006: How to Successfully‌ Migrate ‌Your Nonprofit ‌CRM‌ ‌to‌ ‌‌Salesforce‌

Data leads to insight, and that insight leads to dollars. 

As a nonprofit organization, your data structure and products need to turn the information they hold into stories and those stories into valuable relationships. To do that, you need the right products and structures.

Finding those products and structures, however, means you have to consider how people relate to technology and change. 

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I interviewed Matt Schmitt, digital technology manager at Bethany International, about how he migrated the organization’s data management software from Blackboard’s Razor’s Edge to Salesforce.

Why Should You Migrate Your CRM?

Razor’s Edge has been one of the industry leaders for non-profit donor databases for 20-30 years. But Matt started running into some big issues with it. He wanted to do more with data than Razor’s Edge allows, and he wanted to automate and customize things. 

“At Bethany, we have a very complex system of processes and organizations,” Matt said. It’s got an international organization, a university, a missions agency, and global partners. 

And as Matt put it, “We’re connected in a whole bunch of different ways. Razor’s Edge just it lacks some of the flexibility that we needed to really structure things the way we wanted to.”

Much more importantly, however, Razor’s Edge lacked the ability to set up automation the way Matt wanted it to. 

“When I think of automation,” Matt said, “I think ‘A’ happens; I can now make ‘B’ happen instantly.” 

Without manual intervention, Razor’s Edge couldn’t do that. It’s lack was stopping Bethany from doing what its leaders wanted to do with marketing and donor relationships.

How to Bring All Your Stakeholders Along

Data management requires more than a lightning-fast piece of technology. It’s mainly about how people relate to that technology and their attitude toward changing it. 

It’s important to convince internal stakeholders about the solution you choose because it’s a big decision. At Bethany, it impacted the finance office, development team, marketing office, and the IT office. It also greatly impacted the missions agency. 

“I am sad to say that I didn’t handle it quite right,” Matt said. “There is a better way to do it.” 

Matt gave us the five-step process he would use if he had a time turner and could go back for a do-over. 

  1. Interview all the stakeholders from the beginning. Sit down with them and ask them about what they need in a system. 
  2. Compile all their requirements into a single set of expectations.
  3. Use that research to vet potential systems.
  4. Using the requirements, show people how the new solution fits their needs.
  5. Walk alongside them as they verify that the system actually meets the requirements.

Moving the Data Safely

“So this was this was quite the journey,” he said.

First, Bethany purchased Classy, the donation processor and donation platform that they decided to use with Salesforce.

“After we purchased Classy,” Matt said, “we had to begin funneling all new donations that we were receiving into the new processor.” 

That wasn’t too difficult over the course of a week or two. Matt set up new donation pages and slowly replaced the old donation pages that fed into Razor’s Edge. 

“All our new data was coming into classy for an interim time,” Matt explained.

But now he had to find a way to take all the information that was coming in to Classy and push it into Razor’s Edge because everyone else in the organization was still using the old product. 

“We developed a process using a few Excel sheets and some data imports and exports where we could move the data from Classy to Razor’s Edge,” Matt said, “so we weren’t missing data, and our finance team could know where we were with reporting.”

Then Matt began migrating recurring donations from Razor’s Edge, Blackbaud, and a hodgepodge of systems. 

True Confession: We had four different donation systems running at once. Yeah, it was bad!

“We had a coworker, bless her soul, call hundreds of donors,” Matt told me, “and one after another, migrate their card information from the old system to the new system.”

Technical note: Migrating credit cards is a challenge.

Then Matt started pouring data from Classy into Salesforce using an automated system, which was actually one of the easier steps. He and his colleagues only had to make a few small adjustments in Salesforce because of Bethany’s fairly complex system, but they were able to handle it on the back end inside Salesforce.

The next step was to take all the old data that was in Razor’s Edge but not Classy and move that into Salesforce. That step meant the data got duplicated.

“We just let them live side by side for two or three weeks to work out any kinks,” Matt said, “making sure that we’d run a report at the end of each day.”

Eventually, Matt and his team were confident that Salesforce had the information they needed. So they pulled the plug on Razor’s Edge. 

Why Matt Chose Salesforce Over Other CRMs

There’s a lot out there. Why Salesforce? I asked Matt. 

“If you want to have a good, good system,” he told me, “you really have to think about three individual components and blackboards altogether.”

  1. Donation management system. Salesforce does not manage money and recurring donations. You have to find a different system.
  2. Data storage.What Salesforce does do is the CRM, the storage of all the data, contacts, and relationships between other contacts that you might have in the database.
  3. Marketing automation system. Consider the different pieces you need in order to connect everything together–a whole other tech stack.

“We had to think about it not just as Salesforce, but also of Classy as a software solution for the donation management,” Matt said. “And then we use another piece of software called Autopilot as our marketing automation solution.”

Resources for Making a Migration

Matt just launched Technologist Tips, a website and blog dedicated solely to helping nonprofit and higher ed organizations figure out their tech stacks and software. 

“I’m hoping to build a useful resource where people can come and figure out what they need,” Matt said, “what’s going to meet their requirements best, and how to navigate through some of those tough questions that they might have. Feel free to reach out.” 

Dan Sanchez, MBA

Dan Sanchez is a marketing director, co-host of the B2B Growth show, and blogger. He holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and BS in Marketing Management from Western Governors University. Learn more about Dan »

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