Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an ideal solution for all businesses to manage effective and efficient engagements with potential and existing customers, as well as any aspect of a business, which is why we often refer to it as xRM.
However, charities or Not for Profit (NFP) organisations have some very specific needs from their CRM solutions compared to traditional businesses. While niche charity software solutions have proven extremely popular, Dynamics CRM is now rising to become one of the leaders for CRM in the NFP sector.
The Rise of Dynamics
There are many traditional solutions out there solely developed for, and aimed at charities: Raiser’s Edge, thankQ, Giftworks to name a few. However recently charities are turning away from these to more commercial CRM solutions. In a recent survey for Higher Education by UCISA, Dynamics CRM emerged as the top choice in the ‘CRM’ category and it is looking like the same is happening in the NFP sector: read more here. We want to have a look at why this change is coming about...
As mentioned earlier a charity has more specific needs to a commercial business, such as donation management & membership management, Gift Aid management, fundraising, subscriptions etc. but we mustn’t forget it still has the traditional business needs.
A CRM solution for a charity must:
- Organise & manage all organisation data
- Deliver high quality customer service
- Reduce costs
- Manage specific activities: fundraising, donations etc.
- Streamline marketing efforts
- Help organise event management
Now while these specific charity software packages do their desired job excellently, companies are starting to realise the importance of not just managing their donations for example, but managing their entire organisation. Instead of using a neatly packaged but tightly focused software solution, NFP’s are seeing the benefit of using a full CRM solution that encompasses all aspects of the business and ties it all together. This is why Dynamics CRM 2013 is starting to emerge as a popular choice for charities.
Looking at the bigger picture
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a great all-rounder, especially for those companies using Microsoft products - and with 1.3 billion people using Microsoft every day, that’s going to be a lot. Not only does it give a 360 degree view of your organisation but it also integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft solutions, meaning you only have to worry about one product and not worry about connecting different pieces of software together, or being left with a dis-jointed system. This has a further benefit that most users will be familiar to the Microsoft interface and this then encourages a much faster user adoption – which is critical to the success of a CRM implementation, as well as reducing the need for training or new resources.
As well as the integration mentioned above, Dynamics CRM is a safe choice because it is a Microsoft product. Charities can rest assured the CRM solution they are choosing will be around for a very long time and is ‘future-proofed’. The announcement that Raiser’s Edge is reaching its end of life was an unpleasant shock to those using it: while it can still be used there won’t be any major updates so its age will rapidly show. This year alone Dynamics CRM has 8 releases planned and with the backing of such a large software giant, you can have the peace of mind that you will not have to switch from the system (and re-train staff and incur start-up costs) or the decision to is, at least, in your hands.
NFP’s also benefit from Microsoft’s preferential licence pricing and while this depends on what is chosen, you are looking at around 75% discount as a charity. This allows charities to have access to enterprise-level CRM that is completely scalable, but within the budget of a non-profit organisation. It also allows you to take advantage of the cloud, but unlike Salesforce which is Cloud only, Dynamics can also be deployed on-premise or by combining a hybrid of the two. Further testimony to the flexibility of Microsoft is that Dynamics CRM can be used on most devices, not just Microsoft products: iPad, Mac, Blackberry, Android tablets & phones can all run Dynamics CRM.
Finally, that last advantage of Dynamics CRM and potentially one of the reasons for its continuing rise in uptake within the NFP industry is the fact that it is wholly customisable. If further development is required to the out-of-the-box solution, our development team can create a bespoke package: going a step beyond a charity-focused solution to become a ‘you’-focused solution, entirely customised to fit organisation-specific requirements.
It is important to note that Dynamics CRM is not an exact replacement of thankQ, Raiser’s Edge or any other tailored solution, but it can be a better choice for those wanting a more rounded solution to fit with the charity as a whole to ensure fast user adoption, scalability and peace of mind for the future. At the end of the day, it depends on the requirements of the individual charity to which solution will suit them best, but we would urge any NFP organisation to carefully consider Dynamics CRM.