Not so long ago, the accepted best practice was to operate on a single CRM platform, with the goal of achieving a 360-degree view of an organization’s constituents. At that time, single CRM approach made sense, and, with good reasons, we believed in it too.
Significant effort and resources were invested to move organizations toward the desired single CRM. Still, the single CRM solution has remained elusive and prohibitively expensive. There were too many systems to bring together, too much data to reconcile, and not enough time or money to do it all quickly enough before the organization changes again – its strategies, its people or its practices.
Moving toward a single CRM model meant choosing more general solutions without sufficient depth in discreet areas, sacrificing functionalities, or investing in costly and difficult-to-maintain customizations. In most organizations, critical functions such as advocacy, online community, peer-to-peer, special events, volunteer engagement, and e-commerce were not adequately served within core CRM solutions. Over time, we began accepting that it isn’t optimal or practical to find a single platform to meet every organizational need. Another approach was needed.
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In the meantime, technologies continued to improve in ways that support a new way of thinking toward the same business goals. CRM solutions and their related applications improved the pre-built integrations they offer, making it easier for nonprofits to adopt them. Even more significant is the development of Business Intelligence tools that can deliver strategic reporting and support complex list segmentation without shuttling data through costly integrations.
Now thought leaders in the nonprofit technology space are increasingly embracing the “best of breed” approach to create an ecosystem of tools and technologies. These tools work in concert with each other, feeding data into analytics or reporting tools to provide insights and help make decisions.
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