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Nonprofit Cybersecurity: 4 Signs of a Trusted CRM Partner

Is your donor data at risk? Here’s what you should be looking for. Your organization manages a significant amount of donor data, making nonprofit cybersecurity a top priority. A CRM is your biggest ally when it comes to protecting and safeguarding this sensitive information. Follow along in this blog as we explore relevant cybersecurity features to look for in a trusted CRM partner, including compliance, disaster recovery, product innovation, and dependable customer support.

When someone hands over their personal information—name, mailing address, email, banking information, or even simple interactions—they’re instilling a lot of trust in your nonprofit organization. As guardians of this sensitive donor data, you have a responsibility to shield their data from any looming cyber attacks,

As the digital environment evolves and becomes more sophisticated, cybercriminals are also changing their tactics, which increases the need for nonprofits to ramp up security measures. Compounded by limited resources, many nonprofits struggle to fortify their defenses adequately, making them prime targets for cyber attacks.

To put this into perspective: Half of nonprofits reported a cyber attack in 2021, and 80% don’t have a plan when it comes to cybersecurity, according to data from BoardEffect.

Because nonprofits face tighter resource constraints, this creates more vulnerabilities in their digital ecosystem, leaving these organizations more susceptible to data breaches.

However, nonprofits can better protect themselves and their donors by leveraging nonprofit CRMs equipped with robust security features. By investing in such platforms, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with cyber threats.

Your CRM Has a Role in Nonprofit Cybersecurity

Your CRM plays an important role in nonprofit cybersecurity, given that its main job is to store and manage vast amounts of sensitive information. Repositories for donor data, financial records, and other confidential information, CRMs often become the prime targets for cyber attacks.

As such, your CRM should have built-in data protections to safeguard against potential breaches and unauthorized access. When cybersecurity falls by the wayside, even reputable platforms can be targets of data breaches.

We saw this unfold in the case of Blackbaud, which recently reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. Because of the platform’s lax data security measures, a hacker was able to infiltrate its network and access the data of millions of donors, which went undetected for three months.

“My organization was involved in [Blackbaud’s] data breach. That was a really huge thing for us with our board. We lost a lot of confidence in the way they handled that,” says Barbara Krusko, Chief Development Officer at Arizona’s Children Association.

Bryan Fegley, Senior Director of Advancement at Dominican Friars, adds on, “That was the moment for our organization where we poked her head out of the trenches to see what was out there. [The data breach] was what started the snowball that turned into the avalanche for us to leave Blackbaud.”

When nonprofit data becomes compromised, it not only jeopardizes the organization’s relationship with its CRM partner but more importantly, it erodes the trust between the nonprofit and its donors. The ramifications of a data breach extend far beyond the immediate security concerns, impacting the organization’s reputation, credibility, and donor relationships.

How a Responsive Nonprofit CRM Protects Your Data

Responsive fundraising is more than responding needs of donors, it also means finding a nonprofit CRM that responds to your organization’s requirements, too. Relying on traditional donor management systems with rudimentary security features is no longer sufficient. Nonprofits need a responsive CRM solution that can continually adapt to their growing needs.

Organizations choose Virtuous for our commitment to not only strengthening donor relationships but also addressing the evolving security and compliance demands of the sector. The safety and security of our nonprofits’ donor data is our highest priority, so we run entirely on the Microsoft Azure Cloud Platform.

Through Microsoft, our nonprofits rest at ease knowing their data is secure and protected with the use of various encryption methods, protocols, and algorithms.

4 Nonprofit Cybersecurity Features to Look for in a Trusted CRM

As cyber threats continue to become more commonplace, nonprofits have an increased responsibility to safeguard the integrity and security of their donor data. As you think of ways to ramp up your data security, your organization might be looking to make the switch to a responsive nonprofit CRM equipped with advanced security features.

Let’s explore four features that you should prioritize when selecting a trusted CRM solution.

1. Above Industry-Standard Compliances and Certifications

When people choose to support your mission, whether it’s through giving, advocacy, or volunteering, they’re placing their trust in your organization to handle their sensitive information responsibly. Safeguarding donor data should be your highest priority.

One of the top considerations for a new CRM for nonprofits is finding a system with the right set of certifications to protect your organization from data breaches and compliance violations. While this sounds straightforward on the surface level, deciphering compliance and regulatory lingo can be pretty intimidating, especially if you’re not an expert in IT.

