14 Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Nonprofit CRM

Nonprofits, we know how stressful it can be to start the search for a CRM. It’s like trying to buy a car when you’re not a car person. All that talk about ABS, E-REV, Electronic Stability Control, horsepower, all-wheel drive versus four-wheel drive – it all sounds like a foreign language, and eventually you find yourself nodding, smiling and then driving off the lot in a new car wondering how you got there.

When it comes to purchasing software, there are many options out there and it can be overwhelming to discern between the multitude of vendors and solution providers that are available and trying to convince you that their product is the best product. The reality is, no matter how pretty the demo is or how nice the salesperson is, your Nonprofit CRM needs to support your organization and your staff and meet your unique nonprofit's goals.

As you start the search, it’s important that you have a list of key questions on-deck and ready to ask each software provider that you talk to. These will vary based on your organization’s specific business strategy and needs, but to help you out we’ve compiled a list of questions that you may want to consider adding to your list. Check them out below, and happy CRM hunting!

  1. What are the biggest challenges facing our organization that CRM software could help ease?
  2. What is the primary objective of a Nonprofit CRM as it relates to our specific organization?
  3. What is our total budget for this project, including ongoing support, added modules and functionality and any data migration services?
  4. Which functionality is priority, and which functionality is just nice to have?
  5. Does the vendor work specifically with nonprofits and was the software built with nonprofits in mind?
  6. What is the current state of my nonprofit’s data? How much upfront, in-house work will be needed to migrate it, or is more in-depth, professional assistance needed to organize data?
  7. Is the system user-friendly and intuitive, or will ongoing training be necessary?
  8. How does the vendor provide support and how will I be notified about upgrades and new features? Who do I call with question and what resources are available to me?
  9. Will the system integrate with existing software solutions that we are already using?
  10. What will I need to purchase outside of the base CRM? Are there added modules or functionality that are essential for our nonprofit that are not included?
  11. What is the time that will need to be allocated to training our team on the system?
  12. What is the timeframe we can expect between product purchase and go-live?
  13. How would we like the system hosted? Cloud? On-premise?
  14. What safeguards are put into place to make sure that our organization's data is secure and protected?