10 Essential Questions to Ask Before Selecting a New eCRM System

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This post is provided  courtesy of Engaging Networks Accredited Partner, Zuri Group

So, you’re ready to transition to a new nonprofit eCRM system. But how do you know which platform will fulfill your needs? An electronic customer relationship management (eCRM) system transition requires thoughtful consideration of your team’s immediate needs and future goals. Before deciding which eCRM to implement, it’s essential to determine how exactly your current system both benefits and hinders those goals.

First, validate that a system migration is the right move. Improving your team’s use of the current system is nearly always the faster and much less expensive route. Here are some basic questions to start with.

  • Can you identify business objectives that the current system simply isn’t capable of meeting?
  • Did you provide adequate end-user training to your team… twice?
  • Have you tried everything in your hands to re-configure the system to work for your processes, not against them?

If you can answer yes to all those questions, then it’s probably time to bid farewell to the inadequacies of your current system and begin the quest for an effective replacement. During your journey, be sure to ask yourself and key team members these ten questions before deciding which platform to implement:

10 Questions to Ask Before eCRM Selection

woman surrounded with question marks

What are the challenges or pain points within your organization? How does your current system either minimize or exacerbate these?

Both long-term and day-to-day challenges are often caused or solved by an eCRM. If you’re struggling with donor retention, meeting fundraising goals, or maintaining data, examine how your system is either contributing to or resolving these issues.

What does your current system do well or poorly?

Write down everything you can think of from user adoption to specific functionality to overall performance. Review your list and determine what could be improved through additional training, custom development, or system integrations.

What is your team happy with in the current system?

There must be some elements of your eCRM that work well, or it probably wouldn’t have been implemented in the first place. What are the redeeming qualities? Seek them out, and make sure to include them as requirements in your new system.

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What would your team like to see improved?

This list could get quite long, which is great to gathering requirements that need to be included in the new system. Categorizing the list into back-end, front-end, and fundraiser-specific requests is often helpful, as every bullet point will help guide your decision.

man looking at white board with CRM spelled out

What features are must-haves in a new system?

Cloud-based storage, workflow automation, reporting capabilities, and built-in email are nearly always a must. Fundamental elements will be specific to your nonprofit and the type of work it performs; for example, child sponsorship organizations must have a way to connect sponsors with beneficiaries, and healthcare organizations must use a HIPAA-compliant platform.

What is your current process and/or system for: online donations, major gifts, email marketing, and events?

Write these out in as much detail as possible and note wherever you see potential to improve inefficiencies or increase effectiveness.

Are you using any integrations with your eCRM? If so, what do they accomplish?

This includes any platforms, plug-ins, or custom development that your eCRM interacts with.

What are your challenges or pain points with other systems being used for online giving and donor management? Are there opportunities to consolidate platforms?

Migrating to a comprehensive eCRM solution may allow you to centralize your systems. Take as many opportunities as you can to streamline information and simplify routine workflows.

What other processes concerning online giving and donor management need improvement?

Brainstorm ways to empower your team by leverage technology in these areas.

What data do you want to migrate and why? Are you also migrating data from other systems?

Every piece of data should have a purpose, so know exactly what you want to migrate and why. If there’s no use for it, throw it out. As scary as that sounds, trust us. It’s time. This is your opportunity to analyze the types of data your team is maintaining and how it’s organized. Remove duplicate records and de-clutter your database for a fresh start in the new system.

Asking these ten questions to key team members (often in IT, marketing, or fundraising operations) will help you prioritize your wish list for selecting a new eCRM system. We’ll wrap up with our top three tips for a successful eCRM migration:

Tip #1

Set realistic expectations and meet every deadline

Tip #2

Get input from key stakeholders on your team

Tip #3

Test, test, test. Did we mention you should test?
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