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Interview with an Expert: Tim Sarrantonio, NeonCRM

Tim Sarrantonio is a team member at NeonCRM and has more than 10 years of experience working for and volunteering with nonprofits.

Tim has raised over $3 million for various causes, engaged and enhanced databases of all sizes, procured multiple successful grants, and formulated engaging communications and fundraising campaigns for several nonprofits. He volunteers heavily in his home Niskayuna, NY. 

1. How long have you been involved with associations and technology?

I’ve been working with nonprofits and membership associations for years, but specifically, engaging technology happened about seven years ago when I was hired as a database admin for a Chicago nonprofit. About two years after that, I joined the NeonCRM team and have been with them since.

2. How did you get involved?

When I joined NeonCRM, I was the first full-time salesperson that ended up working out. Before we hired me, it was a few traditional sales folks who had no history with nonprofits or membership associations. Our CEO and COO had an extensive background with those organizations and we realized that hiring from within the industry was one of the keys to our success. Over 80% of our staff has a nonprofit or membership association background.

3. What are some of the most common questions you get from clients and prospects about technology?

Cost! Yet that’s to be expected and cloud technology is shown to drive down costs and increase revenue. People also want to know how the technology is going to make their lives better and help them retain membership and increase program revenue. They also always get worried about the data migration process and we’re proud to put a lot of energy and effort at all levels of the process to address those questions and concerns.

4. What are the common mistakes you see people making?

Not enough planning. I was just speaking to a large educational institution and the worry the staff member had was that program needs would take priority over marketing and development needs. The membership and development staff is just as important to the organization as the people doing the programs, so equal weight should be given to those budgets and timelines.

5. Can you share any stories or examples that help illustrate key points?

We recently had the pleasure of redesigning the RMC Research and Education Foundation website, which provides lasting resources to assist the ready mixed concrete industry. While on the surface that may sound extremely focused, the lessons learned can apply to any organization. We redesigned their website and streamlined their revenue management, which we then outlined in a case study. The interplay between an organization’s website and the backend database is something we put a lot of effort into.

6. Is there anything new or revolutionary in non-profit and association technology that you’re seeing that people should be aware of?

I hate buzzwords that ultimately crop up and the official overused buzzword of 2018 is “Machine Learning.” However, the core idea of prescriptive automation is pretty exciting. We’ve gone through a period where there exists a massive amount of data collected (e.g. Big Data) but the vast majority of organizations don’t have the capacity or understanding to leverage it. Being able to take complicated and disparate datasets and put them into a digestible format is what is going to truly change the industry. It isn’t about serving the largest organizations the most expensive technology, it’s about providing the best technology at an affordable price for all.

7. What trends do you expect to see in the coming year(s)?

Smart automation. Receiving a membership renewal or receipt for a class you’ve registered for is commonplace, so the next phase will be taking those base interactions and creating a meaningful relationship out of them. Software automating interactions to free up time for human interaction is going to be big. I also feel that we’ll begin to see more physical interaction that is powered by technology. A great example are the meetups that NetSquared encourage in communities all around the world – people want to see each other face to face and to make their communities even more important by having in-person connections.

8. How will these trends impact organizations?

In theory, it will increase revenue and free up time, yet we also tend to see that executives see that free time as something to fill with further busy work. To properly manage this technology, we need to start investing in our communities and capacity building initiatives to create connections between all stakeholders. The goal of technology shouldn’t be to free up our time or increase revenue, it should be to create community.

9. What is the greatest value your clients and their members receive from NeonCRM’s platform?

Centralization of key services while providing the best partners through our NeonOne ecosystem. There’s a glut of new technology out there and it can be overwhelming to comb through what matters for clients. Our company is a top-tier service that helps over 2500 nonprofits and associations and a big reason they choose us is that we can bring membership, events, communications, and website design into one platform and then easily connect to top-notch partners like Higher Logic and Path LMS through our certified software program. We care most about increasing revenue, saving time, and building capacity.

10. What are your Top 3 Non-Profit Tech Tips to share with the audience?

  1. Always ask about data migration process. What exactly are your options, what exactly are the costs, who is assessing your data before you sign a contract.
  2. Always understand how your financial reconciliation will be handled. 70% of all organizations utilize Quickbooks so that’s an obvious starting point but not all AMS programs work with Quickbooks, Xero, MIP, or other accounting platforms beyond an export file. So assess that as well as how payment processing reconciliation will work.
  3. Always ask about the company’s definition of integration. Is that sales speak for import/export or do they encourage API or Zapier connections that can automatically do data transfers for you? It’s key since not all software will do exactly what you need and a third party might make it 100% for you if there’s a tight connection.

To learn more about Tim, click here.


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