The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 12

How a CRM Can Work for Your Nonprofit (and Not Vice-Versa) with Michael Panas

In this Episode:

From donor acquisition to management and reporting, how you manage your data can make all the difference. How do you choose a Constituent Relationship Management system and when should you build your own? And how do you make the most out of the new tools?

Listen to this Episode

Introduction 0:03
Welcome to the nonprofit Hero Factory, our weekly live video, broadcast, and Podcast, where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes and a better world for all.

Boris Kievsky 0:20
Morning, everybody, and thank you so much for joining us for Episode 12 of the nonprofit Hero Factory. We’re going to be talking about how a CRM can work for your nonprofit and not vice versa with Michael Panas. I’ve known Mike for several years now, we first worked together at a national nonprofit about seven years ago, he can correct me and for a couple of years starting seven years ago. So now Mike serves on the feed the children executive team as their chief information officer, their CIO. Talk to him a little bit about what that means and why some organizations need one and whether you do or not. He recently managed the organization’s conversion to a new CRM solution. And as a technology professional, he’s worked for NCR Corp, US West bank holding companies, large health organizations. For the past 12 years, he’s provided technology social change leadership to several national cause initiatives established and chaired his own nonprofits and served on several nonprofit boards. Mike describes his superpower as guiding strategic initiatives to success, anxious to ask him what that means and to get more of his story and talk to him about CRMs and making them work for you. So without any further ado, let’s bring Mike onto the show.

Mike Panas 1:43
Hi, Boris.

Boris Kievsky 1:44
Hi, Mike. Thanks, my friend.

Mike Panas 1:51
Yeah, I’m happy to join. Appreciate the opportunity.

Boris Kievsky 1:55
So tell me a little bit. I mean, I know a lot but tell. Tell our viewers a little bit about yourself. Story, how you got to where you are today?

Mike Panas 2:04
Sure, sure. Well, I started off as an IT person, a technology person. That’s what I was trained in college for and worked for large organizations. And I guess it was about 12 years ago, 12 or 13 years ago, a friend of mine who is a mayor of a city asked me to work on some social change programs. And during that time, as you can imagine, when an organization like a mayor’s office as community leaders to become involved in a change, you know, you pretty much want to support the mayor. And as I did that, I learned a lot more about nonprofits and social change and the importance of certain things out there. So, I kind of set me on a path to migrate my career from a for-profit environment to a nonprofit. And that’s where we met. I came on board to work with an organization founded that started out national All International, I guess, nonprofit and met you and then I’ve moved on, I actually went from there to this position to Feed the Children.

Boris Kievsky 3:11
Cool. So you described your superpowers guiding strategic initiatives to success. What does that mean, Mike?

Mike Panas 3:18
Yeah, so, you know, I guess you can tell I’m not that young necessarily. I’m only 39. But, but in any event, you know, over years of experience of major projects and limitation projects, owning my own company, you know, I think my superpower for nonprofits is literally taking corporate initiatives, whatever that might be, mostly, obviously technology-oriented, and guiding those through a process, to success. You know, a lot of times I teach people and project managers will tend to view a project as a project and you know, I’m a PMP, or I’m this and we have to follow these guidelines and rules. Well, a lot of times, it’s just it’s the guiding leads to success. I mean, you still use, milestones and you still set dates and you still set timelines. But I think if a lot of us and it would look to view things as we’re a guidepost, or we’re helping guide things, it kind of gives you a little different perspective. So that’s kind of why I use the word guiding.

Boris Kievsky 4:29
Gotcha. So tell me, what are you seeing these days? What’s happening in the nonprofit sector? And certainly, from your perspective of Feed the Children, which is a pretty large, national organization, in terms of data storage, and data usage, what are you seeing out there?

