Nonprofits and Data

last person joined: 13 days ago 

This group is for those interested in learning and sharing about all things data-related for nonprofits. The Nonprofits and Data group is for people using data to serve a mission, either directly or by improving nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. That includes everything from collecting data and managing databases to analytics, data visualization and data mining. Here are some examples of topics we discuss: using data to improve organizational effectiveness, measuring impact, using data for storytelling, tools for data management and analysis, figuring out the “right” data to collect, and learning skills to help us use data better.

Recommend a new CRM?

  • 1.  Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 09, 2019 17:38
    My organization is looking into alternatives to our current CRM, would anyone be willing to share what CRM they use and why they like/dislike it?

    We are looking for one that is more volunteer management friendly on the back end.

    **also, I'd love for someone to try to sell me on their own CRM - that's how desperate I am to finding an alternate!**

    Alex Wu
    Technology Director
    Tutoring Chicago
    Chicago, IL
    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 2.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 10, 2019 10:09
    Hi Alex,
    What are you using now? We implement Salesforce for nonprofits and have written a few ebooks that may help you determine if that's a good fit ( Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about whether or not that platform might be a good choice for you. Salesforce can do a lot, which is why we like it, but it is not the best solution for everyone.

    Lindsey Peterson
    Boston, MA

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 3.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 10, 2019 11:40

    We are a small nonprofit that for the last seven years has been using CiviCRM a web-based, open source CRM. Out of the box, CiviCRM handles contact management, contributions, memberships, events/event registrations and e-mail marketing.   CiviCRM can also be easily customized using Civi-Extensions, one of which, CiviVolunteer provides tools for signing up, managing and tracking volunteers.







    ·         Open Source

    ·         Constantly being updated

    ·         Easy to use, once you understand its structure.

    ·         Available for Drupal and WordPress (we are a Drupal installation)

    ·         Excellent search functionality



    ·         Staff training a must – so business processes are mapped to CiviCRM functions.

    ·         Not really free – You'll have to hire a consultant to migrate your data to CiviCRM.  You could do it yourself, but having someone who knows Civi and can translate your current database and needs into the best structure is very important.

    ·         CiviCRM comes with a bunch of standard reports, but doesn't have a report writer.  If you need customized reports, you will again need a consultant.



    Ed Stawick

    Director of Online Services & Technology | Chorus America

    202.331.7577 x246 | Fax 202.331.7599


    1200 18th Street NW | Suite 1250  | Washington, DC  20036


    Chorus America is the national advocacy, research, and leadership development

    association for choruses, choral leaders, and singers.



    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 4.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 10, 2019 16:02
    Hi Alex,

    When an organization is seeking a better solution for data management and operations, it is because they are facing several pain points. Some are known and discussed, and some are somewhat invisible, but show up as different symptoms. Ideally, the new CRM should resolve all those pain points, or at least the ones that are a top priority, and the organization should be aware of what is unresolved, along with possible ways to tie those loose ends.

    Ultimately, a CRM may or may not work for an organization, depending on whether the organization needs all the bells and whistles, and also whether the organization is ready for the uptake.

    Although you mention that you are open to hearing sales pitches for CRM systems, most sales pitches do not take a careful assessment of your needs and prescribe solutions.

    I work with organizations in a similar boat as yours, and help them conduct the assessment of their systems and processes, evaluate options and suggest a solution, combining both technology and internal processes - to help achieve their goals. If you wish to chat to know more about my services (without any obligation), please contact me using my information.

    Medha Nanal
    Strategic Data/Database Consultant for Nonprofits (Fundraising, Operations, Programs)

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 5.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 10, 2019 17:12
    Hi All!

    Thanks for all the replies! Currently using NeonCRM which is good BUT would love to find something that is more catered to volunteer/constituent friendly - we are a tutoring company that pairs volunteers with students one to one throughout the school year - and what I'm looking for is a crm that would be able to manipulate a roster and update changes simultaneously (specific i know - currently using excel for this). Our CRM doens't integrate well with Mailchimp or Constant Contact - and the event creation looks terrible online.

