Museums, Food banks, Senior centers, Shelters
What do these have in common?
They are all not-for-profit businesses (NFP). Members of this special club are charged with helping others, doing more with less, and with more efficiency than should be humanly possible. Their mission of change and help is what drives people to work in this industry and other people to donate to these organizations. But, make no mistake, they are businesses, and businesses have a bottom line. NFPs need to steward their resources wisely and cover costs.
Unlike private industry, the resources are leaner. NFPs are perpetually in start-up mode. Every product or service needs to be able to do double or even triple duty. Staff salaries are generally by far the largest part of any NFP’s operating budget and even then they are short staffed with personnel performing the duties of multiple positions simultaneously.
Not for Profits need funding / sales just like startups
Essential for the modern NFP is effective donor engagement and fundraising. Back in the day, staff would enter names and addresses into Excel spreadsheets and mail merge the documents in Word each time a mailing went out. There was no way to track tasks or interactions. The process was laborious and time consuming. And then the CRM was created, and NFP staff realized that a for profit sales tool like Salesforce, could be utilized to assist with development and fundraising tasks.
A CRM improved data storage and utility as well as contact options such as on-line ticketing, virtual donations, and contacts via text or email. It was an improvement, but staff time was still limited.
The evolution of the CRM benefits both for profit sales and NFPs alike. Companies like Sentia have created easy to use add-ons for Salesforce that automate many of the repetitive time-consuming aspects of a CRM. Widgets that provide lists of donors to thank via phone and others to reach out to, automated thank you letters, automated ticketing, and daily to do lists. These kinds of innovations make the NFP workload achievable.
An overburdened staff has breathing space and can achieve not just more with less and tread water but be able to advance their organizations in a way that supports NFP’s missions of public service and creation of a greater good benefitting not just the members of the organization and giving better value to the donors but also the community as a whole.
K. Michelle Hearne Arthur, Ph.D., Began her museum career as a member of the Department of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York before moving to an ED Role at Saratoga Museum. Michelle’s experience spans both the for profit and not-for-profit world as well as teaching at several colleges. Her publications include articles and contributions to books on the topics of manuscript studies, material culture, and the use of image in political propaganda. You can follow her on LinkedIn.