CRM Idol 2011: The Reviews Continue #3B

Okay, its now 2pm and I'm getting weirdly sleepy. So I'm going to post three more CRM Idol reviews that I'm begging you, pleading with you on my hands and knees to write your comments on here or on the CRM Idol website in the reviews section.

Okay, its now 2pm and I'm getting weirdly sleepy. So I'm going to post three more CRM Idol reviews that I'm begging you, pleading with you on my hands and knees to write your comments on here or on the CRM Idol website in the reviews section. This can actually have an impact on the semi-finalist choices and we're going to be counting on you to review the videos of the finalists when the time comes which means your vote will count. So this will be good prep work. Like voting for Lys Agnes, that gorgeous opera singer on America's Got Talent to get to the finals.  Well, not like voting for her, but at least you get the idea.

The CRM Idol reviews this afternoon are,, thedatabank, and Antharia LLC.

A large problem in Customer Relationship Management is the lack of products serving B2B2C models.  Traditionally seen in franchise business, distributorships or where sub-contracting is a core part of the industry, there are virtually no packages available.  For the most part, those available focus on either marketing or service ignoring the complex situations that arise where there is more than traditional service necessary. solves the problem of complex business-to-business partnerships dealing with a customer.  The package does really well what it sets out to accomplish: make sure that processes involving parties from both businesses do what they are supposed to do in a methodical and repeatable manner.  True to its name, focuses on the tasks necessary to deliver marketing and service functions in such environments.

Although they did not explicitly indicate it in the briefing, we can see a deeper focus on very complex environments, with thousands of tasks to be accomplished form the moment a process is started until it is completed.  In a complete framework, and tightly integrated with Gmail for message delivery, makes sure that tasks are completed on time, and if not it ensures appropriate escalation and notification.

While we agree that the product does a very good job of managing a complex set of tasks and monitoring processes to make sure things happen as needed, there are three areas of concern for

First, they focus on solving a specific functional problem without defining well the target market - who they are selling to., Based on their recent launch to the market, they have a short but interesting client list - but there is on cohesiveness to it.  While this is understandable behavior for an emerging company, they need to focus more on who they are targeting, what their offer is, and tightening the message for that target market.

Second, their pricing needs to be revised.  Starting at $ 1,000.00 per month, pricing makes it almost impossible to engage them, with few exceptions. During the demo we saw a few business cases that would match those exceptions, but no very well defined use case.  They need to figure out better not so much how to solve the problem, but rather what problem they are solving.

Finally, they need to develop a better long-term vision.  The product is good, there is no question, as to what it does - and it delivers in an interesting manner (the interface could use some simplification - but given the complexity of the functions it performs, it is quite intuitive).  However, we have a hard time seeing how the product grows beyond its single functionality and matures into a closer-to-CRM solution.

Overall, it is a good product with limited functionality that could be used in more use cases if they were to invest in product management and strategy; we would like to see them better focused.


Founded in 1998, thedatabank (TDB) is one of the earliest pioneers of online fundraising management software aimed at the nonprofit sector.  Cofounder Chris Hanson brings twenty-five plus years of fundraising and database marketing experience to the company, while his partner Mark Paquette brings more than twenty-five years of software development experience to the thirteen person organization.

Having raised $250K in 2001, TDB has been cash flow positive since 2002, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 14% since 2006.  Subscription revenue accounted for 80% of overall revenue, with an CAGR of 20%.

According to information provided by TDB, there are approximately 1.6M registered nonprofits in the United States, a 60% increase over the past decade.  Nonprofits in the USA employ nine percent of the population, and account for 11% of GDP.

TDB currently focuses their efforts on the segment of nonprofits with annual revenues between one and ten million dollars - a group made up of approximately 250K organizations.  Industry groups they target include environmental, civic, human rights and educational organizations.  TDB currently has over one thousand organizations using their online service.  They estimate their competitors have a combined total of less than 30K organizations using these services.  With these numbers being a fraction of the overall nonprofit market, there appears to be good opportunities available for TDB to grow.

In a field with a number of competitive offerings, there are two vendors leading the market - Blackbaud ($300M annual revenues) and Convio ($80M in annual revenues).  These two are particularly competitive at the high end of the market - over $1M in annual revenue.  TDB counts as a competitive advantage being one of the only pure SaaS service providers in the space.  And with a large number of nonprofits not having experienced IT expertise on staff, and limited IT budgets, TDB believes its position as an online service provider will be attractive to the growing number of organizations needing a fundraising management solution.

The core of TDB's solution is the fundraising system designed to manage online and offline transactions.  The solution is built on the foundation of a centralized database, with integrated application modules for important areas, such as fundraising management, email marketing, advocacy, volunteer management, voter management and event/meeting management.  TDB says customers select their service to build better relationships with donors, volunteers, activists and event attendees.  The fundraising and advocacy modules are especially attractive to organizations looking to manage relationships at the individual donor level.  They feel this is why 60% of new business come from customer referrals, and for their high 40% lead conversion rate.

