Tips for Choosing a CRM for Your Museum

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The private sector has long employed customer relationship management (CRM) software, but today, more and more, nonprofits, museums, and other organizations are recognizing the power of having a CRM. There are many options to look at when deciding which CRM to use as each solution employs a different focus, set of features, and cost to consider.

Benefits of CRMs for Museums

CRMs are here to make your job easier and help you succeed. With this tool, you can more effectively manage your members, patrons, and fundraising activities.

Here are a few of the specific benefits that come with using a CRM to help your museum:

1. Leverage Data More Effectively

Your CRM can centralize and organize data related to engagement from your website, email campaigns, phone calls, general attendance, and even social media to create comprehensive profiles of your visitors. This information can be used to gain a bird’s eye view of your various constituents and touch points, improve visitor experience, and help increase visitor retention and sales. With better, more organized data, your organization can make better, more informed decisions to drive your museum forward.

2. Improve Customer Service & Experience

It can be difficult to personalize everyone’s experience, especially considering the volume of visitors that museums receive every day and the ongoing interactions with patrons and members. Using a CRM allows preferences and interests to be saved and linked directly to prospects, donors, patrons, and businesses that your organization interacts with. This extended access to history and preferences can help you provide a higher level of customer service and experience.

3. Gain Return on Investment

For every dollar invested in a CRM, companies see an average return of $5.60!Mic drop.

When searching for a CRM, you’re sure to find systems with features you’ll fall in love with, such as social media integration or email marketing capabilities. The size of your museum and your available budget will play a large role in determining which solution is right for you. In no specific order, here are a few CRM options:

CRMs for Large Museums:

Tessitura

Tessitura delivers one unified system that pulls together CRM, ticketing, fundraising, marketing, and even business insights - all with a focus on museums, nonprofits and performing arts centers. Their solution is used by over 590 leading arts and cultural organizations around the world. Museums that use Tessitura include well-known giants such as The Smithsonian, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Blackbaud

Blackbaud’s CRM options are specifically designed for mid-to-large nonprofit institutions. Raiser’s Edge, Blackbaud’s leading product is highly customizable and includes target analytics and goal analysis. Altru provides tools for ticketing, retail, membership analysis, and fundraising. Altru can also run on your mobile device, allowing you to keep up with sales and donations on the go! Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Buffalo Museum of Science, and Portland Museum of Art are just a few of the museums leveraging Blackbaud’s solutions.

Salesforce

SalesForce is the largest CRM provider on the planet. Previously focused on the needs of the business world, SalesForce can be customized to fit your museum’s unique needs. It’s also cloud-based, which means that the various branches (sales, marketing, analytics, data, etc.) are fully integrated and easily accessible without any local servers. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, one of the largest institutions in the country, is utilizing Salesforce to “give these 1.7 million visitors a personalized, one-to-one experience.”

CRMs for Mid-Sized Museums:

PatronManager

PatronManager offers marketing, ticketing, fundraising, and staff collaboration tools. It’s built on the Salesforce engine, but is geared directly towards the needs of nonprofits. For museums that use PatronManager, check out the Zimmerli Art Museum or the Musical Instrument Museum!

Salesforce Nonprofit Success Pack

The Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP) is a special series of pre-packaged tools available for Salesforce. NPSP gets points for ease of implementation and scalability. Best of all, it’s available for free or greatly discounted for organizations that qualify.

NeonCRM

Neon’s key features help with member management and fundraising, as well as event management and ticketing. Neon can handle donations from multiple channels, and it provides customizable event and online donation pages while allowing you to set up email blasts and automatically send out tax receipts. Museums that use Neon include Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, The Field Museum, and Spartanburg Art Museum.

CRMs for Small Museums:

Fundly

Fundly is a “complete end-to-end system” specifically aimed at small non-profits, and it allows museums to track very specific information, including the training, experience, skills, and interests of your volunteers! It also supports email marketing, direct sharing to social media, and customizable web pages for fundraising campaigns, as well as offering training for new users.

DonorSnap

With DonorSnap, it’s all in the name. Specifically designed to track donors, volunteers, events, and contacts, this solution is web-based and surprisingly affordable since it’s charged by the database size rather than the number of users. 

HubSpot

Yes, there is a free option! HubSpot offers a basic, free CRM with no cap on the number of contacts or users. It keeps things simple with a single dashboard built around a “pipeline,” and it also integrates with Shopify, Salesforce, and Microsoft Dynamics.

How to choose?

Now that you have some options, here are a few tips for choosing the right CRM for your museum:

1. Evaluate your needs, but be flexible

Figure out what your specific needs are. If you don’t find the solution that’s geared towards your core requirements, you might not get the results you need. But, keep in mind, there is rarely a “perfect” solution, so it’s important to be flexible. Keep your eyes on the benefits, not the features, and identify what is a “need to have” versus a “nice to have” to prioritize accordingly.

2. Ask other departments or peer organizations

One of the main goals of using a CRM is to ensure that everyone in an organization has immediate access to the information they need. Check in with other departments to see what their needs are, and ask fellow organizations what tools have worked best for them.

3. Look at the numbers

When choosing a CRM, it’s best if you know how many people will be using the software and the size of your current membership base. Some solutions simply aren’t viable for organizations of a certain size due to cost or complexity.

4. Consider scalability and integration capabilities

If a CRM can’t grow with your organization and doesn’t integrate with your other core solutions, take this into consideration from the start.

5. Recognize both people and product

In addition to getting a new CRM, you’re also getting a new vendor. Make sure they work well with your organization’s approach and have a solid reputation in the industry. Also, be sure to check if they provide training, help with data migration, and include ongoing maintenance.

Utilizing a CRM can help greatly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your museum, resulting in increased revenue, and higher visitor retention. Your museum has its own needs and process to consider when choosing a CRM, but now you have a few helps tips and advice to help you find the perfect fit!

Do you use a CRM? What’s your favorite? Let us know!

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