7 reasons it may be time to switch your spreadsheets for a CRM

7 reasons it may be time to switch your spreadsheets for a CRM
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For a growing nonprofit organisation, it’s only natural that basic functions are kept track of using spreadsheets. They are powerful tools, capable of performing advanced calculations quickly while keeping track of important records.

All this being said, they have their flaws, both in terms of how they’re built and the users who create them. There reaches a point, many would argue fairly early on, where using spreadsheets as your database can actually hinder your growth.

We’ve compiled a quick list of some of the reasons why this is the case:

1. Business Continuity

If you were to show an outsider your spreadsheets would they be able to understand them easily and input data according to your standards? Spreadsheets can be very particular to their creators and were a spreadsheet’s creator to leave your organisation, you may lose some of its secrets too. This could well include vital passwords that could lock you out of being able to edit functionality or even being able to access your data.

CRMs meanwhile have standardised structures and onboarding processes. You also don’t need to worry about losing passwords as they are designed around user accounts coming and going.

2. Collaboration

Have you ever tried to work on a spreadsheet at the same time as someone else? This can cause all manner of inconveniences. These can be minor like spreadsheet bloat, but can range all the way up to data not being updated properly if you’re working on different versions. While working together on a single goal with another person can be made very easy with a spreadsheet, when you start wanting to manipulate data toward different ends (e.g. reporting, making event/payment lists, advanced searches, etc.) things can quickly spiral out of control.

CRMs eliminate these risks entirely. By having clearly segmented records, multiple people can easily work at the same time with a central database. Collaboration also becomes easier because CRM records are significantly easier to share with colleagues. It can be as simple as a link in chat, which can alternatively be found with a quick search. Gone is the era of ‘I can’t find the file, can you send it to me again please?’

3. Task Tracking

Sticky notes are great and all, but they’re not a fantastic way of keeping track of your task list. Spreadsheets will struggle to offer you solutions to this either. Knowing which tasks you should prioritise and when is crucial to an organisation’s success. CRMs excel at this. Simply log what you need to do, when you need to do it by and you can easily create yourself a visual list of your upcoming tasks. You can even set up automated reminders to help keep you on track.

While online task trackers are ever more frequently used as a solution here, they are still limited by the fact that they are removed from the database. This can make lists very personalised and harder to connect to individual records. This poses particular issues when team members are absent or multiple people work on the same record. Recording tasks on a CRM also means that all historical tasks can be viewed on a timeline at a glance rather than filed away in a rarely opened archive by your task management system. All of this makes it easier to work on records without having to do extra work to research the history.

4. Data Security

If your data is kept on spreadsheets then in all likelihood there’s probably a physical copy of it on some of your team’s hard drives. Unless you’re particularly security conscious, it’s also likely that the data is not password protected. If one of your team members lost their laptop then you’re at real risk of your database being compromised. If the data is subject to GDPR then you’re at severe risk of enormous fines, never mind the reputational damage.

A CRM provides an extra layer of security to your data, especially if you combine it with two-factor authentication. You can also deactivate a user account if necessary to prevent any unauthorised access.

5. Backup

One very obvious benefit brought by most CRMs is data backup. This is essential in the current climate with ransomware on the rise. If your data is encrypted by an attack, or suddenly becomes corrupted then this can have a devastating blow on your organisation. It could potentially be something you are unable to come back from if you lose all your data.

CRMs meanwhile are not only much less susceptible to these flaws, but they can also be restored to backup points. While you might still lose some very recent data, that is a substantially better position to be in than a total loss.

6. Complex Data

Complex data can easily become a headache in a spreadsheet. If you take a random contact, what other data is connected to them? You might have information on their employer. You’ll definitely keep details on any transactions they’ve had with you. You might even have details on if they have a membership with you. In reality, you’ll also be tracking other things such as any activities the contact is involved with. This all adds to a very convoluted spreadsheet (or several spreadsheets with duplicate information!). You’ll likely end up with many tabs, slower load times and something that is more prone to breaking.

CRMs break down this data into chunks making it easier to enter and, vitally, significantly easier to report on. Your data will also be presented in a much cleaner way, with simple features such as data relationships providing easy clickthrough and ways to associate one record with another.

7. Integration

Integration can be a massive time saver. Sending data from one platform to another seamlessly without manual data transfer is likely more accurate and is certainly less tedious. While spreadsheets can be integrated with other systems to transfer data, they are not well equipped to be at the heart of operations. They act much better as a source of information.

A CRM meanwhile can be used to collect data from multiple sources and to control them. Think of social media feeds, your email newsletters, your financial data. This provides an excellent opportunity to cross-reference your data in reporting while also seeing a full holistic picture of your organisation.


In summary, CRMs outpace spreadsheets in almost every way. While there is a certain simplicity to a spreadsheet, they will not provide a suitable database for a scaling organisation. The flexibility and security of a CRM makes it a much more appropriate option with tools that will better facilitate your growth.

If you’d like to learn more about how a CRM could help your organisation, why not book a demo with our experts? CiviPlus offers a wide variety of features specifically tailored to suit growing nonprofits to achieve their goals.

Howdy y’all,

We are delighted to announce a new integration of CiviCRM with Open Social, a community engagement platform.

CiviCRM is the number one open source CRM for not-for profits, used by more than 11,000 organisations worldwide, and Open Social is a leading community engagement platform, used by over 1000 organisations in a range of different industries from Charities to member organisations and companies also.

It’s exciting news for organisations using CiviCRM, who will now be able to combine the power of CiviCRM with the collaboration and community building that the Open Social platform provides.
If you’ve not heard of community platforms before, a community platform is a tool that allows your organisation to create your own branded and tailored social network. Users of the platform (normally your members or supporters) can interact, join groups to share knowledge and exchange ideas, publish and promote events and collaborate within a safe online curated space. With a community platform you can expand your digital offer and strengthen your relationship with your supporters.

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Open Social is open source (much like CiviCRM) and as such has no user licences fees. This means it can be deployed affordably to scale to even the largest of communities. It’s also flexible with a huge range of different add-on modules that can be integrated to enhance the platform.

Our new two-way integration between Open Social and CiviCRM syncs data between the two platforms allowing information about the groups and committees that members have joined to be seamlessly synced to CiviCRM. You can even create Open Social groups and manage their membership directly from within CiviCRM, which would be useful for managing private groups in the case of committees or working groups.

By combining the data of a community platform with that in your CiviCRM your organisation can obtain deep insights into your members' interests and behaviours. You can see which groups are popular and engage with your members on topical issues, automating communications and tailoring their experience.

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A great example is a recent implementation for the UN’s PRI (Principles of Responsible Investment). Their user community includes over 2,900 organisations with over 40,000 individuals spread across 6 continents. Their Community Platform now supports discussions between 24,000 users with over 750 online collaboration spaces. The data is seamlessly synced to their CRM allowing for deep insight guiding their policy engagements.

As Open Social partners, we would be delighted to help you start your journey with Open Social and help you build your online community. We can help you through both the implementation and the CiviCRM integration (or other CRM integration such as Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM).

Please contact us through our website https://www.compuco.io/ or by email at hello@compucorp.co.uk.

Further information about Open Social can be found at their website: https://www.getopensocial.com/

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