Mel Trotter Ministries Feeds More with Virtuous CRM

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Donor relationships are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, but without a good CRM system, there isn’t enough insight into donor history, contact details, and other critical data for maximizing donor relationships.

That was the problem that Beth Fisher, chief growth officer, found when she joined Mel Trotter Ministries in early 2020. The Christian organization serves the hungry and homeless in and around Grand Rapids, Mich., with job training, housing, substance abuse, and other services.

The organization’s legacy donor relationship system had almost no visibility into donor files, creating bottlenecks and preventing workers from doing their jobs as efficiently as possible.

“It was not user-friendly from the standpoint of allowing donor relations officers to really cultivate donors well or do what we needed to do,” Fisher says. “We had no digital marketing in place; no proactive communication was happening. The system allowed donor information to be housed, but not much else.”

Fisher ultimately settled on Virtuous, which offers CRM, marketing, fundraising, and donor relations software for nonprofits. “From the onset, their professionalism, their understanding of what we do every day, their mentality, all of it really wowed us out of the gate,” she says. “The product itself, functionality-wise, provided absolutely everything we needed, from workflow and visibility into the donor file to integration with donor search. We had wealth management tools, we had capacity views, everything that was not in place [with the legacy solution].”

Mel Trotter Ministries signed the contracts in April and told Virtuous that the new system had to be up and running by July. “They were incredibly receptive. They said it was a tight turn but they could make it happen,” Fisher recalls.

To be live on July 1, Virtuous had to work with Fisher’s team to move 17 years of donor data out of legacy systems onto the Virtuous platform. “Without that information, we go under. We had to work with them to figure out the mapping of the fields the way that everything was currently housed in our current system and how it would be presented in Virtuous. We made all those determinations in advance of doing the actual conversion. The best part about it was once we made those determinations, before we even started to convert, we had a sandbox up and running and ready to go. We were able to move our data over in a meaningful and controlled fashion, one that provided a lot of comfort to us.”

One day after going live with Virtuous CRM, Mel Trotter Ministries signed up 26 new donors.

“There were immediate results—immediate changes, immediate visibility that we didn’t have,” Fisher says.

She, like so many of Mel Trotter Ministries’ staff and volunteers, couldn’t believe that the system worked as well as it did.

“Because it works so well, we were just honestly in shock. We thought this can’t be this amazing. And yet it was, and it continues to be.”

Indeed, since installing Virtuous CRM, Mel Trotter Ministries has seen an increase of 26 percent in recurring donors thanks to easy re-engagement with past donors, a task that was extremely challenging with the legacy system. Additionally, the organization is above 20,000 active donors, a figure that continues to climb. In the previous five years, the number of active donors ranged from 14,000 to 18,000.

Fisher also credited the software, in part, for the organization’s revenue increasing by more than $1 million.

Fisher is now focusing on using Virtuous CRM for responsive fundraising—targeting donors in a way that is meaningful to them. She also plans to implement additional workflows as part of that targeted marketing effort. 

The Payoff

Since implementing Virtuous CRM, Mel Trotter Ministries has seen the following results:

  • recurring donors have increased by 26 percent;
  • active donors have grown to more than 20,000; and
  • revenue has increased by more than $1 million.

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