Mike Panas 4:48
Yeah, so there are a few things that are significantly impacting, says the industry, the nonprofit industry, of course, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. So there are issues there. A lot of nonprofits are dealing with. And it seems like there’s, almost a situation where some nonprofits who provide services to the needy, have almost been forgotten in the pandemic, and that there are other organizations that had kind of stepped up, and their services are more needed. But what all that means is change. It means a change to the donor profiles, which means a change to your services, which means a change to your partnerships that you have out there. And successful CRM implementation, or if you have one in place, really can help you manage and navigate those waters. So I think in today’s world, I think some nonprofits that maybe haven’t implemented a CRM strategy, or an application or service or cloud product, wherever the case may be, are could potentially find themselves in today’s world wishing they had that now to kind of manage the Change that they’re going through, communicate better with donors, and especially volunteers in today’s nonprofit world, given the pandemic, um, how do you volunteer? And what does that changing? Like? How does that in electronic communications and working from home and just really key? So that’s one thing about the CRM world The other thing that impacts the nonprofit’s not that it doesn’t impact profit for-profit organizations, but, you know, we have new challenges related to especially internationally related to you know, purchase personally identifiable information, how we report breaches, rules, regulations, potential fines, you know, internationally if we don’t do something, right. So, having full control or management or access or understanding of how you’re doing managing data. It could be very powerful if you had a CRM system. So I think some organizations are looking to CRM systems to solve some law or regulatory, or data protection type issues that they might be dealing with or that they, their executive team knows I have to manage it’s kind of it’s very tough out there. And then the last thing I’d say is that many of us in the nonprofit world, have common partners. We have common people we serve. Sometimes our business models are our CRM is full of names of those we serve. Some nonprofits have no names of the people that are served by their, by their caught by what they do. So it just varies. But what we find is, CRM can allow you to serve who you serve better and to communicate with your potential donors or the people that want to help you better. So I think the reality is setting in that no matter how big or large your nonprofit, that people are out there serving, maybe the same communities might have an advantage in their success. So that’s another key thing. That is kind of real now. And of course, that means that our products, you know, SAS cloud-based solutions and that sort of thing, that maybe weren’t there a few years ago are there now.

Boris Kievsky 8:31
So that’s all awesome stuff to share and to understand. And I want to dive into a few of those things. It occurs to me though, that so far, you and I’ve been talking, we’ve been talking about CRMs. But we haven’t actually defined or explained for anyone who doesn’t necessarily know because I’m sure some younger nonprofits, people who are kind of doing grassroots work, haven’t even thought about it yet, or they have didn’t realize. So a CRM is in nonprofit terms a Constituent Relationship Management application, right? In the for-profit world, it’s customer relationship management. But nonprofits have a different need. Because as you said, we’re also working with volunteers with partners. And so those are all our constituents, our stakeholders in the CRM becomes the central digital hub for that information, both incoming and outgoing. So if you collect information about people that you’re serving, or that you’re working with, and then you use that information, and usually again, through the CRM, if you’re able to optimize it well, to then communicate back out to them depending on their interests, their interactions, and keep the cycle, the loop closed and repeating. Right.

Mike Panas 9:47
Yeah, you summed that up really good. Yes, that’s correct.

Boris Kievsky 9:52
So you obviously work for a large and well well funded Not that every no nonprofit is ever not worried about funding organization. Do smaller organizations need to be looking to adopting a CRM? When is it time for nonprofit to look for one?

Mike Panas 10:14
Well, I think even startup nonprofits should consider the utilization of technology. I think your size there, there are good solutions out there that would fit into the small nonprofit in a small foundation into a small school Foundation if you will. So I think it’s very important to consider that no matter how large you are, where you’re at in your lifecycle, we’re 41 years old, but the organization that’s two years old, and expect to grow, should really consider that. So if you were to consider there are two reasons for that. One is that there’s potential for a solution to help you grow right? To help you do what you want to do better, serve the good or do the good if you will. But the other thing is if the founders, even a small organization or the executive team on a larger organization, follow kind of a systematic approach of considering a CRM, you will uncover things just by that process that could help your business. So the the the the ethical, analytical side strategic conversations about really constituent management, which is all the things you explain, these are all of our different types of constituents. That’s the first thing an organization should look at, you know, whether you’re considering a CRM or not, you need to identify your constituent profiles. And then you need to identify so that’s number one, and have a strategy for all of those constituents. What are we expecting to do with volunteers? What are we expecting to do with people that come to events? What are we expecting to do? And in today’s world, not like I mean, technology is everywhere, but then you take the next step and say, What data elements do I need to manage those? Those constituents? I’ll call them profiles are different types of constituents in the world because they will vary just like you said, you know, what is the path for those constituents? A lot of times we think about donors, but sometimes an event participant, sometimes a volunteer, sometimes a board member, is also potentially a great donor. And having that data and communicating with them easily, whether your smaller largest, I think, just critical. So and that’s the power of the CRM, where you could potentially harness that power for your organization.

