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Why you don't need a CRM - Part 1

09 July, 2018 | 3 min read


What is a CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager. The main purpose of a CRM is to help you nurture and enhance the relationship with your donors, volunteers, customers and pretty much anyone connected to your organization in any way.

How does it do that?

This is where most people get confused. CRM providers use lots of distracting words to confuse you about how a CRM works and in order to push you to make the purchase (in fear of FOMO and confusion). But it is not.

Here is a simple explanation of CRM with an interesting analogy.

You can read the full explanation here.


Short Answer: A CRM stores all sorts of customer information (Name, Addresses, Emails, Historical Donations, etc.). All interactions with your customers can be stored too (i.e. Phone calls, email conversations). However, every non-profit is not the same, so you have to think of your own process to utilize this database to its best to suit your requirement.


That is the simplest way to describe what a CRM actually does.


Why you don’t need a CRM (yet)

  1. High cost

    Depending on the provider, the cost to start a CRM for your organization includes:

  • Setup fees

  • Training fees

  • Monthly Subscription fees

    Some CRM providers don’t take setup or training fees, but have a really high monthly subscription fee (hundreds or thousands of dollars a month). Some provide a more comfortable subscription fee, but charges a handsome setup fee. This fee ranges from at least $100 to almost $1,000 depending on the complexity of your business and how you plan to use the CRM.


Is your non-profit comfortable with this price range?


  1. Even more costly to maintain

    Let’s say you spend $200 to strap up a CRM system in a month, after which the CRM provider says thanks and promise to help if you need any help. However, running a CRM requires at least one person on your team to regularly check up and maintain the integration of your data structure - simply put, you need someone to make sure all your data and processes are working correctly.

    And then you need to train your other employees to use the CRM, which can take days or weeks depending on how deep their tasks involve the CRM.

    And if you encounter any bugs or need to restructure your CRM to complement the new strategy your business has, you need to talk to the provider again, and they may charge some more.

    But hey, all of these costs are justifiable because there is no alternative apart from using a CRM right?

    Not really. New flash: (read below)

  1. It is totally replaceable

    CRM - like any other SaaS products - is just a digital tool that can do normal operational tasks effectively. Before CRMs, people have been bookkeeping customer information, as well as historical interactions between a business and its prospects.

    There are definitely more ways to document and keep track of all this information, without using a CRM. And I’m not talking about writing everything down in a physical copy. It can be any online tool that can document and retrieve information easily, for example: Google Sheets.

    All you need is a Donation tool - allowing you to receive donations online - and a Google Sheet to keep track of all transactions and interaction with your prospects.

    Isn’t it taking more time than using an automating tool like CRM?

Maybe. Using a simple solution like Google Sheets saves you from setup time, maintenance period. And if your non-profit hasn’t yet reach hundreds of donations daily, then entering new data would only take an hour a day; especially for new nonprofits with little donation counts, you can reduce this process to minutes.

To give you a head start, here is a CRM spreadsheet template you can use. The CRM template provides a starting point for people looking for an Excel-based CRM solution. It is designed to be easy to customize (limited only by your knowledge of Excel).

You can get the offline version (for Microsoft Excel) or the online version (Google Sheet) here:

Offline Version (EXCEL)

Online Version (Google Sheet)

(Courtesy of Vertex42)


However, not everyone is satisfied with using Google Sheets. Maybe your company is planning for years ahead, or let’s say you are working in a nonprofit and your boss asks you to build a low-cost CRM, what is the solution? Check out our blog post next week to find out.