Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Two CRM Giants - Now Good Options for Larger Charities Too

On the second day of Christmas, my truelove gave to me... A brief discussion on Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce.

When I started this blog in 2009, I wrote that I was still reserving judgement on whether Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce were truly valid options as fundraising systems for charities, especially larger NFP organisations. Since then, I have watched the changes in both systems and there is now little doubt that - implemented well - both platforms now can support charities with their fundraising requirements.

There are good reasons for this: not only has their functionality and configurability improved, and there are now 'NFP templates' which can sit on both platforms, but equally as important (maybe more so), there are increasingly a number of implementation business partners who work with these platforms who now have got a good understanding of the software and fundraising – and that was definitely lacking just a few years ago. Of course, both systems also have excellent software licensing costs for charities (not the be-all-and-end-all of any procurement, but it still helps) and they are almost always recognised by key research companies such as Gartner and Forrester as being amongst the top CRM players.

And although there have been a constant number of small to mid-size charities implementing both systems for fundraising over the last five years, the last couple of years has also seen the first large NFPs go-live with their fundraising implementations on these platforms: first, Barnardo's on Salesforce and then WaterAid on Dynamics. And there are at least a couple of other large charities who I believe should go-live on those platforms in 2017.

They are also terrifically flexible and configurable, so you can of course use them for more than just fundraising if you want to. Indeed, most implementations of both systems were not for fundraising in their earlier versions.

Of course, there are still challenges, most notably the concern of cost for large volumes of data if you go on a Cloud version, and performance for large data-sets for some operations should always be considered (Although, as I have written before, I would question if you do still need all your data online).

And there is still a lot of hype about Salesforce and other CRM Systems (and there are of course alternative CRM platforms to Dynamics/Salesforce) and so don't just go and buy a CRM blindly. Remember that they are not the only option for fundraising: there are also several very good proprietary software solutions which have been designed specifically for the charity sector. So you do need to decide which is right for your requirements.

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