Boris Kievsky 12:48
And in terms of the types of CRM that are out there, like you said, there are ones that are accessible to organizations of just about any size, the only limitation really being your resource of man-hours or woman hours to actually be able to manage it and look into it, but at least collecting data in the first place so that hopefully, at some point someone comes along and can help you with that, I think is key. There’s a lot of people use, for example, MailChimp for their email communications. In a way, MailChimp is a very kind of low key CRM, actually, they’re doing a lot on the E-Commerce site to become a more full-fledged system for them. But even for nonprofits, a lot of my clients will categorize them, right. So you have one list, hopefully. And then you have categories for people that are your board members, or people who have attended a certain event, or people who have done specific things donated in maybe even in certain brackets, and then you could customize communications to them. So at a very low, low adoption threshold, low friction level, you’re already collecting data just by using something like that rather than say, emailing directly out of your Gmail or something like that.

Mike Panas 14:03
Oh, yeah, definitely. And that’s it in this in the nonprofit world, that’s called basically list management. So you know how to effectively market if you will, or build your relationship and move your relationship along with that, that path if you will to, maximize your relationship. And I think, you know, the leap of faith sometimes is, a lot of times donors or people you have relationships with are looking for more opportunities to work with you. It’s just we don’t get the message to them. But it was like MailChimp, which I call an ancillary package, if you will, that would bolt on nicely. And we actually use MailChimp in one instance here for that exact same reason. We have a child sponsorship program, but we like to use MailChimp to work with people that sponsor children around the world for us, and we do, we’ve had that it’s kind of a legacy application. But when we looked at our CRM implementation, we view that as an ancillary product that would work with our package.

Boris Kievsky 15:15
I’m agreeing with you completely. And it’s interesting you view it as an ancillary product, but for a lot of organizations might be their, their initially, their primary. Good news is that as long as you have the data, whether you stick with MailChimp once you have a more robust CRM, or you move to something else, some CRMs will have a list management built-in MailChimp being one of the biggest ones and we’re saying it so often I feel like they should be sponsoring us. But being one of the biggest players in the field, they’ll work with a lot of different third party or standalone CRMs like the sales forces and all the others out there.

Mike Panas 15:53
And they have to, to survive. Yeah, no, that’s their business strategy. And, and really, we’re kind of talking about buy versus business. A little bit. I mean, at least it comes to mind. Right?

Boris Kievsky 16:03
Yeah, definitely want to get to that. So great transition. Let’s talk about when is it time to build your own CRM versus just buying one off the shelf? What do you need to look at and decide to do that?

