The Right Way to Budget For Your Next CRM Implementation

When it comes to purchasing CRM technology, does your organization put the proverbial cart before the horse?

All too often, organizations don’t consider the bigger picture when they search for their next CRM. That is, they don’t realize their technology purchasing decisions should support their objectives. Instead, they feel constrained by a budget even though it isn’t aligned with their objectives. They let the budget dictate the objectives instead of the other way around.

Believe it or not, there is a right way — and a wrong way — to budget for, choose, and purchase technology. When you look at planning your technology budget around your organization’s insights, you’ll find there are investments to be made.

Just as there’s a right way to hitch a horse to a cart, there’s a right way to team up with the technology and tools that will get you where you need to go.

Your Organization’s Objectives Come First, Not Your CRM Technology Requirements

Many nonprofit leaders believe their CRM insights hinge on a set of technical requirements. They may be quick to mention they need a solution that will allow for better gift processing or integrates with QuickBooks. But requirements don’t get to the heart of the matter.

When you jump too quickly to a set of requirements, you risk deprioritizing your higher-level objectives. As a result, you’ll pick a CRM solution that meets your requirements and fits within your budget. That’s all well and good, but how will it really help you achieve your organizational goals?

So think about this first: What insights do you need at the executive layer?

That insight is your destination. To have a destination, you have to start at the beginning and say, “Here’s where we’re headed” and create a way to steer towards that. You need a CRM technology that supports that destination. Your ability to steer will depend on which technology you use and the human behavior to support it.

If you can articulate your objectives to someone who knows what technology is on the market, you will be better positioned to find the best fit. The impact of finding the right CRM technology to support your high-level objectives touches more than just your mission.

Let Your Organization’s Goals Drive Your CRM Technology Budget

Does this story sound familiar? An organization creates its budget for the year and sets aside an amount for a specific project. Then they do what they can do within that budget. Three or four years down the road, they find the technology isn’t helping them achieve their goals, even though they stuck to the budget. The high-level objectives weren’t met.

Your high-level objectives usually aren’t the only thing that suffers. Think about the impact on humans. For example, by choosing tech based on budget, you could be asking your staff to spend 15 hours a week frustratingly dealing with event registrations or gift entry. A different solution could both give you the insight you want and reduce the burden on your staff.

When it comes to decision-making for technology, focus on the desired insights first. Do not limit yourself to the tech you already have or are comfortable with. When you make your budget, first outline your objectives and key requirements, then seek experts who can find the best solutions to accomplish them.

The time, money, and change disruption involved in acquiring and managing new technology should not be underestimated. You want to be methodical in your approach and involve all key stakeholders to gain adoption.

Benefits of Choosing The Right CRM

Nonprofits like yours have professionals who are industry experts in their field. They solve the world’s most challenging problems. As a nonprofit leader, you need a tool that is worthy of your expertise. Once you have something that works for you, the benefits can multiply:

  • Better insights for annual reports
  • More efficient intake processes
  • Metrics at your fingertips for fundraising conversations
  • More program or service recipients
  • The direct link between program and infrastructure investments for fundraising
  • Staff retention
  • Trustworthy reports
  • Insight based on accurate information
  • Increased fundraising capacity
  • Increased program efficiency
  • Higher staff satisfaction

The work you do is critical to making a difference. It may seem obvious, but champion your objectives before you budget and you’ll find you really can maximize your impact, inside and outside the office. Add in a partner who can tailor your tech to exceed your expectations and you’ll find you’re putting the proverbial horse exactly where it needs to be — and really start going places.

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