What do you think about when you hear the phrase, “closing the deal?” How do you feel? Most people start to see images of awkward asks gone wrong. Feelings of rejection and missed opportunities can make you feel immediately uncomfortable.
What about when you hear the term “growing generosity?” Your feelings are different, almost instantly, right? Instead of anxiety, you probably feel gratitude. Maybe even admiration. You start to see images of volunteers working together towards goals you never thought possible.
Now, imagine how your donors might react to each approach. Giving is a deeply personal decision they make. Regardless of whether this is their first time, or their 200th time, they choose to make a sacrifice of their own to impact the world. Driven by their individual passions and values, they trust you to do the work they care about.
If that kind of giving sounds like more than merely a transaction, it’s because it is. Successful nonprofits know that meaningful fundraising only happens when you approach it as a relationship, not a sale. And they demand that their tools support them in building relationships, not close deals.
The Problem with Nonprofit CRMs Focused on the Deal
Some fundraisers assume that as long as they approach each moment of generosity as a milestone in the relationship, rather than a new sale, the tools they use don’t matter. Well, that’s partly true. You need to believe in the power of donor relationships before a tool can help you. However, you can’t build the deep relationships necessary to scale your nonprofit without the help of a CRM that’s focused on generosity.
In 2018, individual giving accounted for 68% of generosity across the country. In order to grow, your nonprofit must maintain relationships with each individual donor. It’s no longer feasible to focus only on corporate partners and major gift donors. Everyone in your donor base needs to feel like you’re making an effort to include them and building towards a deeper relationship.
The amount of effort and knowledge it takes to develop the kind of relationship that encourages predictable generosity with 20 people is a lot for one person to handle. What if you’re responsible for 2,000 of those relationships? It would be impossible without the right tool.
If your nonprofit CRM doesn’t provide the information you need to understand your donors — what motivates them and what they’re interested in — you have to remember it all by yourself. Instead of a powerful tool that works for you, all you have is an electronic file cabinet.
Traits of Nonprofit CRMs that Prioritize Generosity
In order to understand whether your nonprofit CRM is designed to prioritize closing the deal or generosity, consider the following traits. If you’re missing most of these features, it might be time to consider making a switch.
You’re in Control
A nonprofit CRM that is focused on facilitating better relationships with your donors, and not simply making a sale, will put you in charge of how you use the program. Helpful nonprofit CRMs will allow you to view your donor base in a way that makes sense for your developing relationship.
A nonprofit CRM focused on generosity will give you information about your donor’s social network, a high-level (and detailed) understanding of their past behavior and any upcoming opportunities to connect. It will not only store your data, but it will show it to you in a way that is meaningful to you. That means you can build relationships the way you want, and the way the donor finds most authentic.
A nonprofit CRM focused on closing the deal offers very few opportunities for context and notes. Most often you will have the contact information and their last donation. No personal details or notes or memories that you need to understand what motivates each donor.
Use a nonprofit CRM that not only allows you to add layers and depth to each donor record, but also allows you to update information in real time. Each time you open your CRM, you should be able to trust that the information is accurate and up-to-date. That way, you can engage with your donors with information, stories and asks that are relevant to them in the moment.
In a sale-based approach, everything is a binary transaction. A donor either gives or she does not. As an experienced fundraiser, you know that it’s much more complicated than that. Donors lose interest, and sometimes getting that second donation is just as difficult as getting the first. To help you reach your fundraising goals, you need a tool that will provide a best guess for engaging each of your donors.
Use a nonprofit CRM focused on generosity — that is, use a CRM that will tell you what the donor will value most in the future. Perhaps their second act of generosity will be time, not money. That’s incredibly valuable to know, and something a sale-based CRM won’t consider. Set your nonprofit, and your donor relationships, up for success by using a smart, helpful CRM.
Transform Your Organization by Focusing on Generosity
Adopting a nonprofit CRM that helps you focus on generosity and donor relationships is a huge step forward, but it’s not the last step. Every tool in your organization should be working towards more meaningful giving moments. If you’re curious about other upgrades your nonprofit can make, check out our Complete Guide to Nonprofit Automation for more information.