Mike Panas 16:18
Yeah. So I mean, looking at the hundred thousand foot level, generally speaking, if we look at buy versus build, I think for nonprofits, and again, this doesn’t apply to all but maybe the 80/20 rule, you want to you really want to look at a buy for a CRM versus a build, generally speaking, and what a CRM can do for you and the enhancements that are made in the management of that. We talked about laws and regulations. And if you have a SaaS product, the cloud product, you know, you put the responsibility on them to protect your data, whether they’re a processor or a controller whatever the case may be, there’s going to be some fundamental things that are a byproduct of them, selling you a subscription cloud subscription that you put on them. You know, we can’t afford to hire seven PhDs and know all about protecting data. I mean, it’s just not feasible. So there’s a trade-off there. But generally speaking, I think a CRM, a core CRM platform, is probably I would focus more on a buy decision versus a build. Building has, if you look at laws, regulations, the changing landscape out there, and the fact that many, many, many organizations are saying I’m going to offer SAS cloud services to nonprofits based upon their size and their industry. In a per-user basis, it could be a very cost-effective way to do things versus building in today’s market, but that’s for the core solution that’s for the base core CRM, then you have the option to look at building or using other products, we have a two-core system. Well, two ancillary systems that work with CRM that we built internally because we just couldn’t find those out there and our CRM system, we could never pay enough money to modify it to do what we want it to. So I think the strategy when you’re looking at buying versus build is not to ignore the ancillary systems, whether that’s MailChimp something you’ve developed your own website, not using the website that may be provided by your CRM, because CRM solutions, try and grow also the vendors trying and have these other bolt-on packages. And you know, especially in the nonprofit industry, you’ll hear about, this CRM vendor purchase this package to bolt on to theirs, and you know, and it’s littered with failures and successes, right? So, you know, don’t necessarily look at throwing away what you’re doing with what I call ancillary systems. Those may be a very good long term solution for you, and then you’re just then you can evaluate the core CRM, and their ability to provide a good SDK or API model for you. And that includes business analytics and warehousing type stuff. So, to me, that’s where the build versus buy where it lands, I would be my recommendation of people called me I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to be the project manager, if you will, for a large build direction for a large nonprofit. I mean, that has, I mean, you can talk to nonprofits, or midsize to larger and the end and the landscapes littered with CRM failures are trying to build your own application.

Boris Kievsky 19:47
Yeah, it’s very similar in so many different aspects of digital life in general, but in just about anything, there are professionals out there experts out there who already do it and they devote all their time and their staff to maintaining it, making sure that it’s running up to legal codes up to, you know, standards, web standards and information standards that are out there, to do something and build it yourself. You have to have a full time dedicated team to just keep up. On the other hand, when it’s actually I think when you’re a small enough nonprofit, something simple that you could build together, literally, with Google applications. If you only need a certain amount of data, and there are certain interactions, you could build on pretty quickly, and it’ll work just fine for you. But as soon as you can, it’s easier to offload that responsibility to a third party, assuming that they can do the things you want them to do. And going back to you’re talking about CRMs that are now also doing ancillary services and products. My experience has been, that rarely works well, if they try to become all things to all people, and that just makes them not the best at any one thing. So I personally look for, whether it’s the website platform that you’re building on, or the CRM that you’re using, I want the ones that are going to be most interoperable and most flexible and be the best at the thing they do, rather than the one that will do just everything for me, because as soon as you hit any limitation, you’re now stuck. And I’m working with a client right now who was using a CRM, which shall not be named right now. And the CRM had promised certain ancillary features that would interact with their website, and a few years ago, just stopped, stopped developing those so they’re no longer even supported. And now they’re stuck. Now they’re looking at actually going to a whole new CRM, just to get the features that they need.

Mike Panas 21:56
Yeah. And I think everything you’re saying is right, and then if you take that mindset, and then you apply it to the org, whether you’re smaller, large organizations, you know, constituent profile strategy, if you will, that tells you, you know, if your focus is, maybe you’re a nonprofit, and you’re small and your focus is and I’m a found person, you know, a private foundation and you have specific people you want to serve in your, in your data for the first two years is only going to be made up those people you serve, and that’s easily managed through lists and MailChimp. for that period of time, that’s great. But if you look at strategically, where you’re going to go, where you might, you know, is your strategy too, to maybe moving from a foundational approach to a nonprofit approach, maybe you have to do that for tax reasons, who knows, but if he at least is talking about the potential constituents in your world long term, that kind of also allows you to develop strategies and start tracking data and use data, right? So if you ever do convert to a CRM package or things like that, you know, you understand how your data is being used and what you’re collecting and how you’re managing it. A lot of times, you know, people get into trouble and they go, man, if we would have just done these things for the last two years, this is us embracing the CRM package, it gives us all these other things would have been much easier. And so I think that’s an important strategy. It all goes back to me for our CRM is, like you said, it’s a constituent relationship management system. To define your constituents to find the profiles of them and where you’re going short term and long term. And if it’s all about donations, and it’s all about donations, and you may want a CRM to help you properly take credit card transactions and report certain information about that and protect their personal information and make sure you have tokens versus, you know, encrypted credit card numbers and things like that, because you can I think one of the things you let you didn’t say, but I heard you say is you’re forced to if you have a problem, you’re forced to operationally fix it, which means your own internal manpower. So if these two pieces of the solution don’t work together, there’s a gap. And that gap is usually filled with manpower. It’s reentry. It’s checking, it’s balancing and see sort of thing. So, yes. describing all that and having an architecture for that with ancillary products is just very, very important. Because you will plug those holes and unfortunately, it’s with manpower.Unless then you want to do is that staff when you go to a CRM system,

