CRM Software Review of NeonCRM

A review of Neon CRM for Nonprofits

In our on going “Search of a Membership Software Series”, we have prepared a quick look at Neon CRM in this article. Please note that this summary below is not intended to provide our full report but rather should serve as a quick overview of the Neon CRM donor software system. For those interested in learning more, we have prepared a detailed “Smart Report” for Nonprofit Executives who would like the full view.

The full report, updated 3/2018, is available upon request from Nonprofit Executives provides detailed information about the software product, company, and support in an easy to read question and answer format.

Neon CRM Nonprofit Software Review

Brief Summary: 

NeonCRM developed by z2Systems is a web-based fundraising and membership system that provides nonprofit organizations with all the tools required to increase donations and memberships while automating common processes and streamlining staff’s day-to-day tasks.

NeonCRM integrates with a nonprofits website that auto-feeds data to a unified database and provides a platform that is accessible for staff, constituents, donors, and members. Per NeonCRM, they believe that they have a powerful CRM database that can be used to track all of the people, organizations, communications, documents, activities, notes, and payments important to a nonprofit mission. There biggest value-add is helping to eliminate using multiple databases and software programs. They offer a single platform with many functional areas required of a nonprofit.

What features does Neon CRM Software include?  

  • One fully integrated CRM database solution.
  • Combined features for combination fundraising and membership based organizations.
  • Membership Management (including Custom Terms, Rolling & Calendar Memberships, Discounts, Online Directories, Constituent Login Portal).
  • Donation Management (including Online Donation Forms, Donation Levels, Unlimited Campaigns, Funds, and Purposes, Pledges, Soft Credits, Matching & Split Gifts, & In-Kind Donations etc.).
  • Grant Tracking is unique.
  • Document Sharing Center.
  • Integrated Events and Fundraising Management (Advanced Ticketing).
  • Mass Email Communications (including tracking, templates, campaign statistics).
  • Staff/Volunteer Project and Timesheet Management.
  • Click2Mail service which allows for instant mailing house queue based on NeonCRM. Constituent action that automatically pushes bulk mail action to Click2Mail mailing services
  • Quickbooks connection is available.
  • Easy Account Search.

Where does Neon CRM Software likely Fit?

  • Small to Low Mid-Tier Associations and Nonprofits.
  • Their “Sweet Spot” tends to be in the 4 to 15 staff range.
  • Nonprofits who desire an “All in One” solution.
  • Nonprofits which have fundraising and membership management needs. Ex. Foundation, Museums, Arts and Cultural, Faith Based, Clubs.

Key Functional Areas of Neon CRM Software?

  • Members, Memberships & Subscriptions (Member Login Portal)
  • Fundraising, Donors & Donations Management
  • Constituents & Volunteers Management
  • Orders Management (Customer Purchases)
  • Events, Attendees & Registrations (Ticketing)
  • Major Prospect & Donor Activity Tracking
  • Email Communications & Auto Emails
  • Targeted Mailed Communications
  • Accounting (AR) with Quickbooks Auto-Synchronization
  • Document Management including Staff Documents & Account Attachments
  • Product Sales & Downloadable Digital Content
  • Website Design Services 

Is NeonCRM the Best CRM Software for Your Association?

We don’t espouse to the belief that there is “one best CRM” for everyone. But, NeonCRM may very well be your best fit.

However, to answer this question with certainty, we need to know more about what makes you unique. And, discuss other insights about this platform which we have curated, clients interviewed, and discuss more detailed information beyond just this summary.

Please know that our detailed analysis and expertise is available upon request. To be sure, our software analysis is not a “pretty brochure”, “marketing noise.” or a “sales pitch.”

Rather, we provide a free objective dialogue and insights designed to help nonprofit executives make a smarter software business decision.

If you are interested in some help with reviewing your options and comparisons, please check out our “vendor matching” services here.

Want More AMS Membership Software Reviews?

Please stay tuned to our ongoing “Searching for A Smart AMS Software” where we will continue to provide further insights into membership database software options designed for our 501(c) 6 membership focused organizations.

