When you’re developing an RFP for your new nonprofit CRM system, some questions are more equal than others. In addition to the basics about functionality, make sure you include nine other must-ask questions, five of which we feature in this post. These questions get at some of the most important, but sometimes overlooked, aspects of a nonprofit CRM or fundraising software system. The answers will reveal a great deal about the in-depth capabilities of the systems you’re considering.
1. Can you describe the vision and product roadmap for your system?The systems you consider might have wonderful features today. Your organization, however, is buying a system for today and for years from now. Make sure vendors can clearly explain their plans for their system in the next several years. Be alert for vendors offering outdated client/server technology today while planning to require your purchase of an expensive upgrade in a few years.
2. Can your system grow with us?Your organization is not static, so ask vendors if their systems are scalable. Your system’s capacity should easily grow with your organization, accommodating any number of users and constituent records. Even if you never plan to grow that large, you should be confident that millions of records and hundreds of users would never be a problem.
3. Can your system align with our business processes?You work with constituents and constituent data in the way that makes sense for your organization. Vendors should be able to configure their systems to work the way you do, not vice versa. Look for a platform that accommodates extensive configuration without the downside of having custom software.
4. Are you committed to system integration?Ask vendors if they have a track record of working closely with other vendors to share data and processes among systems. A look at their current system integrations (finance systems, content management systems and others) will offer a good indication if they actually do. Unless you want to live in your vendor’s walled garden, make sure they play nicely with others.
5. How can you help us improve our major gift effort?The key to effective major gift solicitation is having a full picture of a prospective major giver’s relationship with your organization. Ask vendors if their system includes a comprehensive constituent relationship management (contact management) platform to support annual and long-term development efforts for major gift programs, including tools for forecasting, reporting and analysis. The system also should run on tablets and other mobile devices on which major gift officers often rely.
Next post: The final four must-ask questions for your nonprofit CRM RFP