The email marketing module allows organizations to send out email blasts, manage subscriptions, and integrate forms on a website to filter data right into their TDB account, making it easy to follow up with prospective donors, volunteers, and advocates.  You can also create forms to put on your Facebook page to have those submissions automatically come into TDB.  There is also bulk-texting capabilities built into the system to further communicate with customer segments.

The advocacy module uses geocoding to automatically assign political districts based on a person's address.  You can also create an "alert" email that takes advocates to an Alerts Page to try and cause immediate action on an issue. A recipient can see what the issue is, and who will get this communication if they follow through with the action.  They can then click to send email, fax, letter, etc. in support of the specific issue.  Automating this process increases the number of advocates that follow through with the desired action.

From a fundraising standpoint one of the fastest growing areas is for attracting new donors is personal fundraising pages.   This allows organizations to set up personal campaigns at the individual level, and increase donor conversions.

Pricing for TDB depends on the number of contacts (size of database), number of modules used, and the number of users accessing the system.  The basic system setup with 5,000 records starts at $170 a month.  The average client spends $400/mo, for 18,000 records and 5 user accounts.

With TDB having its foundation in the late 1990s, the bulk of the application is written in classic ASP code, with a SQL Server backend.  This has some obvious limitations, which is why TDB says they are going to do a re-write of the interface.  They do have a partial API available now, but expect to have a full API available by the end of this year which should open up access to integrate personal info, contact histories and transaction histories.

Another goal for next year is to raise some expansion capital to develop additional functionality to move down into the lower segments of the nonprofit segment - particularly aiming at the 700K organizations with $100 to $1M in annual revenues.  By developing a self-serve version, TDB feels that allows smaller organizations to come in, sign-up and have immediate access to a system with a basic level of functionality and customization capability- at a price point less than $100/mo.  They feel that would provide lots of opportunities to grow their customer base.

TDB has a great deal of knowledge and expertise to assist organizations in improving their fundraising management activities.  The functionality is rich and well executed.  They do understand they need to upgrade the application architecture to allow for greater flexibility and agility moving forward.  And they also need to develop and implement a mobile strategy that will be important to deliver in the near future.  But if they are able to make things happen, and up their brand awareness efforts, they should be able to successfully compete for the growing number of nonprofits needing fundraising solutions.

Antharia, LLC

Fortyfourfish is a very complete CRM tool for not-for-profit organizations.  Featuring an intuitive and easy to navigate interface, a full set of features (including donor-management, development, volunteer management, and an end-to-end relationship data model for non- profit), and a very low entry price.

Indeed, in a market mostly controlled by Blackbaud and Convio, and where starting implementations are bound to cost upwards of $30,000-$40,000 for just the first year, their entry price is a comparatively frugal $1,200.00 per year per person (it is a hosted model, so unless there is an increase in the number of people using it - that price should remain through the rest of the time it is deployed).

fourtyfourfish, the name of the product, is a creation of Antharia - a consulting organization for not-for-profits.  The product's tight integration means that the professional services for the product are provided by Antharia - a well known firm in the not-for-profit world.  One of the most salient features of the product is its flexibility and ability to be customized as needed - which is what Antharia does in addition to traditional business and management consulting.

The CRM product generates low recurring license revenue, and the product generates few other sources of revenue.  The business integration with Antharia gives the combined product and service company a sustainable revenue and business model, solving our concern over viability.

We were impressed by the quantity of features and functions it covers, both as a not-for-profit product and as a general CRM tool.  It covers the basic gamut of functions necessary to identify, contact, interact, track, and retain customers (or in this case, donors and volunteers).  One of the most remarkable features is the development tool, which is not something seen in anything but high-end products.  It seems at first look to be a very complete module and to do its job quite well.

While the interface seems a tad busy and at moments may seem overwhelming - it is easily customized and shrank or expanded (more or less information used, per the needs of the customer) to deliver an intuitive way to capture and incorporate information into specific processes.  We would definitely recommend those interested in adopting this product to think about the experience they want to provide for the volunteers or employees using it and right-size the number of functions (and options for those functions) to deliver a cleaner and more productive interface.

While we like the price point, as we are sure their clients and prospects do, we are concerned over the addressable market.  A combination of not-for-profits traditionally preferring more expensive solutions, a product that is mostly used by smaller non-profit, and a finite number of non-profits in the United States (international expansion is hard due to compliance regulations) yields a low potential client pool.

While we don't foresee Antharia or fortyfourfish needing additional funding - or other sources of income - we are concerned about their potential for growth.  We would like to see more funds invested in marketing and sales to ensure a continuity of the brand by deeper adoption in their market.

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