Membership management / CRM / Database / Mailchimp question?
November 19, 2015 3:47 PM   Subscribe

I'm part of a cooperative that's trying to change the world! BUT we're having trouble keeping track of people and sending emails to everyone. Help me find a CRM / membership / contact management system that works great with Mailchimp!

I'm part of a fledging exciting cooperative, but we're having trouble keeping track of people and sending emails out to everyone. There are duplicates, people's info need to be updated, and we want to start tracking some information about each user.

I'm looking for a CRM/membership/contact management system, and having a hard time finding something that ticks all the necessary boxes. with members of around 400~500 people; we're not expecting any more than 2000 within the next 3 years.

What I'm looking for:

- Creation of custom fields: We want to track "hours volunteered", or "part of Arts & Outreach Workgroup" or

- User import via custom form: We want members to sign up online via an online form, which will incorporate all the custom fields.

- Tight integration with Mailchimp Groups/Segments: We want to be able to think "Find the members that have joined in the last month who said that they have Project Management skills", and be able to then craft an email using Mailchimp's interface and send it out. Ideally, the system would auto-sync with Mailchimp.

- Budget: roughly $25/mo, all-inclusive. We're flexible but can't handle a $70/mo expense.

- Web-based: I'm pretty code/web dev-savvy and fine if the initial setup involves some coding, but I'm very wary of custom self-hosted solutions, since maintaining them is usually a pain in the ass. Ideally this would be a web-based service that has decent customer support and won't totally break. In other words, a self-hosted VPS running an open-source CRM won't work.

Everything else isn't really necessary - we don't need to handle payment, or have pipelines for conversion, etc. Also, it's possible that we might be able to score a Salesforce Non-profit license, but don't want to count on it.

I've scoured the internet and can't find what I want. Any ideas/tips/help would be so necessary! Should we just use Google Sheets? What about Mailchimp's own interface? Anyone have any other experience with other systems? Thanks!
posted by suedehead to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to be a downer, but I used to work for a company that offered a CRM with a MailChimp integration and we were known for being the cheapest on the market.. but our lowest package started at $49/mo. You're going to have a tough time finding something for less than that that has the functionality that you're looking for. Things like duplicate management, segmentation, custom forms feeding into a database, and deep reporting require a full CRM, not something like Google Sheets. MailChimp on its own is not a CRM, just list management.

Other possibilities: CiviCRM ticks some of your boxes but it has to be hosted on your own server in tandem with a CMS, so that won't work for you. Salesforce offers free licenses to nonprofits, but it is a very complex system that just isn't built for nonprofits, and most organizations I know that use it because it is free are not thrilled with it.

I just can't think of a good solution that would hit your price point. Message me if I can help at all, though.
posted by anotheraccount at 4:06 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There aren't going to be a ton of options at your price point.

I'd take a look at Nationbuilder (starting at $29/month, but that also includes emailing so you can drop Mailchimp and a basic website that makes the form you want to have easy). In my experience, it is very hard to beat in terms of what you get for the cost (in both money and time) for a small organization.

You can get a hosted CiviCRM instance for around the same price, but that would definitely be more work for you. Mailchimp integration in CiviCRM is still not ideal, though it might work OK depending on what you need. CiviCRM is great but it doesn't sound like it is for you.

I don't think you want to go down the Salesforce route with such a small group. Too much work.

Definitely do not use Google Sheets or Mailchimp exclusively. You need a real database.
posted by ssg at 4:46 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

I just spent two years researching this for a 350k/year organization. Short of CiviCRM (which we were never going to have the tech support to implement and keep functional), I think really only Little Green Light ($40/mo) is cheaper than NeonCRM ($50/mo) with any decent functionality and fair reputation. Both are above your price point.

I found LGL more intuitive but Neon more robust. Both integrate with MailChimp (which we don't use). (I am unfamiliar with the above-mentioned Nationbuilder)

Avoid Salesforce if you're a small nonprofit. I've had Insightly recommended to me, but I hated it. I feel your pain--this is a really difficult thing for small budget organizations.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:20 PM on November 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

Push for the budget. Insightly is sales oriented but could be adapted. We just moved very happily to igloo but it's pricey if you need a secure system and its an upfront cost rather than monthly. Google apps marketplace has some good stuff and a volunteer of ours had previously used smartsheets at another organisation very well for similar purposes to Google sheets with better flexibility. Salesforce requires dedicated support which is expensive unless you have that volunteered and locked down; the license is not the part that hurts. Zoho Office can be adapted.

No one would launch a start up on $25 a month of supporting software for a team that's going to span countries, timezones and have a huge amount of information handover. Get your core donors or volunteers to pick and commit to a decent platform, basecamp and highrise, asana and insightly, etc at about $120 a month. You can do Google spreadsheets alone for a stable small team. If you can't put that budget increase into your core functionality that will save hours and hours of work and increase your network, and you're planning to scale up so much rapidly, that's a red flag.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2015

Zoho CRM is $15 per month per user - looks like MailChimp has a Zoho CRM add-on for $10 a month, so there you go if you only need one user. We used Zoho at my last company - it's perfectly fine.
posted by COD at 7:18 PM on November 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Hilariously I am literally in the process of consulting with a business cooperative to help them select and implement a membership management / CRM system. Happy to share my conclusions here:

I can recommend you Accelo, which will cost you $19/month for one user account and satisfies all your requirements: it has MailChimp integration, searchable custom fields, the ability to create users from forms, and an API.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy, Contactually also does most of these things (minus the forms stuff, but you can do that via their API) and has a somewhat nicer user interface. At $35/mo/user, it's a bit pricier though.

Both of these have free trials. If you have more specific questions, feel free to message me.
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:59 AM on November 20, 2015

The very small non-profit that I'm part of (~100 members) uses ChargeBee and MailChimp. They are flexible about plans, or at least they were.

I can recommend checking them out.

They've had good support when we rarely needed it and seem to do a good job of evolving their platform over the last two or so years.
posted by reddot at 12:44 PM on November 22, 2015

FWIW I know a fairly small hospice org that went with the 10 free Salesforce NPSP licenses. They had a volunteer set it up for them and train their few staff in best practices. He keeps an eye on updates and checks in with them periodically. They have no high level of skill in house. They keep it very simple. It works for them. They can develop it further. piecemeal, if they choose and as they find funding or pro bono. And those 10 licenses are free. Forever.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 12:54 AM on December 4, 2015

Best answer: I realized I never replied with the actual answer we went with: We used Airtable, which is like Google Sheets + a relational database on steroids. It seems like a perfect balance in-between a dedicated CRM and Google Spreadsheet.
posted by suedehead at 2:08 PM on January 22, 2016

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