    I've never played with Salesforce so I am looking into @Lindsey Peterson​​ 's ebooks.

    @Edmund Stawick I'll look into CiviCRM

    @Medha Nanal - you're right - there are definite deeper problems in trying to marry multiple applications to run our NPO


    Alex Wu
    Technology Director
    Tutoring Chicago
    Chicago, IL

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 6.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 11, 2019 01:35
    Alex, it sounds like you need a Student Information System (SIS), not a CRM. The functionality you're describing is essentially software to run an education program, not contact management and fundraising. LearnSpeed, Teachworks and Tutorware are explicitly focused on tutoring businesses/services, but there are hundreds of these services, so it's hard to make a more specific recommendation.

    Isaac Shalev
    Stamford CT

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 7.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 11, 2019 07:46
    Edited by Tim Sarrantonio Jan 11, 2019 07:47

    This is Tim Sarrantonio, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Neon One. I actually originally worked with your team around adoption of NeonCRM and we did talk about how the volunteer / class items may not be a good fit. Your team had spoken about the need for better donor management / event management and those are things that with training and a bit of help we can nail. I checked with our Client Success team and we've reached out a few times and have offered some free consultation, have you gotten those emails? We would love to set up a call to figure this out without having to do an expensive migration.

    Many times I've found that organizations run into issues and immediately jump to change as opposed to reviewing the landscape of the vendor's software offerings. For instance, we recently joined together with CiviCore, which offers mentor management software and is the official platform behind MENTOR, the National Mentoring nonprofit. This may be worth exploring and the stated goal of Neon One is to have a fully integrated and curated ecosystem.

    We also do have a deep integration with Constant Contact which is bi-directional and considered one of the best in the industry, so we can connect off-line on the issues you're having with that if you'd like. I oversee our software certification program, which ensures that we curate integrations to be out of the box ready yet customizable for nonprofits in ways designed for nonprofits. This is something that would have to be done with great investment when going the custom system route. But if you do have the budget, both Salesforce and CiviCRM would be great options.

    We want you to be happy, even if its not with us. We also have partnered with the Chicago Literacenter, which you have a relationship with. Have you connected with any of the organizations there who use our platform? We plan on setting up a formal user group. Just want to  make sure you have all options available, but perhaps indeed you want a SIS instead and then we look into how an integration makes sense to align with the donor data we do very well.

    Please feel free to email or call me directly, here to help.

    Tim Sarrantonio
    Director of Strategic Partnerships
    Neon One

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 8.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 15, 2019 13:52
    Hi Alex,

    I'm a consultant that works with clients on their fundraising CRMs and happen to have an extensive amount of experience with NeonCRM.  I'm happy to have an offline conversation with you about the many comments here on this thread. Every consultant - and every fundraiser or program manager - will have a different opinion. The key is defining exactly what your needs are. You may not be with the wrong CRM but may need to find the right partner program that specializes in schools and mentoring.

    Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet especially when looking to manage volunteers!

    Best of luck,

    Nonprofit Garden

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard

  • 9.  RE: Recommend a new CRM?

    Posted Jan 22, 2019 19:47
    Hi Alex and all,

    I'm creating a new CRM platform for nonprofits that began with a focus on programs instead of fundraising. There are some brilliant fundraising platforms out there, but many people turn to Salesforce because they want to bring their data together in one place. Salesforce is excellent, and well worth a look, but it's definitely not for everyone. For some, it can be too big, complicated, and expensive.

    Inspired by 13 years at a nonprofit, Simply360 is a Salesforce-style CRM built especially for small to medium nonprofits. We built it from the ground up, so it does not use the Salesforce platform.

    I know how it felt to be desperate and finding very little that I liked... So I'm looking for partners to help us make Simply360 the solution that works for those of us not big enough to use Salesforce. Many features are already up-and-running, and we're currently managing about a million records.

    Let me know if you'd like to chat!


    Jake Grinsted
    Simply360 / The Fresh Air Fund
    New York, NY

    picture of work desk from home with notebook, glasses, coffee, keyboard