Microsoft (news, site) knows there's a big market for charities, and has the cost-effective CRM solution for that market.

An Offer of CRMs

The work of charities, NGOs and similar agencies is no less important than that of big business, with equal demands for technology and information. Microsoft is making an offer of its big-hitting Dynamics CRM suite to these outfits for just US$ 9.99 per user, per month -- the offer is available to those in the US and Canada only.

A mature product, Dynamics CRM Online offers features specific to these type of organizations as-a-service. It includes facilities to monitor donations and pledge management, basic membership lists, volunteer tracking, promotional campaign management and online payment solution support. Updates are included in the package,

Dashboard support in the Outlook-style UI makes all that information available at the touch of a button and reports can be produced with a Reporting Wizard to help organizations understand where they are headed.

All For a Good Cause

Users can work with Office tools like Word and Excel for the leg work, while creating customized user interfaces for the CRM with a simple GUI and some 200 custom objects that help create forms and screens suited to a particular organization.

Charities that have been managing by hand, or using simple systems will find that they can now monitor progress more regularly, learn what fund raising strategies work, and which don't, and then easily repeat the good ones using Dynamics' templates.

As a hosted service, data is stored securely and backed-up remotely. It can also be scaled as an organization expands, or cut back if a seasonal venture.

Enterprise Allowance

With prices of Dynamics having been cut in the past, it is still good to see Microsoft actively engaging a new market. But it remains to be seen what counter-offers others will make, especially those with dedicated charity-market products such as Hyland.