This is a guest post by Shawn Michael, who is the director of NPower Oregon. She is an expert in nonprofit databases and the primary contact for the eleven NPower affiliates, who are experts in implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM for nonprofits. Shawn joined Microsoft's Sarah Barnhart to demonstrate the freshly launched Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online for Nonprofits at the recent NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference. She is also participating in the free May 4 webinar on some free templates or tools that Microsoft has developed for the software that reduce the amount of customization needed by nonprofits to make Microsoft Dynamics CRM for Nonprofits work for their specific needs. These free tools are the only difference between commercial Dynamics CRM and the nonprofit version. They translate the commercial product to something nonprofits can use out-of-the-box and build on for additional functionality. They reduce implementation to a fraction of what it would be if people start from scratch.

Below, find Shawn's simple, clear description of what Dynamics CRM Online does, how hard (or easy) it is to set up, how much it costs, how nonprofits can get it, where they can get tech support for setup, and why it's green:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and the Nonprofit Solution (aka Accelerator) Offering - What does it mean for your nonprofit?

People want to know - What are Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Nonprofit Solution? What does the offering cost for nonprofits? How does this advance an organization's efforts to use green technology? How does a nonprofit get it? And of course, how will it be supported? In this article, I hope to answer all of these questions, and to point you to relevant resources.

What are Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the Nonprofit Solution?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is software that provides you with the ability to manage relationships with your constituents - donors, funders, clients, volunteers, members, vendors, and other community partners. The Nonprofit Solution, also known as an "Accelerator," is a packaged set of configurations that "translates" the labels, fields and functionality within Dynamics CRM into nonprofit-centric terms and processes.

In addition to managing contact information, you are able to manage information related to donations, grants, events, memberships, case management, contracts, product quotes, and orders and can be seamlessly integrated with Outlook so users have only one interface to learn.

Go to Microsoft's Dynamics homepage for more general information about the offering to nonprofits or attend the upcoming webinar for a great discussion about the functionality this great new package can offer.

What does the offering cost for nonprofits?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is $9.99/user/month with a five-user minimum. There is no additional cost for the Nonprofit Solution. Desktop and server licensing is also available on TechSoup.

How does this advance an organization's efforts to use green technology?

Like other cloud computing options, Dynamics CRM Online improves your organization's green technology use. First improvement: you don't have another high-powered machine in your server room or closet requiring power, temperature control, back-up media, software and hardware upgrades, and administration. The data centers within which Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online data is hosted are run with the highest energy efficiency in mind, reducing your consumption of resources significantly.

Other benefits for your organizatiob: backup and disaster recovery are no longer an issue, your system may be accessed from any location with an internet connection with appropriate authentication, and you reduce the staff or contract time you require to manage your infrastructure.

How does a nonprofit get it?

You may verify eligibility, initialize your Dynamics CRM instance, and install the Nonprofit Solution by following the steps outlined below. It may be helpful to you to work with an NPower affiliate or other Microsoft partner to plan and configure the software for your specific use.

  1. Verify your eligibility.
  2. Sign up for a trial.
  3. After receiving notification of your eligibility, activate your trial instance based upon the instructions provided in the notification email.
  4. Download the Nonprofit Solution (aka Accelerator), installation instructions, and user guide.
  5. Install the Nonprofit Solution.

How will it be supported?

Technical Support for Dynamics CRM and the Nonprofit Solution are provided by Microsoft using their extensive Knowledge Base and other support options that you can find out more about here.

For additional assistance with planning, implementation and additional configuration or customization, you can contact Shawn at NPower Seattle or other local Microsoft partners who are working with Dynamics CRM.

Learn more about cloud computing for your nonprofit or library on TechSoup's cloud page.