Top 5 Nonprofit CRM Technology Trends

Liz Murray

Director, Data Ecosystem Consulting

Liz works closely with clients to align their people, processes, and information systems to maximize fundraising and engagement activities.
June 16, 2023

As consultants, we have the privilege of working with lots of amazing nonprofit organizations. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is being able to see how different clients are using technology to transform their organizations and to better serve their communities. Here are five of the top trends that we are seeing in 2023 around nonprofit CRM technology 

1. Aligning Strategy with Technology 

Nonprofits are thinking carefully about their top organizational priorities to strategically manage their finite resources and maximize results. We see this in terms of implementation timing for new systems. For example, implementing a new CRM before the start of a capital campaign or tying a new ticketing system to a building expansion project. Nonprofits are considering how business changes will impact their technology needs around fundraising, ticketing, membership, marketing, advocacy, and finance, and incorporating necessary optimization or replacement projects into their strategic plans.  

Nonprofits are also folding key operational priorities into their CRM projects, such as investing heavily in data cleanup or documentation as part of the implementation project scope. They are seizing the opportunity to make other necessary improvements that will increase their overall return on the investment. 

2. Evaluating Data Ecosystems

Nonprofits are taking a holistic approach to evaluating and understanding their data ecosystem (a complex network of interconnected systems formed by people, processes, and data). Organizations are no longer settling for disparate systems and are moving towards an ecosystem management strategy to data. While integrations are an essential part of a healthy ecosystem, nonprofits are additionally focusing on other key components such as culture, governance, quality, security, and reporting. Many organizations are looking to develop a multi-year technology roadmap to document their overall strategy addressing the entire ecosystem as a whole, including technology, integrations, and reporting.

3. Prioritizing Data Governance

Data governance—the planning, oversight, and control over management and use of data—is taking an increasingly important role in CRM technology management. Many of our clients are taking advantage of system changes to not only overhaul their technology, but institute new practices. Data governance is no longer seen as a “we’ll get to this one day” initiative.  

Nonprofits are recognizing the business value of data and how a strong data governance framework supports strategy. Specifically, we are seeing cross-functional data governance teams empowered as data leaders for the organization, responsible for optimizing data across functions and systems. Data governance is more critical than ever and is definitely here to stay! 

4. Replacing Legacy CRM Systems

More and more, we see clients finally addressing their legacy systems. There are countless reasons why this is a good decision (here are a few!). Nonprofits are taking the time to strategically think about their requirements for a new system, evaluating the CRM marketplace, and aligning technology with their strategic goals and business needs. Organizations are starting the process before their legacy CRM is officially sunset by the vendor to manage risk, think ahead, and take control of the timeline.  

5. Taking Advantage of an Evolving CRM Marketplace

A modern CRM is no longer just for big organizations. We’re seeing a lot of smaller organizations searching for new technology and finding that they have options! The CRM marketplace has evolved in recent years, offering more solutions that address the business needs and budget of small to midsize nonprofits. This is fantastic news for the industry as it levels the playing field allowing all organizations the opportunity to leverage CRM technology to support their missions. 

It’s an exciting time to work in nonprofit technology. Nonprofits are modernizing and becoming increasingly sophisticated in their practices and use of technology. CRM technology is becoming more and more accessible, helping to advance everyone’s mission and to make the world a better place!  

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