Boris Kievsky 24:46
So in terms of the types of information that you want to be tracking in your CRM and things that you want to be considered, considering as you’re setting this up, certain things obviously, lend themselves more easily to integrating with a CRM, like digital acquisition versus other what I call legacy media, but they’re still very effective certainly for nonprofits. Can you talk to me a little bit about donor acquisition models and which ones are going to work easiest and what you have to look forward to depending on in a CRM, depending on what you’re currently doing?

Mike Panas 25:25
yeah. So, so I think when people, you know, mentioned, you know, what’s our donor acquisition strategies, or, you know, how are we gonna, you know, what’s our plan, if you will, and, you know, usually led by, a chief marketing officer or chief development officer in the nonprofit world. It’s really donor acquisition and then retention. So I think he has, you know, the word to the wise is, you know, we sometimes we focus more on the acquisition strategies if that makes sense than we do on the retention of who we already have. So I think that’s kind of the first thing is to create a donor acquisition strategy that includes not only the acquisition but the strategy, the nurturing

Boris Kievsky 26:18
Yeah, to get them to keep being a donor and hopefully leading them up the chain to become greater and greater supporters. Right.

Mike Panas 26:26
Yeah. And you know, sometimes we say supporters, right of the organization or things like that But I think that’s just an important thing to look at now. Each nonprofit, has different strategies for donor acquisition, right. And it depends on who you’re serving. And then what your, donor what do you need donations for? Is it cash, is it gifting kind Things like that. So, to me, it’s kind of a, I live in Oklahoma in Oklahoma, although I’ve never worked for a gas company. You know, the talk here is when you’re talking to oil and gas professionals, you know, you hear this word upstream and downstream right. And the movement of oil and all this was very similar in the nonprofit world, I think and we refer to upstream individual donors, upstream corporate cash donors, individual support and then also corporate GIK Gift in Kind in our world we receive a large volume of food from our upstream gift-in-kind partners. Those are all you know, those are donors I mean, those are people we have relationships with. So, I think if an organization from a donor acquisition model can the employee one thing is to look at your entire process, if you will, your upstream or downstream who you’re serving, we actually have zero people in our database, who are in need of food, children who are needing food. From a domestic perspective, we have that internationally. Because we have a program we execute programs internationally for children across 10 countries. But domestically, our database has zero information about that, because we have downstream partners who execute that. So what’s important is understanding from a donor acquisition perspective is understanding what you’re doing, who you’re serving, and then turn that into strategies to allow you to acquire relationships with donors out there supporters out there and grow that from a communication. So sometimes it’s information that comes back to a pure pipeline if you will. And that has to be part of your strategy for acquiring doctors and retention of those doctors. And if you don’t, if you don’t, and that’s one of our ancillary packages, by the way, where we have the corporate part I’m sorry, we have. We have partners, sometimes or corporations, but we have partners downstream regional food banks, pantries, churches, Meals on Wheels programs, and those sorts of things where we provide donations to them. And they execute on that. Well, that collaboration communication for us is a strategic initiative to increase our capabilities in that area, which we’ve elected to have that as an ancillary solution to our CRM, our CRM package. So donor acquisition looks have to look at your entire pipeline if you will use an oil and gas term of how you do business as well.