For the most recent published reviews, please click below:

And, to obtain a sample list of the database software reviews we have, you may follow the link here 

If you work for an AMS or CRM database software system and you would like us to include your firm in our software review process, please contact us.

Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind. Happy Software Buying!

Download a Free Software Review of Neon CRM for Nonprofits

Retention: How Can Membership Software Help?

Copy of ecommerce nonprofits

Can your membership management software provide the data you need and the features required to know the who, what, why about membership retention and trends? In this article, I underscore the value of using your membership management system to take a closer look at the value of retention data, the impact of segmentation and an example of aligning features back to goals using modern membership systems.

Membership Software Retention 

Needless to say, I can only postulate that high on the list of topics up at many association nonprofit conferences across the country they will be focused on how to improve member retention—how tos, new approaches, benefits, what works. Recently, Joe Rominiecki, senior editor at Associations Now, made the rounds and summed up the conclusions here. Suffice it to say, an association’s success lives and dies by member retention rates. And, in many associations the membership system lives the data and features  you need to help make sense of membership retention. Let’s start with the importance of data.

The Value of Retention Revealed

So, what is the story that your data reveals about your association’s member retention? You must be able to use your data to know:

  • Who, specifically, is staying on as a long-term member?
  • Who just dips a toe into the water and leaves?
  • Who has stayed on and then suddenly leaves?

Further, can you utilize data to go deeper and ask these other questions of your membership retention trends:

  • Why do retained members stay for three years? Five years?
  • Why does the group that simply samples membership not stay on?
  • What causes members with some longevity to leave suddenly? and,
  • Are there job trends, sub-industry trends, age trends, geographical trends, or other segmented trends which you can point to as related causes?

Can your membership system handle slicing your data more thinly to get a clearer picture of retention numbers and trends? A membership software should house the answers to these questions.

The New Normal: Segmenting Retention Rates and Trends

If not, perhaps you need better segmenting capabilities. Rominiecki’s Association Now article cites experts who make the case that in order to understand how to boost your member retention rate, you first need to ask more of your membership retention data than simply how many members the association retains and loses annually. So, you need to go further than just answering the questions above.

That makes good sense, right? If, for example, you manage a healthcare association and currently have 200 insurers, 50 MDs, and 15 dentists, your ability to identify retention rates and retention trends within each member subset matters to the long-term health of your association. That signals the need and ability to segment and track both retention rates and trends point to more than just member retention—it also provides data you need to bring in new members and even renew past memberships.

Membership Retention Goals 

This article sparked my thoughts about a recent meeting with an association seeking a new online membership software system. And, as outlined above, retention was an important aspect of their success. Here is a summary of their retention strategy expressed to me during our software selection engagement:

GOAL: Expand awareness of member services and carry out membership retention activities to achieve a year-end retention rate of 80%.

To achieve this goal, they concluded that they needed to successfully perform the following:

1. Contact members two months before membership lapses to prompt renewal and, in some cases, help the member renew. (CRM Features). 

2. Send electronic emails along with handwritten welcome notes to each new member. (Email Marketing Features)

3. Call or e-mail new members on a monthly basis and invite them to sit with a Membership Committee member or Board member at the next luncheon. (CRM and Email Marketing Features)

4. Contact lapsed members one month after membership is lapsed. Final follow-up to encourage renewal. (Activity Tracking) 

5. Attend all luncheons. Work with Member Involvement Chair to have Board and Membership Committee members sit at all tables and engage members and guests.(Event Calendar, Activity Management, & Committee Management).

6. Focus on retention of second year introductory members. Reduce drop-off rate after second year of membership by calling these people first. (Dashboards with Data Views)

7. Every six months, invite a new member to join the Membership Committee. (CRM Activity Tracking including To Do’s, Follow up Management) 

This was the plan of attack, and they wanted to obtain a membership management system which managed the data well, and also contained the features which would help them execute it. While a membership system won’t be the only component, it certainly was viewed as a way to help with strengthening their ability to implement their objectives.

