to make donations, you’ll likely acquire a host of new donors through these tools. Make sure their data doesn’t get lost in translation; file it seamlessly into your CRM!
Without a payment processing service, you won’t be able to accept any online donations. That means that in order to process gifts in your CRM, you’ll need to get set up with a dedicated payment processor.
Make sure you’re equipped with a processor that can securely handle all the backend steps that are necessary to get donations into your bank account.
If your nonprofit has a membership program in place, you’ll need some sort of membership management software to help you plan and carry out your engagement strategies (as well as process member renewal fees).
When your CRM and membership software work together, you’ll be able to see a more holistic picture of your supporters as donors and members, and track all their contributions in one place.
Prospect Research Tools
With the knowledge of individuals’ income, giving history, philanthropic interests, and more, you’ll be able to identify and target major gift prospects, all thanks to prospect research.
When your CRM and prospect research tools integrate, you’ll be able to craft the perfect outreach strategies to acquire your needed major gifts.
Matching Gift Tools
Matching gift tools help your organization identify their eligible donors and market matching gift-related content to the right individuals.
If your donors know how much of an impact they can have just by submitting their matching gift request, they’re much more likely to fill out the required paperwork.
By harnessing the power of peer-to-peer fundraising software, your organization can expand its donor base and donations through your fundraisers’ networks.
Encourage your fundraisers’ to accept donations through online pages and track your team’s efforts to watch your organization maximize contributions.
4. Look at Our Favorite Low-Cost Nonprofit CRM Providers.
Free CRM Solutions
Snowball’s basic plan can provide your nonprofit with all the tools you need to manage and track donor data, process online payments, and create custom mobile-ready donation forms.
Snowball is super simple to get started with, and you’ll automatically have access to an unlimited number of users and plenty of easy-to-navigate features.
At Snowball, we’re dedicated to reducing donor abandonment by simplifying the giving process for donors and organizations. If you want to maximize donor retention (and fundraising dollars!), there’s no better choice than Snowball.
CiviCRM is an open source CRM with a host of features to fit your nonprofit’s fundraising and donor management needs.
Because this software is open source, it’s completely free to download and endlessly customizable. And on top of that, there’s no limit to the number of users or constituents!
The downside, however, is you’ll need to be comfortable installing the software yourself and configuring the settings you need. CiviCRM does offer training videos and community support to get you started!
Bitrix24 is a user-friendly, feature-rich CRM with both a free and paid software option.
While not nonprofit-specific, Bitrix is flexible enough to work with almost any kind of organization or business. You’ll have access to a number of unique, useful features, including project management and email marketing tools!
Bitrix is free for up to 12 users, but you can upgrade to accommodate more users as well as increase your storage capacity for a fee.
Low-Cost CRM Solutions
Salsa CRM isn’t just one of the most affordable nonprofit CRMs on the market; it’s also one of the most comprehensive!
With their CRM solution, Salsa offers rich donor profiles, donation tracking, donor cultivation, direct mail fundraising, member management, and more.
Salsa’s software is unique in that it can truly meet your organization wherever you are, whether you’re a large, complex nonprofit or have just opened your doors.
The best part? Salsa CRM comes with their digital marketing, online fundraising, online advocacy, and peer-to-peer solutions integrated into your donor database already.
To see if Salsa CRM is the right investment for your organization, see a demo today!
You may know Fundly as one of the most flexible, user-friendly crowdfunding platforms around, but their nonprofit CRM is pretty hard to beat, too!
At $55/month, Fundly’s most basic package offers up to 1000 constituent profiles, unlimited email communications, event management tools, and incredibly effective reporting features.
While their Easy Launch starter package is perfect for new and growing nonprofits, Fundly offers plans for organizations of all sizes.
Additionally, the Fundly team will stay with you every step of the way, providing group and one-on-one training sessions, webinars, and plenty of educational resources to ensure your staff is able to use your new tools to their full potential.
Fundly has a ton of great features you can’t get anywhere else. To see them in action, schedule a demo or free trial!
5. Don’t Get Locked Into TechSoup Pricing.
A nonprofit themselves, TechSoup offers discounted or even free software and hardware for organizations across the country.
While receiving donated fundraising software might seem like an ideal situation, there are actually a number of benefits to thinking outside the TechSoup box.
In order to receive donated tech products from TechSoup, you’ll be subject to their eligibility requirements, time and usage restrictions, as well as admin fees and other charges.
Plus, when your options are limited, you might not be able to find a product that really fits your needs.
Instead of spending time and energy getting set up with a product that won’t be able to serve as a sustainable solution, do some research to find suitable free or low-cost software that can serve your organization as you develop long-term relationships with donors and raise money and awareness for your cause.
6. Select Free CRM Software That Can Grow With You.
Most CRMs are priced based on the number of donor profiles they are able to house.
While you should of course look for software that can fit your current number of constituents, you’ll also want to leave some room for growth.
If you can’t expand your donor database, you might be left with unrecorded or incomplete data.
A number of people at you organization may need to have access to your new CRM.
Most CRMs place a limit on the number of users per system, so make sure you choose software that can accommodate your team.
The best software is easily expandable in case your nonprofit staff grows or experiences changes.
As your nonprofit’s strategies expand, you may need access to new fundraising tools.
Your CRM vendor should offer expansions and upgrades to your current feature set.
Make sure your software is compatible with third-party integrations too, so that you can customize your CRM system to meet your needs.
Fundraising feasibility studies are crucial for a nonprofit’s improvement with fundraising strategies. Read about these 6 things you need to know about your donors for success!