Boris Kievsky 29:53
So depending on your donor acquisition and constituent acquisition strategies, I guess you’re going to need to consider different elements of what a CRM can and cannot do for you. And sometimes I’m thinking on a smaller nonprofit scale, it might be some data entry, right? Some manual labor to get people who are, for example, donating still by mail by check, that’s not automatically going to go into a digital platform. Although, if you start out with the digital platform for the mailings in the first place, then they already have account records. But you got to go back in and you got to, you know, add in some data, in order to keep that relationship going and tracking the performance over time that way

Mike Panas 30:41
And we have a large, you know, direct mail effort in our company, and we had a and of course, that’s a donor acquisition model. We have that and we’re 41 years old, so you can imagine that’s where it started, along with, you know, television and that sort of thing, but we had a very long conversation about the analytics and the data flow between our new CRM system and providing those analytics to do the best job we can. Not only donor retention, but new donor acquisition, and lapsed donors. Of course, those people who haven’t heard from us we lost contact with them. And like you mentioned earlier, sometimes your CRM solution provider can also provide other analytic tools, but they also have access to other data analytic tools. I shouldn’t say data analytic tools, where they mined and gather and provide you with data about your donors that you don’t know about. Because that’s that’s a value add right from them. And then that goes downstream into our mailing or donor acquisition and then the success or maybe not success of a particular mail income back upstream. And then so that’s a critical component of your, of your CRM integration.

Boris Kievsky 32:07
Yeah, as long as those, uh, those ancillary sources of information about your donors is still up to code, because those codes are changing very quickly too. And a lot of organizations are scrambling a lot of information providers are scrambling to figure out, oh, all of a sudden, we can’t work in California anymore. Sorry, we can’t get you that information. Or in Europe, certain aspects can no longer be gathered and collected without explicit permission and management of privacy rights management, all of those different layers of personal protection that’s not put in which is another reason why it’s great to have something that SAS product outsource versus building something yourself and tracking it all yourself.

Mike Panas 32:50
Yeah, well, I think you bring up a good point. You know, not knowing where all this is going to go we typically in the nonprofit world, we work and assist and share information with organizations of like mine with us. at no cost to them, you know, we’re not trying, we don’t sell a data list. We don’t market something, you know, we don’t do what Amazon does, necessarily. We don’t, we don’t work like that. And typically in the nonprofit world, that’s what you see, hopefully, knock on with us, which see all the time. But having said that, it doesn’t matter. If the California laws say this, just because you’re doing good, it doesn’t mean you know, you’re not burdened with the same thing. So yes, we typically work together with other nonprofit organizations to share how we can do good better if you will, but that doesn’t matter to, you know, to the European laws and regulations and we still have to manage the data. So which all boils down to, you know, what are your ancillary packages doing a What’s your relationship? What’s your agreement, who has the risk of if we’re giving our data to a third party to help us do something with their systems, we get data back. If you take California, for example, we have to know what you’ve been doing with that data. We have to know where you’re storing now, right now, nonprofits are excluded from some of those things from the California laws. And we’re trying to keep it that way. But it’s going to happen. I think, the moral of the story and what you bring up, which I think is a great point, is that we need to be managing that now and having a good understanding if you have an outsourced or a SaaS product, or even if it’s in house, but it’s a software vendor. You need to be in tune with what they’re doing, and where your data stored and you know, is on a boat in the sea somewhere in a data center or is it in you know, Sweden somewhere or whatever, because even where the data is located now is something we have to know. And it’s just it’s a burden that, nonprofits like most people have to deal are going to have to deal with.

Boris Kievsky 35:17
Like, this is all really important stuff to know and to discuss. We’re past our half-hour that I asked you to promise me today. So I really appreciate all your time. I asked you for a couple of resources to spotlight you’d suggested people check out and 10 and nonprofit quarterly. Why are those organizations?

