When Rebekah Jones began as the Development Director of Made to Flourish, she inherited a Salesforce database that had been set up by a consultant. “I quickly learned that a lot of our CRM had been cobbled together and that the consultant would have to do all of these little things on the backend to make any kind of changes. It was really a laborious process of reaching out to one person and trying to explain what we needed,” she says. “Salesforce generously offers that nonprofit ‘free’ version, but you end up spending more money on the back-end with consultants.”
The situation didn’t meet the needs of the growing organization. “We were tied to this consultant for every little change we needed to make. So I felt really hindered when I wanted to add fields or do workflows,” says Rebekah. “I just felt stuck.”
Fundraising and sales may have some things in common, but they’re not the same thing. Rebekah notes, “The Salesforce CRM wasn’t built for fundraising. You can just tell. We were trying to fit a sales pipeline into what we needed to do,” Rebekah says.
In addition to requiring help from a consultant to make even minor changes, Rebekah knew Salesforce would no longer be economical as soon as Made to Flourish grew. “There’s really this cliff,” she explained. “You get 10 free licenses, but once you hit 10, you’re suddenly in this new arena.”
Made to Flourish has a national network of fundraisers and leaders across the country. Keeping everyone on the same page was a challenge without tools to share information across the organization. Using Salesforce wasn’t an option–it wasn’t built for that kind of collaboration and would require too many licenses.
“Our city network leaders in 25 cities kept track of who was in their network through one big Excel sheet,” says Paige Wiley, Engagement Coordinator. With this system, it wasn’t possible to get a complete picture of donors and participants across the organization.
Instead of relying on an outside consultant, the team at Made to Flourish finds it easy to manage Virtuous on their own.
“I worked in Salesforce a little bit before Virtuous, and the difference of a CRM being made specifically for nonprofits has been such a gift,” says Paige. “It’s a really pretty user interface with really easy functionality. I was a communications major, I have no systems or data background, but Virtuous has been easy to use and figure out. The support team has been helpful and answered questions along the way.”
Bethany Van Eps, Supporter Service Coordinator, agrees. “We feel very comfortable using the chat feature and getting help and having things tweaked for us if we need. When custom reports weren’t working for me, I was able to reach out and get the problem solved quickly.”
“I think a lot of people think you can pick a CRM and just have it do everything. But actually, you’re always going to need someone who cares about it, loves data, and can be strategic with it. What Virtuous does is allows that person to be anyone on your team,” says Rebekah.
“Where before you needed to have some IT background or coding skills, Virtuous really democratizes the process. You do have to have eyes on a database and have care, and you do need to do cleanup and maintenance. Virtuous makes it easy for anyone to do that.”
Since Virtuous makes it simple to segment donors and automate communications, the team at Made to Flourish has gotten more sophisticated with their email and multi-channel communication strategies.
“I can create a message that’s for pastors, one for pastors who have donated, non-pastors, and non-pastors who have donated. There’s four buckets now where what we’re saying to them is really unique to each situation,” says Rebekah. “It’s been a great relational aid and really an engine behind our annual campaign. Our annual campaign has at least doubled in the last two years just because we’ve used Virtuous to send and segment our emails.”
“We figured out how to use the campaign tool and how to segment, which we had not explored before,” said Bethany. “That was a big step for us, to be able to segment out specific messaging. Even if we would have sent the same email to everyone and they all would have responded, it was cool to have the data segmented when it came in and to know when someone had already donated and was choosing to engage with us again. That was big.”
With a new CRM came the opportunity to approach data more methodically. “We also have used Virtuous to clarify our data,” says Bethany. “We’ve just created a new process with tags to sort out major donor pipelines and so that we can see portfolios. Virtuous is very visual in that way, and we really appreciate that. It’s a huge help in our major donor strategy.”
“I think using Virtuous has ramped up engagement,” says Paige. “As the engagement coordinator, I’ve used it to lead people through a welcome series, or even just a ‘start here’ form on our website, making sure they are getting into our system the right way. With Virtuous, I can make sure we have a touch point with new people right after they want to join or they want information. I see the names of everyone who comes through every week and make sure they get something physically in the mail from us. I built out four journeys series, for pastors, supporters, and influencers.”
Now, it’s easier to try new things. “We’ve grown,” Bethany says. “We’ve started a monthly giving community email series. We’ve been able to plant more seeds and even start more annual campaigns because it’s so easy with the campaign tab. There are a lot of things we’ve been able to start because it seems less daunting with Virtuous having already done a lot of the building out for us.”
“One of the reasons I chose Virtuous was that there’s so much flexibility to choose your team roles,” says Rebekah. “We have a regional development team that uses it for fundraising, and we’ve also given access to 50 of our part-time city network leaders to manage relationships as they see fit. We can segment by city and set it so they won’t see financial information. It’s so flexible.”
The regional development representatives use workflows and tasks in Virtuous everyday. “Currently, each of our reps oversees a region that has around 5-6 of our network cities where we’re working with churches and pastors. So they’re in Virtuous day-to-day. They have it on their phones. They’re quickly adding notes, contacts, and checking in with people. They use it in a task-driven way,” Rebekah says. “Bethany and I create tags and automations in Virtuous to help them know when to call people, when to write thank you notes, and when a gift has been made so they can reach out to the donor. It’s a really beautiful interface for them to be in. I think it’s easy and intuitive.”
With Virtuous, the city network leaders are no longer wrangling a giant spreadsheet. “Virtuous allows us to give access to each of those leaders, in each of those 25 cities. They each have their own group based on their city networks, with real-time updated information,” says Paige.
Because Virtuous is made for nonprofits, and only nonprofits, the Made to Flourish team doesn’t have to wrestle it to meet their needs.
“Towards the end of 2020, we started using the major gift Pipeline tool. We’re still exploring it and figuring out how the strategy we already have fits into it. That was a really fun tool to poke around with,” says Bethany. “When the custom reports feature came out, I was able to generate some custom reports in Virtuous that our VP of Philanthropy had created in an Excel doc. I was able to replicate it pretty closely in Virtuous.”
Virtuous is more than a CRM, it’s also a team of people dedicated to your organization’s success and cheering you on. Rebekah says, “What’s been incredible is having the Virtuous team be so responsive. Virtuous talks about responsive fundraising and encourages us to be responsive with our donors, but I have noticed that Virtuous takes the same posture with us as clients. That’s been the biggest thing that we’ve loved, where we’ve been able to work together with the Virtuous team.”
From major gifts to donor journeys, Virtuous supports the team at Made to Flourish as they build more responsive, personalized relationships with their donors.
Virtuous is the responsive fundraising software platform proven to help nonprofit organizations increase generosity by serving all donors personally, no matter their gift size.