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Microsoft adds CRM for nonprofits to Dynamics 365 lineup

CRM for nonprofits, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator, helps nonprofit organizations take advantage of business tools and shared data.

Fierce competition is the natural state of the business world, one in which companies vie to squash challengers. But in the nonprofit sector, a trillion-dollar industry that continues to grow, organizations are embracing the idea of sharing data and working in partnership with competitors.

With CRM for nonprofits, businesses are taking the lead in addressing humanitarian needs, from local issues to international crises, and improving the way nonprofits operate. CRM technology vendors, like Salesforce and Microsoft, are stepping up, too, offering steep discounts to nonprofit customers compared to the equivalent technology offered to for-profit entities.

Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator -- a suite of apps, prebuilt forms and templates enabling nonprofits to be transparent and better track donations and donor information in one system -- is Microsoft's reply to the burgeoning demand for CRM for nonprofits. CRM is just one component, said Justin Spelhaug, general manager of Microsoft's Tech for Social Impact, noting the difference between Dynamics 365 and its more established nonprofit competitors.

"Collaborators within the sector itself allow us to share data and research in a more effective way, without duplicating efforts," he said. "We now have ... all of the value of the cloud management system, one that can be delivered to scale based on the needs of the nonprofit. But to do that, we need partners."

Nonprofit data model the first step

Microsoft's Common Data Model for Nonprofits, he said, is an example of how developing partnerships among nonprofits, donors and foundations encourages open data sharing, reduces duplicate efforts at one end of the mission and, at the other end, increases the speed and accuracy of mission outcomes for review by donors and organizations.

"We struggled with a hockey stick of growth," said Art delaCruz, COO of Team Rubicon, a disaster response and recovery service that has seen its volunteer numbers -- of whom roughly three-quarters are veterans -- rise from just eight to more than 90,000 since its founding eight years ago by U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jake Wood. "We transitioned from 30 systems to a unified system, which allows us to have clean data. If the data is clean, we can share these outcomes and impacts."

U.S.-based consulting firm Wipfli uses Dynamics 365 to give Team Rubicon better access to what delaCruz said is its most important customer: volunteers. Now, volunteers can access a portal that enables them to more easily interact with Team Rubicon.

"Acceleration is accessibility and the ability to engage more people. With this system, [the volunteers] can determine when, where and what to do in our marketplace," delaCruz said. "Internally, we can gather more data on the behaviors and participation of those volunteers. We want to quantify the volunteer numbers and our capacity. This system recognizes the capabilities of these volunteers. These veterans are assets -- an untapped resource."

Volunteers the secret sauce

Spelhaug said Dynamics 365's international reach boasts a wide variety of nonprofit resources. He pointed to Team Rubicon's choice to share its volunteer management code with other nonprofits as an example that he wanted to emulate.

"Their secret sauce is optimizing those volunteers," he said, lauding the company's ability to handle a handful or several thousand volunteers in response to a crisis. "When we saw the impact, it inspired us to double down."

We hope to make a big difference in how these nonprofits do some good in the world.
Justin SpelhaugGeneral manager, Tech for Social Impact, Microsoft

Spelhaug also noted the partnership with Threshold.world, founded by Dan Lammot, former CEO of roundCorner, which developed enterprise fundraising and grant management for Salesforce. Lammot views Dynamics 365 Nonprofit Accelerator as a benchmark in collaboration for the nonprofit industry.

"They're doing this with a level of efficacy and transparency that's never been seen at this level in such a diverse market. There isn't a single company that offers everything to every nonprofit," Lammot said. "The nonprofit market drove this, and Microsoft has stepped up. It's an and, not an or. The customers will make that choice. What they do need is people to work together to make the nonprofits' jobs easier."

Lammot's Threshold.world is part of the design of Dynamics 365 Accelerator, and he is a proponent of continued teamwork among worldwide partners in delivering CRM for nonprofits. Spelhaug is as well.

"We hope to make a big difference in how these nonprofits do some good in the world," said Spelhaug, who added that nonprofit customers will receive a 75% discount for the core functions of Dynamics 365 and a 60% discount for Dynamics Premium.

Meanwhile, delaCruz said Team Rubicon's contribution of volunteer management code was simply part of his company's day-to-day approach to a culture of innovation in a social business model effecting positive change.

"We have an obligation to share and accelerate how all nonprofits can benefit from this kind of collaboration," delaCruz said.

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