How to Choose a Great Free CRM for your Nonprofit
Nonprofits know how to do more with less. Money’s always tight, and running your organization means figuring out how to stretch donor dollars as far as possible.
That means finding the right tools. And better yet, figuring out which tools you can access for free. Fortunately, as a 501(c)(3), there are special resources available for your organization — such as Google ad grants — that are free to access if you meet the requirements.
One option that a lot of nonprofits overlook is constituent relationship management (CRM) software. A good CRM will help you stay better engaged with your donors, members, volunteers, and other current or potential supporters. It’ll help you record your points of contact and manage your communications so that it’s easier to develop a strategy for the future.
Does a nonprofit need a CRM?
Though many organizations have missed out on the opportunity, CRM software can help nonprofits reduce their overhead costs and streamline internal management processes so that less money goes toward running things, and more goes toward contributing to your cause.
And better yet, since there are free CRM options for nonprofits, there are ways to start testing out your options before you make a big investment. We’ll show you which free options are best for your type of organization, then we’ll show you some of the best paid options to consider as well.
How to Pick the Right CRM for Your Nonprofit
Before you choose a CRM provider, there are a few questions you should answer.
What are your goals?
First, be clear about what you’re looking for in a new CRM. Are you looking to segment your audiences and automate email communications so you can tailor your messaging? Are you looking to re-activate previous donors? Establish greater connectivity between different departments within your organization?
How will you implement the CRM?
Figure out what it’ll take — and how long it’ll take — to get the new system in place and train your team on it. New software takes some adjustment. You want something simple enough that board members and volunteers without training can use it pretty easily.
How will your team members access it?
What devices does the CRM need to work on? Does it need to be accessible via mobile or laptop? The more adaptable the software, the more new and unexpected uses you may find for it.
Is the software you’re considering flexible enough to grow with you?
Is the CRM suited to the way you structure your internal processes? Are any of those structures likely to change? You want to make sure that the software doesn’t just meet your current needs; you want it to be adaptable enough that it won’t be a hindrance if those needs grow or change.
Is the CRM compatible with your current tech?
Make sure the CRM is compatible with the tech you’re already using.
What are its reporting capabilities?
What sort of analytics will you get from the new software? A good CRM won’t just facilitate internal processes within your organization, it should also provide data about your operations.
Free CRM Software Options for Nonprofits
We’ve sorted our recommendations into suggestions for smaller to mid-sized nonprofits and suggestions for larger organizations. But a word to the wise: most of these platforms charge different subscription rates based on the number of supporters you’re tracking — that means that the free version is usually pretty limited in scale (and occasionally doesn’t include features that are available in the paid versions).
CRM Software for Small to Medium Nonprofits
Here are some CRM options for small to medium-sized nonprofit organizations:
With a permanent free version available for organizations, Caspio is known for allowing users to customize their CRM by building online database applications without coding. It’s used by organizations such as the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, and the YMCA.
With a free version available for organizations managing up to 250 contacts, EngageBay offers email marketing, marketing automation, and social media engagement features to help nonprofits acquire and nurture new donors.
Keela has a free version available for organizations managing under 250 contacts. It’s used by organizations such as the Black Health Alliance and the PALS Autism Society.
CRM Software for Large Nonprofits
Here are some suggestions for larger organizations.
Givebutter uses a tip or fee model in order to remain entirely free for nonprofits regardless of size – unlike most other CRMs on this list which offer a free model, but then charge for more users or features. It’s used by organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
Though the free version is available only for organizations tracking 1,000 or fewer supporters, Funraise includes options for donor management, wealth screenings, donations forms, peer-to-peer fundraising, email automation, and fundraising data analytics. It’s used by organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Innocence Project, and Action Against Hunger.
Affordable CRMs with Support for Nonprofits
Hubspot is one of the biggest CRM platforms on the market today, and our favorite for nonprofits because of it’s integrated marketing tools and ability to grow with you. Large nonprofit organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy all use Hubspot for Nonprofits. The company offers a selection of free CRM software services for organizations that want to test them out before committing to a paid subscription.
Another option is Salesforce for Nonprofits. One of the largest cloud-based software companies in the world, Salesforce partners with major organizations such as the Healthier Kids Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League, and ProUnitas. Subscription packages for Salesforce’s Nonprofit Cloud CRM begin at $60 per user per month. In our experience, Salesforce can be great, but is better for more seasoned organizations with dedicated resources to commit to its maintenance and configuration.
Trust an agency that loves your story
Sometimes having a lot of options can be as tricky as having too few. There’s a whole world of new software tools out there for you to use. But you’ve got limited time and resources for determining which will work best at spreading your message and advancing your goals.
At Big Sea, we specialize in telling your story. We help your organization stand out from the rest through compelling design, creative content marketing, and expert web development. Our nonprofit marketing professionals partner with you to craft compelling messages that energize donors and draw new people to your cause.