We’ve talked about how to use tools you already have to track your donors, prospects, and constituents for free.
Free is not always the best price.
Using Outlook, Google, or LinkedIn as your constituent relationship management system (or CRM) may be fine if all you want to do is look up what you know about one person. Suppose, however, that you want to:
- Send a carefully crafted email to only those people who have given more than $100 as a donation and who live in the zip codes closest to your office.
- Keep track of registration for a gala or other event.
- Print call sheets for a phone-a-thon or a thank-a-thon.
- Automatically send a welcome message and a series of follow-ups to new members.
You can’t do any of those directly from free tools. If you want to send a targeted email message, for example, you might have to create a distribution list in Outlook, export it to Excel, import that to an email marketing system like MailChimp or Constant Contact, compose and schedule the email, and then enter the results back in Outlook–all by hand.
Is spending all that time worthwhile for you? If not, consider spending some money.
Idealware has posted an excellent article, “A Few Good Constituent Relationship Management Tools.” If you are considering buying software, read the article first. Then ask yourself: what is it worth to this organization to know everybody the way we know our best supporters?