Since Virtuous is built on the Microsoft Azure platform, we offer one of the most extensive compliance portfolios in the industry.

Here are some key ones to consider:

  • SOC 1, 2, and 3: System and Organization Controls compliance shows that an organization has put good rules in place to make sure its computer systems and data are safe, always accessible when needed, work correctly, and are kept private and confidential. Learn more about the differences between each.
  • PCI: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard ensures that companies that accept, process, store, or transmit credit card information do so in a secure environment. PCI compliance is a layer of protection against theft and fraud by having security requirements like encryption, access control, and network monitoring.
  • HIPAA: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a set of rules and regulations that govern the security and privacy of sensitive healthcare information. It’s a requirement that protects patient health information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.

2. Data Backups and Disaster Recovery

The information in your donor database is your most prized possession. Without this extensive data, you’re unable to communicate with donors or make strategic decisions. In the rare chance that something catastrophic happens and you lose all of your data, you’re starting back from square one. That’s why it’s monumental to have a disaster recovery plan in place.

At Virtuous, we ensure that all customer data is backed up at the transactional level for up to 48 hours. Additionally, daily snapshots of the data are available for rollback to any point in time, providing peace of mind in case of any unforeseen incidents. For our enterprise customers, we offer the option of SQL data for off-site backup upon request, further enhancing data protection measures.

Virtuous also inherits Microsoft Azure’s end-to-end backup and disaster recovery, giving our nonprofits an extra layer of security when something uncontrollable happens. Moreover, data is backed up in multiple geographic regions to ensure a natural disaster doesn’t impact data.

3. Regular Updates in Security and Product Innovation

As technology rapidly evolves and cybercriminals get more creative in their tactics, you need a CRM partner that stays ahead of the curve by innovating and introducing solutions to address these emerging data security challenges.

At Virtuous, we strive to stay at the forefront of nonprofit technology. That’s why we invest in ongoing product development to introduce new fundraising features and functionalities that empower nonprofits to achieve their mission objectives while maintaining the highest standards of data security.

“With Virtuous, we felt like we were adding staff to our team by having all these automations do data cleanup, moves management support work, things like that. We either had to go with Salesforce and maybe hire a database administrator full-time or go with Virtuous and get back time from all of the cool features in Virtuous,” Bryan says.

4. Dedicated and Reliable Support Team

While comprehensive security features are essential for safeguarding sensitive donor data, the ability to promptly address security concerns and resolve issues is equally important. You deserve a technology partner that you can get in touch with when you need it, giving you and your team peace of mind knowing that you have a support team that has your back.

A reliable support team can serve as a valuable resource in times of crisis, providing guidance and assistance to mitigate cybersecurity risks and minimize the impact of potential breaches. Unfortunately, not all technology providers are created equal—even ones that have had a long tenure. Legacy solutions like Blackbaud are notorious for having a support team that is hard to get in touch with. Oftentimes, organizations are required to fill out a lengthy support form and wait in anticipation until someone gets back to them.

“The final nail in the coffin was [Blackbaud’s] service—we could not get any… I just found the service was very, very lacking. You have to pay if you want to call somebody on the phone. The nickel and diming got to be a little too much for me,” Barbara says.

At Virtuous, we place a high value on relationships—both with donors and with our valued customers. That’s why each nonprofit partnering with us is assigned a dedicated account manager who conducts regular check-ins with their team. Additionally, our responsive technical support team is always available to promptly address any questions or resolve any issues that may arise along the way. We’re committed to supporting our customers’ success every step of the way.

“We had a donor telling us we should use Virtuous and a different donor telling us we should use Salesforce. What it came down to for us was all of our interactions with Virtuous were very personal, we felt like it was a great team, everyone seemed competent, and we didn’t get a sense that it was a big company,” Bryan says.

Transitioning to a new technology platform is never a walk in the park. However, if you’re experiencing significant pain points with your current nonprofit CRM provider, especially when it comes to data security, it’s time for a change. Get to know Virtuous’ responsive fundraising technology by chatting with one of our team members.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

Take a self-guided tour of Virtuous, where you can explore the platform at your own pace and see if Virtuous is right for you. 

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

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Todd Shinabarger
Chief Information Officer