Mike Panas 35:41
Well, I like their approach to communications. I mean, it’s very MPR like, if you will, I think, which is great. The other thing is, you know, ask vendors. I mean, vendors are a free resource, whether it’s, you know, pick any CRM system or whatever and They like to talk about what they do. They like to talk about their solutions or product, their approach. And they can help educate especially a new organization, looking for a CRM system, invite those vendors, now it’s, it’s all going to be over zoom or whatever. So it’s easy to have those meetings. it’s cost-effective for them, it’s cost-effective for you and just hear what they have to say, let them present their solution, how it can value your company. And there, they’re an endless resource for you.

Boris Kievsky 36:28
Yeah, I’m sure they’ll talk to you as long as you want is fantastic. We’ll put that in the show notes today, along with that antenne nonprofit quarterly as an action step that nonprofits can take is reach out to vendors of CRMs to see what they offer, actually realized earlier today that there’s an article I have from a couple of years ago on the site, about how to pick a CRM, what things to be looking for and looking out for. So we’ll link to that as well. Before we wrap up, Mike, what should nonprofits do? If someone listening to this show wants to follow up with you, or keep up with the work that you’re doing, what do you advise?

Mike Panas 37:07
Yeah. You connect me on LinkedIn is probably the easiest way. If not search for, you know It’s easy Mike.panas, but I’m on the leadership team on the website, but just, you know, find our number you can call our 800 number, they’ll connect you to me. But LinkedIn is always a good connection point. Just search for me I’m under Michael Panas on Linkedin. So, yeah, I’m happy to talk. I talk with a lot of nonprofits who’ve been looking at CRM, and, you know, we want to help people out there that are in the nonprofit world doing good. I mean, you know, and if I can help them save money or reduce risk or whatever, it just helps them do what they do better, and use those monies for what they do downstream to the people that serve so just give me a ring connect on LinkedIn. I appreciate it.

Boris Kievsky 37:55
We’ll have your LinkedIn profile already linked on the episode show notes as well. listening to the show, it is NP Hero as in episode 12. We will redirect you to the show notes for this entire episode. Everything that Mike had to say with the transcript with the audio of the video, we package it all to make it as easy as possible. Mike, thank you again so much for your time and all the valuable information and for offering to talk to more people out there that are facing these types of questions and challenges.

Mike Panas 38:40
Well, glad to help and appreciate the time. Thanks, Boris.

Boris Kievsky 38:43
Thank you. Bye Bye, everybody. Take care.

Exit 38:48
Thank you all for watching and listening to the nonprofit Hero Factory. We hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating war heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show and YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think by leaving a review

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • A CRM, in nonprofits terms, refers to a Constituent Relationship Management system. They are used by nonprofits to manage relationships with any and all stakeholders involved in furthering your mission—including donors, volunteers and partners.
  • Collecting and tracking information about your constituents improves your ability to communicate with them as unique individuals, rather than anonymous groups. A successful CRM implementation helps store and manage details that routinely get forgotten.
  • Even nonprofits that don’t have a CRM are likely already using software that either acts like a CRM or interacts with one, including email platforms like MailChimp or donation systems.
  • Nonprofits of any size can make good use of a CRM, and there are options to fit nearly any budget. Although they may add to your operating costs, the value generally outweighs the price as they help you retain donors, attract new ones, and grow your outreach.
  • When deciding if you should “build or buy,” consider the amount of resources your organization would need to keep up with the latest regulations and best practices. This is why an external platform is often the best option, because they have entire teams devoted to all of the legal and practical nuances.
  • Many CRMs offer the ability to expand functionality through ancillary products through integrations, APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits).

Action Steps: What Now?

About this week’s guest

Michael Panas

Michael Panas

Chief Information Officer, Feed the Children

Mike serves on the Feed the Children executive team as the corporation’s Chief Information Officer and recently managed the organization’s conversion to a new CRM solution. As a technology professional, he has worked for NCR Corporation, US West, bank holding companies, and large health organizations. For the past 12 years he has provided technology social change leadership to several national cause initiatives, established and chaired non-profits, and served on several non-profit boards.

Connect with Michael Panas