14) The BackPage: Early Christmas via Brigada: Free CRM/CMS Software

christmas presentIt’s the hap- happiest season of all, right? Nothing says “Ho, Ho, Ho!” like a new full-on customer (constituent) management system combined with an incredibly powerful web content management platform all wrapped up in one, right? Well guess what: break out the stockings. You’re gonna need them. A bunch of powerful churches have gotten together and decided to give something back to the greater Christian community. The result? RockRMS. Check it out at..

What is it? Like we said above, basically, you can use it to run your mega-church. In fact, several mega-churches already ARE running it. Like… one church of 25,000. Another of 20,000. And another of 8,000. And more coming all the time. But beyond that, you can also use it to run your missions agency. It will have online and offline giving solutions, prayer ministry options, and all the entry data you can imagine about people, relationships, and groups.

Is there a downside? I guess one might be — you’ll need someone to oversee and maintain the installation. You don’t need a complete I.T. department, but at the same time, you’ll need someone who knows what he/she is doing. But for this price (free?), maybe it’ll be worth recruiting a volunteer to help you — someone who can partner with you to make this whole thing work.

Is it better than something off-the-shelf? Arguably, yes. Because the installed base has a strong motivation to keep moving forward (in other words, it has definitely reached the “tipping point”), this project will not fail. It WILL go forward and it WILL be effective. Which means — YOU will be effective. No matter what. This won’t generate extra baptisms. But once you get it up and running, you likely won’t forget their birthdays. Now — price doesn’t always signal value. In other words, just because something is free, it doesn’t make it great. Now … if it’s free and if it has already been embraced by some of the nation’s largest mega-churches, now THAT is something to consider. :-)

So I like the odds. They are (literally) 100%.

Just remember — you heard about it in Brigada. :-) But… credit where credit is due… Brigada heard about it from Larrie. (Thanks Larrie!!! May God bless you mightily, brother.)

Now let’s tell the most important part of all: The designers and producers of this top-notch platform are asking for your prayers. They want this project to succeed as much as (more than?) anybody. So they’re asking that you pray for them — and their futures. Please join us in doing so this Christmas season.

11) Best CRM Software Might be Less Expensive Than You Think

tntmpd logoHow about FREE? We asked, in our June 29th edition, “6) Are You In Search of Great Constituency Relationship Software?” Scott commented, “We have used tntmpd (put out by Campus Crusade) for several years now and find it to be quite useful. It syncs perfectly with Outlook and MailChimp, and our mission sends us a file we can import each month with donations that have come it – so we can keep updated on what is coming in and from whom. And best of all, it is free.”

Learn more at…

And Scott, thanks for the input!

6) Are You In Search of Great Constituency Relationship Software?

bloomerangYou’ll see it promoted as “CRM” software – Customer Relationship Management. In the non-profit sector, we sometimes substitute the word, “constituency” for customer… but the idea is the same: How can we keep track of all the people we know? If we keep track of their names, addresses, contact information, and characteristics, we’ll presumably be better at being their friends and saying thank-you when they partner with us through prayer, giving, and meaningful friendships.

There are multiple ways of tracking all these loose bits of information. We’ve covered several previously. See, for example,

However, we haven’t mentioned Bloomerang. I know; funny name. But serious intentions. See them at…

Pricing might scare away some of us. See their model at…

But for those who are serious about helping donors become partners and partners become friends for the Lord’s purposes, this is indeed another viable option. Let us know if you try it please, along with what you conclude.

10) What’s the Best CRM for Non-Profits, Missions Agencies, etc.

For some time now, we’ve used a SugarCRM spin-off called InfoAtHand, hosted internally but available globally, as our Constituent Relation Managing software or CRM. We expect a lot of it. We not only use it to help us remember the addresses for new prospective recruits, but also as a holding tank for data about our current members, donors, vendors, and more. But, we’ve used it since 2006 or so without much modification and, frankly, we’re beginning to feel some pressure to switch. Some of the pieces have now gone south (like the connector to Microsoft Outlook, which we were using to transfer contacts to our smartphones). What’s more, with spam email saturating as much as 1/3 of all internet traffic, today’s spam filters are becoming stricter about what they allow through the pipeline. Nowadays, it’s more and more common that we invest hours on a particular report or bulletin, only to find out that it’s not reaching 1/3 to 1/2 of its intended audience because of a picky filtering system. So we probably need to link more effectively with one of the major email distributors like iContact, Constant Contact, or MailChimp (rather than use our CRM to send the mail out directly). We’re also doing more and more events, which prompted us to need an online solution for registration and online payments. This resulted in adding yet another component (we’re using Wild Apricot, but there are several other equally capable options). What’s more, our CRM lags behind in collaborative tools, so we’ve added Podio to the mix (and we love it, by the way) for team communication and file-sharing. And at the end of the day, the truth is, our workers are no longer jazzed about trying to tweak our SugarCRM spin-off into handling all the nuggets of information we want to keep about every single type of volunteer to whom we relate.

The bottom line is — we probably need to switch. (The pressure under the volcano is mounting. :-) ). So may I ask — what has worked for you? Have you found an affordable solution for tracking contacts in a team environment, cross-pollinated with event registration (without having to double-enter or import-export), interlaced with personnel information as well? Obviously, it should be secure, easy, and affordable.

We’re currently considering:

CiviCRM — (I fear it will be too technical?)

Donor Tools — (no event management)

Non-Profit Easy — (seems most promising?)

Non-Profit DB — (does this seem quirky?)

Your thoughts? Anybody have any experience with any of the programs I mention above? Any other options out there that seem more promising to you? Please use the comments below to clue us in on your best recommendations.

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