Time to fire up the spreadsheets and calculators! Budget season is upon us and for many nonprofit organizations, this spawns a flurry of strategic planning as everyone gets in line for the budget dollars for their part of achieving the goals and objectives of the mission.

First and foremost, let’s start with goals: What are the BIG goals that you have for your CRM strategy? These are usually the “big ticket” budget items. Examples may include complete technology changes or large system upgrades, strategic organizational planning with a third party consultant outfit or process restructuring (i.e. deciding to completely revamp your donor management process or General Ledger coding structure in the Business and Development Office). These types of major changes often involve “more cooks in the budgeting kitchen” so plan accordingly as these types of projects often are treated a little differently than the norm.

Speaking of planning, here are six tips to help you with your CRM budget planning:

  1. Get to know your budget process intimately. Pay close attention to the relative limits on budget items, what types of expenses require executive and Board approval and who needs to be involved. It is better to know these rules up front than to be surprised in the 11th hour.
  2. Work backwards. Know each step of the process and plan for the unexpected as you drive to meet your timelines, working backwards from your ultimate deadlines for the budget process. One tip is to create your own budget planning project plan if you are managing a lot of moving pieces and need to get a lot of buy-in before submitting.
  3. Just prove it! If your budgeted items don’t all get through or you are asked to demonstrate viability in order to secure more budget, decide how to phase things in or prove your case through a small proof of concept or pilot project.
  4. The early bird…starts planning for next year…right away! Gather constructive feedback from this year’s budgeting process to help for next year’s planning.
  5. Show me the ROI. Be prepared to make your business case and define ROI metrics and don’t be afraid to ask for internal/external examples and templates to make sure you are on track with the expectations of your organization.
  6. Look for the low hanging fruit. While focused on the large ticket budget items, don’t lose sight of the (often smaller) budget items that can help make an often immediate impact-areas like training, data management and cleanup and even change management for staff members to get everyone aligned on the current vision. Other good examples are data appends and overlays to clean up or enhance data with updated addresses, phone numbers or wealth info.

Would love to hear about other great tips to share for budgeting for CRM initiatives…so please leave a comment if you have a best practice to share!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tiffany Crumpton is the Director of Solution Management and Business Strategy at Blackbaud. In her previous role, she led the CRM marketing team for Blackbaud’s Enterprise solutions. She also managed Blackbaud’s Enterprise Solutions Engineer group and worked as a senior consultant and software instructor product lead, traveling across the globe working with customers to identify their business processes and needs to successfully implement Blackbaud products. Tiffany loves talking about all things CRM and how nonprofit organizations utilize these principles to analyze, identify, engage, and ultimately delight their constituents. Tiffany recently spent several years on the fundraising board of a local nonprofit and now serves as the chairperson of a community project group that exists to combat hunger and homelessness in the local community. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and watching college football. Connect with Tiffany on Twitter at @tiffanycrumpton.

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