Unchained: Have Nano-Nonprofits Found the CRM of Their Dreams?

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On October 21st, 2013, Fractured Atlas officially ended the beta phase of their cloud-based CRM solution, Over 1,400 organizations participated in this five-year process, characterized by what the Fractured Atlas team called “community-driven design.” Harnessing the collective wisdom of organizations and arts professionals, they took suggestions both online and through a number of sessions, soliciting ideas for features to include in the finished version. 

A well-managed database can provide information applicable to many facets of an arts organization’s day-to-day business. Targeted marketing, donor appeals, consolidated contact records, and online ticket sales are just a few of the services an integrated platform can provide. promises to do all of this and more through a (mostly) free , web-based platform. If it can deliver on this promise, Fractured Atlas will have created a powerful tool, especially for nano-nonprofits – young organizations with budgets under $60,000 and/or having a paid staff of 5 person or fewer, little to no IT department, and whose current data management efforts may be limited to a few disparate excel sheets. While other services such as PatronManager make a similar value proposition, has attempted to distinguish itself through its artist-centric messaging and genesis, positioning itself as the best choice for small arts organizations.

The rewards of successful implementation are numerous, including increased patron loyalty and acquisition through targeted communications, clear definition of audience segments, and increased staff collaboration through use of the common database. But is really as easy to use as its authors claim, and how does it stack up against PatronManager, the current leader in this space? Over the next several months, I will attempt to provide an answer, comparing these two low-cost CRM leaders and their ability to deliver the features small organizations most desire. 

Has your organization already adopted or PatronManager? Are there features which are absolutely essential for your dream CRM? Do you have success (or horror) stories from a CRM adoption? Please share in the comments below!