Retention Goals Tied To Membership Software Features

After our discussions, we outlined some basic features which were deemed must haves in order to support the membership retention goal. Here are few:

Customer (Membership) Management:

In all of the tasks above, the membership system needed to be able to support the ability to track history activities, notes, demographic information on the members. And, your follow up to get things done.

Membership Specific Dashboard:

The ability to review your members retention rate and view suggestions for improvement, and take a quick look at incoming members for the week, month, and year. Check in on your current campaign’s success, build and knock out that “to-do” list, and access recent reports and accounts within the membership system. And, the ability to have unique dashboards for each department was key too!

Participation Information:

With a membership system, you should be able to get an at-a-glance view of an individual constituent’s participation level, as well as their engagement level – which is based on past interactions. Member engagement could be measured in “cold,” “warm,” “hot,” and “on fire!”

Email Design & Distribution:

Build and deploy emails using templates and get rich analytics on their performance throughout your retention campaigns.

Letters & Mailings:

A membership system could help the above retention campaign by helping with the design and printing of direct mail pieces like letters, gift acknowledgements and other solicitations all from the membership application.

Social Networking:

One exciting feature of membership systems today is the powerful website integration features which includes social networking.  With a membership system be able to connect your organization’s social media such as Twitter account for powerful social media monitoring. In some instances, you can even match tweets to constituents in your database, or add new constituents who are tweeting about you.

Committee Management: 

In order to select and notify committee members about upcoming events, they needed to have an integrated solution for handling this. With membership systems today, you can now have a place to store your committee lists, including sub-committees. All members, chairs and secretaries can be identified and listed, and have their own directory listing. So, you can place people strategically with those you desire and work them to advise them on upcoming events.

Further, with a built in email message center, there’s no need to worry that your message will be sent to the incorrect audience. For the committee that you wish to correspond with, in membership systems you can simply select that committee and you will only have the option to email all or some of the members who belong to that group. No problemo amigo!

When member retention rates are higher, less effort and fewer marketing dollars are spent in members acquisition, and greater focus can be placed on upgrading existing members. Members who are contained longer tend to participate more and contribute more. Your long-term members tend to recruit new members at a faster pace, especially those who move up the engagement ladder over time.

So does your member management CRM reinforce best practices in member retention? If not, you might not see those retention campaigns bear fruit.

Please consider contacting us to start your search for a membership management software to boost retention. Until next time, Keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Online Membership Software

Membership Software Tiers: Where Do You Fit?

Membership Software Review of Tiers

In my opinion, we are stepping into the best time of the year. And, College Football is one of the reasons for making it so special! This time of the year made me think about how the various divisions of College Football are not to unlike how we segment membership software options. In this article, we provide a broad description of the various membership software programs Tier levels in order to help categorize your options in the membership software search.  In addition, introduce a full comparison report to download for Nonprofit Executives.

Tiers, Levels, and Divisions of Membership Software

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is the organization that is responsible for almost all inter-collegiate athletic competition. For some of you not as familiar with College Football, there are quite a few divisions, tiers, & levels which differentiate who plays who set by the NCAA. Now, without going into too much detail, there is Division I, Division IA Football Championship Subdivision, Division II, Division III, and even another authority called NAIA with their own segments.

Within the NCAA, Division I is the big leagues of college athletics. It is a heavily funded, scholarship dense, and usually publicly well-known organization (eg. Alabama, Notre Dame, Texas Christian University) that prides itself on having the best athletes. Division IA (eg. Sam Houston State, North Dakota Bison) resides directly underneath Division I. Division II is the middle child of the NCAA (Eg. Pittsburg State, Northwest Missouri State). Division III (eg. University of Wisconsin–Whitewater or Mount Union Purple Raiders) is the lowest division that falls under the NCAA. It is considered by most people to be the most relaxed competitive experience of the three divisions, with a focus on the student aspect of a student-athlete.

What the heck does this have to do with Membership Software? Well, just like College Football, it’s often helpful to categorize the hundreds of membership database software platforms into their respective segments. This is done in our effort to properly narrow down the software options. And, ultimately help align our clients with the best suited fit from the various membership software options.

