Choose the right tool for email,
online advocacy and fundraising.
Are you looking to identify the right tool to meet your standards for mass email, online advocacy, and fundraising, without breaking the bank or creating more problems than it solves?
Find out in 10 minutes or less.
Finding a tool that efficiently integrates the various needs of your organizing group can be challenging. The WhichCRM questionnaire will help point you in the right direction based on your priorities and capacities. The questions will also help you identify what’s important to keep in mind during your selection process. The questionnaire takes 10 minutes or less.
SMT is a non-profit whose mission is to help organizing groups ramp up online to win campaigns. It accepts no funds or gifts from any companies to ensure it can make product recommendations with no conflict of interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
CRM stands for Constituent Resource Management, which broadly means a way to track the behavior and patterns of the people involved with your organization so you can communicate better with them. For example, if you wanted to write to everyone who signed one of your petitions, and in that email you want to mention that person’s largest previous gift (with some default content for those who haven’t given yet), that’s exactly the kind of situation a CRM would help with. Originally, these were designed to allow for-profits to market their products more directly, and they translated successfully enough into big institutional non-profit fundraising and communications. Until recently, however, most of the CRMs out there didn’t take into account the specific needs of grassroots advocacy organizing groups. Now, CRMs designed with us in mind allow us to scale our operations as we grow, without losing entirely the personalized communication style we had when our groups had just started.
We decided to curate a list of CRMs that, at a minimum, combine all the features grassroots advocacy non-profits need most often: mass email, fundraising, and online advocacy. We found that the CRMs that adequately provide all those in a way that’s useful to organizing groups are Action Network, Nationbuilder, EveryAction, ActionKit, and CiviCRM. You can check out our quick comparison chart and see demos for each of these CRMs in our upcoming webinar series.
Organizing groups are successfully using plenty of tools not on this list. However, we believe these five CRMs represent the single-tool solutions that are the most likely to serve the needs of the broadest range of groups in progressive movements. For example, many groups are using Constant Contact or Mail Chimp to send mass emails. These tools are good at mass email, but they don’t help much with storing fundraising data, or with online advocacy – which means you can’t use the same tool to target or segment your recipients. There are CRMs that offer all these necessary features but which didn’t make our cut, usually because they are not supported well enough, or aren’t as good of a value for what they cost. In our experience many organizations are overpaying for a tool or set of tools that has all sorts of features they don’t need.
In our experience many organizations are overpaying for a tool or set of tools that has all sorts of features they don’t need. The only way to be sure is for your organization to do the work of listing its processes and procedures and compare that to the list of features your tools offer. For instance, if your system has significant built-in volunteer management and peer-to-peer fundraising features, but you don’t use either of those or have any plans to, you may find that there are CRMs available that can do everything you need for far less. However, it is absolutely crucial to weigh this calculation against the cost of migrating from one system to another, a significant investment of time and usually money that grows considerable with the size and complexity of your data. We strongly recommend getting outside help making these decisions and assessments, and is why, in addition to this tool and our upcoming webinar series, we offer individual consults.