Now, before going into the descriptions. It’s important to note that the following are “rules of thumb” and like almost everything in life and especially software, there is nothing etched in stone. Rather, just a basis to put some sanity around the process of narrowing down the field of players. With that said, here we go:

Tier III. Membership Software

The products at this level are usually “All in One” entry-level packaged membership programs designed for small organizations who need an integrated membership program to manage all facets of the organization. They tend to satisfy many with limited budgets. In most cases they have good enough out of the box membership management capabilities (Database, WebSite, Communications etc.). However, in this category, you will likely experience a feeling of living “In A Software Box”.

Today, almost all Tier III systems are Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. In other words, they are cloud hosted online membership software services. These work very well for most small state and local associations. And, they do not require hardware, network costs, and usually charge for a license based on a very attractive monthly subscription fee (which includes start up costs). Your staff and members will access it via a web browser.

Tier III databases are a category above what we refer to as “Micro Membership Software” packaged programs designed for volunteer led organizations up to roughly 3 on staff. And, usually find a good match in organizations with more than 5 staff (sweet spot in about the 6-15 staff range). While the Tier III database software options can and do provide strong value propositions, you are living in the confines of the walls provided with limited capabilities in features areas such as accounting, customizing of the system, and/or advanced reporting. Further, an open API is usually limited to pulling data in rather than accepting back into the database.

Tier II. Membership Software 

If you think of the College Football analogy above, these software programs would likely be more like Division IA Football Championship Subdivision teams. Again, in a broad stroke, they tend to open up and become more configurable, and have features required for mid-sized associations & membership operations. You tend to see richer CRM features, activity tracking and reporting capabilities. They include advanced searching capabilities, along with a broad array of pre-designed reports. They tend to have some additional features to facilitate a more advanced use cases such as conference management abilities.

Professional Services (paid consulting engagements) are required for training and setup costs. The lines become a bit blurry in terms of functionality in the middle of the pack solutions in contrast to the Tier I brethren but more pronounced than Tier III. An open API is more open here which allows for 3rd party integrations to extend in needs required. Oddly enough, they drop some of the “all in one” aspects of the Tier III solutions and take a more “best of need” approach to solving more sophisticated needs (eg. Many do not provide a proprietary Content Management solution). Thus, are more expensive.

Tier I. Enterprise Membership Software 

These are the Division I notables. These programs tend to have all the elements previously mentioned but they tend to include a broader array of information capture and data management capabilities, as well as more comprehensive tracking and analysis for specialized membership & development operations.

Most of the programs in this range offer an assortment of equally comprehensive add-on modules (generally for an additional cost) to address specialized needs like advocacy, learning management systems, volunteer management, special event management or social advanced networking community features.

At this price range you will find fully customized capable, proprietary systems or built on top of platform solutions for large national institutions or organizations. These membership platforms are designed to work with large communities of members, often in multiple geographic sites, that can manage massive amounts of data. These solutions often have very advanced functionality in CRM, data Mining, integrations, & customization capabilities. These membership systems tend to integrate directly with other specialized systems used at the organization or institution. Again, they all require a consultant to install. There are usually many options for support partners including many professional service firms which specialize in one or more solutions.

There you have a quick summary of the various Tiers. Again, I can’t stress enough that these are very general descriptions and simply should be used as a frame of reference. But, hopefully you get the point. In order to make sense of all the software options, it’s important to narrow down the list to the best possible options based on your needs and requirements. No doubt, not everyone falls into a nice little box.

Remember, even a Division II team can beat a Division I team on any given Saturday! And, certainly a Division IA can beat a Division I (Hello Appalachian State vs. Michigan).

Knowing this, where do you fit? Don’t waste time playing in the wrong division! Give us a call and we can help you narrow down the CRM Membership software options. Until next time, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Nonprofit Executives: For even more granular details on the various Tier Levels, please request our full comparison report with valuable details including specific software examples by clicking below.

Membership Software Comparisons of Tier Levels